What Does “I Need Space” Really Mean?

couple with back to each other(BlackDoctor.org) — Giving your spouse “space” is a very common topic in relationships today. Many husbands and wives and girlfriends and boyfriends are on the receiving end of such a request from a significant other who says they need to “work out their feelings” or “time to sort things out.”

Most people who hear this request have an overwhelmingly negative response. Very few feel that this is a great idea or something that they want to do. Most see “giving them space” as one of the more risky and painful options possible because there’s a real fear that the space is just the first step toward a divorce or break up. Many worry that if they give their significant other a taste of what the world would be like without them, they may decide that they really like it and have no interest in coming back.

Agree or Disagree?

So, your sweetie of several years says they need time away from you. Hurt, confused and upset, you immediately consult with your family and friends. You feel that if you agree, you’re basically saying “see ya!” to the relationship. They second they’re out at a club, drunk with their friends, feeling lightened from the natural responsibilities that go along with mlost relationships, and they’ll love the experience too much to come back to you.

But most of your inner circle says that you might as well give them the space they’re asking for, since to not allow it could be disastrous, too.

There’s no definitive answer here because any answer is really just a guess. Without letting the scenario play out, there is really no way to know what the person needing space will do once they’re significant other has made a decision that set things into motion.

But again, since this is a very common relationship request, relationship experts have seen certain patterns play out that may help you better understand the situation:

A Request For Space Doesn’t Always Mean They Want The Relationship To End

It’s very understandable that this is going to be the greatest fear. After all, not many people would see a desire for separation as a good sign regarding the health or outcome of the relationship. But, while this can and certainly often does mean that the relationship is having some problems, it certainly doesn’t mean that the relationship is going to end.

Experts also firmly believe that not only to many people not have divorce or splitting up on their mind when they do ask for space, those they are contemplating breaking up end up realizing that they miss their significant other, or that the single life or the loneliness that space brought about was not as great as they thought it’d be.

This doesn’t happen in every case. And yes, sometimes you will have to encourage the process to play out exactly as you want it to, but it can be a real mistake to just assume that the person needing space really wants (and eventually is going to seek) a separation or divorce.

Refusing To Give Someone Space Can Be Riskier Than Allowing It

Say your significant other requests a relationship timeout, and you respond by saying this isn’t a good idea andy you refused to agree to it. Chances are, the person making the request wouldn’t just accept this with a shrug of their shoulders.

Most would be very frustrated, and would maybe even feel as if you’re trying to thwart their happiness. Some may feel that in order to remove the frustration from their lives, they have to remove you also. Meaning that, by refusing a timeout reques, you may encourage the very breakup that you wanted to avoid.

How To Avoid Making Things Worse When Someone Asks For Space

1st: Push for a compromise. The worst thing that you can do is to leave things open ended. Instead, you want to have as clear of an understanding as possible as to how things are going to work. You also want to make regular interaction a priority. Perhaps you could give them a lot more leeway (at least for a little while) without them needing to move out. Or maybe you could be the one to leave since you could easily control when you came back. Also, you could push for an agreement as to when they will come back and when the two of you will check in with and see one another.

2nd: Once the relationship timeout is in session, you should control your own behavior. Try to avoid appearing clingy, desperate or needy.

3rd: What about your needs in all this? Remember the person in the mirror? Although it should be clear that you value your relationship and ultimately want to save it,there’s nothing wrong with taking full advantage of the time apart to explore your own options and have some fun. Take time to do more of the things that you want to do, and focus more on you. Rememember that relationships are about two people, not one, and you may find that the time apart helps you to discover new insights about what makes you happy, how (and even if) the relationship is truly fulfilling your needs, and bring new ideas to the relationship table – and to your own life. Even if it’s not actually always the case, demonstrate that you are handling things in a positive way, and that you aren’t sitting at home, alone, pining away for the other person.

Regardless of how time apart plays out, always remember to never forget YOU in this process, and to try your hardest to do what’s necessary to keep yourself healthy. Things always have a way of working out the way they’re meant to work out.