Has your partner come to you and said these three gut-wrenching words? – I NEED SPACE. These are not the words anyone wants to hear in a relationship. They bring up feelings of fear, panic, and also uncertainty about where you stand in all of it.
Your self-talk might consist of questions such as: What did I do? Are they trying to call it quits? Is there someone else in the picture?
This kind of self-talk can lead to sabotage if you let it take you down the road of assumptions.
There are multitudes of reasons why any one of us needs space. Time apart can be a good thing, for our partner and for ourselves. It’s easy to get caught up in the relationship and lose sight of our own needs and desires.
Lets first start off with talking about what making space looks like:
Don’t call or text every five minutes fishing for clues wondering if they are over needing their space. Don’t try and scroll through their cell phone, computer, or social media when they aren’t looking trying to find information to validate the story you may have created in your head. Don’t give them the cold shoulder if they open up a dialogue and share their feelings and thoughts with you.
Nobody likes someone breathing down his or her neck, or constantly checking in as they would a toddler. This is exactly the opposite of giving someone space.
Here are my tips that will help you take a pause during this time and not go down the rabbit hole…
The first tip is Do Not Fill In The Blanks With Assumptions.
I know this is hard for you to do because you want answers, and because the situation makes you feel uncertain, but assumptions will only create further distance between you and your partner. Your head will want to create stories about why they need space, and “what did I do to push them away?” This is the time you want to take these words at face value…THEY JUST NEED SPACE…period.
The second tip is Don’t Chase Make Space!
At first, your partner may be turned on by the chase because it may meet their need for significance, but I can promise you, in the long run, it will get very suffocating and juvenile. This will not create the lasting connection that you desire. When someone is in a place of needing to reflect and wanting time to take a pause, the last thing they want is someone turning the heat up. When has there ever been a positive outcome when chasing someone that needs to be left alone? I can guarantee that if you keep chasing them you will only push them further away. This is the time you want to love them, more than ever, unconditionally, with no strings attached. Why? Because you are a person who loves no matter what anyone else does or says.
The third tip is to Practice Self-Care.
If you do not practice self-care (taking care of your mind body and soul), you cannot be fully present for your partner. It is not your partner’s responsibly to have to manage your mental state, especially at a time when they “need space.” So use this time to learn something new, get your workout on, cook a healthy meal for yourself, spend time with friends, read a great book… Your partner will love you for it! And you benefit from having your own quality time with yourself. Distance apart will only create more passion and desire in the relationship. Who doesn’t want more of that?
The fourth tip is to Stay Neutral When Your Partner Is Ready To Open Up To You.
I get it! How can I stay neutral when I feel like they just shut me out? If you let yourself go into the “I” mode, meaning what did “I” do to deserve this, then you allowed yourself to go into your EGO. The space that your partner needs isn’t about you, it’s about them. Staying neutral will allow them to come back into a space that doesn’t have any tones of guilt, shame, or blame. You invite them back into a space that is playful and loving. Be curious when they are ready to open up. Sharing your thoughts from a place of curiosity is a far better place to invite someone back in.
The fifth tip is Use This Time To Reflect On What Your Needs Are In The Relationship.
This can be a great time for you to ask yourself if your needs in the relationship are being met. And not in a way that is vengeful, meaning my partner needed space so now I need to create a problem so that I can take back control of the relationship when they return (that’s your ego trying to repair itself). Sit down and be honest with yourself. Is this relationship meeting my needs? Do I like who I am with my partner? Am I being my highest self in this relationship? We sometimes get caught up in being a couple that we forget to take care of ourselves.
It’s important to handle this time with respect, integrity, and a gentle heart for your partner and for yourself. Be open and have clear communication for what this means to both of you. There is no rule book, but if treated with care and compassion you will get through this together.