When a Man Asks for Space


Andy and I have been dating for more than six months. Up until last week it’s been great...

I am planning on starting a new feature called Monday mailbag.  On Mondays I will share emails from readers with their permission.  Names will always be changed to protect the writers privacy and that of the people in their lives.

Dear Lisa,

Andy and I have been dating for more than six months. Up until last week it’s been great, hands down the best relationship I’ve ever had.  We hadn’t talked about marriage, but we have talked a lot about the “future together”.

So, Friday night over dinner Andy tells me he needs some space.  He said he didn’t even really know what that means or how long, but he’s feeling like he needs some time on his own.  He says it’s not that he wants to date other people.  He just wants more time to spend with his friends and sort out how he’s feeling about “us”. 
I’m devastated.  I have no idea how to respond to this.  I want our relationship to work, so I’m willing to give him the space he’s asking for.   However, I’m not sure what he’s asking for.  Do I call or email him?  My sister’s birthday party is next week, and we were planning to go together.  Do I ask if he’s still planning on coming?  
Why do I feel like this is the beginning of the end of a wonderful relationship?

Alexa feels like it’s the beginning of the end, because it probably is.   Men don’t typically say they need space because they want to spend more time with their friends.  They say they need space because they want to spend less, or no time with you.  What they are saying is they haven’t decided for sure if they want to break up, but they don’t think they still want to be together.   So, stating the obvious, they are mostly out, but want to keep their options open.

So, as hard as it, the rule of thumb here is when a man asks for space, give him all the space in the world. (Tweetable!)  In other words, end it on the spot.   It might feel counterintuitive.  It might feel like the request for space indicates trouble that you need to fix.  However, your best chance of fixing anything is making certain that he gets his question answered, “What would my life be without her?”  He needs to know what he’d be missing, by actually missing it.

Breaking up with a man who asks for space does not guarantee he’ll come running back.  What it does guarantee is that you will have an easier time looking yourself in the mirror one way or the other, because you’ve exercised your right not to be sidelined.  You demonstrate that even if he doesn’t know what he wants, you do, which is to be cherished and adored.

This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission from the author.