Now a day I get into deep relationship conversations with total strangers at the mall. It’s weird how it happens, but as soon as I mention my blog and that I dabble as a dating coach, people want to open up to me. My latest conversation was with a man who told me that he ended his last relationship because he needed space and the girl he was with just couldn’t understand.
Space? What does space mean? I asked. He said distance… What does distance mean? I asked… he said space!
Here’s the thing about space; you have to be able to define what that means to you for a person to understand and support you in that. It can’t be this weird “space” you can’t explain. Space unfortunately, is a negative connotation. When a man says he needs space, it’s usually proceeded by a breakup.
Next time you need space, think of what you actually need and communicate that to your partner instead of just saying “I need space”. Here are a couple of examples:
- You want to be able to spend time with your friends and do things outside of your relationship and need space to do that. It’s healthy for both people in the relationship to keep their independence and have friends and hobbies out side of each other. Encourage each other to keep that independence.
TIME TO WORK ON PROJECTS
- You’d like to work on a new project, finish writing that book, or start a new business and need space to do that. This means that some of your personal time that would otherwise be dedicated to your relationship is now needed for your new project. Communicate this to your partner and work together to create that time for your project so that you both understand and have set expectations for your time. Maybe your partner can even help with the project?
If space is important to you, make sure you are also making plans for quality time with your partner so that your position in the relationship is clear.
If you happen to be the person that’s on the receiving end of this conversation, don’t take it personal. Space is how your partner may cope with pressure at work, or an emotional event in their life. Ask them to define space the same way I listed above so that you have a clear understanding of what they need. It could be as simple as them needing an afternoon to take a walk and think to themselves, or maybe you have to create a life together that’s more balanced so that they have the independence they crave.
Whatever you or they need, the only way to communicate is to be clear with one another so that no assumptions are made on what space mean.
What does space mean to you?