One of the most confusing moments in any relationship is when the woman you love tells you that she needs space, especially when you don’t feel the same way. It’s normal to have all these questions rush to your head. Is this a bad thing? Is she going to break it off? Does she want to see other guys? How long should I wait?
Today, I am to answer these questions and many more, because it’s very easy to mishandle the situation when she says she needs space. I don’t want to see you act desperate and ruin something that is potentially salvageable.
But I must warn you: failure to follow the advice I have here could result in dire consequences. When a woman gets to the point where she’s asking you for space, there’s not a lot you can do to change her mind. You’ll need to be patient, and follow the advice I’m about to give you.
So please, for your own sake, pay attention!
- 1 When A Girl Says She Needs Time To Figure Things Out, She May Be Having Doubts About Your Relationship
- 2 So, What Does It Mean When Your Girlfriend Says She Needs Space?
- 3 When She Says She Needs Time How Long Should You Wait?
- 4 Will She Come Back If You Give Her Space?
- 5 So, What Should You Do When She Says She Needs Space?
- 5.1 1: Listen & Don’t Put Pressure On Her
- 5.2 2: Give Your Girlfriend The Time And Space She Wants
- 5.3 3: Figure Out Why She Wants Space
- 5.4 4: Pay Attention To Your Own Happiness In The Relationship
- 5.5 5: Spend Time Evaluating Your Life Systems
- 5.6 6: Learn To Establish Healthy Boundaries (Because Not A Lot Of Relationships Have Them)
- 5.7 7: Become A Man She Doesn’t Want To Live Without
When A Girl Says She Needs Time To Figure Things Out, She May Be Having Doubts About Your Relationship
Long story short, when a girl you were in a relationship with says she needs space, it’s generally because at least 1 of 3 things happened:
- You put too much pressure on her;
- Your relationship has only been going on for a few months and she feels like it’s moving too fast;
- She’s going through an extremely stressful period in her life, and you either aren’t helping, or you’re making it worse;
In addition, it’s possible she has an avoidant attachment style which can exacerbate any of these.
Are there exceptions to this? Yes. Sometimes other things can come up, like her being busy with work or a laundry list of to-dos accumulating in her life. Generally, if it’s just minor stresses accumulating in her life that she needs to focus on, she will tell you.
However, when she just asks for space and doesn’t provide a reason (that you are aware of, because it’s entirely possible you weren’t listening to her) it’s generally 1 of the 3 scenarios above. That goes double if she asks for space after a disagreement.
To be clear – her asking for space isn’t one of her subtle communication techniques. It’s almost always a cry for help, a signal that something in the relationship isn’t going right.
Let’s go through these scenarios really quick so you can pin it down to one or two of these things.
1: You Put Too Much Pressure On Her (You Were Too Needy)
How your girlfriend believes you understand, value, and support her (which is known as perceived partner responsiveness) is one of the most important aspects of a healthy relationship. A relationship high in perceived partner responsiveness generally leaves both partners feeling close, satisfied, and committed to each other.
A responsive partner conveys warmth, sensitivity to their partner’s feelings, and wants to make their partner feel comfortable, listened to, valued, and understood.
Neediness comes from relationship insecurity, whether that’s a result of childhood attachment issues, previous failed relationships, self-neglect, etc.
When you’re not secure in your relationship, it becomes impossible to be sensitive, warm, or understanding because you are generally seeking reassurance to calm your own insecurities instead.
What neediness really is a fundamental belief that you are unworthy of love, and as a result, you feel the need to continuously seek reassurance to make yourself feel better.
|“Why doesn’t she want to hang out tonight?“||“Hey, did I do something wrong?” |
“Are you seeing someone else?”
|“Hey, I know you had a long day at work. I sent you your favorite orange chicken and a bottle of wine. I love you”|
|“Why didn’t she text back right away?“||“Your friends must be more interesting than me, huh?”|
“What, is the Bachelor better than talking to me?
|She must have gotten distracted, I’m going to get back to work.|
|Does she even love me?||I don’t think she does because (followed by a focus on the negatives of the relationship)||She does. She shows me (the positives of the relationship).|
|She’s been acting different||“What did I do wrong?”|
“Is this my fault?”
“Am I not good enough for you?”
|“Hey, is everything going okay? I’m here for you if you need it”|
Often, when she says she needs space, it’s because she’s grown tired of constantly reassuring you that everything is okay. It can be incredibly draining to have to try to “manage” an insecure partner who lacks good emotional regulation. It’s an unhealthy dynamic that doesn’t set you up for relationship success.
When pushed too far, needy behavior can lead to her completely shutting down, sometimes to the point where an otherwise interested woman will go cold. More on that at the link below.
While neediness is often overlooked (especially during NRE), it becomes more apparent as the relationship goes on. When it becomes too much, especially in the context of other circumstances in her life, is when she may say she needs space.
You can either react to this by pressing her more, or you can choose to embody one of the key principles I teach here at Men’s Breakup: to focus on yourself and let her come to you at a pace she is comfortable with.
Read More: Don’t Chase, Let Her Go If You Want Her Back
2: Your Relationship Is New And Is Moving Faster Than She’s Comfortable With
When your relationship is fairly new, pushing for commitment before she is ready to give it can lead to her needing space. While this doesn’t always indicate neediness, it often goes hand in hand. When you feel the need to push for something in a relationship, it’s often indicative of a limiting belief that you don’t deserve that thing. See below.
|Scenario||Moving Too Fast||Taking Your Time|
|You just met a woman you really like and have started talking to her from online dating.||Before the date even happens, you are talking to her on the phone every day to try to make her like you.||You have a few brief, meaningful conversations and invite her out on a date to see if you like her.|
|You just had a great first date, and you want to see her again.||“Hey, I just deleted my Hinge. I want you to come up to my place for the weekend”||“Hey, I really enjoyed our date last night. I hope you have a great week, I’ll call you in a few days”|
|You have been dating a woman for a few weeks and want something more.||“Hey, I want you to stop seeing other people. I think we have a great thing going on here”||You enjoy the moment because you aren’t scared of the future. You wait for her to bring up being exclusive.|
|You have been dating a woman for a few weeks and the holidays are coming up||“You should come meet my family / come to my family Christmas party”||You let her enjoy the holidays with her family, and focus on enjoying them with yours. She’ll meet them when the time is right.|
|You have been dating her for a few months and have been exclusive. You want her to move in with you.||“We should move in together because [insert cookie-cutter reason here]”||You realize that in the early stages of the relationship, you should be focused on getting to know her for at least 6-12 months before you think about cohabitating.|
A lot of men over 40 that I work with have this problem, where they want to progress the relationship faster than the woman. This could be because men tend to experience more feelings of loneliness than women.
Another contributing factor is that many men have difficulty finding emotionally intimate relationships with other men where they are comfortable talking about issues, challenges, etc. Men tend to rely more on women in their life for emotional closeness than women do for men.
Moreover, as men get older their social networks tend to shrink in size.
Regardless of how old you are, the worst thing you can do early in a relationship is to get too excited too soon. It takes longer (on average) for women to experience the same feelings of love that you are experiencing.
While it takes a strong man to patiently wait for her feelings to develop, giving her the time to decide how she feels about you is the only way she will be able to trust you. Her emotions don’t run on your timeline. If you are able to be patient and enjoy living your life, eventually she will warm up to you if you do everything else right.
Read More: It Takes Time, Be Patient And Enjoy The Ride
While you may have different ideas of what is too fast, or too slow, when you push a woman into something she isn’t ready for it can make her question your confidence and sense of security. You want to pay attention to the speed with which you are moving.
When your relationship is still new and she’s not emotionally invested in you, pushing for too much, too soon can make her scared or worried that you will try to control her during the relationship.
3: She’s Going Through A Stressful Period In Her Life / Your Relationship Is On The Rocks
If your girlfriend says she needs space but she tells you how much she loves you, it’s usually because she is going through a stressful period in her life.
Stress can have a noticeable effect on our personal lives, but especially on our relationships. When a woman you are dating is stressed, she may become less affectionate, withdrawn, or distracted. Another sign to pay attention to is if her sex drive diminishes.
You may also notice more closed-off body language from her – including less affectionate touch, crossed arms, crossed legs, and less laughter or joy than usual.
Stressful circumstances occurring outside of your relationship are often associated with lower evaluations of relationship quality . Known as “stress spillover”, after a stressful life event, close relationships often suffer setbacks, even if everything else in the relationship is going well.
Common stressors include:
- Work-life balance
- Family issues (especially a death)
- Financial issues
- Emotional issues
Stress diminishes and depletes even the most energetic of us and can break down communication even in couples that communicate well.
So if your girlfriend asked for space and you don’t feel like she’s telling you what’s wrong, give her a break. If you guys really care for each other, communicate clearly that you love her, and then back off until she’s comfortable talking to you.
With that in mind, stress tends to affect couples the most who were already having issues. So if things were already going wrong in your relationship prior to the stressful event, it’s even more likely that your girlfriend says she needs space.
It’s Also Possible She Has An Avoidant Attachment Style
An avoidant attachment style is born from a childhood where one or both parents were emotionally unavailable or unresponsive to the needs of their child.
One of the characteristic behaviors of an avoidant adult is feeling uncomfortable when their relationship gets too close, or it asks too much of them. Avoidant adults may see their partners as wanting too much, especially if their partner is an anxious attachment style – which requires constant reassurance. Avoidants tend to have difficulty discussing their feelings, and they typically respond to stressful situations and relationship problems by withdrawing.
If she’s an avoidant, she may not feel comfortable with sustained emotional closeness and may withdraw, especially if you are needy and constantly need reassurance in the relationship.
So, What Does It Mean When Your Girlfriend Says She Needs Space?
Long story short, when your girlfriend says she needs space, it means that your relationship quality is suffering, even if it isn’t your fault. From her point of view, her needing space means that she needs time to think about your relationship.
It could be because you are too needy.
It could be because you’re moving too fast for her liking.
It could be because of external stress putting strain on your relationship.
Heck, it could even be because your relationship was already on life support. This is doubly true if your girlfriend needs space after a fight, which isn’t a good sign.
Without knowing your personal situation it’s impossible for me to say for sure.
If you want my help figuring out exactly what it is, I’ll need to know more information about your personal situation. These common reasons may only partially cover why she is asking for space. If you’re interested, click the button below.
It’s certainly easy to be a prisoner of the moment here when you’re in this situation and assume that her feelings for you are gone. But at this point, there is no way to know for sure how she feels, other than to talk to her to get an answer. We can make educated guesses all day long, but if she’s needing space, it’s best to give it to her.
With that in mind…
When She Says She Needs Time How Long Should You Wait?
When she says she needs space and time, there is no one set of time that you should wait. It depends on the situation and relationship. I wish I could give you a straight answer here, but I’m just going to have to sit this one out.
Unless, of course, you’re willing to give me more information on your personal situation. Then I can most likely answer your question with a reasonable degree of accuracy in my email coaching program.
Without knowing your specific situation of course, I can only give you a very general answer.
When she says she needs time, you should wait as long as it takes. It could be a few days. It could be a few months. You might never hear from her again, even though that is unlikely. But it sure as hell beats the alternative.
Will She Come Back If You Give Her Space?
If you give her space, the chances of her coming back are far more likely than if you continue to ignore her request and keep talking to her. In other words, the best thing you can do if you want to say your relationship is to temporarily enact the no contact rule.
The no contact rule is one of the better subtle communication techniques you can use to communicate to show her that you aren’t scared to give her the space she needs.
Read More: The Complete Guide To The No Contact Rule
I will say that if your girlfriend asked for space because of a stressful situation in her life, you will probably be better off trying to ask for more information about what is stressing her out in a respectful way.
Of course, that’s if you know for sure that the stressors are all external and not related to your relationship.
I can help you tell the difference if you are struggling, but I’ll need more information to give you a more specific response.
So, What Should You Do When She Says She Needs Space?
Without knowing your specific situation, there are 7 things that you generally need to do when she says she needs space. While these may go against what you want to do, I can tell you that they will give you the best chance of her coming back to you eventually.
Don’t stress too hard or worry about her losing interest. If she’s interested and you give her the space she asked for, there is a good chance you will be able to course correct. If she isn’t interested, these 7 things will be helpful if you ever find yourself in the same situation with your next woman.
1: Listen & Don’t Put Pressure On Her
I know how terrible it is to hear that the woman you love needs space and time. But before you panic at the thought of your girlfriend becoming your ex girlfriend, take a deep breath and hang on with me for a second. The only way that you are going to come out of this entire experience stronger is if you spend time listening to her when she asks for space.
One of the best things you can do as a supportive partner is to spend time listening to your girlfriend without judgment and without pressuring her for an explanation.
Listening doesn’t just mean hearing what she’s saying, but it also means paying attention to how she’s saying it, and her body language while she’s saying it. Being a good listener alone will make you stand out from other guys, because most men are terrible at active listening.
Once she gets to the point where she needs to ask for space, there’s nothing you can do to change her mind at that moment.
That includes begging, pleading, and trying to convince her to change her mind. These all put more pressure on her when pressure is the last thing she wants.
In fact, anything you do to try to change her mind will only make the problem worse.
The same goes for trying to blow sunshine up her ass. When she wants space, she wants space, not flattery.
The best action you can take is to acknowledge what she wants and give it to her without fighting back.
If she is still talking to you, one of the best things you can do is to say “I completely understand that you want space, is there anything I can do for you right now?”
2: Give Your Girlfriend The Time And Space She Wants
There’s an old saying you should take to heart.
Jokes aside, if there isn’t anything that your girlfriend suggests that you can do for her, the only thing you can do is to give her what she wants on her terms.
But you can give her space on her terms while you keep control of yourself and your response to the situation.
It’s really simple. When she says that she wants space, tell her that you understand her needing space. Ask if there is anything you can do for her. If there isn’t anything that she wants you guys to do, give her the needed space. Tell her that you understand where she’s coming from, and you will be around when she wants to talk.
Then stop contacting her.
If she wants to talk, she’s going to have to reach out to you. When she does reach out, invite her over to your place like you usually would.
Read More: How To Invite Her To Meet Up With You
Despite how simple this sounds, it’s going to be very hard for many of you to do. I know how scary and disheartening this is to do, especially if it’s your first time doing such a thing.
The crippling anxiety of wondering about what she’s doing can be hard to face, but to grow as a man you’ll need to handle it.
You should be prepared to wait her out, however long it takes.
In the meantime though, you have two choices. Either you can kick back on your couch and watch Tiger King again or you can…
3: Figure Out Why She Wants Space
If she’s already told you why she wants to step back, then you can skip this step.
But if she hasn’t, and you’re still unsure why it’s worth figuring out.
There are a few questions you can ask yourself to get to the bottom of it including:
- What does she value in a relationship?
- Were you giving it to her?
- What was her parents relationship like?
- Were there things she asked you to stop doing that you didn’t stop doing?
- Did you smother her or try to control her?
- Were you extremely needy?
- Did you not support her when she needed your support?
The reason it’s so important to figure out why isn’t so much for her.
It’s for you.
You want to save your relationship, right?
To do that, you need to make sure you fix whatever is causing her to want space or at least take steps to minimize it if it’s something you can’t change.
If you don’t, the problem is going to come back. And when it does, she’s much more likely to start thinking about leaving.
The good news is that the problems that can cause her to ask for space are almost all fixable.
A guy I worked with a couple of months back was a great example of this. His girlfriend wanted space, and he didn’t understand why at first.
After booking a session with me, we finally got to the bottom of it. He came from a Lebanese family where everyone was intimately involved in his life and by extension hers too.
We figured out that it was his family that was smothering her. After advising him to assert more control in his own life, they got back together, and when I last checked they were still going strong.
4: Pay Attention To Your Own Happiness In The Relationship
Happy people tend to have easy, drama-free relationships.
When you’re happy, you’re easier to be around, and you’ll put less pressure on your girlfriend.
If you’ve been unhappy, it’s completely possible that your girlfriend has felt like the weight of your happiness has been on her shoulders.
No woman wants to feel like she’s the only source of your happiness, especially your girlfriend. Women want to share in your happiness, not feel responsible for it.
If you’ve been depressed and now she’s asking you for space, you should prioritize treating your depression before you do anything else.
The good news is there’s plenty you can do to get yourself back on the right track.
5: Spend Time Evaluating Your Life Systems
Who you are is what attracts women, but who you choose to act like on a daily basis is what keeps them.
That includes your daily habits, your schedule, and the systems that serve your purpose, whatever it is.
Women love men who have a purpose, and in the long term, this is one of the most attractive things about a man that women look for.
There’s no secret about that. The most attractive man is a man who has his own plan and the means to accomplish it.
When you have a purpose and the systems to make it happen, you’ll naturally become a happier person which makes you more fun to be around.
You’ll also feel considerably less needy and more focused on what really matters: you. This takes a lot of pressure off your girlfriend, especially if you were too needy or you were smothering her.
So take some time to review your life systems. Here are a few questions to ask to get started:
- How are you structuring your day to achieve your goals?
- Are you working out regularly?
- Eating healthy?
- Do you have a healthy decision-making process?
- What about how you have fun?
Getting to the bottom of your life systems isn’t the only way to work on yourself while you are giving her much-needed space, but it’s one of the best ways.
6: Learn To Establish Healthy Boundaries (Because Not A Lot Of Relationships Have Them)
In a lot of cases when your girlfriend asks for space, something has changed recently in your relationship.
As we mentioned before, some of these changes can include:
- Becoming serious very quickly without really getting to know each other first
- Moving in together before you’re ready
- Getting laid off from work
- Having kids (but that’s a whole different can of worms)
- Moving to a new city where you don’t know anyone
- Traumatic experiences
When something big changes in your relationship, it can affect the careful balance that all relationships need.
Boundaries are one of those unspoken considerations that are often talked about online but rarely acted upon in real-time.
Assuming your girlfriend has already asked for space, you can’t go asking her about boundaries just yet.
But what you can do is this: you can impose boundaries for yourself so that you’re putting less pressure on her.
The boundaries you decide on are going to depend on what made her request space in the first place, which is why it’s important to be as clear as possible about why.
For example, if she wants space because you’re too needy, which as we discussed is very common, establishing healthy boundaries might look like this:
- Giving her a few hours of uninterrupted alone time every night
- Only calling her to schedule dates
- Not going to her every time you need validation or attention
- Not discussing every little problem or minor detail with her
- Being okay with her going out with her friends without you
Boundaries are EXTREMELY important, especially in a long-term relationship. The quality of your boundaries and the quality of your relationship go hand in hand.
7: Become A Man She Doesn’t Want To Live Without
Ultimately, the way to win her back for good is to become a high-quality man that she feels is adding value to her life.
If you’re adding enough value and you have proper boundaries set, you’re well on your way to a happy and harmonious relationship with your girlfriend.
The good news is, you can start becoming a man she can’t live without right now. Read this. This article is meant for guys that have just gone through a breakup, but almost all of the advice is applicable for you too if you are giving your current girlfriend space.
Besides the tips there, there are three big pieces of advice I can give you:
- Learn how to LISTEN to your girlfriend.
- Learn how to communicate with her effectively.
- Learn how to control your emotions.
In my experience working with guys over the past 5 years, learning those two things eliminates about 80% of all relationship problems.
For more help putting these plans into place, feel free to book a coaching session with me and I’ll help you unleash the man inside that she can’t possibly live without.
Good luck my friend, I hope we’ll talk soon.