Space in a Relationship – Ask Chauntel Advice Column

Space in a Relationship Photo - Broken Heart
By Michal Marcol

21-year-old Natalie writes

Hey Chauntel,

I’ve been dating this amazing guy for about 3 months. He’s almost 6 years older than me… he’s 27, and I’m a relationship type girl, and typically like older guys, who seem more ready for something serious. This guy pretty much took the reigns, and made the relationship a “relationship” quickly.

HOWEVER, he told me at the beginning that he was warming up to the relationship thing slowly because he had just gotten out of a long term relationship a year ago. But he kept making sure to reassure me that he was only seeing me and that although he isn’t a huge fan of labels. We had a relationship. He told me he wasn’t seeing anyone else and wasn’t going to. However, over the last month, he’s been different. Distant, not really trying to make plans to see me much, and he’s been overall just really grouchy and unhappy.

He’s now saying he is very depressed (which i’ve picked up on and he’s mentioned) and is asking for space… and I don’t really know how to handle this. “Space” and “time” could mean days, weeks, years? And does he even really want me to stick around, or do you think he’s trying to let me down easy? I wish he would open up and let me be there for him, but he is very out of touch with his feelings and wouldn’t have this conversation on the phone, even. We haven’t been talking too much, but communication hasn’t stopped and has mostly been about our situation. He claims to not want to tell me what to do because he doesn’t exactly know what he wants right now. He’s said that he still likes me and will continue to work on me, but that he needs to get himself happy before he can be happy with anyone else, and that he thinks separating would be best for now. I won’t sit around and wait forever, but I’m really heartbroken. I’m feeling like its a situation where I have to let him go, and if he comes back happy and healthy, it was meant to be?

[(here’s some extra info… maybe help you understand this more than me?)
When he asked for space, he said we’re frequently not on the same page with what we want out of the relationship (I’ve been wanting to meet his friends and have him meet my family), that he needs slow and casual because he cannot emotionally invest what i want out of him right now (i’ve been stupid to sleep with him, I know that now), that he’s never felt this depressed and needs to figure out his life and himself, and that he doesn’t think he’s ready for a relationship when he thought that was what the hole he was feeling inside was. He told me that I haven’t scared him off or done anything to make him feel this way, that I’m an amazing person he loves spending time with, that I make him so happy but he doesn’t make himself happy, and that he’s not going to disappear but he just needs time for himself.]

Screen Shot 2013-09-08 at 9.02.44 PMHello Natalie,

First off, you go girl!

The man you are dating seems very mature and has a lot of introspection. Which means that he knows how to look within himself to see how he is feeling, and is aware of what he needs, which is great. He is also great at communicating his feelings to you, which I cannot say for most guys. I know that you are in a very frustrating situation, and believe it or not, you are both in a very vulnerable position.

You have two options. One you can wait for him until he is ready to be in a committed relationship, or two you can accept that he isn’t ready for commitment and explore other options to find that guy who wants what you want right now. Don’t forget you are 20, live a little 🙂

If this guy really holds value in your life, then be supportive of his space. How do you do that? Let him lead. How much is enough and how much is too much, when it comes to “space”? Well there is not a magic formula to this. You simply let him initiate most of the time: hangouts, phone calls, conversation, and all other contact. You will start to get a fill for what the “space” is that he wants.

You will probably go through this process until you get to the point where you want more. He will either give it to you or he won’t. But whatever you do, don’t force it. You will only turn him off.

Let him lead, or just be friends and go find what you are searching for!

I Hope This Helps!


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