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Giving Space in Relationships

A reflection on the importance of giving space in a relationship when it is needed, and the positive effects it can have on a relationship.

When a relationship is going well, both parties feel great. At some point in any relationship, however, one or both parties become disenchanted. Any number of things can cause this sudden shift in emotion from bliss to utter uncertainty, but oftentimes the other party is clueless about their partner’s feelings. Usually both parties just need some space and time to work out their feelings.

Time is of the essence when things are taking a turn for the worse in regard to relationships. If your partner says that she needs space, by all means give it to her! It could truly make all the difference in the world if you do, and you honestly don’t have much time to help things along to getting better.

It is a natural reaction to cling to someone that wants you to just leave them alone. You spent so much time together that you feel lonely and vulnerable. This kind of behavior will seriously harm your relationship if you choose to go down this route. It has to do with attraction: a person tries to pull away when the other party is being too needy. Conversely, if you are pushing away, you will notice your partner trying to insert themselves into your life even more.

Recently, my girlfriend and I went through this. We had hit the three month mark, and she was beginning to feel that she was losing a part of herself. She related to me that she always finds something wrong with a guy after a few months, becomes their “friend,” and then breaks it off. Letting me know this aspect of her personality was both wonderful and alarming.

I knew that because she was sharing this with me that I had a fifty-fifty chance of hanging on to her or losing her. This knowledge, combined with the fact that we both had a lot of prior engagements coming up, helped facilitate the reconnection we needed to keep our relationship alive.

That first night, I went out with a friend instead of hanging out with her. This way, she was able to spend a quiet evening at home without having to keep me entertained. We had, after all, spent practically every night together since we had first started dating. The next day, she had plans with friends. Although it was hard not seeing her as often as before, I knew from past relationships that this was the best possible route to take. Later that night when she was done with her friends, she called and asked if she could come over and stay with me.

For the next week or so, we were both busy. I had to travel, we both had to work, etc. We saw each other less than we had for quite some time. At the end of two weeks, we were on our way to go have some drinks with friends. She told me on the way there that she didn’t want space, that she loved me, and that she didn’t mean what she had said about needing space. Evidently, getting a small taste of what it would be like without me was enough to convince her that she really didn’t want out, but that she wanted to maintain her life as well as our life together.

The important thing for couples to remember is that they fell in love with an individual, not someone they intended to mold. Keeping parts of your life strictly yours is essential to a healthy relationship, especially if you want it to last. Don’t give up everything that you like doing, because that builds resentment. However, don’t be selfish. Relationships need breathing room, but not too much either. Life, in all areas, is a balancing act. Being mindful of this fact will go a long way in ensuring a happy, successful relationship and life with that special person.

Click here for more advice on maintaining your individuality and giving your relationship some space.

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User Comments
  1. Pekky

    On October 27, 2008 at 6:25 am

    I can relate to your girlfriend, except that my story is interesting. I felt the need to have some friends and reconnect with myself and I was making unreasonable demands on my boyfriend mentally, although he never knew this. I had to ask him for space to reconnect with myself and need to live without him. I emphasized this was for a week and that this was not a breakup. This way, I can work on my anxiety and my space, and come back as the happy and confident gal he was attracted to.

    I think sometimes when you ask for space you need to be specific for about reasons, time and emphasizing that this was not a breakup.

  2. Sacred78

    On November 13, 2008 at 8:16 pm

    It sounds like you have read Dr. James Dobson’s book, “Love Must Be Tough;” or perhaps, two great minds think alike!:) If anyone has a partner who is trying to run, I highly recommend this book!

  3. Melissa

    On May 18, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    I liked this and it is exactly what I needed to hear. Me and my partner have been in each other’s faces constantly for 2 months – it has been bliss. I don’t even want to tell you how much money we’ve spent on phone calls. But it has been that intense – and now my baby is tired because he has a child, his job and now me to juggle. I really miss him – but I’ve got to reconnect with the people I love and care about too. I have a tenancy to make stuff up in my head and worry – but this has totally calmed me down. It will be tough trying not to contact him – because I care about him that much and I thought if I really cared about him – I’d give him time to rest.

  4. Heather

    On August 28, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    this was simple but awesome.

  5. Mike

    On January 5, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    I have been in a relationship for just over two months now and my partner has demonstrated that they need some time and space to consider what they want. At first I took it personal as we spent almost everyday together, but having read this it is evident that most relationships will reach a point of self-evaluation.

    It is hard not giving your partner space, but I am confident that in time, the breathing space we are both required to give each other will essentially allow fate to take its course of action.

  6. Jayson

    On May 14, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    This article is fantastic. Im going throught the exact same thing however its been almost a year. We are in the same fraternity (coed), go to the same school, and work in the same city (new York), and even sleep together almost every night. I guess this killed the spark we had somewhat early. Shes been getting frusturated alot with me probably becuase of these reasons. After reading this, I know what I must do. Take 5 steps back.

  7. Rob

    On June 10, 2010 at 9:32 pm

    For me this was good to read i have been going crazy . been in a relationship for two and a half years and i know My girlfriend is going through some serious stress, i just want to help didnt realize i was smuthering her… Hope i can back off and im sure she will appreciate the Room to breath.

  8. RussianGuy

    On October 24, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    This is great advice. Weve been together for almost a year and things are getting rough. I love her to death, but I understand she needs her space now and why. I have to respect it if I want things to work out. And god do I want that, she’s the most amazing person I’ve ever met.

  9. Alex

    On May 17, 2011 at 10:02 am

    This all reminds me of the adage “If you love something, set it free. If it loves you, it will come back”.

    Also of the lyrics in the old 38-Special song “Hold on loosely, but don’t let go. If you cling too tight babe, you’re gonna lose control”.

    Wisdom comes with age and it took me many years and a few doomed relationships to realize that giving space usually strengthens a relationship. If it doesn’t then you have bigger issues in the relationship and it is most certainly destined for failure.

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