Cope when Your Boyfriend Says He Needs a Little Space

Edited by Nuance

You're boyfriend says, "I just need a little space". Your heart sinks. "This is it," you think; "he's breaking up with me – gently."

You can't force him to stay.

In this article we will make sweeping generalizations about gender. Try prefacing the words woman, women, man and men, with "some", "many" and "often". This article isn't about all men. Some are nurturing, emotional and love being crazy in love, while many women sleep sprawled naked on the bed with one foot on the floor, waiting for the first excuse to exit, stage left.

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Venus Verses Mars

Women and men are as different as Mars and Venus. The planet Venus is hot and excitable, while Mars is dry and barren. These similarities can be found in women and men. Women seem more capable of handling a lot of emotion. They are delirious when in love, giddy and over the moon. They don't mind feeling they are balancing on an emotional abyss, while the risk of plunging in is imminent. On the other hand, when men fall in love, they feel like they're losing control. They are apprehensive and afraid and quite often, will talk themselves out of love. Sadly, many men will choose a safe girl – one whom they are comfortable and happy with, over the one that makes them feel so disconnected. Being in love is not as easily a place of comfort for men.

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First Response

The way you respond to his request of space or time from you will carry a lot of weight when it comes to the chance of resuming your relationship. When your boyfriend tells you he needs a little space, or he needs to be alone right now, while you're nodding your head agreeing with him, you are furiously trying to think of a way to change his mind. The idea of him walking away from you fills you with dread, and your natural inclination is to think of something to make him stay.

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He may not even know why he needs space - he just knows he does.

Why Does He Need Space?

While his instinct is to run, your instinct is to stop him from running. It's such a dichotomy that it's amazing men and women ever get together. Here are some reasons why he may need space. Some of them, you may not want to hear.

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  1. 1
    He's feeling overwhelmed and needs to de-stress.
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  2. 2
    The relationship progressed too quickly, too intensely, and he needs time to process.
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  3. 3
    He's job is demanding a lot from him right now, and feels he needs to deal with that, as he can't give you the attention he'd like to.
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  4. 4
    He's missing his friends, and wants to spend some time with them.
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  5. 5
    He likes you, but you are annoying him for some reason, and he needs a break.
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  6. 6
    You are too controlling, demanding, or intense.
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  7. 7
    He doesn't really want to be in a relationship, and this is the best he can do.
    He thinks he's being gentle, and perhaps doesn't have the courage to tell you directly he's done.
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  8. 8
    He's found someone else, and he's too much of a coward to break up with you.
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Now read through all of those again. There is not one reason listed that would justify you try hanging onto him at this time. You either love him, and are willing to put your ego aside and realize he just might be telling it how it is – he needs space, or he's just not interested, in which case hanging on would be detrimental to you well being and sanity, not to mention his. This is the moment you decide how much dignity you handle this situation with.

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What You Shouldn't Do

It's like fighting your instincts, but the last thing you want is to be with a guy who doesn't really want to be with you, and you don't want to seems as if you don't love or trust your boyfriend, or respect him enough to give him the space he asked for. If you have any hope of resuming your relationship in the near future, don't;

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  1. 1
    Ask why.
    Don't ask him a lot of questions, or demand to know WHY he needs space. He may be feeling overwhelmed. He may not really know himself why he needs space; he just knows he does.
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  2. 2
    Grill his friends.
    Likewise, don't demand answers from his friends and family about what's going on with him, and why he needs space.
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  3. 3
    Invent excuses to connect.
    It's so easy to come up with reasons why you just have to call him, or send him a text. You spend a lot of time justifying why you need to contact him. Best plan – resist the temptation, and…  
    1. Don't call! He knows he left his underpants at your place. You don't have to call him to tell him you've found them – or anything else.
    2. Don't text! He's heard that joke. You don't need to share it with him. This also includes texting him by "accident". "Oh, sorry - I meant to text the other Michael." Uh huh. Everyone knows this trick.
    3. Don't interact with him on social media! This includes commenting on his photos and comments, tagging him, posting pictures of you two together, etc.
    4. Don't Drive by his place to see if he's home!
    5. Don't cyber-stalk him!
    6. Don't troll him on social media!
    7. Don't talk about him on social media! Especially don't post things telling people he's left you, or how sad you are, it doesn't empower you, it makes you seem a bit pitiable, and that is not useful.
    8. Don't obsess about where he is and who he's with.
    9. Don't conveniently "bump into him" at his work, clubs, friend's places, shopping, school, etc. It's way more obvious than you can imagine.
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What You Should Do

The truth is, men are strange creatures. They less interested you seem, the more interested they become. Keep that in mind if you're hoping this is just temporary arrangement, and soon you'll be back in his arms.

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  1. 1
    Respect his need to be alone.
    Even if it hurts, he has the right to live his life as he wants.
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  2. 2
    Find out what the ground rules are.
    We all know the famous "Friends" episode where after Ross slept with another girl, he continually claimed, "WE WERE ON A BREAK!"  
    1. Work out whether or not you are both free to date. Sometimes, just bringing this up will give your boyfriend a little jolt.
    2. Suggest a date night. If you feel he'd be receptive, suggest after a week or two, you might go on a date. If he likes that idea, don't wait for him to make all the plans. Create a date night he'll never forget. If not – just say fine, and carry on.
    3. Decide rules regarding keys to each other's places. If you are free to date, you might want to get your key back. Again, this will pique a man's interest more than it will deter him.
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  3. 3
    If he contacts you.
    Reply, by all means, but make it short. Don't use it as an invitation to start a conversation that goes back and forth. This is easily avoided by not asking him any questions, or leaving a statement that requires a reply.
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  4. 4
    Be gracious.
    Carry on, and enjoy yourself. He'll be more interested in resuming the relationship if he sees you having fun without him, the same cannot be true if you're moping around.
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What Are The Possible Outcomes?

It may be a very challenging time for you, but if you handle this properly, you stand a much better chance at resuming the relationship in the near future.

  1. 1
    No Harm - No Foul.
    He deals with whatever he needed to deal with, and your relationship resumes stronger and better than ever. You've both learned a great deal about trust.
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  2. 2
    Walking on Eggshells.
    He returns, but things are different. Both of you are walking on eggshells, unsure of your relationship. If you give it time, things might improve or they might not.
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  3. 3
    Fade to Black.
    The disconnect between you is never healed. Slowly, the relationship dissolves. You might not even notice it, but soon you realize you are single once more, and he has moved on. It happens. Actually, it usually happens. If people could look at relationships as something wonderful for a time, instead of expecting forever from every relationship, only to end up feeling like a failure. Be gracious. Think of the nice things about him. Don't trash him. You want someone to love you the right way, so you're good. In time, you may be able to be friends again, but probably best to keep your distance for a while.
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  4. 4
    Weak Man.
    He never intended to get back with you. He's weak and didn't have enough courage to just break up with you. Sometimes guys leave you hanging.
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  5. 5
    Deception.
    He had already started seeing someone else. He's not a good man. There are good men, and he isn't one of them. As much as it feels terrible, and you feel cheated and lied to, and humiliated, you are so better off without him, and you deserve much better.
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The bottom line is this; when a man – or a woman wants space – or needs time – it's not your decision. They can do what they want, and it's up to you how you to react to it. You can create a lot of drama and over emotionalize the situation, which doesn't do anything for anyone, or you can try your best to see the world from his perspective, be understanding, and wait it out. If you don't like it, then you break up with him. There. Done. All's good. Carry on.

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