It can be very hard to hear those three little words from your boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse, or partner. For many people this tiny phrase triggers fear and insecurity, for others defensiveness or sadness. It might lead you to worry the end is near.
There is no right or wrong way to feel but by taking care with your response and by taking care of yourself you can be assured to walk away (whether together or separately) with your head held high.
So what should you do? Try the suggestions below and let us know how it works for you in the comments section.
“I need space”
Take them at face value
Your partner is telling you they need something, so its time to listen carefully. They aren’t making a personal attack, they are asking for something they need. Do your best not to interpret this and take it personally. It will help you keep a level head through this time.
Ask them what they mean when they say “space?” Do they need 30 minutes or 3 weeks? Do they want to break up? What does this mean for your monogamous or open relationship agreements? How will you alter your living arrangements (if at all)? Do they want to communicate via text, phone, email, or not at all? Discuss any upcoming plans you have already made- what does this mean for your plans? Is there anything they want from you during that time?
Its also important to be clear on your end of the conversation. How are you feeling? What do you want? Tell your partner what is going on for you in an honest direct way. What do you want them to know before you begin your time apart? How do you want them to remember you while they take some space?
Stay in touch with your core and be the best self you have. Stay true to your integrity being honest, kind, strong, and respectful. Remember that even if this causes you worry or sadness you will get through this and the behavior you choose when times are difficult will heavily impact the future course of your relationship. If you begin to feel flooded take a few deep breaths and stay focused. You can also return to the conversation later.
Respect their boundaries
When they say they don’t want to text, don’t text. If they need two weeks, respect their request for two weeks. Don’t drive by their house late at night, or “accidentally” run into them at work. Set clear social media use parameters so you don’t punish yourself with Facebook. Make a plan on your own to connect with friends who support you in doing something else when you have a hard time not reaching out to your partner during their space-time.
Take care of yourself
Take advantage of the free time and energy to invest in your other relationships, friendships, family, work and play. In moments when you are lonely be especially kind to yourself, take a long run or a hot bath, call a friend, watch a movie, eat something good for you. This can also be a great time to work with a therapist or coach to get clear about what you want on your own. Treat yourself with great kindness.
Taking space can be a very healthy thing for partners to do even with some frequency. It is important to be compassionate, honest, and to act with high integrity in order to get through the time together. You can and will get through this time. If you need help, I am happy to take your call.