3 steps to take when your boyfriend says he ‘needs space’
by Kristina Marchant
When you’re used to spending a lot of time with a man and feel extremely emotionally connected to him and then he tells you he wants distance, a myriad of uncontrollable emotions can unleash inside you.
Has your boyfriend recently told you he needs to take some space from your relationship to think about things? Though the words “I need space” are dreaded by lovers everywhere and can leave one feeling confused, panicked, and rejected, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it can actually be an opportunity to bring you closer together.
Most of us already know that men are from Mars, and that translates to them needing time by themselves to investigate and figure out their feelings and thoughts. However, there are still things you can do when he says he needs his alone time that will help sway his decision in your favor.
Here’s the deal. When a man says he needs his space, there are two things usually happening inside his head:
- There are aspects of the relationship and/or his life that are making him doubt whether or not he wants to stay involved with you.
- There are aspects about you that he loves enough to make him say he needs space instead of “goodbye.” This is what you need to bank on while doing what I call the “Love Him, Letter Him, Let Him Go” technique. Remember, there are things you can do to help leave an impression in his head that he won’t quickly forget.
Step 1: Get a handle on your feelings.
When you’re used to spending a lot of time with a man and feel extremely emotionally connected to him and then he tells you he wants distance, a myriad of uncontrollable emotions can unleash inside you. You can feel panic and extreme anxiety. You can feel deep sadness and strong anger. All these feelings are valid and healthy reactions to a loved one pulling back. However, you must also love him and honor his need for space, too. And this is really hard to do when your feelings are so strong, you don’t know how to get them in check.
You want to beg him, question him, continue to call him. You want to maybe scream at him or cry tears of desperation and confusion while asking him, “Why?” If you are like me, you will want to drive to his house in the middle of the night in a state of sheer panic. Basically you might feel tempted to act in ways that you are not proud of. This is normal for a woman who is in touch with her feelings and in love with a man. It is normal to feel like you are fighting for your life and that you are being ripped from someone very important to your existence. So don’t judge yourself for your feelings, thoughts, and actions when a man pulls back.
But let’s also talk about how to get these feelings, thoughts, and actions under control so that you can make a man feel like you care about his needs and his wishes, and are not just in survival mode, ready to fight “tooth and nail” for the love you want, regardless of how he feels. To get a handle on your feelings, you first have to give yourself permission to release them. You have to let yourself cry and scream as much as you need to. You have to have a space in your house where you go and just allow yourself to feel everything. For me, it’s my bathtub. Know yours and go there!
Once your negative fear-based feelings are out in the open, I ask that you informally meditate. Light candles, take a shower beforehand, and put on some soothing music. Take deep breaths and go inside yourself, taking inventory of your body. Try to stretch and loosen up tense areas and then once you feel like you body is responding to your attention and movements to ease it, I want you to concentrate on your heart. Imagine your heart glowing with a bright, powerful light.
Imagine this light expanding to envelop your whole body, and that your whole being is encased in a bubble of all loving, all-trusting, healing and positive light. Let this powerful, sparkling, dense light soothe you. Once you feel calmer and more at peace, you can follow the second step of the technique:
Step 2: Begin thinking lovingly and positively about your man.
Think about his face, his smell, his house, his laugh and more. Think about all the things that define him and make you love him. Feel your heart warm over with love for him and deep care for him as a person. Then open your eyes. Get a piece of paper and with loving feelings flowing through your heart, make two lists:
- A list of all the things you love about him.
- Another list of all the things you think he loves about you.
Take a look at these lists and circle three things on each list that you feel are the most important things you two love about each other. Now, you can follow the third step:
Step 3: Send him an email or write him a letter.
In this email or letter you’re going to mention those three things you love about him and three memories that correlate to those three things you know he loves about you. Remember, you’ll also mention the following:
- Tell him you respect his need for space and will honor it.
- Mention your feelings about his request for space.
- Tell him that you care enough about your relationship to wait for him as long as you can wait.
- Tell him you will honor and respect any decision he makes.
- Reassure him that you will be okay no matter what.
You aren’t going to have any pulling energy in the email. What does this mean? It means you are not going to tell him anything that makes him feel smothered, controlled, guilty, or fearful of losing you. Anything that’s about pulling him back to you instead of surrendering to his need for space. Your letter is a gift of love to him, not a manipulation to leave him feeling like he has to be with you or else he is a total jerk to abandon you and reject you. You aren’t going to threaten not to be there when he gets back. You aren’t going to tell him how you are not eating and how you cry on the floor of the shower for hours. You aren’t going to tell him you want to spend the rest of your life with him and have his babies, and know he is the one to be buried next to for eternity. You aren’t going to beg or plead.
Here is an example of such an email:
I respect your need for space and want you to know I will honor your request for as long as you need. I also want you to know that I am angry, hurt, and confused right now but those feelings will pass and I won’t allow them to cloud my love for you.
I really do love and care for you deeply. Your smile brightens my day. The way you bring me medicine when I am sick lifts my spirits faster than Airborne works on my congestion. And your kind texts every morning when I wake up are like a tiny bird singing me to join the day.
I too will think about us during this break. Mostly though, I will think about the good memories you have left me with. The time we spontaneously went to the movies in our PJs and laughed the whole time in the empty theater. The time you cried at how good my spaghetti was. The night our sex was so amazing, we named it.
Love, I want you to take your time and whatever you decide, I want you not to worry about me because I will be okay in the end. I respect you enough to be patient and to honor your decision about our love.
All my heart,
If you write this letter, you will leave him with a good taste and show him that you careabout his wishes. You will be reminding him of the goodness in your relationship, and you will be reassuring him that he makes a difference in your life (men need this to feel like a relationship is working for them). You will also be freeing him up not to feel guilty and worried about you. Guilt actually makes a man want to run because it creates a pressure, making him think that if he stays and it doesn’t work out in the future, he will destroy your life.
Don’t go on and on in your letter and squeeze in every moment of every memory, and don’t get into detail about all your feelings about him and his need for space. Too many words will feel draining and overwhelming for him. Now, once he does take his space, have a friend on hand who you can call when you are jonesing to contact him, and make sure this friend is positive and calming. Tell her that you only need her strength and patience, not her fears and opinions. A good friend will understand what you mean and will be available to you at this hard time.
Resist the need to rehash everything with family and friends and question his love a thousand times. Meditate, focus on things you love, don’t do things you don’t love to do, and give yourself permission to feel your feelings without marinating in them too long. In the end, if he comes back, let him guide the pace of things — because you love him and are willing to surrender control over the unknown and control over the relationship.
In love, we invite, we surrender, we risk. And, remember, sometimes it takes space to close a gap.
Read this article in Your Tango
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