Carrie Bradshaw inspired many couples to discuss space in a relationship when she kept her old apartment to enjoy some “me-time” away from her husband Big. When you are in a romantic relationship, living in the bubble of a lovestruck fantasy, hearing the words “I need space” from your partner can quickly throw you back on the ground. Even more difficult is to entertain the thought that you might be the one who is in desperate need of some space from your partner. Granted you love them, but that does not mean you have to be attached by the hip 24*7.
Learning how to set boundaries so you don’t invade each other’s private space is tricky. We are sold a beautifully packaged lie that if you are in love, you want to be continuously serenaded by the presence of your partner. This is far from true. The secret to a healthy and long relationship is understanding that you both have individual identities which need their own room for growth.
Because most people are afraid that saying “I need space” is the equivalent of “I want to break up”, they never let their partners know their feelings. So if you have been wondering how to tell someone you need space without hurting their feelings, we are here to help you. We have decoded the best way to ask for space in a relationship with the help of Shazia Saleem (Masters in Psychology), who specializes in separation and divorce counseling.
How Do You Politely Tell Someone You Need Space?
Everyone needs a healthy balance between spending quality time with others and themselves. When it comes to finding this balance in a relationship, you may feel like you do not have enough room to breathe. Or that there’s no room left in your life to just be yourself, given your responsibilities, social media, and family life.
“It’s important to have healthy and clear boundaries in a relationship from the very beginning. Most of the time, in order to impress or give extra attention to their significant others, people ignore themselves or try to be someone they’re not. This is exactly what makes wanting space away from them a pressing need some time down the line. It is better to be clear from day one and set realistic boundaries,” says Shazia.
The need to be alone is natural and should not be bottled. If you are stuck between the dilemma of “I need space” and not knowing how to say you need space in a relationship without hurting your partner, let us help you out. Here are some ways in which you can ask for space without hurting their feelings:
1. Explain what you mean by space
“I need space” can mean so many things. To say you need space in a relationship, you first need to explain to your partner what your definition of space is. Many people desire only a small amount of space to just be themselves or blow off some steam. When you ask for space, you’re definitely not implying that you have secret thoughts of living separately and you’re certainly not suggesting that you take a vacation.
Related Reading: 19 Examples Of Healthy Boundaries In Relationships
Sometimes all you need is a free afternoon to do anything you want, whether it’s grabbing a cup of coffee and doing nothing or playing video games with your pals. Let your partner know that when you say “I need some space for myself”, you mean a few hours or days by yourself.
According to Shazia, “Open communication in a relationship is the key here. Talk and discuss with your partner that you need some me time for yourself. Explain to him/her that with a hectic lifestyle you may get exhausted or overwhelmed and a little alone time to enjoy a cup of coffee in peace or take a walk will help you rejuvenate and get into a resilient zone.”
2. Be honest about your desires
Makeup excuses for why you can’t hang out as often if you want your partner to think you don’t like/love them anymore. But, if you simply want to communicate “I need space”, be honest. Yes, it may be difficult to bring up the subject of asking for space because you’re afraid they’ll take it the wrong way. However, avoiding the subject and only attempting to provide clues will definitely take you down the wrong path.
They’ll notice that you’re not seeing each other as much as you used to, and they’ll try to figure out why. Make sure that in your quest for space, your partner isn’t left to believe you’re abandoning them. It is better to be honest than give them a reason to think you are ghosting them. The latter will definitely cause irreparable damage.
3. Be mindful of your words
When someone doesn’t give you enough room to breathe, it might be stressful. But this doesn’t have to turn into a squabble. It’s just two people in a relationship who have different expectations.
The most important thing to remember is that no one is to blame here. Knowing how to say you need space in a relationship may not come naturally to you, and it may be a touchy subject because it may lead your partner to think they are losing you or can give rise to abandonment issues.
“Always try to be mindful before speaking. Words once spoken cannot be taken back. Try to put across your feelings politely and gently. Most importantly take care of your tone. How you say something makes a huge difference,” adds Shazia.
Make sure you don’t lose control of your emotions. Take as many breaks as you need, and only discuss this with calm heads in the room. Your words should be the medicine to their wounds and not a sword piercing through their heart.
4. Allow them to express their concerns
A relationship is a partnership, and in a partnership, nothing should be a one-way street. You should be able to comprehend your partner’s point of view and needs if you’re asking for something from them. Don’t just announce, “I need some space for myself”, and walk away.
Have this conversation when you both have enough time to discuss every necessary aspect of redrawing the boundaries of personal space in the relationship. If your partner has any reservations or apprehensions, address them calmly and as candidly as you can. Don’t take their counterviews and opinions as an attempt to stifle you.
Perhaps they need more information on where this need for space is stemming from to be able to wrap their head around it. You must do all you can to facilitate that, reassure them and get them on board with the idea.
5. Remind them of your love
Some of your partner’s worry about requiring space could be attributed to their attachment style or relationship behavior patterns. Our dating and relationship conduct is influenced by our attachment styles or how we’ve been taught to emotionally link and express compassion to others throughout our adult lives.
For example, if your partner has an anxious attachment style, they will find it difficult to feel comfortable in relationships and will cling to their partner out of the fear of being abandoned. This means that when you tell your partner “I need space for myself”, what they will hear is that you are leaving them. In such a case, how to say you need space in a relationship becomes crucial.
They might be surprised and think you’re backing away, so you should take the time to reassure them. Let them know that you are simply setting boundaries and you still love them. Even if you are asking for space to contemplate the status of your relationship, hear out their concerns and do not be a selfish person.
6. Make the deal more appealing
How do I tell my boyfriend I need space? Make it sound appealing. While having your own space may not seem like a good thing in a relationship, it has advantages for both parties. Make your partner see that to get them to warm up to the idea.
Shazia explains, “First, be aware of your own feelings and thoughts. What do you want for yourself? What are your needs? What does space mean to you? Ask these few questions to yourself. Once you are certain, put it across to your partner in a convincing manner.”
For example, your partner may have time to pursue activities that he or she abandoned after you got together or got married. Explain how space can have a beneficial impact on your relationship and how it will benefit you both in the long term. Explain how this will allow you to have a stronger foundation in your relationship. Don’t leave a sour taste in your partner’s mouth; instead, offer him or her the bright side.
How Do You Ask Someone For Space In A Text?
“How to tell my boyfriend I need space without having to face him?”
“ I need space in a relationship but how do I say this to my girlfriend’s face?”
“ I can’t see them when I tell them I need space!”
Confrontation issues? Take the help of technology! Asking for space via text is not the best option because a lot gets lost in translation during conversations over text. However, whether or not it’s the best recourse for you depends on the stage your relationship is in and your circumstances. If the guy you have been dating for a month is really beginning to bug you, maybe asking for space over text is better. Allow us to ease this process for you.
Telling someone “I need space” is not as simple as simply typing out those words. It has to be more nuanced so that your message is communicated with absolute clarity and you don’t leave any room for miscommunication. So, without further ado, here are some ways to send the “I need space” text message without sounding like the evil brother of cupid:
1. Simple and direct
“I need space” text message meaning can be open to interpretation if not written well. So, be direct and embrace the beauty of simplicity. Here’s an example:
I really enjoy the time that we spend together but lately, I need to pay more attention to things in my life. Getting some space would be very healthy for me and I will be able to focus on the relationship in a more efficient manner.
2. Don’t dive deep into an explanation
If your relationship is relatively new, you can skip the long explanation of feelings and emotions. Don’t go into explaining the “I need space” text message meaning to them. Keep it short and sweet. Have a look at the message below (go ahead, Ctrl C and V it into your DM)
You are amazing and I have had the best time with you but I think I need to take a step back from this for now.
3. Incorporate some humor
Asking for space does not have to feel like the end of the world. Why make it the villain when it is the sweet sidekick helping the hero and the heroine? Send them a funny I need space text message meaning that you are keeping it light-hearted and this is just a healthy way of setting boundaries. Not a natural comedian? Here’s an example for you:
We are together so often, I think I need a few days to remind myself what it’s like to miss you (insert emoji)
Asking for space over text is not everyone’s cup of tea. So here are a few more examples to help you send that I need space text message to your partner:
- I love hanging out with you, but I need to focus on other priorities for some time.
- We have been together a really long time and I love you so much. But, right now, I need some time by myself. This does not affect our relationship in any way.
- Before meeting you, I was single for a very long time and I miss my time with my girls. This relationship is really important to me but I need some space to still have time for myself and my friends.
“Never give false impressions and hopes to your partner. For example, “we will always be together”, “I don’t want to live without you for a single moment” are promises which can lead to unwanted expectations. People need to be practical, real and honest in a relationship. Be yourself, don’t pretend,” adds Shazia.
How Do You Respond To I Need Space In Text?
Asking someone for space is scary. But being on the other side of the question can be equally frightening. Maybe you are not the one who feels the need to spend some alone time in a relationship, but your partner might. Everyone has different needs. Being understanding of their needs is helpful to both parties. Few people know how to ask for space but even fewer know how to respond to “I need space” in a relationship. This is the moment you set boundaries which will make your relationship stronger instead of ruining it.
Shazia throws light on this by saying, “Always respect and acknowledge the needs of others. Never dismiss a partner’s needs. It’s okay to have a different opinion than your partner’s but allow them the freedom to choose for themselves. Letting the other person make their choices and decisions is healthy. Understand what they want and try your best to be a supportive partner.”
Related Reading: 11 Golden Rules To Make A Relationship Work
There might come a time when you will receive a text message communicating your partner’s need for some space. When that happens, remember to be considerate. Here is how you respond to I need space via a text:
1. If feasible, inquire about the amount of space required by the individual
Try to create a definite time range for how long you’ll be away. Also, find out what they expect from you such as keeping communication to a minimum or meeting only a certain number of times in a week. This gives you the ability to address their needs while also avoiding misinterpretation that could harm the connection.
When your partner asks you for space, you can say, “I genuinely want to give you the space you need. Could you describe your needs clearly so I know what to expect?”
For example, they may request that you refrain from contacting them for a few days. This could involve texting, social networking, and face-to-face communication. They might, however, be fine with an occasional text. Don’t resent them. They might have wondered for days how to tell someone you need space without hurting their feelings, so understand they are not out to hurt you.
2. Tell them you’re giving them space because you care about them
One of the dangers of giving someone space is that they may begin to believe you are uninterested in them. This can be a bit of a Catch-22 since they will be annoyed if you keep reaching out despite them having stated their need for space. Explain that you’ll back off only until they’re ready to come close again to make sure you’re both on the same page.
You can say, “You’re really important to me, and I see that you need some space right now,” or “ I’m going to give you the space you require, and I hope that this will deepen our long-term connection.”
3. Appreciate their honesty
It is not easy to say “I need space” in a relationship. Most, if not all, of our dating and relationship communication has moved online as a result of our increased use of technology in our daily lives. It’s all too easy for people to simply vanish and never text again, with no explanation. So someone informing you that they need some space is better than radio silence. Even if the news isn’t excellent, it’s better than being left in the dark, wondering why things have changed.
Lastly, Shazia says, “Appreciate your partner for asking for space and reassure them that you are always there when needed. Tell them you understand and respect their need for space or privacy, and at the same time, let them know you believe in healthy boundaries in a relationship and expect the same. Space cannot be given one way. Both the partners should give each other the requisite amount of space – which, by the way, can be different for different people.”
So, how do you tell someone you need space in a relationship? By effectively communicating your desires. Do not be afraid. Space can be really good for your relationship. And if someone is asking you for space, don’t get defensive and pick a fight, pause, listen and understand where they are coming from. A healthy relationship is built on the foundation of honesty and communication. Make sure you inculcate it in your relationship and you will be able to overcome everything together.