3 Tips for Women to Cope with the “I Need Space” Conversation

You’re dating the man of your dreams.  Things are going wonderfully.  And then suddenly, it seems as though he’s backing off and becoming more distant.  You are confused.  You ask him what’s going on and hear those 4 dreaded words “I need some space.”  What does this mean and what are you to do?

Men and women process things differently.  Women like to talk about emotions, where men often deal with emotions by retreating into their “cave.”   Women often panic when hearing these words, therefore pursuing their partner more aggressively in an attempt to hold onto him.  This will in turn push the man further away, as not only is he not getting his space, his partner is now going into overdrive in an attempt to hold onto him and fix things.

When a man needs his space, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he wants to end the relationship.  It could be that he is feeling overwhelmed with external stressors or is trying to find himself or find balance, therefore the reason not having much to do with his partner or the relationship itself.  On the other hand, it could mean that he is feeling overwhelmed in the relationship, that it is getting too serious, or that he is questioning whether to stay in it.  Whatever the reason, he needs his space to retreat, recharge, and figure this out for himself.  After getting space, he may bounce back and in turn be able to be a better partner as a result!

Ideally, it will be helpful for the two of you to discuss what the space will look like.  What are the expectations?  What will phone, text, or in-person contact look like?  How long will the space last?

Tips on how women can handle this:

  1.  Give him the space that he is asking for.  The more that you pursue him, the worse you will make the situation.  If he wants limited contact, then do not call, text, or use social media to contact him.  Let him reach out to you when he is ready.  This will give him a chance to have the space to sort things out for himself, see that you are respecting that, and maybe miss you in the process.  Being patient is tough but will likely be worth it if you are still invested in working on the relationship.
  2. Do things you haven’t had time to do.  Is there a project that you were wanting to work on, but just didn’t have the time?  Is there a class you wanted to take?  Have you found yourself spending less time with girlfriends?  Whatever it is, take this time to focus on you and things you would enjoy doing.
  3. Take care of yourself.  Make sure you are still taking care of yourself.  Don’t stop eating or isolate.  Journal about your feelings; it’s okay to feel sad, angry, scared, or frustrated.  If you decide you no longer want the space, it’s okay to communicate that to your partner as your needs are important, too.  That might mean potentially moving on to a different person who can better meet your needs, but it’s better to get your needs met rather than agreeing to something that does not make you happy.

 

Author: Carolyn Cole, LCPC, LMFT, NCC

I am a licensed psychotherapist in Chicago with a Masters Degree in Family Counseling. I am a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and Nationally Certified Counselor. I work as a psychotherapist in private practice where I focus on relationship concerns and I also work in a community mental health agency as a Clinical Director where I provide clinical supervision to new therapists.

Leave a Reply