“A busy, vibrant, goal-oriented woman is so much more attractive than a woman who waits around for a man to validate her existence.”
~ Mandy Hale
He's told you that he's unsure about the relationship. He's told you that he "loves you" but not "in love with you." He's told you he needs time to think about the relationship. He's told you not to keep asking him the same questions over and over. He's told you he needs space to figure things out.
If you're faced with this, it can be an uncertain and confusing time.
Any number of factors can contribute to a relationship getting to this point. Here are some possibilities: lack of communication; partners having different ways they deal with emotions; partners not getting their needs met; an emotional or physical affair; partners feeling guilty that they can't meet each other's needs, etc. The factors are endless.
My point is you alone can't figure out what happened that got the relationship to this point.
You can't come to a clear understanding about your relationship until both of you are willing to have an open and honest conversation.
But until then, what can you do?
Stop focusing on the relationship and begin focusing on you.
No matter how complicated your situation is there are simple ways you can empower yourself when your partner tells you that he needs space.
1. Accept your situation
Begin by accepting that your situation is confusing and that you're in limbo. Accept that you're not responsible for figuring everything out and that it takes "two to tango." When you accept your situation, you can take the next steps that are good for you.
2. Stop over-analyzing
The more you keep wondering and trying to figure out what happened, the more anxious you'll feel. When you obsess, it will keep you stuck in a never ending cycle of worry, fear and doubt.
Stop the "analysis paralysis."
Instead focus on the facts.
Focus on what your partner has said to you that is clear and concise. Don't make assumptions or jump to conclusions. Focus on what you have control over - which is you and your daily life.
3. Ask for clarification
As much as your partner may not want to discuss the issues, you have the right to ask questions or express how you feel. For example, "What does needing space mean?" or "I'm confused about where we stand."
But at the same time, respect your partner's need for space. Don't keep pushing for an answer when he doesn't want to talk.
List the items you need clarification or have questions on and share it with your partner. Some couples choose to do this with a therapist where they can feel emotionally safe to open up.
4. Identify your boundaries
When couples are in this type of situation, setting boundaries in the relationship is critical. Whether you're married and unsure if you'll separate, or living together or dating, knowing what is good for you is the first step in the process.
Make a list of your boundaries. Examples are: how will you address sleeping arrangements; whether or not you'll remain physically intimate; how will you communicate and how often; how will difficult issues be discussed - in a neutral place, outside the home, in the presence of a therapist etc.
5. Engage in self-care
Proper self-care is vital during stressful times. Make yourself a priority. Take time to get adequate sleep, eat healthy, engage in daily exercise, and reach out for support to family and friends.
And most importantly, stay in the moment. Remember that being in the moment will bring you clarity and peace.
6. Recognize the pursuer-distancer cycle
In a relationship when your partner is in conflict about the relationship, he may not know how he really feels, may be worried he'll hurt your feelings, may feel guilty or want to avoid conflict altogether. The best you may get in the beginning is mixed messages and "I don't want to talk about it." This doesn't at all mean that communication is not important, but it does mean how you cope with the lack of communication will set the tone for how you feel.
In a classic pursuer-distancer relationship, the pursuer keeps pursuing and the distancer keeps distancing. This dynamic is not only toxic but emotionally draining.
Recognize when you're pursuing the relationship in unhealthy ways with little response from your partner. Instead, change the dynamic and set boundaries, express your feelings and needs and let go of the outcome.
If you've told your partner that you love him and that you want to work on the relationship, constantly reminding him of that will only push him away.
Respect your partner's needs and request to have space. You'll be glad you did and more likely receive the honest, less reactive side of him in the long run.
It's never easy when relationships get to this point. The uncertainty is the most difficult part. But remember to focus on what you have control over. Your communication, your boundaries, your self-care and "your truth" will set you free. And trust that staying in the moment will guide you and give you the answers that you need.
Kavita A. Hatten, MS, LPC, NCC- www.phoenixcounseling.net
Dating can be complicated. You might find yourself wondering, “Is he really that into me?” Or “Is he interested in taking this relationship to the next level?” Or “Does he need space?”
Each are valid concerns, but let’s focus on that last question.
It may be hard to tell whether or not the person you’re dating just needs space or is actually ready to walk away from the relationship. If you aren’t quite sure, here are a few signs you might need to pay attention to:
If it’s just space he needs he is likely to do the following:
He will ask for space.
Most mature men know how to ask for what they need and space is no different. Instead of being upset by the request, consider it might be necessary and appreciate the honesty in the ask.
He will seem easily agitated but you’ll notice he’s still trying and showing up.
Certain behaviors are easy to spot. Take note of whether or not he seems easily agitated lately and recognize space could be a really good thing for the both of you. You might notice he’s a little short with you or tends to nitpick small things more often than usual.
If he’s ready to call it quits, here’s some common behaviors:
He has no interest in anything regarding you.
If what you’re wearing, where you’ve been, where you’re going, or what you need is no longer his concern, he is likely ready to walk away. Even those who are frustrated in their relationship, but still interested in saving it, will surely care about you and the things that are important to you.
He is not available anymore.
When he turns down your invitations for dates or outings with friends, and isn’t interested in talking about what’s going on in the relationship he is likely considering if there is a future for the two of you. People who want to make it work, will do what is necessary to make it work.
He stops communicating with you.
Additional signs he’d like to call it quits are if you don’t know where he is or if he doesn’t return your calls. He has likely checked out of the relationship. If it feels like you’re going in two separate directions and he seems unbothered it’s time to consider having that tough conversation.
Again, relationships can be challenging. It’s so important to be aware in your relationship, communicate and pay attention to the signs.
Tiya Cunningham-Sumter, Certified Relationship Coach – www.thelifeandlovecoach.com
So your man’s become aloof, distracted, or appears less interested in spending time with you. Or perhaps he seems moody or emotionally distant when he is with you.
Pretty disconcerting stuff for sure. I’m not surprised that you’re confused about where you stand with him and that you wonder if he wants out or simply needs some time apart to figure things out.
Of course, there are many ways you could interpret his behavior. However, there is really only one reliable way to determine if he’s in or out (unless you’re an accomplished mind reader) -- and that is to ask him.
A scary? Sure. But some ways are better than others to approach such a discussion. Here is one approach. See what you think.
Opening up an honest dialogue
What you want to do is to open up an honest dialogue with your man. For that to happen, you need to create a space where a respectful yet truthful discussion can occur.
Here are some suggestions to guide you.
1. Begin your conversation with what you’ve observed about his behavior.
Don’t make it angry or accusatory. Just focus on the facts – what you see and hear. You could say something like, “I notice that you seem distracted when we’re together. And so I’m wondering what’s going on for you. Are you okay? Are we okay?”
2. Listen carefully to his words and at the same time note his manner.
That will tell a lot about whether he’s leveling with you or not.
3. Now could be a good time to be honest about your concerns about your relationship.
Use an even yet caring tone, because in that way he is more likely to be receptive to you. Planning your words ahead of time is helpful.
4. Invite him to be totally candid about any concerns he has about your relationship.
It’s better to know the truth than to live in some fantasy world about you, him and your future together.
5. Now may also be the time to get into the nitty-gritty of things.
You can judge if this is the right time by the quality and content of the discussion you’ve had so far. So if it feels okay, tell him what you need from him in terms of your relationship. Remember that, while it’s acceptable to express your needs, it doesn’t mean that he is obliged to meet them. It’s his right to say no.
6. Invite him to tell you what he needs or would like from you in terms of your relationship.
Again, listening to what someone needs doesn’t mean that you have to meet those needs if you feel you can’t deliver for any reason. So you too have the right to say no. Or you could say that you need time to consider what he’s asked.
7. Importantly, be prepared for answers that you may not want to hear.
Keep in mind that you’re after the truth. It’s better to face reality and deal with it than live in an illusion. You want to know if this relationship boat is going to float or not, before you invest more of yourself into it.
If he wants space, give it to him.
At the end of your conversation, if he says he needs space or time out for whatever reason, then step back and let him have it.
And while he’s having his space, create some space of your own to get to know yourself, including your needs and desires in a relationship.
After this period of self-discovery and taking into consideration the discussion you’ve already had with your man, you should know if this relationship is worth your time and care or not.
And if this relationship can’t deliver what you need, then be prepared to move on.
You should not to be left guessing
Bottom line. You don’t need to accept less than what you’re worth and what you need. And you shouldn’t have to be left guessing if you are wanted, loved and respected in any relationship.
Be your own best friend and advocate when it comes to relationships – or really any aspect of life. No one else can do that job better than you.
Mary Rizk, Transformative Coach - www.maryrizk.com
The beginning of relationships can be so exciting as well as so anxiety provoking.
Women are often wondering, where the relationship is going, if the guy is really interested and if it will last. If you have been hurt in the past, you may be more guarded, afraid of being vulnerable because you may get hurt again.
It can be hard to tell the difference between a guy needing space, wanting to move slowly and a guy distancing himself because he does not want to continue the relationship.
If you are interested in the guy and he asks for space; do not be afraid to ask if you are exclusive and what does he mean by space?
If you were exclusive and now he is wanting to see other people; be honest with yourself as far as, if you are really okay with this. Do not go along with anything you are not comfortable with.
If he needs some space because he does not know what he wants as far as a relationship or a commitment; you can decide how long, if at all you are willing to date without the relationship progressing.
If the guy can not be honest in his communication as far as what kind of space he needs; and if he starts becoming more distant, such as not returning your calls or texts then he most likely does not want to continue the relationship.
Most women need some type of closure and of course deserve that; however sometimes this does not happen and a person just might stop communicating with them. It is appropriate if you do not hear back to follow up with one more phone call, text or email. You can only control your behavior.
If at that point there is still no response; that should be your closure.
Take some time to grieve the relationship that you wanted it to be; and decide when you feel ready to continue to date other people.
One other thing that I see happen a lot is a relationship will start out fast and intense, where the couple spend a lot of time together and then all of a sudden, they stop hearing back from the guy at all, or very sporadic. I would give it one chance to hear how busy the guy is and a reason why he is out of touch ( if you are really interested ) but when you do see him again; make your expectations clear in terms of communication.
If you are hearing from him once a month; be honest with yourself as to if you are getting your needs met by this.
More often then not, the women is not getting her needs met when this happens. You do not have to continue this type of relationship. If he does not know what he wants and you do; you certainly can choose to end it rather then wait for something that might never happen. I think if he is honest and communicating consistently with you : then if he needs space, give him space.
If he says he is going to call and doesn't or says he is going to meet you somewhere and does not show up; then you can choose as to whether or not you want to see him again or not. This type of behavior though usually indicates the man does not want a commitment or is not interested anymore.
Whatever the reason is for that behavior; you should not be treated that way anyway.
It is one thing to need space and still be respectful and honest; and another thing to be disrespectful and stop communicating with you, with little or no explanation. There are plenty of men out there that you would be better suited to then that. You are worth it!
You know when things are going well in your relationship. You see him often, enjoy your time together and share common interests and goals, which make things very satisfying. But, you also will know when things change and you need to reassess your commitment.
Here are some signs to watch out for:
- He’s calling/texting you less
- He’s making excuses why he can’t see you
- He’s less romantic
- He’s forgetting important details or commitments you’ve made together
In other words, the relationship is losing some of the momentum it used to have. So does he just need space or is it over? How can you tell the difference?
If your partner appears to spend a lot of time with his friends and is too busy for you, he may be hinting that he enjoys their company more than yours. If he is less attentive, annoyed and even rude to you, he may be hinting that the end is near. Your only recourse is to find out what changed and if you can rekindle what you had or if it’s just too late.
Remember, when a guy needs space, it’s either because he’s afraid of getting too close, afraid things are moving too quickly, afraid he doesn’t know how he feels or just not ready to commit.
Are you willing to wait for him to be ready or are you able to walk away and let someone who knows what he wants step in? The answer is up to you and wasting time with someone who’s not sure, is not in your best interest.
Amy Sherman, M.A., LMHC – www.yourbabyboomersnetwork.com
So he says he needs some space and yet you are left wondering if the relationship is coming to an end. How can you tell if he really just needs some extra room for himself?
Here are 5 tips to help you discern what is going on.
1. Ask him!
Yes, get right to the point and ask him if it is space he really needs or is the relationship changing for him. If you pay attention to his body language, you can usually tell if his mouth is saying one thing and his heart is saying something else. If you think he saying what you want to hear and not what he is really feeling, then try the next 4 tips.
2. Give him some extra space.
You don't have to talk to him every day, you don't have to text him every day. This isn't about playing games with him, it is about really giving him some space to decide what it is he wants.
3. Ask him how much time he thinks he needs and does he want to communicate during this time or does he want the solitude.
You want to remember that if this relationship is coming to an end, you don't want to hang on to something that is not going to continue, and if it is really space that he needs, honor that. You would want him to honor your space if you needed it.
4. If he is ambiguous about the amount of time he needs, then see if he is willing to check in once a week to at least let you know that the relationship is not over.
If he doesn't want to offer that peace of mind to you, then you may want to prepare to move on from this relationship. You don't need to make any drastic moves, but be aware that your feelings are not a priority to him right now.
5. Check in with your gut.
Your 'knower' knows! And, if you know it is ending don't torture yourself by pretending everything is ok. Remember that if a relationship is ending, it is only because it was not a good fit. The man you love is out there and you won't find him by pretending this is the one.
Respect yourself and love yourself enough, to be honest when you know the truth, even before you ask him.
Nada Hogan L.Ac, Dipl.Om, M.Om - www.nadahogan.com
This is a question that I would interpret as a projection.
While it says nothing about the thinking of the man, it says volumes about your thinking. It says that you are unsatisfied. There is not enough forward movement, excitement, interest or intimacy to keep you satisfied. Women are sometimes afraid to let themselves define a relationship. I think this is a holdover from the bad old days when women didn’t want to seem too needy or, God forbid, pushy.
If you are wondering if he’s needing space, aren’t you really talking about a lack of your own relationship satisfaction?
If you felt you were with an engaged and interested partner, the question of his need for space wouldn’t even cross your mind. You need to step up and decide if you, not him, are satisfied with the status quo. If not, don’t ask him if he is getting enough; tell him you are not getting enough and that something needs to change for the relationship to continue.
It’s a mistake to focus on the partner for information about the quality of the relationship.
If he’s not happy, it’s up to him to tell you what he wants. You should not have to try to read him. That process just creates anxiety, possibly for both of you as he could be wondering why you’re upset. Partners owe it to each other to tell the truth so that neither has to worry about being in the dark about the quality of the relationship.
Turn the focus towards yourself.
Monitor your own level of happiness or unhappiness and you will have far more information to share with him. It can give you both the information you need to make improvements. Dissatisfaction isn’t a bad think; it’s just information. It’s a clue that something isn’t working the way you want it to. Clues lead to ideas for improvement. Ignoring them leads to problems that will grow too big to easily fix.
Speak up and let him know that you want him to speak up too.
While sometimes information can be difficult, it’s always useful. Make it a habit too occasionally take your satisfaction temperature, whether it’s about your job, school, friends, family or your primary relationship. You will be better prepared to take the steps to make your life more fulfilling.
Sally LeBoy, MFT – www.sallyleboymft.com
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