How To Act When He Takes Space In The Relationship

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Does your man seem to have “left the building” in your relationship?  Maybe he’s asked for space in the relationship or just doesn’t pick up the phone as much any more.


If you know that he is into you and is capable of a committed, loving relationship, chances are that this space is a good thing. (If he seems like he has commitment issues and has been doing the hot then cold routine with you, it’s not a good thing and it’s time to say “adios.”)


When a man pulls back, sometimes it’s because he needs breathing room to objectively evaluate the relationship.  Men are thinkers and are in their heads (it’s that masculine energy) and when they get too caught up in emotions, they step back to recoup and assess the situation.


The important thing is that you deal with his need for space in the right way.  I often tell women to do one thing for the relationship in order not to feel totally out of control, such as write him a letter expressing her love and letting him know that she understands; however, I also tell women not to be too accommodating during this time.


When a man takes space and that space feels yucky to you, in a way, it’s bad behavior on his part.  Don’t reward him for bad behavior.  You don’t have to punish him either and please don’t, but just don’t give him tons of your energy and attention (good or bad) when he takes space.


Try To Find Your Safe Space Within The Relationship


While your man takes space to do what he has to do to take care of himself, I want you to do what you have to do to take care of yourself.  You already know that leaning on him and seeking him out to ease your distress isn’t a viable option.  So what can you do to help ease your anxiety?


You can focus your energy outside the relationship.  You can give yourself plenty of space to feel your feelings without self-judgment (stop beating yourself up about having fears or labeling yourself needy and insecure.)  You can keep a diary and write endless letters to him in the diary (just don’t send them because you need to honor his need for space).  DO whatever you feel you have to do to get through the separation.  Please try best you can to do things that soothe you instead of things that stir up more feelings of abandonment or rejection.


When He Comes Back


When he calls you, don’t run to him.  Don’t accept him back right away or cry to him about how awful everything was without him.  Just stay still and calm and let him come to you.  Be inviting and welcoming but also be honest.  Tell him that you were hurting, “I understand why you took space, but please understand that I felt uncertain and sad.  I don’t want to feel this way again.  Do you understand my feelings?”


Let him do the work to come back to you.  You allowed him to have space, now it’s his turn to come toward you and make you feel safe again.  This DOESN’T mean that you make him jump through hoops to “test out” and “earn you”, this simply means that you stay still and honor any reservations you may have about his disappearing act by speaking up and taking time to reincorporate him back into your life.


When you take the time to reincorporate him, you avoid the ‘ol “one foot on the gas, one on the brakes” routine.  See, you miss him and really want to see him, but if you run back to him, there will be another part of you that will push him away with equal force because he hurt you and broke your trust.  You’ll cry, pick fights, shut down and get brittle.  It’s best to avoid this roller coaster of opposing emotions and simply takes things at a slower pace.


To learn how to set the pace of the relationship in a way that feels good to you and to him (bringing you both closer to each other at the same time), check out my eBook, Red Rose Woman:  The Enchantress Inside You.  It explains how women have to be vulnerable and soft while still being firm and direct.  It will help you feel empowered and take his disappearing act less personally.  Because his need for space in the relationship really isn’t about you, it’s about him and how he processes intimacy and closeness.


  1. Marisol says:

    I have been dating a man for two months that I have known for 5 years and everything has been wonderful. Lately he has been really stressed out about work and has been acting out in different ways. Now he says he needs space for himself for a couple days because he doesn’t want to continue failing me. He says that he “knows how he gets” when he is stressed and doesn’t want to take anything out on me with mood swings etc…. I told him a few days ago if he feels he needs space from me because we have been moving fast but its because we have grown to love each other and want to be around each other and he says no that he understands why things have been the way they are because we get along so well and are compatible and that he does not need space but now two days later he does? I know his job is important to him and he has a problem balancing things out. I want to give him the benefit of the doubt that it’s not “BS” but how do I know and I feel like I am being left out in the cold. He told me that it has nothing to do with us and that he doesn’t want us to end things but that he needs to figure things out regarding the stresses in his life. I understand this but if you are in a relationship etc with someone you shouldn’t just run away right? I know some men can not be happy in their lives if they are not doing what they want to be doing career wise but he senses he’s pushing me away, so why not fight for me? what should I think….he says its not us and there’s no one else but he needs time to think and fix certain things in his life… Give him space? or let him go? I am a patient woman but i have been hurt so many times to know this isn’t a good sign? Please help

    • I think you should believe him and I think that you are also pushing him away, just like he says he fears he may be doing to you. Stop analyzing him and telling him why he’s afraid or if he’s afraid and just let him take his space– let him go for these days like a balloon you are releasing into the sky. And during that time, try to find your center– your grounding. You seem very anxious about his needing some time to himself and instead of worrying about him, use the space to calm your heart and feel more at peace within yourself. I’m sure that you it feels scary for you because you are getting close to him and have a bad past with men, but a man needing a li’l space isn’t something to worry about on its own. Sometimes people need alone time to process things, especially men. That’s okay– you can’t expect him to have the same attachment style as you, processing and digesting emotions the same way, all the time. The more you pull at him while he needs time, the more you are pushing him away.
      You say you are a patient woman– find a way to be patient within yourself– kind to your emotions, understanding of your anxiety and fears and find ways to self-soothe during his need for space. I honestly think you need some space too, so that you don’t start losing yourself in this relationship and get needy.

  2. Chatty says:

    I want to say that I have read many, many comments, posts and advice regarding this matter of a man asking for “space” and your response by far was the most inspirational & centered response in my spirit… It allowed me to calm my emotions and see myself as a priority…. I viewed the space as a benefit for me as well as my development…. I thank you for your advice…. And I’m going to also read “Red Rosé Woman”, during this time… Thxs again….

  3. Dinda says:

    Kristina, you know what?
    I think what can sooth women during this “cave-man-state” is what you provided in your website!!

  4. Michelle says:

    Hi Kristina,

    I the advice you have on the website–it’s been very inspirational and eye-opening. I have a few questions though about communicating feelings…

    a) If a man has pulled away or asked for space…how do you express your feeling, so that you can be honest, without making him feel guilty? Correct me if I’m correct but, from what you say, you would wait until he comes back to express your feelings but then in telling him that “I understood why you took space but I felt sad/angry/hurt etc. ” wouldn’t that make him feel guilty for hurting your feelings in taking that space? And aren’t we trying to avoid making him feel guilty?

    b) As well, if a man had reasons to take space that weren’t about you but about the busyness of his life (as in Marisol’s case) would you still express how it made you feel? ” I understand that you need space to deal with____ but it made me feel a bit lonely”? Or in that case would you just be empathetic.

    c) There was a time when my man would said that he was busy and needed some time and couldnt’ make plans for quality time, but then when something popped up with his friends, he would make time to see them (most times I was invited to join). Now I understand that it’s important that he has time to see his friends and make time for his life, but it would make me feel unimportant…not a priority in his life. Would you say “I understand that you needed some space to deal with ______ but I want you to understand that it made me feel unimportant/disconnected/lonely”. I guess I’m confused with how to balance his needs, be honest with my feelings, and not be…needy.

    I hope you can help.

    • Michelle,
      Thanks for your questions. Telling a man how you feel is necessary to a relationship. Your feelings and needs are important. You aren’t trying to make him feel guilty but if he cares about you he may. It’s all about expressing your feelings so that he knows where you’re at and so you can really start to get in touch with where you are at any moment. It’s less about him and more about you and making space for your feelings instead of obsessing over his. You should never feel you are being needy to speak your feelings; relationships exist so that we can get our emotional needs met. You shouldn’t be in a relationship if it makes you feel like you’re second guessing your words and worrying if you are acting too needy.
      Instead of saying “I want you to understand…” Just say “I know why you took space to deal with___in your way but I felt lonely and disconnected. Is there a way we can both get our needs met when you need space? What do you think?”
      Leave out the unimportant because you want to communicate how you feel inside more than what he did to you.
      I have a feeling you feel very insecure about the stability of his commitment. If you feel like any wrong word will get you dumped you have to think hard about why you are in that relationship. What childhood pattern are you living out and hoping to fix?
      Xx Kristina

  5. Denise098 says:

    Hello, This has been the hardest thing I have ever gone through in my life. I have been with my bf for for 4 years we have a 3 year old son. After I got pregnant things changed. I started being rude to him, aggressive and mean. He left about 3 times and came back. lately he is really distant, he speaks roughly when I call him and he told me he needs some space from our relationship. Im trying my best to not contact him but he is constantly in my mind. I cry daily, every minute of the day. Yesterday night my son and i went to his place, we had sex and ejaculated inside of me. He claims that he doesn’t want another child and we both went to the pharmacy to get the morning after pill. He still says he wants space from me but we can still have sex. I really don’t get this. He says he gave me many chances to treat him right and i never need. What do i do ? I need help, I am depressed, I”m tired I’ve lost weight in a week. Patiently awaiting your response.

    • Denise,
      Don’t continue sleeping with him in this limbo state. It will hurt your soul.
      I think you need to write him a letter about how much you love him, how sorry you are for your behavior in the past and that you are going to respect his space. Then don’t contact him anymore. If he calls you to talk to your son, be kind and calm but be strong. Tell him that you are respecting his space and when he is ready to truly come back to contact you, otherwise, to deal with you only as the mother of his child. Don’t be mean or short, just be loving but of few words.
      You don’t want him wishy-washy with you. If you give him space and not contact him, he will probably come back. When he does, sit down with him and let him speak. Let him share how he feels and what’s been going on with him. Tell him you don’t appreciate that he took space but that you understand it was needed. Tell him that in the future he can’t do that to you and the baby and that both of you should come up with a way for him to recoup without such dramatic behavior. Be open to his suggestions and his feelings.
      Also take this time to think about why you were rude and mean in the past. This space can be good for you too. Did you have needs that were going unmet by him? Did you have postpartum depression? Are you afraid of intimacy and create drama to avoid closeness? Ask yourself what it was and see what feelings come up. You can write on it if you aren’t sure.
      If you need more emotional, physical or spiritual support from him, let him know that. If you have fears or insecurities, let him know. It will help him know what to do for you and not feel like a punching bag for you. Have a real mature, in-depth, loving discussion. But right now trust in the universe and in the fact that time heals and let him come to you when he is ready.
      But no sex, that’s too hard for you and confusing for both of you.

  6. Jenny says:

    Hi Kristina,

    Thanks for your sage advice. I am struggling to get over a relationship with a commitmentphobe and would really appreciate your insight.

    I was in an on-off relationship of 3-months with a man who has recently opened up to me about his commitment issues (which stem from his parents’ ugly divorce). He has never been in a relationship of more than 1 year – he says that they usually terminate after the honeymoon phase but that he has never experienced much conflict in those relationships. Our relationship is very intense and he and I often fight. He has admitted on several occasions that he wants a relationship that lasts for once in his life.

    We got along very well in the beginning and he was very open and caring in the beginning. He pulled away when he saw that my feelings for him were not as deep and we broke up. We got back together on my request, but he was very emotionally abusive towards me and he broke up with me again.

    Finally, we ended things and stopped talking for 6 months. In the past couple of months he started emailing me and begging me to speak to him. He said that he has been thinking about his future and that he would like to see if things might be different this time around. We started send short texts to each other every few days and he asked to see me during the holidays (we do not live in the same state). I did not go to see him and days later I received a message from him saying that since we live so far apart, there’s no need to rush things and he’s taking some space.

    I thought that things had changed, but it seems I was wrong. I don’t want to push him away if he is truly sincere about wanting things to work and this is his fear kicking in. At the same time, I wonder if this is just his MO with ex-girlfriends and he is stringing me along. He took down his online dating profile during the time he said he wanted to see me, but has put it back up since telling me he needs space.

    Thank you!

  7. Potter says:

    Hello, your advice helped with the way to act when he comes back, and the question that has been going on in my head – do I tell him that I want to know where I stand now?
    Mine is a new relationship, and we had a l

  8. Potter says:

    (Oooops I pressed submit)
    We had a lovely weekend together, and we got physical for the first time. He instiagted it, and it felt right. He has been very open with his emotions and it felt like the next step. He works at a boarding school, so his house and work are the same. He had arranged a cocktail party/gathering so I could meet his colleagues, which I got the seal of approval :) after the weekend, I could tell something was different. I had sent him a present (he’d asked for while I was away and forgotten to bring down with me at the weekend. I sent that Monday day, with a really honest letter in it. Basically saying how he makes me feel, how easy it feels and right and about the physical side was a turning point for me but still need to take baby steps getting to know each other. Then he txt me Monday evening that he felt bad about being physical, that we rushed it and he was freaking out with the intamacy and also the distance (only an hour away but restricted times because of his work) anyway, I asked him what he wanted to do about this does he want to finish things or what? He said “hands down on table I don’t know It has just been on my mind and I wanted to be open with u about it”. So I suggested that he takes some time to figure out what he wants, and decide if his life is better with me in it or without it. He asked of he could have the week but still communicate and I said no because it’s not fair on me if he chooses to end things. So we had a week with no communication. He text me after the week saying “hi how are u? Hope your ok been thinking of you?” I replied positively and said I had been thinking about him to. Then nothing? I then started to get really confused and then really angry so I text him after 4 days just saying: hello. Hope your ok. Let me know when your ready to talk x” he replied but shortly saying “yeah I’m ok sorry been manic with beig back and 1st week stuff lol x” idont know what to do?

    I thought about not replying (the text didn’t address about that he wanted to talk and just felt like an excuse) so debating whether I should not reply and let him come to me. Or txt him so I am out of this limbo? I was going to txt him something like this in a couple of days: I’ve thought of a millions things to say to you, but all I could think to say was – I like you, Ive missed you and I want to work things out. I have given you your space and been respectful of your feelings. Now it’s time to do the same and share your thoughts on things because I just want to know where I stand now X

    Any personal advice would be greateful, because my head hurts from thinking about it. I’ll get good days and bad days. I felt we had a real connection, and he has been so open about things I don’t think I am beig played, and I don’t think he will want to finish things because why txt me saying he was thinking about me, but the. I am a firm believer on actions not words, so I am really confused. I don’t trust and now I am getting over anxious because if he does finish things then how am I going to be able to trust ever again? I just want to know either way so I can move on or move forward with him. Please help xxxx

  9. Amber says:

    I have been dating my boyfriend for 3 years – living together for 2. We get along so well together – in the past he has remarked on how perfect he thought I am for him and our relationship has honestly been great – we have a few tiffs here and there – but never any serious problems. I love him more than I can say and could never imagine being without him.

    6 Months ago he lost his job – but he is a really responsible and driven person – so I had no fear about anything. To me everything was the same – and when he was feeling anxious about the job search, I was there for him.

    A week ago – he told me he wanted space. He couldn’t really verbalize why – but he finally wrote me a letter saying: He cares about me – but needs to take time to ‘figure himself out.’ He said that lately he has been feeling disconnected from our relationship. He told me I was the first girl he has ever loved but he is finding, in his heart, that he is having a difficult time committing to a possible next step with me (I assume by that he means marriage and a family – which he does want one day.) He wants to figure out these feelings now and to do that – he wants to separate from me. He said it is possible we could get back together after some time has passed – but if we don’t get back together, he hopes we will both be happy in our lives with other people BUT he would still want me in his life.

    While I don’t completely understand why this is happening, I am respecting his wishes and I am moving out of the apartment we share together (our lease is up in a couple months and he intends to find a new apartment as well. for now he is at his parent’s)… but it is just hard. I am hurting so much. I just feel like this is such a big risk to take – letting him be alone & letting him be single when all I want to do is be with him because he is the one that I love. This whole thing is baffling to me and I don’t want to lose him. Am I doing the right thing?

  10. Tani says:

    My boyfriend and I have been together for just over a year. About 6 months into our relationship i accidentally came across messages between himself and another female which were very suggestive but there was no evidence of cheating (I questioned him ample times about cheating and gave him an opportunity the be open and honest with me and say something but he didn’t and reassured me that he would never cheat on me as he know what it feels like as he was cheated on for a year by his ex-girlfriend) I love him enough to trust him so I did and I never bought up these messages that I saw. I thought I could forget about them but i couldn’t- in not telling him- i sub-conscienously held a little too tight onto the relationship & him (I think it was my way of making sure there was no opportunity to cheat) it was the one thing I didn’t want to do- in our first six months everything was so great- i felt so happy and safe in our relationship. As the months went on this strained the relationship a fair bit and finally I cracked and spilled the beans. He was shocked I kept it for so long and was upset I didn’t ask him right away to clear it up. He was very apologetic and admitted that it looked very bad but that wasn’t the case and he never cheated on me. We had a huge talk about it all and sorted it all out. From there though I had some family issues come up which put a lot of stress on me and our relationship as I was very highly strung out about what was going on with my family, in turn we have not really had the chance to rebuild our relationship and a week ago, he decided that he needed some space and that he isn’t sure how he is feeling. He said he cares for me so much and has strong feelings for me but needs some space. It was my birthday two days before and he bought me a try expensive necklace (gold/diamonds) with an anchor on it (he is a died heart fisherman) and said wear this around your neck and it can make you think of me when I’m out at sea- if you were wanting to break up with someone why would you buy something so symbolic as that- i would have been happy with a massage voucher or anything. I do agree with him and I said it to him with everything that has gone on we both need some space to focus on ourselves and re-gorund our feet. We had dinner a week ago and the last thing he said was its not goodbye its just see you later and he said he stills wants me to be in his life and wants to talk to me while we have this space. Its been a week since we had dinner and I havnt spoken to him or messaged him- I miss him so much and I just hope that everything will sort out. Only thing is I don’t know how long this break will be fore and He didn’t say a time limit- I would happily wait for him, although I didn’t say that as I didn’t want to come across as needy. I so badly want to talk to him but I want to respect and honour the space he has asked for. Am I doing the right thing by leaving it and waiting till he contacts me? I love him and don’t want anyone else. although we have had our tough times- I love him and he makes me happy. I just want some help with what to do and to make sure Im not doing anything to push him away, its the last thing I want to do. Please help

  11. judith says:

    I really need help please. so I’ve been sort of dating this guy for 8 months (No, we aren’t official). No, we don’t have sex either. Recently I’ve notice we don’t talk are much plus he’s too “busy” to spend time with me. So a day ago he just stopped texting. he tried that three days ago but I called to see if everything was okay and I expressed to him how he didn’t bother to text or call me at all and if something was wrong that he should talk to me about it he said he had been busy and didn’t have time to check his phone all day (he really didn’t have time to check his phone all day??) anyways, he’s trying to pull away like he did before only differences is that I’m letting him pull away (which is probably what I should have done) It’s been a day so far. I miss him. I’m going from texting him every day to not texting at all. I really don’t know what to do and I don’t want to mess things up some more. How do I know if he needs space? Or if he’s really done? Does he necessarily have to say “I need space”? I can’t help but blame myself because I can only think of the things that I could have done better. This past day I’ve thought about how clingy and maybe needy I came of as? I would always ask when we were hanging out again or if he wanted to see me. I was too available (I was doing the chasing) and truth is he actually did NOT want to see me (which kind of hurt), he wasn’t that busy. I really just wanted to feel that he wanted me as much as I wanted him. I just wanted to know if it’s too late to fix this or if I should just let it go. I mean, 8 month is a long time for him to know he really wants something, right? I feel like he somewhat felt pressured? I’ve been waiting for 8 month on something that might never happen and truth is I don’t even know if I really wanted anything to happen. I don’t know if I’m ready for a relationship either. But I love what we have (a relationship without a title) and I also can’t stand the thought of him with another person…I have so many questions. Why would he stay for so long? Was he just using me? Did he really like me? Or was I in this alone? What exactly do I do now?? Please somebody help me..

  12. Erica says:

    Hello Kristina ..
    I wish I had find your website earlier.. but even now your articles and all the comments have chilled me.
    Here is my story..
    I met my boyfriend online and things went fast..we was on phone all day and night and we met in real after almost 6 months. We was for a month together and everything was perfect! We had chemistry 100%. I also met his family and we talked for the future of me moving there. When I came back to my country we was again on the phone all day and night saying how much we miss each other etc. He has big responsibilities with his job and his family and he started being a bit distanced from me. So I freaked out..I felt like it was the end of the world,I was needy and bombed him with texts to get him pay some attention to me. As much I was needy that much he was going away from me. For 2 months I was the crazy paranoid girlfriend seeking for attention.
    In times things was getting better.. but he stopped being cuddly,he was cold.
    The last 2 weeks of October I said to my self that I have to chill out and stop being paranoid! And I worked it out.. I cry a lot though. Last week he said he loves me (he is a person that tells things only if he means them). This gave me some strength to go on.. Earlier tonight I told him “I miss US” and he said he doesn’t want to discuss this much but he wants to be left alone right now and stop chasing him, he can’t be cuddly every day and he can’t be online all day. I asked him if by that means he wants to break up with me. He said no he just want to be left alone. So I said I respect that and that I love him. Since then no text or anything.
    I will give him the time he wants because I trully love him with all my heart and I know he does also.
    I ‘ve been reading like I mentioned everything about this subject in your website and I will follow your steps.
    Just few questions I have and this questions are because of the fear of loss I have in me.
    If he wanted to end up things between us he would had done long time ago , right ? Cause like I said I was a crazy paranoid gf and he said we are still together..
    Nobody knows but him but do men recover and being themselves after “be left alone” ?
    My friends are pissed off cause of the way he is with me but they do not know him. They think I am trying to excuse him and that 2 months being like this is way too much. But like I said if he wanted to leave me he would have done it.. he is a grown man not a child to play with my feelings and he has a kind heart.
    I would love to hear some advices from you

    Hugs x.o.

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