When your boyfriend asks for space, it can be a nerve-wracking experience. Though he’s not ending things, it often feels like the beginning of the end, and you may be wondering what you can do to save your relationship.
Though some relationships can’t be saved, while others may yet work out. In order for this to happen, both sides need to be willing to own up to their mistakes and genuinely apologize for them. Both sides also need to listen to the other and try to understand their feelings.
With healthy communication and effort from both you and your boyfriend, you may be able to work things out. However, it’s important that you respect your boyfriend’s wishes and give him space when he asks for it.
Let’s talk about the things you can do when your boyfriend asks for space.
Give Him Space
If your boyfriend asks for space, you absolutely have to respect that. Listen to him and give him that space by leaving him alone until he reaches out to you. This can be difficult if you’re the type who prefers to talk things out immediately.
However, everyone copes with problems in different ways. For some people, taking a bit of time away from their significant other allows them to come back with a clear head and address any problems. Your boyfriend may just need a few hours to cool down before he’s ready to talk things out, and that’s okay.
Of course, space doesn’t always mean a couple of hours to cool off. Sometimes, space may mean a break from the relationship as a whole and this type of space can mean weeks. While it’s important to respect his needs, it’s also unfair to you to have to wait weeks for someone to figure out if they want to be with you or not.
How Much Space Should I Give My Boyfriend?
In this case, you may want to calmly reach out to him after a week or two and ask him if he’s ready to talk. If he isn’t, it’s up to you to decide if it’s time to break things off or if you’re willing to wait longer.
If your boyfriend returns to you and acts as if nothing happened, understand that this does not solve the underlying issue. Though some people would prefer to put issues behind them and move on, if you never address a problem it will never be fixed.
You need to have a conversation about why he needed space and if there’s anything the two of you can do together to prevent this type of situation in the future. If you both sincerely listen to one another’s feedback, you and your partner can avoid making the same mistakes in the future and have a healthier, better relationship.
Reflect on Your Relationship
If your boyfriend asks for space, it’s a good time for you to also take a moment for yourself to reflect on your relationship. Hopefully, you will have some idea of why your boyfriend asked for space.
If he told you why, think about what he said and determine if it’s true or not. Don’t let hurt feelings or pride get in the way of being honest with yourself. Have you been irritated and short-fused? Do you often start fights over nothing? Are you taking stress or other problems out on him?
Conversely, is he manipulating you into believing that you’re the problem when it’s his fault? (This is known as gaslighting.) When you try to talk to him calmly about something that bothers you, does he listen or does he immediately get angry and try to blame everything on you?
Are both of you at fault? Reflecting on your relationship will help you decide how you can improve it as well as if it is worth holding onto.
Talk It Out
Don’t be afraid to talk to a trusted friend or therapist to help you get a more objective sense of the situation. Oftentimes, our attachment to and feelings for our significant others skew our perception of what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior.
Similarly, our pride can cause us to feel like we’re in the right even if we’re not. Make sure to talk to a friend you know will be honest with you. When you tell your side of the story, are there parts you decide to leave out or edit to sound less serious than they actually are?
Why did you leave them out? Understanding these things will help you take responsibility for any fault you may have in the situation.
If you think your relationship is salvageable, then you need to work on healthy communication, as this is likely what will help you salvage it. There are several different facets to healthy communication, so let’s talk about them.
The words you use can affect the way someone perceives your message. Your word choice can make you seem like you’re blaming your partner, which, even if they are at fault, can hinder conversation about the problem. It’s better to avoid harsh, accusatory language.
For instance, you might say “tidying up the house by myself is overwhelming,” instead of “you never clean up after yourself.” Bringing the focus onto your own feelings can help your partner understand where you’re coming from and comes across as less aggressive.
Similarly, it’s good to use words that are inclusive (we, us, our). This type of language shows that you’re not placing all of the blame on any one person and that you see issues as something for the both of you to work on together.
Don’t Be Judgmental
Similar to being thoughtful with your word choice, it’s important to not be judgmental of your partner. It’s difficult to open up and share the vulnerable, even embarrassing, parts of oneself. If you shoot your boyfriend down with a judgmental comment, it will negatively impact your communication and relationship as a whole.
You’re not always going to understand where your boyfriend is coming from. You’ve lived separate lives and had different experiences. But you don’t always need to understand; you just need to be willing to work together.
Instead of being judgmental when you don’t understand your boyfriend’s point of view, you can tell him that you don’t completely understand but you want to work together. You can also share your own feelings as long as you aren’t interrupting, putting your boyfriend down, or trying to invalidate his.
If you don’t think that you can speak calmly about a problem, then you might also want to ask for space. If your emotions are out of control and you’re likely to say something hurtful, then you need to take a moment to yourself to calm down. Practice deep breathing, and when you feel better, ask to talk.
If you have a conversation while you’re angry, you’re less likely to be receptive to what your boyfriend is saying. You’re also more likely to say something spiteful and make the situation worse.
If you’re calm, however, you’ll be able to better address your boyfriend’s thoughts and feelings without getting defensive. It can be hard to acknowledge fault when our emotions are running high. Be calm and stay calm in order to have a healthy, effective conversation with your partner.
Being positive is extremely healthy for a relationship. When you’ve had a long day and you come home to an untidy house, it can be difficult not to get irritated with your partner. But the more you practice at being positive, the easier it gets.
Instead of focusing on your boyfriend’s flaws, focus on the parts of his personality that you love. Healthy relationships don’t involve nit-picking each other’s shortcomings but recognizing and even pointing out one another’s good qualities.
You may not always see eye to eye, but you can do your best to understand your significant other’s point of view. Respecting one another’s differences and making compromises is part of keeping a positive mental outlook on your relationship.
Listen and Learn
We all know that it’s important to listen to our partners, but it’s equally important to learn about them. You shouldn’t let what you hear go in one ear and out the other. Pay attention so that you can understand your partner’s feelings.
Making eye contact and being eager to hear what your partner has to say will make him feel more comfortable with opening up to you. Similarly, if you stay quiet instead of talking over him, he’ll feel listened to and want to share even more with you.
Use a Journal
If you have trouble communicating your emotions, try keeping a journal. If you write down your feelings about your relationship or any conflicts you’re having, it’ll make it easier for you to put into words later.
It’ll also help you better organize your thoughts on the matter so that they will make more sense when you share them with your boyfriend. You can even grab the journal when you need help explaining things to your boyfriend if you feel comfortable with letting him see what you’ve written.
Is Your Relationship Worth It?
If your boyfriend asks for space and by space he means “take a break,” then you may want to think about whether or not it’s worth it to hold on to your relationship. Oftentimes, something serious has happened to cause someone to want to take a break.
This could be things like constant fights, uncertain feelings, or trust issues. If your relationship has gotten to the point where your boyfriend wants to take a break, this can be a bad sign.
We already mentioned that you should reflect on your relationship and the incident that lead to your boyfriend asking for space. But you should also consider if it would be better to let go of the relationship.
Even if your boyfriend is a great guy, that doesn’t mean the two of you are a good match. Sometimes, good people aren’t so good together. If you have trust issues, trouble communicating, or fight a lot, you might want to let go of the relationship.
While all relationships require effort, a good relationship will not feel hard. In a healthy relationship, you will feel respected, loved, and listened to. You will be able to discuss arguments without getting into another argument. You will love and respect your partner enough to admit fault when it is yours, and to forgive when it is theirs.
If your relationship feels too difficult or toxic in any way, then it may be best for you to let it go and move on. Take the lessons you learned from your relationship so that you can have a better one in the future.
Respecting Your Boyfriend’s Need for Space
It’s important to give your boyfriend the space he asks for; otherwise, you may only make the situation worse. Do your best to wait for him to come to you, but don’t be afraid to calmly reach out and ask to talk if you feel that he’s stepped out of your life for too long.
It’s good to take some time and reflect on your relationship while you’re apart. Try to look at things objectively and determine if you need to work on yourself, if you’re both practicing unhealthy behaviors, or if it’s possible that you’re being gaslit.
If you can (and want to) salvage your relationship, work on healthy communication. Be thoughtful about your word choice, don’t be judgmental, stay calm, and be positive. Don’t just listen to what your boyfriend says, but do your best to understand him. If you’re having trouble communicating your own feelings, try organizing them in a journal.
Finally, think about whether or not it is worth it to continue your relationship. As much as you may not want to admit it, the two of you may not be a good match. Only you can decide if it is worth it to continue the relationship or not. If it is, then respecting your boyfriend’s need for space is the first step in building a better, healthier relationship.