Ask A Guy: What Does He Mean When He Says He Needs Space?


My boyfriend and I have been dating off and on for a while through college. Last year, we reconnected and have now been dating for a year. Recently, I went through some personal issues that have caused me to be emotional and down at times. He expressed to me that he didn’t like me being down. I tried to make my emotions better, but I’ve been struggling. We would about this on and off. Last week, we got into an argument about it. He told me needs space and that he will reach out when he’s ready. Does this mean break up or break? I asked him and he never replied and we haven’t spoken since. I need a guy’s perspective. Thanks.

I honestly don’t think there is any other phrase that is as frustrating as the annoyingly ambiguous “I need space” bit, though I have been guilty of using it myself once or twice. The main problem with getting around this single set of words is that it usually comes at a time when the relationship is already a bit broken, so clear communication might not be easy.

However, there are a few things you should consider before you start blowing up his phone with texts and voice mails:

What do YOU want out of the relationship? Step aside from the habit of being together and consider what led to your break. These things don’t just happen at random, so think if there were things between you causing problems that couldn’t be resolved for one reason or another. If so, you may be better off staying apart, as areas where there is no compromise to be found often fall under the “red flag” category.

Secondly, while you should respect a bit of time for his deep thinking, how long are you willing to wait? Do you really feel like he’s respecting you as a partner if he maintains radio silence for a week? Two weeks? If you’re “willing to wait forever,” then you might be in a dependent relationship, and that’s another problem entirely.

But getting to the question of “why” a guy asks for space, it can be a number of different things. Maybe he’s bored or unfulfilled in some aspect. Perhaps he’s scared of the level of commitment you’ve reached. He might not know how to let you down nicely, so he’s just going to let it fade away. It’s never one single thing for guys, and unless he explicitly stated why, assuming is dangerous.

If you asked him why he wanted the break and he didn’t reply, give it a day or two and ask again. If he continues to ignore you, his lack of response says “it’s over” more than it says “just give me a week.” Complete avoidance of you also shows a lack of respect; there’s no way of getting around that.

So use the break to your advantage. Consider what YOU want and whether or not he can deliver those things for you. If he can, decide how long you’re willing to wait in the dark. If he can’t, move on and find the one who can!

Best of luck!

Joel Freimark has done a lot in life and seen even more. From last minute international travel to bizarre places to writing award winning books, he’s here to bring his wisdom to all your problems. He hosts a weekly advice series on Youtube and a music series also on YouTube.. No question is too outrageous or personal, so go ahead and fire away! Follow him on Twitter.


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