How to Give a Man Space: Everything You Need To Know

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how to give a man space, should I give him space

A reader wonders how to give a man space and whether space will work to bring him closer.

“Hi Elizabeth,

I’m really confused about something my boyfriend said and I was hoping you could help. After a wonderful weekend together, I didn’t hear from him like normal on Monday (we usually text every day) so I texted him on Tuesday. I asked what happened on Monday— and he told me he needs space. He really hurt my feelings.

He still texted me first the rest of the week. I didn’t bring anything up with him because after he told me that, I got scared he was pulling away and didn’t know what to do. We usually see each other every weekend and he hasn’t made plans.

How do I give him space? Does him wanting space mean he’s pulling away or losing interest in me and our relationship??”

Okay, I’ve been EXACTLY where you are and I know how crappy and vulnerable you feel right now, especially after you had such closeness going on before he told you that he wanted space to figure out what he wants.

What you’re going through is really common. After an intense time of closeness, healthy men need space.

Just the same, when a guy says, “give me space” it can mean a lot of different things. It can feel confusing and hurtful. I get it.

Let’s go over why men need space and then what to do when he asks for space.

Also, some readers might wonder what to do when a man wants space during a breakup. I’ve included that too.

Let’s do this.

Why Men Need Space

A man’s need for space can feel confusing and hurtful. It feels like rejection.

It can feel like he’s saying that the close time you spent together didn’t matter to him, or he didn’t enjoy it. When we get close to a man, we want that closeness to continue the same way so we feel safe and secure in the relationship. 

When a man experiences this kind of intense closeness with a woman, he enjoys it for a while,  but it eventually raises his anxiety levels.

This is why men withdraw after they have spent a lot of intense time with a woman who they feel close to. They need a breather to get back to equilibrium.

A man’s natural process of coming close to a woman and then stepping back before coming close again is completely normal for him.

For women, closeness represents emotional security. And chemically, we can handle a steady dose of it, so the fact that it doesn’t work for him feels like veiled rejection.

The real problems begin when we take his need for space personally and start trying to force closeness or  fix it. All of these “solutions” imply there is a problem.

What NOT To Do When A Guy Wants Space

Don’t automatically take his asking for space personally.

Don’t plot with your girlfriends about how to bring him closer when he clearly wants time away from you.

Don’t obsess about his reasons for wanting space or repeatedly ask him what’s wrong. If you feel you absolutely must, you can ask him if something is wrong once. If he says “nothing,” drop it and let him come to you if he wants to talk about things.

I have personally sabotaged relationships by freaking out and trying desperately to bring a man closer when all I really should have done was given him space to figure out what he wanted. I understand the tendency to worry when it feels like he is pulling away. However, how you handle his need for space is absolutely crucial.

Guys don’t usually even consciously realize they need space until you either complain that he’s distant or he feels completely suffocated. If you push him for more closeness, it will make him feel like his natural impulses are wrong and you will accidentally drive him away.

That’s why drawing attention to the fact that he’s become a little bit harder to connect with lately will only hurt you. He’ll start thinking you are the problem!

This is how men get spooked and pull away for good!

I don’t mean you should walk on eggshells with him either. While he has his alone time, just go about your own business as usual. My favorite strategy for when a man pulls away is to pause, distract and manage my emotions.

How To Give A Man Space

Simple (but NOT easy). Give him as much time and space as he wants.

Back away and immerse yourself in your own hobbies, goals and life.

The more emotionally centered you can stay at all times— not just when you feel close to him— the better your relationship (and life) will be.

Getting upset when a man takes time to himself is a huge sign that you need to nurture yourself. Enjoy your time and freedom while you’re away from him.

If you confront him about backing off when you haven’t done anything wrong, he will get a needy, dependent vibe from you and you’ll get even less closeness.

Does The Fact That He Told Me He Wants Space Mean That He’s Losing Interest In Your Relationship?

I’ll be honest. The fact that he had to actually speak the words, “I want space” isn’t a good sign, but it definitely doesn’t have to mean that your relationship is doomed.

When it comes to wanting alone time, men usually use their actions before their words. This is because most guys older than 22 have had a woman confront them about “not spending enough time together” at some point in their relationship history. If he tried to say what he actually wanted– time to himself— it is most likely that the person he was with freaked out and tried to use logic and reason to talk him out of wanting distance.

That made him feel even more wrong and smothered!

So, it might feel like he is distancing himself by taking more time with his friends, working a lot or otherwise staying away from you. That’s why when a guy needs space, he’ll suddenly become more difficult to reach, either because it seems like he’s screening your calls and texts or because he’s suddenly busy a lot.

That’s why trying to talk about why he wants space usually results in him angrily shutting down and going further away! The very act of talking about “space” makes him feel even more claustrophobic and determined to get away from you.

Luckily, your relationship might be salvageable depending on how you act right now.

Keep in mind that when a man says he needs space, he’s telling you that right now his needs aren’t being met– either because he’s not getting something he wants in his life as a whole OR because you and he have spent so much time together that he needs time to recharge.

Luckily, to at least get started meeting his needs, all you have to do is back off and give him the time to figure out what he wants!

Up until now, he has probably already tried to show you through distancing action that he wants a little alone time and you’ve either confronted him about it or repeatedly pushed for more than he wants to give. You can turn this around, but you’ve got to back way off and let him come to you.

Let Him Come To You

Don’t keep checking on how he’s doing. He may rejoin you when he’s ready as long as you can maintain emotional detachment about the whole situation and not force him to come closer or have deep discussions about the relationship.

Space in relationships is a little like stretching a rubber band. He will eventually snap back and come close again as long as you don’t release the tension by chasing him. Just do your thing and remember:

He is not a pot that you are bringing to a boil.

He must decide on his own to come out of his hole. The more you push for his attention, the more he’ll resist your pressure and the worse you will both feel about each other and your relationship.

How Long Should You Give A Man Space?

If your guy has asked for space either by distancing himself or telling you explicitly he needs space to think about things, you should give him as long as he needs.

Generally, the more intense things have been between the two of you, the more of a breather he might need.

When He Needs Space After Breaking Up

Up until this point I’ve been talking about how to give a man space when you’re either dating or in a relationship with him.

That was about good, healthy space and letting your man recharge. If you’re still together, give him that good space whenever he wants it.

If he has broken up with you and given you the “I need space” line as part of the breakup speech, I have some real talk for you.

He could have told you that he wants space.

He could have told you that he wants to date Jennifer the bartender.

He could have said that he’s feeling conflicted right now and can’t get his shit together.

Hear me now:

The fact that he told you he wants space does not matter.

Do not tell yourself that giving him space now means that there is hope for your relationship in the future.

I don’t want to break your heart, but when a man says he wants space during a breakup, that’s a gentle way of telling you he wants “forever space” to live without you.

You must leave him alone. Go no contact with him. Leave him in the dust to miss you. Don’t wait around, hoping that the situation will change or that he’ll forget that he dumped you after he “finds himself.”

Consider the relationship over and move on.

In the future, reflect on whether or not you might have been a tad clingy and don’t do that with the next guy. Lick your wounds, tie up your unfinished business and leave him alone.

Have you been asking yourself what you did that made him create distance?

Weirdly, men are just as emotional as women.

I know it sounds strange but it’s true.

The problem is that men aren’t as emotional as often.

When they experience feelings that they don’t understand, they tend to pull away from a woman.

Are you frustrated by a man who is ignoring your calls or is taking you for granted?

Do you wish your man were more attentive, loving, and noticed you more?

If you’re sick of taking second place in your relationship and feeling unloved, even lonely…

There are 3 seemingly harmless questions that will change everything and awaken his overwhelming feelings of love and devotion for you.

Find out what they are here:

3 harmless questions that will awaken his love and devotion.

Has your guy told you that he wants space? Tell me your thoughts in the comment section below.

Elizabeth Stone

About Elizabeth Stone

Elizabeth Stone is a bestselling author, relationship coach and founder of Attract The One.

Her popular program Ex Attraction Formula has helped hundreds of women reunite with their men. She is thrilled to have helped so many couples reignite the spark in their relationships.

Tirelessly focused on helping people improve their love lives, her work has been featured on EHarmony Blog, YourTango, Thought Catalog, Mogul, The Good Men Project, Fox News Magazine, Ravishly, Femalista, Popsugar, Read Unwritten, Medium and many more.

17 Comments

  1. Marina

    July 14, 2017 at 11:48 pm

    Yes he did and I am confused…He said he wants a break and need space and he wants to call me maybe next week.He thinks I expect a little more than he can give..He loves me but not the way he thinks I want him to love me…He doesnt know what he really wants..going through an ugly divorce and going to lose a lot makes him frustrated..no matter how loving I am towards him still he gets frustrated over very simple things.

    • Lucy

      August 31, 2017 at 9:41 am

      I’m going through same thing my lover needs space he just separated from his wife and daughters who are in college gave him a really hard time. They came to find out their mother had an affair first but played victim of course!!! He’s been through a lot he doesn’t expect me to wait but I want to!! How long do I give him. He only texts me if I send a text. I gave him 10 days no communication but he still seems angry. Any little thing sets him off

      • Britney Becker

        September 2, 2017 at 12:22 pm

        Honestly I would move on there are millions of men in this world don’t waste your time and move on to the next one

  2. Candice Trites

    August 18, 2017 at 5:59 am

    We live together. He needs space after us taking a great vacation and coming back to start a new job. He says he still loves me. Doesnt want either of us to move. He looked at me tonight and said “how could i break up with you”. Ive been so hurt the last week and have acted like its a break up. The beginning of the end. Now im wondering if i messed up? If I accidentally pushed this into a break up. We talked about having separate rooms to give him more space. What now? Am i holding on to hope for nothing. Can I save this.

    • Elizabeth Stone

      Elizabeth Stone

      August 18, 2017 at 9:34 am

      Tell him he’s right that you should both take space, give him all the space he wants, act happy about it and occupy yourself with your own goals and hobbies.

      I’m 100% serious. Agree with him, stop trying to save your relationship and literally, let go of trying to do anything except make yourself happy. Just let him do his thing. Don’t initiate any more deep talks about the relationship.

  3. Leslie

    October 10, 2017 at 11:07 pm

    We have been arguing and he says he needs space but we hang out everyday. He says he loves me and doesn’t want me out of his life but doesn’t know if he wants to be with me or not right now. Should I just give him space or just move on all together.

  4. Lily

    November 21, 2017 at 12:13 pm

    Hi,

    My boyfriend and I are literally so great together. We happened Unexpectedly and we tell each other that we are the best thing that have ever happened to one another. Out of no where, one night he asked me if he makes me happy which in then turned to him wanting space and hour before that conversation got brought up he said he love me too. However, I gave him space, didn’t call, text or anything. He texted me yesterday saying let’s meet tonight when he gets off work so we can talk. I’m so worried that the love of my life is gonna break up with me. Our relationship majority of the time is all good, we rarely ever fight. What do you think is going through his mind?

  5. Aileen

    December 20, 2017 at 7:27 pm

    I met him sometime lst week. Went out for two days, slept together as well. We tried to meet on Monday since I’m leaving the next day, he suddenly told me that he’s not feeling well. Naturally, The following day, I asked if he was feeling better. And he said he wanted space because I push him too much. I mean, what was that for? What does he mean with the space. I love far by the way. And do not often send him messages.

  6. Jane

    December 23, 2017 at 6:19 pm

    My boyfreind and i have been in a fabulous, fun and deliriously passionate relationship for over three years. We love each other very much. My boyfreind went to his home country to meet his mother for the first time in January, when he came back he showed me a photo of him and his niece, i could see by the expression on his face just how much he wanted to be a father, we left it there and i hoped it would pass as im actually 51 and i am already fulfilled as a mother , he is 46 and he thought he was over ever being a father. Six weeks ago he called me completely overwhelmed as he wants to be father, he feels tremendously broody. We met to talk about it and he told me frankly that he is very confused, he doens’t know if to continue our ” marvellous” relationship (his exact words) with no hope of having children or to leave our relationhip and go and fulfill his dream of being a father. He said he wanted time alone to figure it out. he said his heart tells him to go and be a dad but his head tells him to be with me. We have spent 6 weeks apart, he calls me every week or two to tell me he misses me and loves me very much. I haven’t contacted him, i am just leaving it up to him to do that, I feel quite sick to the pit of my stumoch about all this, I felt that he was my man, the one, i was at my happiest. I feel i should tell him im not waiting for him anymore, that he should feel what it is like to lose me completely so he will react, at the moment he knows i am waiting for him, giving him space, but he is sure i am there for him, not an ideal situation for me, but i offered to wait for him from a loving place in my heart, it felt natural to do so. I need to get out of limbo, im torn now too . I have felt many emotions these weeks, pain, fustration, rejection, but the one constant emotion that doesn’t flicker is my absolute love for him, its tragic, i feel our situation is a very hard one to handle. Oddly enough my coil was removed last week as the doctors said i wouldn’t need it at my age, it turns out though that hormone tests for my hypothroidism have revealed that my oestrogen levels are extremely high, that im very fertile, i couldnt have a baby with him now though after his doubting our relationship,plus i have no desire to have a baby at this point in my life…. should i go ahead and tell him that im not waiting for him, get on with my life or should i give him more time?

  7. Sara miller

    February 19, 2018 at 4:49 pm

    After an stupid argument he broke up with me. But two days after he said that he doesn’t wanna say goodbye. Just needs time to sort his life out. He even sent me a romantic song and told me again just need time.
    I told him that’s ok, I understand he needs time to figure out what he wants and so on.
    Now my question is, he really wants space to think and coming back or was a polite mode of leave me alone?

    • Elizabeth Stone

      Elizabeth Stone

      February 20, 2018 at 10:43 am

      It can’t hurt to genuinely give him space and see what he does. People make rash decisions all the time when they are stressed and overwhelmed. If he doesn’t want you, he won’t say anything else. If he does, you’ll eventually know. Either way, space is the way to go.

      • Sara miller

        February 21, 2018 at 3:24 pm

        Thank you very much for ansewring me.
        Is what I’m doing, I’m giving him the space he wants, is the best choice.
        Actually he texted me yesterday and said we never broke up i just need time to fix few things.
        So as you said if he’s texting me means he still wants me😊
        Will see how it goes.

  8. Fi

    March 5, 2018 at 5:26 am

    We’ve been a close, loving relationship for 18 months and this weekend we had cross words for the first time. He completely shutdown, the atmosphere was awful. I wanted to talk things through, he closed me off/out. We had been away that weekend but he was happy for me drive him home even though I offered to drop him at the local train station as it felt like he didn’t want me near him . I asked him out right if he wanted the relationship to continue, as I very much did, I love him like no one else, but he said he needed time to think. I’m left in confusion and anxiety as it’s the first time we’ve ever really had words and it feels like he’s giving up already. I’ve kept contact to a minimum but he simply replies in a few words with no affection at all. Just like friends. I’m at a loss of where to take this but surely if you love someone you know if it’s worth working on or not? I certainly wouldn’t put him through this type of emotional pain and angst. Feels like I’m being held to ransom.

  9. Kris22

    March 10, 2018 at 4:57 pm

    This guy hit me up he’s a friend of a friend, we talked for about a month on social media and met about a month later in person. We spent about 6 hours together and i came home we live in different states things we still good we talked he called me the day i left after he got off work. I even planned to go back at the end of march and talked about seeing each other again. Around feb 14th he started to not to reply as much then when i asked if i should stop messaging him he said he was sorry, things had been hectic and,hjs sister died around this time of year and he’s always messed up. Said ill hit u up when things calmed down. That was 2/20 i said i understood and would give him the space he needs. I’ve yet to hear from him. Last sunday his mom posted and tagged him that his dad was sick in the hospital in a med induced coma. I sent him a quick voice text just letting him know i was thinking about him and his family. He thanked me but that was it. My friends think he’ll come back but I’m not too sure. It’s hard giving space. What do you think.

  10. Sasha

    March 26, 2018 at 10:19 am

    Hi,
    My ex and I broke up a month ago and recently decided to go on a trip in April to see if we can work it out. He told me for this to work he needs no contact(supposedly his therapist said) until the week we go. I asked if we could talk the week of or a couple days before and he said yes. I don’t know if it’s because there is someone else or what. It has me feeling uneasy because we did everything together and I want to snap or text him. I don’t know what’s going on or what to do

  11. Sophia

    April 4, 2018 at 10:31 am

    I would so wish for someone to reply to this… I am currently feeling awful.. for pretty much nothing, if you look at it from the outside. but I already have such strong feelings. I’m in my 30s (looking about 10 yrs younger, according to maaany ppl) and I always like the wrong guy. A few months back, I encountered the latest. In quite amazing circumstances, I might add. It’s like we were really, really supposed to meet. He saw me and was so determined to pursue. Gave me his number but didn’t leave it up tp me. He immediately found me on facebook, added me and messaged me (no idea how he found me!). We talked a lot, sometimes daily, shared a lot of things, he shared his passions with me, flirted a lot, even mentioned i should marry someone like him. A month into this business, I realised I was catching feelings… so I did a little research. BOOM! Married, 2 children. The profile he’s using shows nothing of that. YET, he has his WIFE among his friends and she is very caring, commenting sweet things all the time. I wanted to delete him but I couldn’t. Because I understood. He may have marriage troubles, so many ppl have that. He obviously wants to play around, hence the single & free appearance. And like most, he hides his true status because prospects would run for the hills. He’s 40. Only recently he started venturing online for girls. We met at a social event, however. Being in contact with him has been delicious. Now we are both dealing with terribly hard job changes (same industry, btw), yet he said he wants to visit (different countries!). right when he was supposed to know his schedule and set things, he stopped contacting me. After 6 days, I casually updated him, like we both used to do. He replied quickly, started a very nice convo, showed me pics of his recent fun time. All good. The next morning, out of the blue, he showered me with ‘likes’ on my fb and Insta. Then nothing again… I have no idea what to make of this!!! I want a chance for us, I want him so badly… This is already an emotional affair… I have felt like i am his fantasy, I have the looks and the hobbies he loves, we would be such a match..!

  12. Samantha

    June 1, 2018 at 7:22 pm

    I’ve been talking to this guy for 2.5 months. We are just getting to know each other. I have a busy life juggling two jobs and have been under a lot of stress. I decided to go to his house one night after drinking and continued drinking with him. All i remember is being in his room crying. I was never open with him about my work stress. I was basically trying to deal with it on my own. I ended up leaving his house crying. I was certain i freaked him out. I told him sorry for crying and explained i was under stress etc. He offered me advice and said he didn’t feel different about me. He texted me two days after and now he seems kind of different or maybe that whole situation has me feeling uneasy. idk what to do? i feel kind of silly for crying, if i would’ve never drank i would’ve been fine! HELP me with advice on what to do…

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