How are you supposed to react when your girlfriend wants space?
Be cool, be calm, be dignified. Even if everything wells up inside and you want to cry, scream and beg make sure you keep your cool.
Don't lose the plot, don't become insecure and needy and don't jump to conclusions about what she means by wanting space.
When your girlfriend asks for space it can mean one of two things:
- She loves you and wants to be with you but genuinely wants a breather. In this case you have probably had a big fight or have had a really rough time lately. Perhaps you have been smothering her. A short period of time and space is something she feels she needs.
- She is slowly detaching herself from the relationship but doesn't have the courage to make a painful but clean break up. She doesn't have much hope for the future so wants the time and space to think about her options, all the while keeping you there waiting just in case she decides to come back.
How you react is going to depend on which situation you are faced with. But unless you actually talk to her you aren't going to know.
That's why it's important to be calm and cool and not to try and whine or beg.
Not only is it pathetic but it will shut her down from having a reasonable conversation.
Listen And Understand
Something is obviously not working for her and you need to find out what that is.
Hopefully she has enough manners to give you the opportunity to sit down and have a discussion about things. This is not a time for you to beg, this is a time for you to listen.
Listen to what she is saying, don't get defensive, don't argue, just take it all on board.
Understand what she wants from the relationship and understand why she needs space right now. You may not agree, but just listen.
This conversation will give you clues as to whether this is a genuine quick break with the full intention of returning to normal, or whether this is the start of a slow demise.
Go With It But Don't Agree With It
The worst thing you can do is agree with the need for space, or a break or whatever she wants to call it. It wasn't your idea, you don't want it and it causes you pain and uncertainty. It may be what she needs but since it's hurtful you shouldn't consent to that behavior.
Of course you can't stop her, so you have to respect the decision. Let her have the space that she needs if that is what she wants. You shouldn't demean yourself by begging, because she isn't going to change her mind.
Let her do what she needs to do, but don't agree that it's for the best. If you do, you enter a very vague no man's land where the relationship becomes very difficult to define.
If you stand firm in opposition to the idea it becomes much easier. Since you are fully committed it is her decision to leave and her decision to come back or not. This puts the onus on her to make a decision, rather than leave things in murky territory.
Set The Rules
Is she asking for space, is she asking for a break or is she just trying to break things off slowly?
Space generally means that you stay together but just spend less time together and contact each other less frequently. A break may mean seeing other people and not seeing each other at all.
Make sure you have a conversation to set the rules. Let her take the lead. If she wants to keep things as they are but just not see you for a while this is a good sign. She probably needs a genuine breather and will probably come back. If she wants to see other people then this is a break that is one the road to break up.
Make Sure You Are Not On The Hook
You can't stop her asking for space and while you disagree you have to respect her decision. But you need to be careful.
Hopefully she is frank and honest about what she needs from the relationship and she sticks to her word.
But make sure she isn't taking you for a ride by telling you half truths. If she tells you that she wants space, and in her mind this means seeing other people that needs to be clear and upfront. Make sure she isn't sleeping around while you are stuck on her hook, chastely waiting for her to come back when she has no intention of it. 1
If you have had a good conversation setting the rules then this shouldn't be a problem. If she refused to have that conversation and things are in limbo then you might be on the hook. You might be waiting for her to come back while she has mentally checked out.
This is a really tricky situation because you can't always talk to her to figure it out because she might not want to. Even if you do talk she probably isn't going to make much logical sense and might be quite emotional.
The best thing to do is just wait patiently and see if she makes contact with you. If she is genuinely interested in continuing the relationship she won't make you wait too long. After a couple of weeks she should start making moves to normalize things.
Yet once it goes over a month with no contact, you might have to consider that this desire for space was really a desire to end the relationship.
Consider Breaking It Off Yourself
Maybe right from the start you sense that she isn't really interested in space. Perhaps it's clear that she just doesn't have the courage to actually pull the break up trigger.
In that case you can save yourself a lot of stress and crap by just making the call yourself. It can be very empowering to say, "I'm not going to take any of your games," and turn things around on her. It will take her by surprise for sure since she then concedes the position of power to you.
However maybe you gave her the benefit of the doubt at the start and respected her need for space. But you are not going to wait around forever and you certainly aren't going to sit on her hook while she considers whether she has better options.
You will have to judge the time yourself based on your personal situation. But eventually if she hasn't normalized things and ended her desire for space then you will need to think about ending the relationship.
It's not kind, respectful or loving to keep someone in limbo for so long so maybe she's not the kind of person you really want to be with anyway.
When your girlfriend asks you for space she is either genuine or is trying to drag out a slow break up.
It may not be immediately apparent but you will need to figure out which one it is.
You need to be calm and dignified and if she genuinely wants space then let her have it.
The worst thing you can do is become insecure and needy. If she wants space because you are insecure and you make it worse then the chances of her coming back are diminished.
If this sounds like you then check out "10 Steps To Overcoming Insecurity In Relationships."
It's self hypnosis program that will make you a better partner and a better man and help you overcoming your needy and insecure side.
- Being on the hook means being strung along until your girl meets somebody better. It basically means you are just a backup. Best demonstrated in How I Met Your Mother Season 5 Episode 16.
Image credit: Bart Booms