Ouch that line hurts! Those dreaded three words are shocking and confusing, especially when you think you’re right in the midst of a budding relationship. Here’s a guide to help you understand what they’re really thinking – and what they’re not when you’re on the receiving end of this humdinger.
Forget an item, the two of you are a full-on, hand-holding couple. You’ve navigated the getting-to-know-you terrain and it’s really going well – long weekends away, finishing each other’s sentences – well. There’s no doubt about it: this one is into you!
Then, out of nowhere, they tell you, “I need some space!” Do you give them some permanent breathing room… or wait and see? Like most things, the answer depends on the context.
The simple answer:
If he says it, it’s no secret that most guys aren’t rock stars when it comes to expresssing their emotions. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have them – they just process feeling differently than women. When a guy is feeling claustrophobic in a relationship, he doesn’t necessarily want it to end – he just wants to sort out his thoughts (er, feelings… just don’t call them that!). Now, while this “love” thing might spark the desire to bond even more in many women, many men retreat to their “caves” when things get close. It’s just what they do. John Gray devotes an entire chapter of Men are from Mars; Women are from Venus to it for a reason!
But here’s the thing: according to most men, what they do is far more important than what they say. So if he asks for some space, but sets a date for dinner in a week, or says he’ll call you Saturday, or offers any other direct commitment regarding the next time he’ll see you, set your worries aside and take advantage of the time to yourself. If you’re honest, you’ve probably let some things slide in the throes of love, too – you know, like your friendships, your work… and all the other uniquely “you” things you used to love to do before you met him. Instead of stressing about what’s on his mind or what he needs, focus on yourself and start making other plans! There’s nothing more attractive than a love interest with a dance card that’s full…
The good news is, if you give a space-seeking guy what he asks for, most of the time he’ll come back recharged, ready for love… He will only be completely clueless as to why you would be infuriated, hurt or confused. So don’t be!
If your female love interest issues the “I need space,” line, do much the same. Give her the space, and be very, very busy. She may be feeling closed in or feel (right or wrong) that you’re being possessive and demanding of her time, or she may simply be overwhlemed by her own intense feelings for you. Give her the breathing room she asks for and remember that only time will tell if this relationship is the real deal. There’s no harm in taking a breather, but there can be immense damage to the realtionship by not honoring the others needs.
The other answer
If your space-seeker won’t commit to anything down the road, they may be trying to let you down easy. Express that no matter what your love interest’s intentions are, if it’s a break up they want, they’re not making things any easier by being anything other than straightforward. Then, if they are still unable to say that they’re not ending things, odds are, they probably aren’t. But don’t push this issue until you’ve given them plenty of space to regroup.
Whether they’re backing off for good or backing off for the good of the relationship, give your partner the breathing room they need. Chances are, they have no idea why they need space, and whatever the motives, overwhelming them now will only push them away. Focus on yourself in the meantime and you will be pleasantly surprised down the road – either when they comes back, or when you realize that the relationship wasn’t really right for you anyhow.
Check back next week for more favorite lines in a relationship and what may loom behind them… or not!
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