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If you’re reading this article, then the guy you’re seeing or in a relationship with has probably told you he needs some space.
And you’re probably more than a little bit confused.
Space. What does that actually mean? What does it look like on a day-to-day basis? What’s he really trying to tell you? Are there any hidden messages? Where do you go from here?
This is normally something that happens when a relationship is still very much in its infancy.
When you’ve just been seeing each other casually, but you can tell things are on the verge of getting more serious. There’s potential there.
But you’re not in a fully committed relationship yet. A guy would probably, but of course not always, ask for a break rather than space if the two of you were in a long-term relationship.
Anyway, a guy asking for space can be a bit bewildering and make you feel very uncertain. So here are some answers to the questions people most commonly ask when this happens to them, to try to help you through it.
They might not all apply to your situation, but they can hopefully give you some solid guidance for how to move forward.
1. Why do some men need space?
The need for space isn’t something that’s just exclusive to men. Women make this request too.
But there are plenty of men out there who do find the prospect of commitment quite overwhelming at the beginning of a relationship.
Men might need space because they feel like a relationship is developing too fast and they’re getting scared. Maybe they really do like you, and that’s a terrifying prospect.
They’re not used to taking someone else’s needs into account and need some time to adapt to the idea of sharing their life with a partner.
Getting into a serious relationship is a real leap of faith, so maybe they want to be sure that it’s the right thing to do before they put their heart on the line.
Maybe their last relationship ended fairly recently, and they’re still not sure whether they’re ready to jump into something new.
Or it might be that they’ve got other things going on in their lives, and just don’t have the emotional energy available to put into a relationship right now. After all, we all know how all-consuming a new relationship can be.
Maybe they’re having trouble with their family or work or mental health and need space from you to be able to deal with that.
Essentially, their need for space is probably far more about them than it is about you.
2. Does this mean he’s not interested?
Maybe. But maybe not.
It’s true that some guys can be a little cowardly and say they need space from a relationship when they already know that the relationship isn’t going to work, but they can’t bring themselves to be up front and end things straight off.
That’s not acceptable behavior, but it’s something a lot of people do, and it’s not exclusive to men. Women do it too.
But they might genuinely need some space. Maybe they’re going through a tough time with their business, their family, or their mental state.
Maybe they genuinely want to use this space from you to work on a few things, in the hope that this budding relationship could work out in the long term.
So, don’t jump to any conclusions about what this means about their feelings for you. Listen to your gut, and if it tells you that there’s something there, be willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.
3. How should I react when a guy says he needs space?
Your guy has told you they need space from a relationship. Now what? If you still want things to work out between you then the only way to react is to take a deep breath, smile, and let them know you respect their decision.
There’s no point trying to talk them out of it or change their mind. That will only serve to push them away.
Do your best not to take it personally, or at least not to let them know that you’re hurt by their decision. This probably isn’t about you, but about them, so try to bear that in mind.
On the other hand, if their request for space is just the latest in a long line of signs that they’re just not that into you, then perhaps it’s time to say goodbye.
Let them know they can have all the space they like because you’ve decided there’s no future between you and move on to pastures new.
4. Should we stay in contact?
It’s okay to check in again now and then to make sure they’re doing okay, if you really want to. And you might have to see them at work or under some other circumstances.
But be wary of initiating too much contact, and don’t be tempted to try to lure them into long conversations.
If they initiate chats, then that’s okay. But try to keep the conversation short and sweet.
Try to be the one to bring the conversation to a close so that they see you are respecting their request for space.
They’ll probably be grateful to you for that. And maybe the fact that you aren’t chasing after them will make them wonder whether you’ve started losing interest, and change their mind about wanting quite so much space.
5. Does this mean we’re ‘on a break’?
The term break is often used for time out from a long-term relationship.
But if you’re in that strange no man’s land between being together and not, then you’re probably confused as to what this means is acceptable and what isn’t.
If the two of you hadn’t decided that you were seeing each other exclusively, then you’re free to go and meet new people and do whatever your conscience tells you is okay.
But if you had agreed that you were exclusive, then a request for space probably doesn’t mean you have a green light to get out there and date other people.
This is just a matter of listening to your gut. If you want the relationship to work and think it has a future, then you’ll probably want to err on the side of caution and not date anyone else until this situation has been resolved.
6. How can I win him back?
There’s not much you can do in these situations. After all, any contact you make with them is going against their request for space.
Lots of people try an indirect tactic via social media, posting pictures showing them having a great time in an attempt to make the guy jealous or show him what he’s missing.
And that’s something you should do your best to avoid. If you want to post on social media it should be for your own benefit, not because you’re hoping he’ll see it.
So, if you do want to post, then it might be best to hide your stories or timeline from him, so you’re not tempted to try to grab his attention.
The best way of winning him back is also very conveniently the best thing for you. Live your life to the full. Spend time with your friends and family. Do all the things that make you happy. Embrace the things that make you sparkle.
The main person you’re doing all that for should be yourself.
But, as an added bonus, going out and grabbing life by the horns will also let him know that you don’t need him in your life to have a good time (which can, perversely, suddenly make you seem far more appealing) and remind him just what a catch you are.
7. How long will this last / how long should I wait?
This is a how-long-is-a-piece-of-string-type question. It’s up to you to decide how long you want to wait for him to make up his mind.
It could be anything from a couple of days to a couple of weeks.
Anything more than a month at the most is definitely pushing it, as he knows you’ve got a life to live and can’t expect you to put it on hold for him.
He might specify the amount of time he needs. But if he doesn’t, then it’s your decision. How long are you prepared to wait?
You might consider setting a kind of deadline of how long you’re honestly willing to hang on. If you really, really like this guy and think there’s a future there, that deadline might be longer.
If he doesn’t come back to you or let you know that he’s decided things aren’t going to work out by that date, then you can let him know (calmly and respectfully) that you can’t wait for him anymore.
That will either help him realize he wants you back, or set you free.
8. How can I keep my mind off him?
If you really like this guy, then having this time apart from him could be tough.
But you shouldn’t spend the whole time he’s taking to sort himself out just thinking about him and worrying about what’s going to happen between you.
Keep yourself busy, spend time with your friends, and throw yourself into your work and your hobbies.
That way, if he does decide that the relationship isn’t right, then you’ll already have a full, busy life that doesn’t feel lacking because it doesn’t include him.
Still not sure what to do about your guy and his need for space? Chat online to a relationship expert from Relationship Hero who can help you figure things out. Simply click here to chat.
You may also like:
- 13 Core Reasons Why Men Pull Away (+ What YOU Can Do To Help)
- How To Give Him Space: 8 Things To Do + 6 Things NOT To Do
- The Push-Pull Relationship Cycle And How To Escape This Dynamic
- 10 Not-So-Subtle Signs Someone Has Commitment Issues