What A Guy Really Means When He Tells You To “Give Him Space”

Whether you’re in a relationship, headed towards one, or just casually seeing someone, when a guy says he “needs space,” it doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in your future. The circumstances surrounding his request, your history, and the current state of your relationship are all factors in interpreting what he really means, so communication is key. That being said, when a guy asks for space, it probably has something to do with one or more of these things.

  1. You’re coming on way too strong. It’s totally natural to get excited about meeting someone you really like and feeling the urge to go full speed ahead into a serious relationship. However, if he’s not on the same page, your eagerness will come across as needy. He might need space so he can figure out if he wants to put in the effort to build a relationship or he’s just been going along with it because you’re willing to do all the work.
  2. He’s unsure about you. If he’s trying to put on the brakes it could be because he’s not sure if he sees himself with you in the long run. He doesn’t want you to get too attached before he knows what he wants so he’s choosing to take a step back. The best thing you can do is give him the space he needs–if he doesn’t come back, it wasn’t meant to be.
  3. He doesn’t want to break up. The fact that he was honest with you and let you know he needs some time to himself instead of just ending things means he is open to communicating about your relationship. He’s letting you know what he needs—that’s a good thing. Not everyone is good at articulating how they feel as soon as they feel it, so be patient with him. But remember, you’re under no obligation to wait around forever.
  4. He’s trying to fade out. This was probably your immediate thought when he told you he needed space, and for good reason. If you’ve been spending a lot of time together and thought it was going well, seeing each other less isn’t exactly the next step you had in mind. He may not be the ‘rip the band-aid off’ type of guy, so if you think he’s trying to pull a fade, do everyone a favor and rip it off yourself.
  5. He’s thinking about himself. When someone asks for space, they aren’t thinking about how you’re going to feel about it. Maybe he’s in a place where he has to put himself and his own needs first (we’ve all been there). The problem is, you can’t be expected to ignore your own needs for his, at least not for long. All relationships go through ups and downs, so if you’re both willing to communicate and find a compromise, you can get through this.
  6. You’re moving too fast. It’s possible he really likes you and it has him feeling things he wasn’t expecting. He could have some walls up, be emotionally unavailable, or just need to take things slow. This is where communication is key. There’s plenty of time to get to know each other if that’s what you both want, so slowing things down doesn’t have to be a sign you’re headed back to the single life.
  7. He really just needs some time to himself. It’s easy to read too much into it when a guy you’re seeing says he wants space. But some people genuinely just need more alone time than others. It’s not healthy to spend all your time together anyway so maybe it’s not such a bad thing to see each other less and have time to spend with your friends and on your own individual interests.
  8. He’s feeling overwhelmed. Life can be a lot sometimes. If he’s stressed at work or dealing with family drama, he might not feel like he has much left to put into a relationship. You deserve someone who can put in the effort but no one is perfect at all times. If you think he’s just going through a rough patch, letting him know you’re there to support him could be the reminder he needs that your relationship is worth the effort.
  9. He’s trying to protect himself. If he’s been hurt in the past, it’s possible he hasn’t fully recovered and he’s afraid to be vulnerable again. If he suddenly feels the need to retreat, he could be afraid of getting in too deep with someone who is wrong for him or afraid of rejection. His feelings are totally valid, but so are yours. If you want a relationship and he can’t commit, don’t expect that to change any time soon. Cut your losses.
  10. He wants to make sure he’s in control. Putting a limit on how much you can see each other is his way of keeping you at arm’s length and staying in control of how fast your relationship is going. Think about it: if he asks for space, you’re going to feel like you have to give it to him and back off. You’ll be waiting around for him to let you know he wants to see you and wondering if he’s thinking about you. The ball is always in his court and you’re left wondering where you stand.
By day, Courtney is a digital marketing copywriter living in Toronto, Canada. By night, she's a freelance lifestyle writer who, in addition to Bolde.com, contributes regularly to AmongMen.ca, IN Magazine, and SheBlogs Canada. Want to chat about relationships, Stephen King or your favorite true crime podcast/documentary/book? She's on Twitter @courtooo.