Give Me Space!

Even the best relationships need space from time to time. Try these tips for turning the cling factor around

Question: I’m in a great relationship with a great woman, but I need some space. Do you have any advice?

Answer: The situation you raise is a case of good news and bad news. First the bad news: this is probably one of the most typical scenarios between couples, and most men get really frustrated, just like you. And now the good news: there is a way to understand what’s happening and turn things around.

You might be surprised to know this type of “dance” — guys needing space, and their partner coming after them — is really a biological gender issue. That’s right, she’s not just being a pest (and I might add to women, your man is not just tuning you out).

New research has found that women are designed to react more emotionally. Men, on the other hand, will have a negative response to too much stimulation. Starting to see where this is going? A woman gets upset, she reacts emotionally, it’s too much stimulation for the man, he does something to create space, she feels he’s pulling away and goes after him, which only provokes his need for more space. And so on and so on.

By not understanding the other gender, each person is creating his/her own interpretation from his/her perspective. So, to a man, it feels like a woman just won’t leave him alone — but he’s not leaving her, he’s just creating some breathing room. A woman, feeling far more comfortable with emotions and closeness, attributes a man’s desire for space as his not caring or pulling away from her. Therefore, she makes various gestures in an attempt to reconnect.

So, how do you handle this endless cycle?

  1. Understand that the genders are truly different in their styles, and the actions taken are not intentionally meant to hurt the other.
  2. Men: When you need to take some space, let your wife know that you are merely taking a “time-out” for a little while.
  3. Women: Allow your man to have some breathing room. Don’t assume his leave-taking is anything more than temporary.
  4. Men: Women are verbal creatures. They like to hear words of reassurance.
  5. Women: Don’t just tell him you’re sorry. Men like actions, not words. Don’t follow him around the house and you’ll see how much sooner he returns.
  6. Men: Be willing to listen to your partner. When a woman feels “heard,” she has less of a need to go on and on.
  7. Women: When speaking to a man, make your point directly and speak briefly, since he doesn’t feel comfortable with too much stimulation.