Wants space, but remains in contact. Need advise

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  • #698737 Reply


    Hi Katherine,

    I would suggest maybe reading a book on the male psyche or how men tend to behave in relationships during stressful times. Or maybe even talking to a male friend. You keep writing over and over again that you understand what he is going through but then you talk about what a difficult time you are having and trying to figure out if he has an alternative motive. I do get it, I know how difficult it is for a woman when a man withdraws. However, I think one of your biggest challenges with this situation is that you are expecting him to behave like a woman when men are not wired the same. You are expecting him to behave in a way that he is not capable of.

    I am a science geek and can tell you about how a man’s corpus callosum is smaller in a man’s brain than a woman and how this impacts how a man processes information. I can also tell you that a man’s language center is about 40% smaller than a woman’s. These bits of data would help you understand why he is doing what he is doing and that it has nothing to do with you. But I don’t know that that will help.

    Ultimately you need to figure out how to make yourself feel better while you are in this situation. Obsessing over what he is and is not doing and what that means for you and how that impacts you is clearly not helping. I think it was Lane that said the best way you can help him is to keep yourself happy. That really is the best solution for not only him, but for you too.

    How about giving him a break and giving him the benefit of the doubt? Just give him this one that he has a really full plate and he is doing the best he can do just to hold it together and he is doing it the way a man does it which is 99% of the time on their own and withdrawn from relationships, all not just romantic.

    Now that you have let him off the hook where does that leave you? If this man weren’t in your life, what would you be doing with yourself? What things do you like to do? What things do you do to make yourself feel good? If you focus a few days on what makes you feel good (and stop ruminating about what he may or may not be doing) I promise you will feel better. Not only will you feel better, you will be a MUCH better partner too.

    I would also suggest you quit asking him how he is doing. You know he is not doing OK. Maybe ask him how you can support him through this difficult time. In a partnership sometimes the partner who is not under tremendous strain needs to step up to the plate and carry the relationship.

    I am going to give you some tough love here. What is going on that is so “stressful” in your life aside from a man not validating you that he still cares about you? This guy has some significant challenges in his life right now besides having to validate a needy woman who can’t create her own internal happiness. You will risk losing him. Pull yourself together. Think about if this guy is a good man. If he is, it is your turn to be a good partner by making yourself happy. If you really think he is not a good man then quit making yourself miserable and move on.

    #698746 Reply


    How long until he’s home?

    I would not reach out again, but I don’t know that you should say “lets not text until you get home” as that might sound kinda dismissive, and if he reaches out to you it could be because he’s sad, etc and wants to talk.

    So maybe just keep your texts kinda of loving and light — don’t initiate, but if he does, make sure to respond and you could say something like “I’m very much looking forward to catching up properly when you are back!”. Things like that. In other words, don’t try to have important conversations via text right now, and give him some breathing room, but please don’t ignore him or tell him not to text, that could also backfire.

    Hang in there! It’s a difficult balance. I’m sure you guys will get it sorted when he’s back

    #698750 Reply


    I was gonna write a response that would have at least sfated that you keeping asking him if he is ok, is annoying and you should stop that. When my SO’s dog died (we were ldr af the time) he was devastated. He said he couldnt talk about it because he didnt want to cry. So i didnt. If you want to text your guy, tell him something funny about you.
    But anyway, i fully agree with bedazzle response. Leave it alone for now. Yes he might be pulling away, but if he wants to break up, you will find out anyway when he is back in town. But for now: what are you missing from him, right now? Take care. I know its hard, but you have to sit it out

    #698762 Reply


    It sounds like this has been a difficult/stressful time for over a month. My take is he is using this as an excuse- I think guys take some time (couple of days) to figure things out and then they want to engage with you. Maybe not in person due to travel and circumstances, but through meaningful phone conversation or Skype. When your guy is not turning to you- I would believe he’s turning to something or someone else.
    I agree- do not contact him again, minimal texting back to him until he makes a plan to actually see you. I would also assume he’s on the way out of the relationship based upon his lack of contact and I would focus on your friends and other connections you have. Men behave differently for sure- but over a month and he’s not seen you- that’s ridiculous to expect that everything is fine.

    #698779 Reply


    As a woman bonded to a gent with the same “need for space” but inability to really ask for it, let me ease your mind a little and proffer just a wee smidge of advice:

    1. It sure as heck sounds like he’s serious about you. With everything going on in his life, he’s making time in it for you and that is how men express genuine affection more than any other “love language”.

    2. Needing time alone to work on his house speaks VERY highly of him – he’s not letting cleaning and organizing his life go out the window just because he’s busy. Kudos!

    3. If something bothers a man, he doesn’t talk about it usually – he DOES something about it, which is possibly why he was acting hot-n-cold (I love her, but oh my gosh I’ve got so much to do…). It doesn’t make him a bad communicator – it makes him a MAN. They’re not talkers, they’re do-ers.

    4. My guy tends to get a slightly frazzled look on his face, or a thousand-yard stare, which is a cue he’s got something going on. That’s when I give him a big hug, and say “You’re going glazed on me, handsome.” He’ll usually laugh and say “Yeah, I have (fill in the blank) to do.” At this point, that’s as CLEAR a sign as you’re going to get from a man that he needs Man-time. So I give him a hug and tell him to give me a call if I can help with anything, and I exit stage left. Usually within hours, he’s calling me or sending me messages saying “when can I see you again”.

    5. His body language will tell you more than words ever could. If he’s stressed about something, his face and eyes will tell you so. Giving him the opportunity to not only work on things himself, but to MISS you, goes a long way toward reminding him just how important you are. For every moment that he spends with you, there are probably a hundred other things he could be doing – so treasure those moments you do have, and when he’s not with you remind yourself that he’s more than likely getting nibbled to death by ducklings and your company is a treat, not an obligation. The more HE feels that way too, the better.

    Good luck and listen to his behavior, not his words!

    #698884 Reply


    Thanks so much ladies, this is why I posted on here before I reacted. It’s hard to not take it personal when I check in with him and he doesn’t reply. He is on social media, so I know he checks his phone and has seen my message, so to just to dismiss it, kinda stings a bit when I haven’t don’t anything wrong but just care for his wellbeing. I wouldn’t treat him this way if I was under the same stress is all.

    But I have to listen to all you advice and men are not made up the same as women and handle their emotions and stress differently. I will stop pushing the “are you okay” and leave him be.

    If he initiates contact again I will reply and just be upbeat and talk about general stuff and leave all the things he is dealing with for him to sort through. I can understand when he contacts me he would rather talk about happy stuff and not all the crap he is going through. I need to help take that off his mind rather than focus on it (I just thought I was being compassionate)


    #698886 Reply


    Hi Katherine.

    The fact he’s keeping in touch and telling you what’s going on is a good sign. an uninterested man would keep you in the dark.

    Unfortunately there’s nothing you can do to fix this, he’s going through an unfortunate number of events and the fact he’s away at work obviously has to be hard on him and you need to be a bit more sympathetic to his plight.

    I would step back a bit, keep in touch but not ask too much of him right now. Just be supportive the way your doing and let him fill in the space when he has the opportunity to do so.

    I know its hard as hell but if not for these incidents I would have advised you to be HONEST with him by telling him that you understand his job takes him away, he has hobbies and friends but that lately your feeling left out, unimportant, and its making you question the relationship. Men want HONESTY as long as you don’t pour out all your ‘feelings’ but keep it simple, direct and too the point. He will either say “wow, I better step it up or I’m going to lose her!” OR “I understand and your right this isn’t working for us” (was waiting for an out without having to be the one to do it).

    Your in a rock and hard place—hard to advise based on all the bad things going on in his life at the moment.

    #698887 Reply


    I made the same mistake recently and was told not to be so compassionate.

    Be fun and airy. Joke and laugh. Forget his problems and you can ease his stress.

    #699019 Reply


    Thanks Lane and redcurleysue.

    He has still hasn’t contacted me. So it has been 2 days with zero contact from him and of course no reply to my message asking if he was okay.

    It is very hard to not take this personally and to not be hurt that is for sure.

    Maybe he is doing the fade out, for what ever reasons that he has. At least I know that it is his problems and not mine, I have don’t nothing wrong whatsoever but be a supporting GF while he is going through a hard time.

    I will not contact him, all I can do is take it day by day and see what happens.

    If he does contact me, I am going to struggle to be supportive, as I am rather hurt by him right now.

    #699024 Reply


    I’m sorry that he hasn’t responded- I think that is so hard to deal with. You probably just want to figure this out and hopefully favorable. If things do come back around with him- this type of interaction is not going to work for you in the future so that conversation has to occur in terms of what you need out of a relationship.

    #699034 Reply


    Ugh, that sucks I’m sorry!

    It’s one thing to not initiate much texting/responding during a stressful or difficult time but there is no excuse in my opinion for outright ignoring a message of concern/direct question. That is very different to me, and where I personally draw that line with men– hey, if they are overwhelmed and not too chatty, fine, but if I were to say “are you ok?” to someone and they don’t respond for two days I would feel like they didn’t give a sh*t about me.

    #699036 Reply


    Plus a man who is a really good communicator will give you a heads up when he isn’t going to be very communicative– here is a direct text I got from my boyfriend last night (he’s in the middle of final papers for his last semester of a phd)

    “Pretty busy and frazzled here, but wanted to check in to let you know I’m thinking of you and looking forward to seeing you soon. I know I might not be in touch as often as usual during these last couple of weeks as I’m trying to finish everything up , but like I said, I want to let you know I’m thinking of you and love you”. (plus corny emojis)

    Now, I will say, I did have to make my concern about lack of communication busy times known (gently) once or twice, but since he had those conversations, he has been extremely careful to make sure I know it’s not me that is the reason he’s a bit quiet. I offer him the same courtesy.

    So I’m not saying you need to pitch a fit, or dump him immediately, but I do think once he’s home you need to let him know that outright ignoring your texts is not ok with you.

    #699039 Reply


    Thanks Ali,

    Yes, I will be making it very clear that he can’t do that to me again. I was generally concerned about him and he felt it was okay to just ignore that message. You just don’t do that to someone your supposed to love and care for, no matter how much stress and hardship you are going through.

    I have been concerned that perhaps I was being too “needy” by asking him to not shut me out, or asking if he was okay. I was asking too much emotionally from him. But then I think, none of this would of even happened and I would be asking that request of “don’t shut me out” if the events over two during the Easter weekend didn’t happen, so he has to take some responsibility for that as well.

    #699407 Reply


    So I’ve still not heard from him. It’ll be a week tomorrow since his last message to me.

    I’m not sure what to do at this point, I’m pretty hurt he hadn’t bothered to check in at all with me and it’s left me very confused.

    I don’t know if I reach out again and text him? Or just leave him be?

    He is an intelligent man, he deals with massive work responsibilities every day. If he wanted to end this relationship, then he should not cower away from dealing with it. As I am sure that’s not what he does in his day to day work life.

    I’ve had a great weekend with friends, however he has been on my mind.

    #699408 Reply


    I hate to say this but I think you have to accept that he’s gone. I’m so sorry!

    I know people can be busy and have things on their mind. But this long is too long.

    #699410 Reply


    Hannah- How very upsetting, a grown man of 39 years of age, can’t even tell me that. Only a week ago he was telling me how much he missed me.

    I’m gutted…

    #699415 Reply


    This is about how cowardly he is- something changed for him over the Easter weekend and he didn’t know how to handle it. This is on him for his poor communication. You tried to reach out, give him space, and understand what he’s going through. He has done none of this towards you. It is normal to feel gutted- I would send him a text to end it. That way you can begin to heal and move onto a man who has the decency and maturity to engage in a proper relationship.

    #699418 Reply


    Katherine, this may not be all gloom and doom but it very well could be.

    Sometimes when men are overwhelmed they ‘check out’ for awhile. He essentially warned you that he’s dealing with a lot of stuff at the moment and is focusing his energy on that until he can come up for some air.

    The same thing happened to me with a previous guy I was dating. He TOLD me he had to do this, that and the other—a laundry list of re-certifications and overtime that he had to undertake at his job. I just did my thing knowing he was going to be really busy and about 10 days later he popped back in and planned a date. We go out and he planned another for the next night, I guess to make up for lost time lol. He then fell right back to his normal routine of checking in and planning dates.

    When someone is feeling overwhelmed they are trying to cope and shutting people out, even ones they love, is a mechanism some use. I know its hard and your really struggling but remember he’s struggling a whole lot more by losing the family dog, friend and having to put in DOUBLE work hours to boot—sometimes you have to step into someone else’s shoes for a bit and realize your life is pretty trivial v. what someone else is going through!

    Remember, your not his wife or a long-term partner; have only been dating a brief time and if he feels your just one more thing he has to deal with on top of everything else he’ll definitely drop you. If he doesn’t reach out in a few more days I would do a brief check in such as “I know your going through a lot right now; have a lot on your plate and thinking of you during this difficult time.” If he doesn’t respond or continues to be distant I would consider it a ‘break up’ and end it without any further communication and let him go.

    #699438 Reply


    I completely agree with Lane. I too had a man tell me upfront he was going to be busy for awhile handling work stuff and that I would not be hearing from him regularly.I don’t remember that amount of time that went by, but as soon as he was done handling his project, he called me up and made plans.

    Glad you had fun over the weekend. Here is a technique or skill to develop that can help make this easier for you. The circumstances are what they are and you can either suffer or not (or at the least minimize the suffering). We get what we focus on. So if you focus on that he hasn’t called you, what does that mean, is he breaking up, etc. that will just make you feel really bad. If you can focus on what you appreciate about him, what qualities you like about him, how he makes you feel when he…(kisses you, hugs you a special way, whatever), why he is a good man, those thoughts will make you feel better.

    Each time you focus on disempowering thoughts and feel bad, as quickly as you can shift those to something that makes you feel good. Again, the circumstances are what they are, do you want to go through this feeling good or feeling bad? It is all up to you and what you choose to focus on. Hope that helps!

    #699452 Reply


    He sounds like he decided to check out a while ago, but didn’t give you a warning. He didn’t give half the amount of consideration about your feelings than you did for his. I would follow the advice with the ladies and focus on you and what you want and like. Every time you have to send “Are you Ok?” text to a guy, send that to yourself first.

    #699487 Reply


    I re-read the entire (phew!) thread and it is clear to me that he has started sending you signals a while back. It is one example of how we women always find excuses to interpret things except for something obvious.

    Ali was right. if a guy IGNORES your question of “how are you” while being in relationship with you and posting on FB or other social media at the same time it is a signal ladies.

    All these “theories” about who men think and talk, while being correct and what not, do not justify this type of a behaviour ever. Men are not antisocial idiots who don’t understand how to treat their GFs.

    Instead of telling you things, they show you things. They act and wait for you to pick up clues.

    I think he started to check out a while back and probably wanted to keep you on a warm burners. In case he changes his mind. This is done very often these days, sadly.

    Women need to learn to take hints and signs and not look for existential and scientific explanations to the obvious,. If a dog growls, what would it mean? and what should I do? try to pet him? walk around and try from the other side?

    I am not being spiteful, I am reminiscing. I’ve made the same mistakes way too often. And every time looking back I was perplexed at how silly I was trying to explain things with complex philosophical and psychological constructs except the obvious..

    The lesson learned here is a very simple: if your guy breaks the rules of some very normal decency and politeness, he is not “tired” or “busy” or goes into some man cave. He is telling you things.

    I am sorry for how he treated you. With no consideration of oyur feelings, leading you on. Please stop being kind. He is doing this to you because you are kind. Another “bitchy” woman would have kicked his ass to the curb after the first ignoring.

    We all need to learn to be very consistent with our own actions and reactions. We want things to be nice so we imagine some explanations favourable to our wishes. But we need to stick to reality ladies!

    #699493 Reply


    I’ll be the first to agree that yes, people can check out and get less chatty when they are under stress. Definitely!

    But that’s different than outright ignoring someone who has expressed concern for you by not responding to their question if you are ok for almost a week.

    I’d be done. Personally I would send a message ending it myself– something along the lines of “I hope you are well. I assume since I haven’t heard from you we are terminating our relationship”.

    It’s entirely possible that may prompt him to respond “wait, hey, no. that’s not what I wanted!!” in which case you have to have a convo when he gets back about what’s acceptable communication and what’s not.

    Just my two cents– it’s not needy to want to be offered basic respect and consideration.

    #699494 Reply


    So I ended up sending him a message last night at around 7pm, I thought he might still be up, but I wasn’t expecting a reply to be honest. I thought that if I give him one last message and if he chooses to ignore, like Lane said, that I can end the relationship and begin to move on from him (I will be the adult and do the hard work for him).

    However he messaged me back this morning at around 3.30am (this would of been when he we waking up to get ready for work).

    My message read simply: “Hi Tim, it’s been a while since we have chatted, just wanted to make sure your okay and how work is going for you. Chat Soon”

    His Reply:

    “Hey, work is busy which is good, makes the days go quicker. I’m good, just living the dream. How are you?”

    I haven’t responded as yet (I’m a little miffed there was no acknowledgement of not being in contact, but not the time to bring that up and that is my own issue)

    What do I do now, do I even respond at all? Do I just leave it be until he contacts me again? I fear that if I do reply, I just won’t hear from him again for days and get hurt again (he is scheduled to come home from work on Thursday night).

    I am trying to think of prior to those two days before Easter where he checked out of the relationship and I just can’t recall him being like this (even that morning before we went away he was awesome, so sweet, made me breakfast as takeaway and packed my lunch for work, told me to hurry home as he misses me). Something obviously changed over those two days with him, which is why I called him out on it. Gave him space, yet he texted me the whole time. When he went back to work, he stayed in contact the whole time, right up till all that terrible stuff happened to him, then bam…….shut me out completely. So Lane may very well be right, he could be just eliminating things from his life right now that he doesn’t want to deal with.

    How do I respond to his message?

    #699495 Reply


    If he was treating me this way without all those tragedies happening to him all in one hit and the fact he has to remain on site for 4 weeks, then yes, I definitely would of kicked his arse to the kerb by now trust me on that. But I am having to take into consideration what he was dealing with, just like Lane has advised.

    If he was coming home as per his normal roster, than all of this would of been sorted one way or another as well.

    #699499 Reply


    You can respond with a brief comment about how you are doing- if you’d like. I maybe don’t understand why the communication is so vague and brief- text. Can he not give you a call? I wasn’t sure of his situation and maybe he can’t make a phone call. I think he is doing the minimum with you- if even that as you are initiating a lot of the communication since earlier in the month. An interested boyfriend would text- I miss you- his text sounds like something a friend would send. I would not be satisfied with this regardless of his reasons and based on your feeling of miffed- I’d guess you are not either. I would probably not respond with much except- doing fine! and let him do more of the pursuing and see what he does when he returns this week. Once again- I would not text him and see what he does. You’ve already checked to see how he is doing, etc.

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