What to Do When He Says He Needs Space
“I need some space for myself,” he said. These six little words usually arrive out of the blue and plunge you into a world of confusion. What’s your next move?
First of all, don’t panic. There are plenty of good reasons why your man might need space and it doesn’t necessarily indicate the beginning of the end to your relationship.
In fact, there are four steps you can do right now, to bring him back. Before you put them into action, though, you need to take care of your own mindset. To do so, remember that:
You Are A Prize That He’s Now At Risk Of Losing
As soon as he utters that tiny, yet powerful sentence, it’s easy to feel like all the power is in his hands. You feel hurt and bewildered that he needs time away from you, but, worse than that, if you’re apart from each other there’s nothing you can really do to work on the relationship.
Because he’s the one who requested space, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking he’s a prize that you won, and now you’re going to lose it. The more you scramble for ideas to keep him there, agonise over what you did wrong and let paranoia run wild, the more he gains the upper hand in your mind.
Put a gigantic red stop sign in front of your thoughts and remember the other side of the coin. You’re a prize too, just as much as he is. Space goes in both directions. By asking for space, he’s also risking losing you as well. This could, in fact, be a major screw up by him, when you carry on with your own life and discover that you’re just fine without him in it.
Space Can Be A Normal Need for Men
There’s no doubt about it, sometimes a guy asks for space because he’s doing the dodgy, but other times it’s a legitimate request. Think about the times you’ve needed space, whether it be from work, a group of friends or a time-consuming project. There are reasons behind the need, that range from the desire to reconnect with yourself to feeling uncertain and needing to heal after an upsetting situation.
Often, a guy who feels incompetent or uncertain within himself isn’t capable of putting his full heart into a relationship. The more incompetent or uncertain he feels, the more his instincts tell him to fall back to his mancave and rebuild himself before he can face the world or maintain a relationship.
Sometimes Needs are Conflicting
The problem with a guy taking up residence in his mancave, is that he’s putting his need for space above your need for connection and intimacy. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this request and conflicting needs are normal within relationships, as it’s not possible to be on the same page with anyone, all the time.
The problem is, we basically form relationships to meet each other’s needs, like love, appreciation, protection and support. A good relationship means that you both work to meet those needs, like looking after each other when you’re sick or helping out in busy times. When the balance swings too far towards one person’s needs, the relationship is no longer viable. So, you need to remember that his desire for space can’t, and shouldn’t, be allowed to continue indefinitely.
“A good relationship is where you both work to meet each other’s needs, like looking after each other when you’re sick or helping out in busy times. When the balance swings too far towards one person’s needs, the relationship is no longer viable.”
His Clock Is Now Ticking
How do you make sure he doesn’t take up indefinite man cave residence? Well, you can’t really. But you can set your own stopwatch. The moment he asks for space, think of it like switching on a timer. You’ve agreed in the short term to put his need before yours, but it can’t go on forever. With this mindset, you’ll feel strong, in control of your own circumstances and better equipped to deal with his request.
The million-dollar question is, how long do you wait? Let’s jump into a 4-step practical process, so you know exactly what to do and when to do it.
1. Don’t Give In To Anxiety
The top emotion you’ll probably feel when a man asks for space, is anxiety. It’s no wonder, because it leaves you feeling vulnerable, uncertain about your future and confused about the way he feels about you. Pretty much all of us hate feeling this way, so we launch into behaviours that make the situation undeniably worse.
The most common response is to agree to give your man space, then freak out and do the exact opposite. You call him all day, text to ask why he hasn’t called back, show up at his place unannounced or pester his friends about where he is or what he’s doing. Basically, you try to force yourself on him so you don’t lose your relationship. The verdict? By ignoring his request for space, you push him further into it.
Another knee jerk response is to take his request for space so detrimentally that you break up with him instead of allowing him time. This is your anxiety shouting at you and telling you to run away to save yourself. It’s self-preservation, not self-respect. When your guy has a legitimate reason, it’s not showing any respect for him either. If you constantly try to break the anxiety of situations like this, you’ll be ending a lot of relationships prematurely, now and into the future.
2. Invest In Yourself
In dating and relationships, you only want to invest in a man who invests in you. Reciprocation always rules. Now, in this case, obviously you’re not really on a level playing ground. While he’s having space, he’s obviously not investing much time or energy in you. So, what do you do? Invest in yourself!
Go back to taking care of your own mindset and remember that the prize is YOU. While he’s taking space to meet his own needs, it’s crucial that you do the same. Remember how carefree and confident you felt around him when you first started dating? That’s the ‘you’ to call on now.
With all your extra time, work on yourself by doing what makes you feel strong, sexy, confident and fulfilled. As you’re doing so, you’re also reducing your investment in him, therefore that sense of powerlessness will quickly evaporate. When you take the opportunity to get your best self back, even if he doesn’t come back, you’re going to feel fantastic again, like the high-value woman you are.
3. Let Him Come To You
This is probably one of the hardest steps to follow, but only if you’re spending more time investing in him, than you are on yourself. Investing in him doesn’t necessarily mean seeing him or supporting him either. It means all the hours you waste thinking about him, crying over him, stalking him on Facebook or trying to devise ways to get him back.
He’s the one who asked for space, therefore it’s on him to ask for an END to the space. There’s no point texting after a day to see if he’s ready to come back yet. As long as you’ve offered him your support for his request, don’t fool yourself into thinking he needs you to encourage him back, as an excuse to connect with him. Let him come to you.
4. Know When His Time is Up
Back to that million dollar question, when is his time up? First of all, remember that the clock is ticking and if he doesn’t come to you, his time is going to run out – and he’ll lose you. Every situation is different, depending on how long you’ve been with someone. For example, if we’re talking about your husband of five years, the amount of time you give him will be totally different to a guy you’ve only been seeing for a month.
To figure it out, ask yourself these three questions:
How legitimate Is His Reason For Requesting Space?
Question your guy’s desire for space and the reasons behind it, to determine how long to give him. Is he asking for space because he lost his job or his mother is gravely ill? In this case, he needs his man cave time and he’ll emerge when he’s ready, so give him a decent amount of time to sort through his feelings and deal with his emotions. If his only reason is that he’s busy, or some other vague explanation, his clock is ticking faster, so don’t delay in moving on with your own life.
How much has he put into the relationship?
Has your guy earned the right to put his needs ahead of yours? It’s not a question of who does more for who, it’s more about acknowledging the status of your relationship. If you’re in a long-term partnership, has he ever done something similar for you? Does he generally put in the effort to be a good partner to you? If he does, it’s fairly obvious he deserves more time than a guy who hasn’t built up any ‘relationship credit’, so to speak.
Is he updating you along the way?
Even when a man is going through a crisis, when he updates you on the process, it shows he’s going to the effort to show that he’s invested in the relationship. In this way, he’s actively appreciating the sacrifice you’re making, therefore, he’s still meeting some of your needs. Just a simple text each day or a call at night is enough for you to know he’s intending on keeping things going. If you haven’t heard from him at all in a week and it’s a more casual relationship, it might be time to stop the clock right there.
Exactly how much time you allow is up to you. To give you an indication though, if it’s a new relationship and his reasons aren’t legitimate, a couple of days to a week is usually enough. In the example above, it might take much more time, across several weeks or months even. As long as he’s keeping you updated though, you’ll know he’s still investing time in you.
Finally, that’s a fair amount of information to take on board, so here it is in the simplified version:
- Agree to meet your partners need for space and switch on the timer.
- Remember you’re a prize too and get back to being the high-value woman you are.
- Let him come to you.
If he doesn’t, in a timeframe that feels right to you, it’s time to put your own needs first, end the relationship and move on to a guy who deserves you.