Girlfriend says she needs space to deal with emotional issues, can't be in a relationship right now

So yesterday my girlfriend, after being distant for a few days, told me that she felt like she needed space to deal with some emotional issues that she has not fully processed yet from some events that occurred before we met last year. She said that she has finally gotten some time alone these past few weeks and has been able to really think about things, and she realizes she has not moved past some of this stuff that she thought she had.

Basically, she started dating me two months after a bad breakup with a longtime boyfriend and another emotional incident with a friend. She thought she had given herself enough time, but months later she realizes that she has not. She says she feels like there is something missing inside of her right now, like she is empty emotionally, and needs to resolve that on her own before being ready for a healthy relationship, and that it would not be fair for either one of us to continue at this time.

So I asked her if she was breaking up with me, and she never really used those words, but she says she can't handle a relationship and needs to be alone. She also said that she didn't want to be the one to decide how much we should communicate, because she is the one who made this decision, so that decision should be mine. I said I still wanted to talk to her and see her from time to time, she said she would love that.

So we left it at that. I'm probably going to call her in a couple of days. I guess my question is: how exactly should I handle things? I want to give her enough space to work things out, but she also said she did want to see me still. I guess I'm not sure how much I should try to contact her. Any ideas?

Also, has anyone else (guys or girls) had a similar situation? If you gave the guy/girl space, did he/she end up coming back to you? I'm not too optimistic here, but I really am crazy about her and would love for things to eventually work out.

Updates:
I just want to thank everyone for the really great advice so far, it has helped a lot!
Ok, so she just called me a little while ago. First contact since last Tuesday. She mainly called me to update me about a sensitive situation involving a mutual friend whom I'm seeing tomorrow, so I know ahead of time. We talked about what we have been
up to, and she said that she would "be amenable to hanging out" if I felt like I had enough time. So I suppose now we are going to begin hanging out sporadically as friends. Basically, I don't want to put any pressure on her. I succeeded in letting her
contact me first, but now I want to make sure that when I suggest something that it is completely low pressure and casual that friends would do. I was thinking about suggesting we meet for a happy hour drink after class one day this week. Thoughts?
So in case anyone was curious, she and I have been talking sporadically for the past few months. Finally set up concrete plans to hang out this past weekend, and it was great. A lot of fun, had a great time. We talked more about things, about what we're
doing now, and I'm more convinced than ever that she has been 100% honest with me about things. She's not out looking for another boyfriend or f***ing around, she's truly not in a good place for that right now. Anyway, she suggested hanging out again
soon because she said she had fun and missed me, so we're going to do something this weekend. Just as friends, which I honestly think is the best thing for both of us right now. So I'd say things resolved themselves pretty well, and I'm feeling better

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Most Helpful Guy

  • First of all let me say that she was mature enough to be honest with you and not lie about what is troubling her and that is a good sign. I'm in this same situation and I can't give you the best answer because I'm going through this myself. In my case it's been going on for three years, after dating my then girlfriend for nine months she also out of the blue with no warning told me that she needed space, she never used the words 'break-up' but I could tell it's what she wanted she was just trying to spare me the anguish. After that we agreed we still wanted each other in each others lives and decided to be friends a few weeks later she told me that she had been talking to her ex and wanted to give him another shot... lets just say I handled this part badly, when I heard that I flipped...

    Two years and 4 months later we have been friends but not without incident, she knew that I always wanted to be more and that I couldn't just be friends, I tried really hard but the heart wants what it wants. Things never worked out with her ex (the ex was her first boyfriend and a douche bag) and because of this caused her to be more insecure about relationships including ours and made her doubt herself and us. We have dated on and off since but the truth is it never worked because she has all that emotional baggage she hasn't dealt with. She always gave me excuses as to why we wouldn't make it as a couple once she even listed all her expectations that she thought I would never be able to meet.

    Today I sit here having proved her wrong I showed her that I'm the best guy for her and always will be and now she has run out of excuses but she's just not past her ex and until then we can't move forward. Her family loves me and consider me part of the family and they really want to see us married one day but it's all in vein if she can't realize what we have herself. Recently I've given her space and by that I mean I'm not seeing her I'm not messaging her, nothing, it seems harsh but its working. It's been hard but I figure it's for the best. I've decided to see other people just to take my mind off her and it's working, if I find a good girl I'll definitely peruse a relationship.

    One word of advice if you going to do the friends thing make sure you see her on your own terms and don't let her make you her 'agony aunt' , don't be to readily and eagerly available , let her miss you because otherwise she will just see you a friend and down the line give you some b.s. that she doesn't want to ruin your friendship. Always let her know you a man and that you want her... just to it in subtle and gentle way. Do not and I repeat do not pressure her.

    It sounds to me like she might want to get back with her ex and if so there isn't anything you can really do about it except act mature about it and show her that you not to bothered.

    In your case I think you should see other people just so she can see how demand you are in.I wish someone could have told me that back then.

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    • I think this is a wonderful answer. I would listen to this guy. =P

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    • She is still finding herself. It won't be easy waiting for her but if you feel she is worth it go for it. I say be there for her but don't over do it, maybe speak to her once a week or once every two weeks over the phone, surprise her with a visit every now and again (not to often) and never stay to long just pop in and out (not longer than half and hr). Let her know you around but not overly available. You will notice a difference in a mood depending on how she is getting past her issues.

    • Now you wait...but while you do this don't deny yourself the chance of meeting other people because you not committed to her, not yet . If you tell her you'll wait for her that will just put more pressure on her and stress her out further. So just be cool about it. If she really cares for you she will realize it eventually, just don't wait forever. I can't tell you how long you should because I don't know myself. Good luck

Have an opinion?

What Girls Said 8

  • I would honestly give it a few weeks. So that she realizes this is it and she really is alone now. Then after a few weeks have passed, you can just text her and ask her how she's doing and what she's been up to. Keep it as friendly as you can. I know this is easier said than done for you, but at the end it will be worth it, cause she will get to do a lot more thinking about things if you're completely gone. Not cause you're annoying or anything like that, simply just cause sometimes distance does make the heart grow fonder and she might just have a fright ( but in a good way) when she realizes like previously mentioned that she's alone. I haven't been in a similar situation but I can imagine that this would be the way to go about. Will things work out? No one will know, but time will tell and you just need to have patience and see where you end up.

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    • Yeah, but it's going to be hard to wait! Only two days have gone by and I'm already agonizing over it, wondering if she'll ever contact me. But I know that in the end the best thing here is to make sure I put zero pressure on her, and I guess maybe contacting her too frequently would put pressure.

  • That is usually the sign that the person is trying to emotionally detach from you, to alleviate the break-up. I remember I was feeling like this when I didn't want to be with my ex anymore, though we spent beautiful 5 years together. We had our ups and downs, and feeling like this followed one of the downs...;) And I was tired of being the one who's trying to patch things up. Give her some space. If she still loves you and wants to work on it she will not hesitate a minute to come back to you. Try to concentrate on yourself and your needs as a whole person. I keep on repeating - a wholesome person does not need another human being to be happy. And once you learn to live this way, believe me, you will attract people that are true to you, and feelings that are not fake.

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  • just move on

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    • why bother to write stuff like that? do you actually think your being helpfull?! If it was that easy he'd do it... I'm sure your great insight has been a great help!

    • you are so cute

  • Let her come to you for sure, but every now and then some how let her know you are there for her. I understand where she is coming from. I just lost my 4 month old and couldn't handle a relationship. I can barely handle myself. My daughters father is there for me but we get we need time. He is there and I'm there for him but alone time is needed.and four years ago I was raped and needed time then.I got into a relationship and had problems and we discussed and it took tome but he did what you are and we got back. Be patient and if you love her and care be there.

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  • give her time

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  • When someone says they need space to deal with X and cannot be in a relationship now, that is just a kind way of breaking up. The whole spiel on staying in contact is another nice thing someone says to take the sting out of breaking up. Also, honestly, just because someone does not want to be in a relationship with us does not mean they do not like us or want to lose all the emotional support they got from us.

    I personally am not a fan of trying to remain friends with someone you had a relationship with. It is uncomfortable and bound to make you feel worse, not better. The person who broke up will usually say or do things that you will make you wonder constantly if you will get back together. Eventually they will say things that will show you that they have moved on or may be seeing someone else. They usually say that because you end up acting so cool they actually believe you are over them and just want to be friends.

    Anyways, none of this is fatal, even if it is painful. So, you have nothing to lose by trying it out. Maybe it will work out for you. But, if she shows no interest in getting back together at least you won't be surprised at what was going on.

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    • Thanks for the input. Yeah, honestly I have gone back and forth about whether the space thing is true or just a way of breaking up. She has said since the beginning that she wasn't sure she was emotionally ready for a serious relationship right now, as she still has some unresolved issues, so I guess that, combined with the fact that she has always been super straightforward, led me to believe she was telling the truth. Obviously, I'd like to get back together, but I really don't see that as

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    • I think your plan is a good plan for you. Sometimes friends and family try to get us to avoid all possibility of pain by telling us to cut all contact, etc., and that can be very good advice, but not if you are not ready to do it. Further, pain is a part of life and trying to avoid it creates another set of problems, especially when people stop being emotionally vulnerable and miss out on future opportunities for love. So, best of luck on your journey.

    • if a loved one, regardless of gender, emotion is a penetrating heck of a feeling. she is feeling degraded, just be the lovely humble sweet heart you are... or sound should I say, k? just play it by ear- she, I presume, still loves you because she wouldn't have given all that explanation and reasoning for the break up if she did not feel you were worth that, at leats if you truly love her, time is just of the essence! good good luck, please update (not being nosey) it just sounds so sweet and gr8

  • That's great that she contacted you first, don't push it now. Let her come to you once again, this will keep giving her space. Don't suggest meeting up, let her suggest if she wants to hang out and where, otherwise you might put her off and may come off as desperate. Just relax, keep busy and let her make the first move. She contacted you first, she will come back for more when she's ready.

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  • Definitely give her space. She will appreciate the fact that you respect her wishes where as if you contact her she may not be ready to talk. Show her that you have patience for her and give her all the space she needs. This happened to me with a guy, I was in your gf's shoes and I wasn't ready to talk to my ex when he talked to me and felt rather annoyed. He waited for me and didn't contact me and I realized I missed him and went back to him. If you care for her let her come to you as hard as you may want to talk to her. Good lukk :)

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    • That is usually the sign that the person is trying to emotionally detach from you, to alleviate the break-up. I remember I was feeling like this when I didn;t want to be with my ex anymore, though we spent beautiful 5 years together. We had our ups and downs, and feeling like this followed one ofthe downs...;) And I was tired of being the one who's trying to patch things up. Give her some space. If she still loves you and wants to work on it she will not hesitate a minute to come back to you.

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    • Even though she said to contact her anytime. The best thing to do is not contact her. It will give her time to think away from everything and if she really likes you and you don't talk to her she will miss you and contact you. Let her come to you

    • Absolutely! That's the only way you will know that she does want 2 b with you. She has 2 initiate the contact. If you make the first step the whole time that was taken will go 2 waste. Be patient. Try 2 focus on your job, go 2 the gym, do something 2 keep you busy all the time, so that you don't have time 2 think about her. Believe me, it works, that's how I got over my ex. I'm not saying you need to move on right now. Just wait until she initiates the contact. Be strong. You deserve 2 b happy.

What Guys Said 12

  • She used to you the typical code combo for "I want someone else aside for you and break-up." ANYtime that I've heard this, whether it be from my own experience, or hearing it from others it's happened to. It's all the same. It means it's over. If that person is one you want to be with, you never need "space" to work things out. As you would want the person you're with to help you in whatever way they are able to. Even if it's just by them doing nothing aside for being there for you. And they know you have a certain emotional level toward them, and they want to spare you any sort of emotional anguish, and distraught that may be caused due to their choice. Real "noble" of them, huh? Ha.

    I'm sure she has had more than enough time alone before you two had anything to where she would've been able to sort out any of her own "emotional problems." And even if it may be a legit reason, you'd never have her there fully. Even if she did "manage" to "sort" through it. I'd say to not even bother putting anything on the back burner, and just taking it completely off the stove. Find someone who isn't going to give you any excuses, doubts, and such. Because real relationships do need the full participation of both individuals involved. Not one fully, and the other only half there in any sense.

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  • Sounds similar to my situation.

    The thing about females is..."emotional issues" is an undefined term. Based on what the emotional issues are...it can take from a few weeks to months for her to "gather herself together". I know you want to be w. her...but you gotta understand (& this is difficult for the male mind to comprehend) that because of her "emotional issues", she won't be able to tend to your relationship needs.

    She can be emotionally distant (as in here, but not here), she can be extremely moody, & have extreme self-esteem/insecurity issues. She doesn't want to be with you while she possesses those traits.

    So although you want to be with her...there's a good reason why you aren't. I personally feel that I'm in good emotionally/psychologically health, so it was difficult for me to understand "emotional issues" until I dove into research and prayer (i'm a Christian).

    Also...VERY important note: there literally is nothing you can actively do to help her with this. She has to handle this on her own. As a man in love, you want to help her, or "save her". The best thing you can do is give her space. When (not if) she wants to communicate with you, she will. :)

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    • Thanks for your input. I think you are absolutely right about not understanding emotional issues and how they can affect a person, and why it means that she is not capable of being in a relationship right now. She told me that she felt like she was being emotionally distant and couldn't tend to my relationship needs until she works stuff out. I definitely do want to help her, but you are right that there is nothing to do but give her space. So far I have been able to do that. Thanks again,

    • and good luck with your situation as well.

  • It's a bunch of nonsense from her. What does she have to process? All of these people who have such huge undertakings to "process emotionally". It's not like she's running a billion-dollar company. She had a bad relationship. Wow. If you were so great, it would a fleeting memory for her. She's trying to manipulate you and end things in a BS, polite way.

    I'm not opposed to being friends afterward, but not if her trends are going to continue. Personally, I think anyone you're in a relationship with who ducks out for days on end with no contact is an unhealthy, irresponsible person. But if YOU are over her, then be her friend. Just realize she wants to be friends so she doesn't feel like an a-hole for throwing you out all at once. Realize she'll gradually slink away, contact you less and less frequently, reply to you less often, and her friendship will gradually fade away.

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  • I really don't know. The people who say she sounds like she's trying to break up with you in the nicest way she can might be right, but if she really has such a huge emotional and damaging problem before she met you, than giving her space is fair. But I'd say she needs to be the on to initiate contact. She needs to show she cares about you. It sounds more like she wants to work on herself and then have you do all the work to rebuild it all. That's not fair at all. I'd say giver her the space, focus on something else in your life to get your mind off her, but tell her she needs to be the one to prove she really cares about you in the future if she's gonna pull this. After all, how can you honestly trust her now to not do this again in the future? Even if it's not obvious to you, there's a loss of trust now when this kinda thing happens. This is why people need to really be more careful about getting into relationships because if they truly do have issues, once they feel the need to address the issue and doing so that changes the relationship status in a big way, it's going to cause problems.

    Ah well :\

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    • Yeah, I mean I'm fine with her wanting to work on herself. She said she wouldn't be able to give me the emotional attention I deserve in her current state, where she said she feels emotionally hollow. Maybe she has some ulterior motive, but she has always been so honest and straightforward with me, so I want to give her the benefit of the doubt. You think I shouldn't initiate contact even if weeks go by? I'd like to be in her life to some extent in case she eventually does come around.

    • If she honestly doesn't initiate contact and then some how starts going out with another, you'll know she was just being a liar.

  • This happened to me and I am still waiting for the magic to return 6 years later and wishing I had moved on. Only you know what your heart wants. You seem to have your emotions in check so I say so what feels right and don't pressure or you'll lose her.

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    • Yeah, I'm definitely trying to move on. I've been talking to a few other girls, but in the back of my mind I still wish things would work out with her. But I've been leaving her alone, giving her space. We talk very infrequently, usually initiated by her. I don't think we'll ever get back together, and I'm certainly not holding out hope for it, but that would be a pleasant surprise if it did happen.

  • let me give everyone the "readers digest version"...?

    "blah blah blah I GOT DUMPED"

    go out with the boys, get drunk, pick up a woman of questionable moral virtue (to reaffirm your manhood, lol) and lock yourself in a motel for a wild weekend witha bottle of Vanilla vodka and a sex toy and some random skank you picked up... have fun...

    after that weekend, start going to the gym or get a hobby...

    dont whine or stalk, its demeaning...

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  • push pull theory, you push and they will run, but you pull away and they will chase, causes sexual tension, this has been proven, laugh I you want, but its basic human psychology, we want what we can't have, make out as though your interested, and then pull away a little to show she has to give a little bit of effort :) hope this helps, I really do..my ex and I are not at this point yet, but this is what I plan to do,

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  • my thoughts are... that this is a mistake... she is going to continue to waffle in and out of your life... and that's something you cannot afford... time wasted... go ahead with it, since your goona do it already... this chick is no good.

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  • Updates?

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    • She met some guy in May whom she fell completely in love with. She moved out of town in July, but she is still with him and they have a great relationship. She and I are friends, and actually better friends now than we were earlier in the year because I am over her, and thus not clouded by lingering feelings and jealousy, and can just be friends.

  • it's not fair for your life to be on hold... I say 'give her her space'.. but if it's something else other than what she's saying (other than the sob story), then DUMP HER ASS... and do it with the quickness!

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  • give her time

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  • It's a bunch of bullsh*t man

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