Of all the things your boyfriend can say during the course of your relationship 'I need some space' is the most confusing. Your stomach sinks. You feel suddenly nauseated. A thousand things run through your mind, and none of them are good.
Did I do something wrong? Is he going to break up with me?
Did he find someone else?
Thoughts like these spin through your head, gaining speed and momentum until everything is out of control. You can't think straight in a situation like this. Especially since you don't know exactly what your boyfriend wants, or why he said what he did.
Your boyfriend wanting space is never a good thing. The brutal truth is that yes, he might be thinking of ending the relationship. He's in a place where he's not 100% satisfied with the way things are right now.
Now note: I didn't say he was unhappy. Your boyfriend could still be happy and ask for space, and this situation can be even more disastrous. Because if your relationship is going well, and there were no warning signs whatsoever? There's a good chance your boyfriend might be trying to use the 'space' thing as an excuse to chase after or even date some other girl.
The Good Thing About Him Wanting Space
Okay, so he wants space. It isn't all bad news, and here's why:
If your boyfriend wants to end the relationship all he has to do is break up with you. You'd hear things such as "this isn't working out" or "we're not compatible" or the ever-awesome "it's not you, it's me". These things are relationship-ending phrases, meaning your boyfriend is looking to be single by the end of the conversation.
But your guy said he needed space. Or 'room to breathe'. Or 'time to think'. Maybe he said 'we're moving too fast'. Any and all of those sayings is guy-code for this:
""Go away for a while, but please don't go too far... in case I decide I want you again."
This is a double-edged sword. It's bad because your boyfriend is trying to get you to agree to a trial break up. He wants the freedom to play the field and possibly see other people, but he wants the security and comfort of knowing you're still going to be waiting around for him.
In other words, he's being a selfish ass.
The good news however, is that your boyfriend doesn't want to lose you completely. By playing the 'space' card, he's trying to put you in a holding pattern. He STILL wants to see you (although maybe not right away). He STILL wants you available to talk to, text-message, or even get together with. Most of all, your boyfriend wants you in his line of sight. He wants to be able to see you - and everything that you're doing - so he can remain confident that you're not using this trial separation as a vehicle to go out with other guys and possibly end up leaving him for someone else.
The Bad Thing About Giving Your Boyfriend Space
Okay, so you know he still has feelings for you. That's good. But there are a lot of bad aspects to agreeing to give your boyfriend space when he requests it, and you need to understand what these are.
First of all, giving him space is like giving him a license to sleep with other people. Even if you got back together after such an event, your boyfriend would always claim the infidelity meant nothing because you "weren't really together". You know that's bogus, and of course he does too. But unfortunately, this is what he'll do.
The other thing about accepting his 'I need room to breathe' excuse is that the balance of power shifts 100% in his favor. All of a sudden you have no control over anything, because you're giving him space. He gets to be in the driver's seat, because he decides when (and if) the 'I need space' thing is over.
During this temporary breakup, your guy will keep strict tabs on you. He wants you on you a leash. And because he's the one who claimed to have needed space, the worst part is your relationship now becomes one-sided. If he calls you, he's just being cool and communicative. But if you call him? Suddenly you're smothering him. He can act all irritated toward you, because you're not giving him "his space", which makes you feel like somehow, you're the one at fault.
What Should I Do if My Boyfriend Wants Space?
Okay, on to the good stuff. Here's what you do - and what you tell him - when your boyfriend pulls the 'leave me alone for a while' card on you:
First and foremost, you must remain strong. The second worst thing you can do is cry or get upset, and the worst thing you can do is beg or plead for him not to do this. Breaking down emotionally like that, you might as well just hand him all of the control. From there, whatever happens in your relationship is all his decision, not yours.
Second, you CANNOT agree to his terms. He wants space? Too bad. You don't "do" space. Either he dates you or he doesn't - those are his choices - because you respect the relationship too much - and you respect YOURSELF too much - to kick back and wait for somebody who might or might not come back.
When your boyfriend tells you he wants some time apart to think about things (or however he phrases it) you tell him this:
""Yeah, sorry, no. I don't do the whole 'give me space' thing. If you really feel this way, let's just break up. Obviously you have some issues, and I'm not hanging around in limbo while you work them out."
This is how you go from a bad situation to a better one. Either your ex will start retreating, taking back the entire idea, or he'll call your bluff on the breakup. If he does the latter, you have to stand firm. You have to be able to walk away from the conversation, leave him completely alone, and disconnect for a while. Don't answer your phone, don't go online to check emails or Facebook... let it sink in that his plan just backfired. Let him realize that if he really wants to continue with this "I think we need a break" nonsense, he stands a real chance of losing you for good.