Space within a Relationship
There comes a point in a relationship where one party might feel the need to tell you, “I need some space”. For many couples, this is their moment of panic, and trying to rationalize why their partner would want space from them — it creates arguments, misunderstandings, low self esteem, assumptions, anxiety, over analyzing/ over-thinking, and possibly fear of losing this person. As a matter of fact, I know what it is like to go through these emotions after being told by someone they need space; it’s the next worse thing to say after “we should take a break”. We assume nothing good comes from these words.
It’s because of those emotions, I felt that my partner at the time might have felt suffocated or felt as though I was co-dependent on her, when really it was me, me not being able to better manage the emotions, me not choosing to understand because nothing seemed to make sense at the time — I was too busy trying to understand what “space” meant, trying to figure things out in my head where I went wrong that she would want such things, trying to decide how to respond and pretending it didn’t bother me then falling short by blowing up her phone because I was scared of losing her. Not saying, that we shouldn’t be alarmed but it shouldn’t make us act so drastically because space in a relationship is good, is needed most times and is necessary if you want to better your relationship but back then I didn’t know any better, so I equated it with negativity instead of thinking things through. The way you react to your partner saying they need space is what will determine how they pursue this relationship going forward, many times if you overreact — your partner will want to leave the relationship or take a break from the relationship due to you trying to make something about you when it might be more about them and their needs wanting to be met, even after they have explained their why; you ignore it to only put the attention back on yourself in hopes they feel bad and change their mind. If the space is about you; normally they will let you know how you make them feel, or why they feel suffocated in the relationship and explain why having space is necessary for them. Most times, if you react calmly and ask questions and try to get a better understanding and roll with it, they will respect you for doing so, and if anything it will make things smoother and fighting/bickering doesn’t have to happen & they will feel respected in return if you don’t make them feel bad for wanting to have space to themselves.
Space isn’t about breaking up with you, it is about the person enjoying their own company or the person dialing down on being with you every waking moment. Space is them wanting to be an individual — wanting to spend time with other people in their lives, wanting to feel less retrained in the relationship — many times if they are in a controlling relationship or dating someone who is co-dependent, it starts to wear on them mentally so they need the space, they need that time to themselves without feeling as though you are right on top of them – metaphorically speaking. Many couples need their space from each other, because they see and are with this person ALL the time everyday, so space is needed every once in a while. Some people are open from the start about how they need space within a relationship and explain themselves as to why they need it and what happens when they don’t get enough of it. Not everyone is a stage 3 clinger, some people value their own individuality — which is important.
When your girlfriend/boyfriend tells you they need space, there is a rule of thumb to follow:
- Don’t overreact and assume the worst
- Ask them how you can assist with giving them enough space
- Support them
- Let them know you love them and respect their choice for some extra space & that you are okay with them needing their own time
- Take the time to understand their needs — listen!
- Don’t put the attention on yourself, this is about THEM and their needs, not about you right now
- Be patient
- Ask questions but don’t pester them about it — they might not know how much time is needed, maybe a week or a few hours, sometimes a couple of days .. if it is reasonable then there shouldn’t be much worry, Obviously a month or a year away might be questionable and raise some alarms pending your relationship
- If this space is needed because your partner feels suffocated or controlled .. then this is your time to re-think your actions and work on self and come back to the table with a solution so that your partner doesn’t have these feelings anymore towards you.
- During their time away from you, don’t blow up their phone/electronics with messages, emails, etc. This is part of being respectful towards their needs. Obviously, check in on them if need be to make sure they are safe but no need to blow up their phone asking if they have had enough space yet.
- Finally be on the same page — is this space needed to think about whether or not they want to continue the relationship, is this space needed so they can spend time with friends/family, is this space needed so they can do hobbies they enjoy, etc. Find out the why — so that you are both understanding why this the current situation.