We all need personal space—even those of us in the most fairytale-like relationships crave alone time every now and then. Despite the fact that space is a basic human necessity, it can still be taken the wrong way when we ask for it from our partners. Sometimes, the thought of asking for some time out is far too daunting, and so we give subtle signs that indicate we need a little room to breathe.
Guys need space, just like girls, and might feel even more worried about asking for it directly. Instead, it’s common for them to hint that they need a little distance and that way they don’t risk hurting their partner’s feelings.
If we’re able to interpret these subtle clues, then we are less likely to deny our partners the space they need. Being able to know when to pursue them and when to pull back could be the difference between a happy versus unhappy relationship.
There are several common behaviors that guys tend to adopt when they need a little break from their partners. This might include trying to achieve both physical and emotional distance.
Keep reading to find out what subtle hints guys drop when they need space, and what they tend to do when they want to be closer.
20He Takes Longer To Respond To Messages And Calls
If your boyfriend (or girlfriend) seems a little less reachable now than he has been in the past, it could be because he’s trying to tell you that he wants some space. You might notice that he’s not responding to your messages as quickly as he used to, and he might not even answer the phone when you call him.
Behavior like this could mean that he just needs some me-time and doesn’t feel like talking to you (via text or phone) until later. Actually asking for space is a little confronting for some people, so this could just be his way of distancing himself temporarily.
19Even When He’s With Her, He’s Not Present
Sometimes, your boyfriend won’t ask for space and won’t avoid talking to you, but he will be mentally taking a break when he’s with you. This means that he won’t be fully present in whatever you’re doing.
You might find that you have to say the same thing to him three times for it to really sink in, or you’re watching a funny movie together and he’s not laughing like he normally does. This could be because his thoughts have carried him away, and that tends to happen when we crave a break or a bit of space from our usual surroundings.
18There’s A Change In Dynamic, And He Goes From Pursuer To Pursued
Society tells us that men are the pursuers of straight relationships, while women should wait to be chased. We don’t necessarily agree that this dynamic is how it has to be all the time, but in many relationships, that is the case.
If you start to notice that the dynamic has changed, and you have to start chasing him, it could be because he doesn’t want to be held onto (for the moment). If he wants to be there and he wants to spend time with you, he will. But if it feels like you’re always bugging him to see you and do things with you, there’s a chance he needs some space.
17He Isn’t Communicating As Clearly
Proper communication is an essential part of a healthy relationship, and when things are going wrong beneath the surface, this is the first area in which it starts to show. One of the reasons why he’s not communicating with you clearly is because he feels like he needs space. If he’s a little burnt out and just needs to take some time to himself, he’s less likely to want to talk things through with you like he normally does.
You know when you’re tired after a long week at work and know you have to take care of something but decide to leave it for Monday morning after you’ve had the weekend to recuperate? We all need a break sometimes!
16But He Does Seem Angry
When you need space from someone or something but you’re not getting it, it’s pretty frustrating. And that frustration can manifest as anger if left long enough. So if your boyfriend seems angry all of the time, and you haven’t done anything to warrant that anger, it could be that he just needs some time out for a while.
Getting cranky is often the first sign of many problems in a relationship, so you’ll have to look at each situation individually to work out whether it’s really a bit of space that he needs or whether there’s something else going on.
15And Bitterly Honest
If he’s angry, then the next step is usually for him to become bitterly honest with you. While honesty is often a good thing in a relationship, sometimes you need a layer of sugarcoating or at least a tactful delivery to keep the tension low.
But if he’s feeling angry and frustrated because he needs space but isn’t getting it, he’ll probably care less about saying things in a nice way. He might not have the patience to pretend that he’s excited about seeing your family or enough presence of mind to hide what he really thinks of the dress you’re trying on.
14He Seems To Be Keeping Things Hidden
Too much honesty can be a sign of negative emotions, but it’s also not great if your partner doesn’t tell you the truth at all. There can be many reasons as to why he’s keeping things from you, and one of them can be because he’s frustrated and over it and he just needs some space.
He might not set out to keep details from you, but he could feel like he doesn’t want to share every little detail of his life with you because he is craving that space and perhaps independence. If he can’t have physical space, then keeping you out of the loop is a way for him to keep at least some things to himself.
13He Becomes Too Needy And Obsessive
It can be tricky to identify when someone is subtly trying to ask for space because they might act in ways that seem like they want the total opposite thing: to be closer to you. According to the love gurus at Bustle, when a guy becomes uncharacteristically needy and obsessive, it could be that he needs his own space, even if he doesn’t understand that on a conscious level.
“If they can’t do anything without your approval, are constantly checking in, although you don’t need them to, or basically attached to your hip, then that’s a sign they need to get themselves back.”
12She Becomes Too Needy And Obsessive
In the same way, if it’s you who’s becoming too needy and obsessed with your partner, it’s another sign that he might be craving that space. Even those who are madly in love need time apart, so the majority of people would start to feel frustrated if their partners turned out to be super needy.
According to dating expert Bryan Zarpentine, it’s a good idea to take a step back if you feel like you’re getting too attached to your boyfriend. “Sometimes we need alone time so we can remember what it feels like to miss you,” he writes (via Bolde).
11The Arguments Have Increased
All healthy relationships have their share of arguments, but a change in the frequency and intensity of the fights can reveal a number of things about a relationship. In some cases, when you start arguing constantly and can’t resist picking at each other whenever you’re in the same room, it’s time to put some distance in between you.
“When people want their space, they’ll push away those close to them,” explains Zarpentine (via Bolde). “It may not be on purpose, but if a guy wants you to back off, he may let something mean and a little personal slip during an argument.”
10He Starts Cancelling At The Last Minute
It’s always irritating when someone cancels on you at the last minute. When a guy does this, it’s most likely because he just doesn’t feel like spending time with you at the moment, no matter how much he likes you overall. It doesn’t mean that he doesn’t care about you or wants to stop seeing you altogether. It just means that he needs some personal space for whatever reason.
Try not to take it personally if he does need a little time out. You can use that time to catch up with your friends, see family, get ahead at work, or just chill out.
9He Doesn’t Pay Attention To Her Feelings
Your partner should care about your feelings, but you might notice that he’s going through a phase where he just doesn’t pay attention to what’s going on with you at all. This could be because he’s really busy at work or with other things, and it could also be because he needs space.
Not wanting to be emotionally invested in these personal aspects of your life is a sign that he’s trying to mentally distance himself and give himself a break. “Much like getting too personal in a fight, this may be a way for his subconscious to push you away so he can have the space he needs,” explains Zarpentine (via Bolde).
8He Starts Making His Own Plans
If he starts making his own plans and doesn’t include you in them, there’s a chance that he’s desperately in need of a little space. Unlike mentally distancing himself, this involves him taking steps to actually have his own physical distance from you. He might spend more time with his friends or family without inviting you to come along or might just enjoy some time alone.
And according to Love Panky, the best thing to do is to let him go: “When he makes his own plans, don’t go on a stalking rampage, because that’s just going to push him further away from you.”
7In The Middle Of The Conversation, He Says That He Needs A Moment
It takes a lot for someone to tell their partner that they need some space because it is so often taken the wrong way. For this reason, there’s a good chance that he won’t bluntly state that he needs some space, but might say other things that allude to that fact anyway.
For example, if you’re in the middle of an intense conversation, rather than answering you and finishing the discussion, he might say something like “I just need a moment” or “Can we do this later?” or “Let’s just forget it.” These all suggest that he’s done putting his energy into it and needs some time out.
6The Connection Between Them Just Doesn’t Feel Right
Sometimes, your inner gut feeling will tell you whether your partner needs space or not. There might not have been any negative incidents between you, but you’ll feel that something is putting a strain on your connection. If you have the unexplainable feeling that something is just off between you, the answer could be giving him a little space to find himself again.
There are times when talking about it is the best thing you can do, but if it’s only space that your partner needs, the most effective action you can take is to pull back and give it to him.
5He Wants To Be Closer: He Makes Time To See Her Often
Just as it’s a useful skill to be able to identify when your boyfriend needs some space, it’s also important to be able to tell when he’s trying to get closer to you. One of the clearest signs that he wants to strengthen his bond with you is if he’s always making plans to see you.
Even if he’s got a busy schedule and other commitments, he’ll make time for you in his day if he wants to get closer with you. After all, it’s quite difficult to get closer to someone if you never allow time to see them!
4He Wants To Be Closer: He Introduces Her To His Family
This is a pretty obvious sign that he’s trying to move closer to you and possibly take things to the next level. We think family introductions are a big deal because they signify that the relationship is at least a little serious. If you don’t picture a future with someone, or you don’t enjoy spending time with them right now, why would you go to the effort of introducing them to your family?
This could be a way for him to try and improve your connection and bring you closer together. The closer he is to the family he introduces you to, the better the prospects of the relationship.
3He Wants To Be Closer: He Does Sweet Things For Her
Doing sweet things for you, especially when you haven’t asked him to, is another sign that he’s trying to move closer to you. This can include buying you gifts, doing you favors, and bringing you tokens, such as flowers and chocolates, when you’ve had a bad day and need cheering up. This kind of behavior boosts your emotional connection and strengthens your relationship.
According to psychotherapist Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D., actions like this are definitely a promising sign. “It’s non-verbal love language, so say a warm thank you and the response may be a pleasant surprise,” she advises (via Bustle).
2He Wants To Be Closer: He Is Physically Closer With Her
When he tries to get closer to you in a physical way, it could be because deep down, he craves a deeper emotional connection with you. Of course, this isn’t always the case, but it does happen! Those physical touches can establish a stronger emotional bond.
“If you’re wondering why your partner always seems to be at your elbow or asking what you’re doing, working on, or reading, be aware that physical closeness is a sign of wanting [a deeper connection],” explains Dr. Tessina (via Bustle). “Try reaching out and holding his or her hand or touching them and see what happens.”
1He Wants To Be Closer: He Reminisces About The Past When They Were Closer
If your relationship is a lot different now from how it once was, there’s a chance that your partner misses the way things used to be. One way that he might try and tell you that is by constantly reminiscing about that time when you were closer. He might bring up old dates you used to have that were really romantic, or nice things you said to each other in the past.
This is a way of subtly prompting you to give him some emotional attention. It also gives you the green light to take some steps to move closer to him and return your relationship to the state it was once in.