I had this friend back in college. Her boyfriend at the time told her he needed space.
So, she did something that I thought was absolutely ludicrous at the time. She looked him dead in the eye and said,
“Okay. Have all the space you need.”
and walked away.
My jaw hit the floor when she told me.
“You did what?!”
Less than 36 hours after that she gets a call,
“Baby, I was wrong! Please don’t leave me!”
What was this magic she had spun?
Somehow, she had convinced the man who was clearly preparing to leave her that, instead, she was leaving him.
It was genius!
It was impossible!
Well… obviously not.
If you’ve arrived at this article, I’m going to guess that you likely fall into one of the below categories:
- Your boyfriend asked you to give him space and you think he might break up with you
- Your boyfriend broke up with you, you gnatted him and then he asked for space
- You’re trying out or thinking about trying out the No Contact Rule and are afraid that if you give your ex-boyfriend space, that he might not come back
Fear not! We are going to tackle the art of giving him “space” in-depth so you will leave here feeling confident that giving your boyfriend or ex-boyfriend space is nowhere near as scary as it seems and you may even find that you enjoy having the space.
But first, let’s talk about a few things:
- What it means to give someone space
- Some of the reasons why a guy might ask for space in the first place
- And what to do if your boyfriend or ex-boyfriend asks for space
What is Space?
As I was preparing to write this article I literally wrote down on a piece of paper “What is Space?” This led me to several deeper thoughts such as “what is space,” “what is time,” “what is life.”
Wow, that got deep and scary fast. Once I got past those flashbacks from philosophy 101 and I was done questioning the meaning of my existence, I came up with the following:
Space is something that a person may need to disconnect and “refresh” in order to allow themselves to think about certain things and reflect upon something weighing on their mind.
More simply and bluntly put, he is looking to be left alone for a while.
For purposes of this article, we are going to roll with this understanding.
Before we move on, some of you are probably wondering “well, what if he didn’t say he needed space, but he said that he needed time? That is totally different right?” Well no, not really. For purposes of EBR and this article, think of a guy asking for space and a guy asking for time to be pretty much the same thing. He is looking to be left alone for a while.
Why Did He Ask For Space?
There are a number of specific reasons a guy may ask for space:
- He’s really busy
- He has a lot of stress from him family, school, work, etc. right now
- He’s tired of arguing
- He’s confused
- He’s trying to regain control
The list really can go on and on and on. I would encourage you to try not and dwell on finding a specific reason why he may have asked for space, especially, if things seemed like they were going well before he asked for space. If you know why he asked for space because he told you; great! If not, try not to over-analyze it.
The important thing to understand, is that when guys get overwhelmed, they handle their emotions differently than women. As women, we tend to seek out friends and family for support or to vent to. Guys typically do not do this. Men are more likely to bottle things up inside.
Because of this, guys can carry around a lot on a daily basis. Extra emotions or a fight can be enough to cause a guy’s plate to overflow, causing him to try to remove or avoid something from his plate. In this case, if he’s asked for space, you are thing he is trying to remove.
Another thing that is important to understand about men is that they are naturally problem solvers. Men are more likely to retreat and want to “reappear” once they have come up with a solution. They don’t want to necessarily be seen as they are trying to work through things and come up with a solution.
What Should I Do If He Asks for Space?
GIVE HIM SPACE.
Definitely give him space.
There are a number of more obvious reasons why giving him the space he has asked for makes the most sense, such as it is more respectful and the more mature thing to do.
However, I know that if you’ve arrived on this page, you probably already know this and so far, you are not convinced that giving him space will work and is the best thing to do. Everything in you is telling you to chase him.
You ask, “Will he come back if I stop chasing him?”
So, let’s start by taking a moment to explore what your other option is: Don’t give him space and continue to reach out at a normal or higher rate.
If you are considering this, you may be doing so because you are worried that giving him space will prevent him from coming back. You may feel that reaching out to him as if everything is “normal” may make him realize that he is making a mistake asking for space. Or, you may feel the need to convince him that you two belong together and that you can talk through whatever the issue is and space is not necessary. You may be wanting to show him that your love can conquer whatever it is that made him think that space was the only way to handle it.
I want to make this point really clear… so, I’m going to underline it AND bold it….
Continuing to try to talk to him, text him, or chase after him after he has asked for space is only going to push him further away.
We even have a word here at EBR for continuing to pester someone with texts, calls, emails, and anything else and this is called “gnatting.”
You can read about it here, in “Desperation 101- How To Get Your Ex Boyfriend Back Without Looking Desperate” when you’ve finished reading this article. Basically, it’s texting or calling excessively.
Is it gnatting even if I text him like I normally would… nothing more?
He’s asked you to give him space (a complete disconnect) and you are giving him more than he wants. It’s annoying.
You know when a fly or a gnat is buzzing around and you can’t seem to get it to go away? That is how your ex boyfriend feels when you keep trying to force him to connect when he doesn’t want to.
Please do not be a gnat. Our pros over at EBR will all tell you that gnatting will lower your chances of getting your ex to come back.
That’s right! Gnatting, not giving him space is what will hurt your chances of him coming back.
I polled 10 random guys today. I asked them the following question:
“Would you be more likely to want to get back with someone who
a) you asked for space from and this person gave it to you
b) you asked for space from and they texted and/or called you trying to “fix” the situation?”
The results are below:
a) 10 votes
b) 0 votes
That’s right! 100% of guys said that they would be more likely to want to get back together with the person that respected their request and gave them space!
Why Giving Him Space and the No Contact Rule is the Best Option
Giving him space and utilizing the No Contact Rule will allow your boyfriend or ex boyfriend the opportunity to “reset” any bad feelings that he may have towards you. If you haven’t broken up and your boyfriend says he needs space, he is probably feeling stressed or overwhelmed by something in the relationship. He may need time to retreat and come up with the solution, like we talked about at the top of this article.
If you have broken up and you gnatted causing your ex-boyfriend to ask for space, it is paramount that you give your ex-boyfriend space now and begin implementing the No Contact Rule.
Anything else you do after he asks for space is really going to move you towards the “crazy psycho ex-girlfriend” territory and really, who wants to be her? NOT YOU!!!
In the meantime, focus on becoming ungettable and the best possible version of you.
If you are unsure what Ungettable means, here is a link to an article explaining the term. It is unique to the Ex Boyfriend Recovery Program, but the concept is pretty easy to follow.
A “Real Life” Example
Think about a dog for a minute.
Imagine that you are standing on an open road. You and the dog are looking directly at each other but there is some distance between you, say 10 feet. This may sound funny but I want you to take a moment and try to picture your ex-boyfriend as that dog. Now I want you to image that dog turning around and walking the other way… The dog is creating space between you and him, just like your ex boyfriend.
Now, your first instinct may be to panic, to run after the dog, or to call it back to you and maybe even offer it a treat. However, if you chase after the dog (your ex boyfriend), what is the dog likely to do? The dog is likely to run away further. The dog may even enjoy being chased by you. If you call the dog back to you and offer it a treat, it may or may not come but if it doesn’t the dog is going to know that walking away from you sure got your attention and he was rewarded, thus this will encourage the dog to do it again. You don’t want to go this route either.
So, if those options don’t work, let’s imagine what you should do. You’re back on the street and the dog is walking away from you. Imagine instead, that you stand there and do nothing. Or, better yet, you turn around and start walking the other way, away from the dog. Now, imagine that when the dog turns around to see if you are following him, he instead sees that you are out having the time of your life! Maybe you’re even giving his much beloved treats to another dog.
What do you think the dog is going to be inclined to do?
If you said come running back, you are right!
Now, let’s apply this example to ex. Your boyfriend asks for space. Instead of freaking out and chasing after him, you simply respect his space. In the meantime you go off and do some UG (Ungettable) things. When your ex boyfriend checks in on you (whether directly by texting you or indirectly through mutual friends or by looking at your social media) he will see that you are off having fun. Your boyfriend or ex-boyfriend will be much MORE LIKELY to come back simply because you respected his space and even made the most of it and had a little fun for yourself!
Space isn’t sounding too bad anymore, is it?
You Still Have Reservations?
Wow, you’re still not convinced, huh?
I could just tell you that giving him the space he asked for could not only turn out to be awesome, but that it could strengthen your bond with your ex.
I could tell you that it may even HELP your chances of him coming back!
I’m guessing that if you still are not convinced that you have some other concerns about giving your guy space, so let’s talk through some of the more common questions I see when giving girls advice on our EBR Support Group.
Will Giving Him Space Make Him Fall Out of Love With Me?
No, we are talking about you giving him space for a short period of time (typically no more than your no contact period). People cannot fall out of love in a matter of weeks. Respecting his space will show maturity and independence which should only make you more attractive in his eyes.
What If He Meets Someone Else While I’m Giving Him Space?
Well, I don’t want to lie to you so it is possible that he could meet another girl while you are giving him space or in No Contact. However, it is highly likely that this person will be a rebound and it will be very short-lived. There are other methods EBR offers to help in these specific situations… so, don’t worry. It’s not hopeless.
How Long Should I Give Him Space For?
I have to admit, this is tricky to answer but I felt like this is probably a really common question so I wanted to take a stab although there is not a “one size fits all” answer here.
If you are still dating and your boyfriend had asked for space, I would recommend giving him space for at least a week or until he reaches out. If he does not respond positively to your reach out after 1 week, do not gnat but give him another week of space. Remember, in the meantime, try to have fun!
Now, if you are broken up you need to give your boyfriend space until your No Contact period is up. You may be thinking, “what if he reaches out before then; has he had enough space?” Stick to your No Contact period and follow the No Contact Rule Book.
Let me leave you with a story, you’ll never guess who it is about…
No really, guess.
Okay fine, I’ll tell you, it is about me! The year was 2008 and I was in my first real High School relationship.
I know. Everybody say it with me…
So this guy, let’s call him “A.”
A and I had a great relationship that moved really quickly. We were in “love” after three weeks of dating. I know, it’s laughable now but this has an important lesson that came with it…
After about two months of being on a romantic high, A completely blindsided me and asked for “space.”
We were not fighting, we were perfect. I thought I was going to marry him and have his babies. I’m completely joking… only kind of, but not really…
Anyway, after A asked for space, I remember thinking that I must show him that space would only pull us apart and lessen our love; that I should show him that I was willing to fight for him and that this would prove to him that we were meant to be together.
I totally gnatted him for a week.
If you are still unclear on what gnatting is, you can read more about it here.
What was the result? He broke up with me a week later. I cried, and cried, and cried. But I DID NOT CONTACT HIM. I inadvertently began no contact and guess what, two weeks later he was BEGGING for me back.
Moral of the story is this: once I finally gave A the space that he was looking for, he was able to realize how much he missed me and how much our relationship meant to him. He began to wonder what I was doing and wanted to talk to me. Give the guy space and show him what he is missing out on.
A Quick Recap
So, something I have found in working with Ex Boyfriend Recovery is that, if we don’t do some kind of recap at the end of an article, our readers tend to pick on point that I made and forget the rest of the article altogether.
So, let’s look at what we discussed today.
- When a person asks for space, they are wanting a disconnect from the person they are asking for space from. The want time alone.
- There are plenty of reasons that your ex could be asking for space. The important thing is not to get hung up on the “Why?
- If he is asking for space, the absolutely BEST option is to GIVE IT TO THEM. Most of the time people don’t know what they want and when they get it they almost instantly realize that it is not what they really wanted.
- Then we talked about the reasons you might doubt that this will work… Well, you’re wrong. 9 times out of 10 it will work.
I also try to hook you guys up with a video that can help you moving forward.
For this topic today I think that THIS video is the perfect one for those of you in this situation.
Alright So, I’m going to do one more thing for you today.
I know… she has more?!
You’re probably wondering,
“What did I ever do to deserve such gifts?”
Well, you just clicked on the right article today, my friend.
I am going to open up the comments below for discussion. I want to hear about your situation with your asking you for space.
From there we can discuss your next action.
- How did he go about asking you for space or time to think?
- Did you breakup or have you not quite gotten there yet?
- What have you done since he asked for space?