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How to Say I Need Space in a Nice Way

A woman telling a man "I need space" while patting his shoulder outside a coffeeshop.

It’s true that being in a relationship means giving up certain freedoms, but it doesn’t mean neglecting your needs altogether. Sometimes we need space to take care of ourselves or to focus on our personal growth, and that’s nothing to feel bad about. It certainly doesn’t mean that your relationship is doomed.

If you’re in a stage where you require a little more me-time, there’s no need to break things off completely. You’ll just need to express those needs in a way that communicates to your partner that it’s nothing personal, and that you still care.

So, how do you maintain the delicate balance of interest and independence without hurting the other person? It’s not always easy to care for someone else’s feelings while trying to nurture your own, but it is achievable.

Here are 7 tips on how to tell someone you need space without ruining the relationship.

1. Drop hints.
If you can avoid it, don’t drop the news all at once. It will feel like a lot less to swallow if your significant other has received the information in small chunks along the way. The moment you’re feeling the need for space, make suggestions for short-term solutions, like a weekend with friends or checking out a movie solo. Then, see how your partner handles it. You may be surprised to find that he or she is open to the idea, and the big conversation about time apart may never need to happen at all.

2. Have the conversation sooner rather than later.
Don’t let small feelings pile up and turn into resentment. The person you’re dating deserves a fair chance and transparency. If you’re starting to feel like you may need time away, say so. Otherwise, these feelings can come out in a way other than how they’re intended. If you allow negative feelings to build internally, you could end up hurting the relationship in an outburst that could have been avoided if you just opened up initially.

3. Be thorough with your communication.
The last thing you want is the person you care about to feel like they’re being rejected. Avoid this by being meticulous with how you explain your need for space. Make sure that they understand why you need this space and that it isn’t something they did wrong. Allow them to ask questions and gain as much clarity as they need. Help them feel secure about your request by encouraging an open and honest dialogue.

4. Sweeten the deal.
While space may not seem like a good thing in a relationship, there are benefits for both parties involved. Try to uncover them together. For instance, your partner may have time to engage in those hobbies that he or she gave up once you got together. Explain how space can positively impact the relationship and how it is good for both of you in the long run. Don’t leave your partner with a bad taste in their mouth: show him or her the bright side.

5. Give your partner something to look forward to.
Most times, you take space to work on yourself, become a better person and, therefore, be better in the relationship. Explain this to your significant other. Give your partner something to look forward to at the end of this time so he or she understands that things will only improve as a result.

6. Understand what you want.
Make the most of your time away by setting a goal for what you’d like to accomplish. This time to yourself can be extremely valuable for your relationship, so know what you want to get out of it. Outline one or two things that you have been neglecting and tend to them. Your overall objective is to come back into your relationship refreshed, reenergized, and ready for more.

7. Know that it’s not all-or-nothing
You’re not restricted to one “I need space” conversation per relationship. You don’t have to view this as the only time you’ll ever get time to yourself. Instead, space can become a routine part of your relationship. You can still select one night a week or one weekend a month that you take for yourselves without feeling bad about it. The good thing is that once you’ve set the precedent that individual time can be a good thing for your relationship, both you and your partner will be open to the idea.

We often forget that we have the power to direct the course of our relationship because we’re trying so hard to accommodate the other person. Remember that taking time apart is a way of strengthening your partnership by becoming better as an individual. Space can be a good thing, just remember to keep the lines of communication open and honest so both sides can reap the benefits.

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