Knowing how to give him space can be extremely difficult—especially if you’re invested in the relationship. When women feel men pulling away, they tend to cling tighter, hoping their adoration will result in a change of heart.
Unfortunately, clinginess often leads to further withdrawal for men—and confusion, anxiety, and insecurity for women. It’s important to note that a break doesn’t always end in a breakup. If you feel your man is craving space and you don’t know what to do, read on. Below, I cover five common reasons men pull away, along with five tried-and-true tips on how to give a guy space and make him miss you.
5 Reasons Why Men Need Space
When men pull away, women often assume they’re losing interest. This isn’t necessarily the case, as men require space for a multitude of reasons, including:
1. The Fear of Vulnerability
Catching feelings—or falling in love—can be scary for men with a fear of commitment. Even guys who are open to starting a relationship may pull away if they fear rejection or heartbreak.
It may help to consider your beau’s personality, communication style, and circumstances. Does he struggle to talk about his feelings, or is he still recovering from a bad breakup? His need for space may have everything to do with his current situation and nothing to do with you.
2. A Need for balance
In some cases, men simply need a better balance of together time vs. solo time. If you spend every free moment together, he may miss his favorite hobbies—or spending time with friends.
In an interview with Bustle, psychologist Erika Martinez explained that maintaining your personal identity and independence outside of a relationship is important. An essential aspect of maintaining one’s identity while strengthening the relationship is partaking in activities away from each other. “Brief periods of solitude recharge our soul batteries and allow us to give more to our partners and to the relationship itself,” author Rachel Astarte told Bustle.
3. Too Much Pressure
Relying on one person to fulfill your every need is likely to backfire and has been known to lead to relationship problems and breakups. If your partner senses your happiness depends solely on him, he may pull away to relieve the pressure he’s under.
In an eye-opening post on her blog, Esther Perel explained that we now tend to expect of our significant others what people once relied on a village to provide. “Is it any wonder that, tied up in relying on a partner for compassion, reassurance, sexual excitement, financial partnership, etc., that we end up looking to them for identity or, even worse, for self-worth?,” Perel shared in the post.
4. Stress Has Taken Over
Sure, some men pull away due to stressors in the relationship, but many times, the need for space is derived from personal pressures, work stress, or a mounting list of responsibilities.
In all of these cases, a romantic relationship may seem like an additional stressor. Your man may be concerned he won’t have the mental capacity to contribute enough time and/or energy to your relationship, and he simply doesn’t want to let you down.
5. Tension in the Relationship
Another common reason men pull away from their partners? Problems within the relationship. If your man senses issues between you and is unsure how to deal, he may create space between you to let the dust settle before attempting to move forward.
Sometimes space can be enlightening. It can help put things into perspective and remind men why they value their partners. Although time apart can be painful, it can also be healing for both people—and good for the relationship as a whole.
How to Give Him Space Without Pushing Him Away
Over the years, I’ve learned there are healthy, productive ways to create space in a relationship that gives one or both partners time to evaluate the situation. Conversely, there are many tactics men and women use that drive them further apart. In this section, I’ll cover the correct way to offer your guy the space he needs. I’ll also share common mistakes women make in the midst of a “break.”
1. Listen Without Anger or Judgment
If your partner is willing to discuss his need for space, be sure to listen with compassion and understanding. Depending on the conversation—and your comfort level, simply listening may be your best bet. If you opt to ask questions, be sure to stay calm, and avoid passive-aggressive statements and accusations. When your guy knows he can share his thoughts and feelings with you, he’s more likely to open up in the future.
According to an article published by understood.org, difficult conversations require choosing the right time to talk, giving up the need to be right, listening, reflecting, and in some cases, taking a time-out to process the conversation if things do get heated.
2. Discuss a Timeframe and Check-Ins
While a break may recharge your relationship, in the long run, a prolonged separation will likely worsen the situation. Discussing a timeframe can help minimize your fears, and your guy will be more likely to take the time apart to evaluate his feelings regarding the relationship.
Before taking a break, it’s also a good idea to decide whether you’ll have any contact with your partner. Depending on the nature of your relationship, check-ins might be necessary. Once establishing these “rules,” don’t break them by reaching out more often than you agreed on. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, and more often than not, I’ve found this wise, old quote to be true.
3. Evaluate Your Feelings – and Live Your Best Life
It may feel as though the break is only for your partner, but this is an excellent time to assess your own feelings and enjoy other aspects of your life. Time tends to bring clarity to virtually any situation, so space may bring some enlightening revelations.
Perhaps you’ll realize you’ve been putting more effort into your relationship than your partner, or maybe you’ll recognize your tendency to be clingy, which is often a turnoff for men.
Although it’s important to evaluate your relationship during your time apart, it’s equally essential to live life to the fullest. Whilst giving him space, make plans with loved ones, partake in activities you rarely have time for, and prioritize your physical and mental health. Join a yoga or kickboxing class, or try journaling when your emotions feel out of control. Most importantly, be gentle with yourself. This time of uncertainty will pass.
4. Don’t Check up on Him on Social Media
Sure, social media can be a great way to keep up with friends, but it can be incredibly triggering when you and your beau are taking a break. You don’t necessarily have to avoid the internet altogether, but it’ll be impossible to fully embrace your time apart if you’re obsessing about his whereabouts.
For now, unfollow your guy on social media. When you’re establishing ground rules in the beginning, you may want to mention that your break should include social media. Otherwise, you might find yourself posting statuses and photos to get his attention, and vice versa. With that being said, individual results may vary, so I recommend going with your gut when it comes to Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platforms.
5. Be Patient – But Don’t Wait Forever
The truth is, some guys don’t fully understand why they crave space and pressuring them to put their feelings into words typically drives them further away.
Be patient with your guy, but set clear boundaries. If you establish a timeframe and he refuses to stick to it, or he asks for frequent breaks, you may need to make the difficult decision to separate indefinitely. You deserve a man who adores you and who wants to spend time with you.
As I mentioned previously, let your gut instincts guide you. If things just don’t feel right between the two of you after spending time apart, trust that feeling. In some cases, women have to pull away completely before the men in their lives realize what they’re missing. In other cases, an extended break may help you realize the guy who asked for space isn’t the right guy for you at all.
My #1 piece of advice for women when giving a man space? Be true to yourself, and never waver when it comes to your standards. The right guy will appreciate the fact that you know exactly what you want and are unwilling to settle.
As motivational speaker Tony Gaskins famously said, “Know who you are. Know what you want. Know what you deserve. And don’t settle for less.”