I recently reunited with an ex, and it was going so well that I was under the firm impression our break-up was the best thing that could have ever happened to us. I thought that we would have never landed in such a good spot if we had stayed together all along. It was different this time, because he told me all of the things that I had longed to hear once before, such as just how much he loved me and just how much he never wanted to be without me ever again. This included him telling me that it was his intention to propose when I least expected it, because he wanted to spend every day of the rest of his life with me. About one week after he told me that he wanted to marry me, he told me that he needed some “space;” I least expected that. He asked me to please not overreact, he told me that he loved me, he told me that this was a good thing, and that nothing was changing; he just didn’t want to spend every night together because he needed to spend some time working on himself. My natural reaction was devastation, and I felt as though I had just gotten whiplash.
So what should you do if your significant other suddenly tells you that he or she needs space? Your natural reaction is probably going to look a lot like sadness or anger or a combination of those two feelings that are happening because of fear-based thinking. That’s the normal way to feel, because why would someone that’s crazy in love with you ever need a lot of space from you, right?
1. Give yourself space, immediately.
The very first thing you should do is respect their wish for space, separate yourself from them, and think of it instead as giving yourself some space to reflect upon your own feelings. Do not spend a lot of time initially pondering their feelings. Of course you should listen to their reasoning behind their need for space and do your best to understand that need, but think more about how their request is making you feel. It’s not your job to figure it out, because you’re not Sherlock Holmes. It’s your job to take care of yourself. Consider whether or not their request is okay with you, and how you will move forward from this. What’s your next move?
2. Think of your partner as a friend.
Every relationship is unique, so hopefully you should already have a good idea of your own situation with this other person, and if you’re lucky, you’ll also have some sense of security or faith in your friendship. Do your best to think of them as your friend right now, rather than your partner, because that will help you to have compassion for them instead of focusing on how they may be letting you down as your significant other and essentially hurting you. In the end, your partner might never be your partner again, but if you think of them as your friend now, they could end up a friend forever. It’s better to let go of someone with well-wishes instead of resentments.
3. Practice some patience and give it time.
You can’t ever really know what anyone else is thinking and you also can’t see into the future. So if your choice is to give them the space they have asked you for, you’re going to have to give it some time. Their actions will speak louder than their request for space, and time will show you if their need for space really has more to do with needing permanent space from you. You’ll either be pleasantly surprised with a positive outcome from all of that space or you’ll feel as though your initial fear-based reaction was completely correct. Remember, though, that when you deeply love someone, that fear is always there to some extent, because no one ever wants to lose what they love so much. If you’re not afraid of losing them, then you should go out and find someone that you are very afraid of ever being without.
4. Realign your focus onto you only.
Lastly, but most importantly, what you need right now is to put all of your focus right onto you. All of that effort that was going into your relationship should be placed back onto loving you and you only. What are your goals yet to be achieved and your dreams yet to be fulfilled? What areas of your life could use some serious attention? These are the most important things for you to figure out and to start doing, because if your partner comes back to you stronger than they were before, you’ll also be a better, stronger version of yourself. Your relationship will thank the both of you for all of that space. Sadly, if your partner shows you that he or she actually no longer wants to be your partner at all, then you’ll be strong enough to let them go. You’ll already be pouring your energy into making your own happiness, and you will have already remembered that your happiness is created by you alone. So basically, when you focus on what you can do for yourself right now, it’s a win-win situation, no matter the eventual outcome of your partner needing “space.”
So go ahead and let them go for now, and then give yourself lots and lots of space.