Relationships 101:
Space - the Frightening Frontier

by Bonnie Burton

Everything seems to be going great with you and your beau. You've been hanging out a lot together and he didn't even get wiggy when you told him you loved him more than all the cast members of "Roswell." You think it couldn't get any better than this and then he says those dreaded words, "I need some space."

This means one of two things. He wants to break up with you but can't figure out how to say adios nicely, or he really does need some personal time. Let's say you've asked him to clarify what he means and his answer is it's just that he needs some time to do other things.

What do you do? Here are a few pointers on how to let your guy have some space, so he won't feel all smothered by you-know-who.

Don't take it personally.
Just because he says he needs his space doesn't mean he's sick of you. Perhaps he's gotten totally wrapped up in your life and wants to do some stuff on his own. Maybe in his last big-deal relationship he completely lost himself and forgot to have a life outside it. Hey, it happens to all of us at some point—we get so into our significant other and his hobbies that we forget what we like to do.

Give him real space.
You said with a big toothy grin that you'd give him his space, but did you mean it? You can't just promise to leave the poor guy alone for awhile and then call him up every 10 minutes. Give him a chance to breathe. Let him call you. And if he doesn't call you every night with an itinerary of what he did that day, it doesn't mean that he's forgotten you. When he wants to hang with you, he'll let you know.

Do your own thing.
While he's spending time getting reacquainted with himself, why don't you do the same? Chances are you need to spend some quality time with your own neglected self. When was the last time you went to the park and wrote in your journal with no plans for the rest of the day? Do something you've never done before. Sign up for tango lessons or go sky diving. Treat yourself to an art supply shopping spree and make a fuzzy picture frame for your room. Think about what makes you happy and creative. I bet you'll learn a really cool thing or two about yourself.

Spend time with folks who miss you.
So what if your boyfriend doesn't want to hang out with you 24/7? Why don't you call up some of your friends-the ones who never see you now that you're head over heels in love? Throw an old-fashioned slumber party complete with junk food and nail-painting with your best gal pals. Take your mom out to tea and let her know what you've been up to. Play catch with the family dog until he's tired for a change. Be happy that you finally have free time to spend with people who haven't seen much of you lately.

Space isn't a phase.
Getting to know yourself better should never be a temporary thing. Once you spend some time apart, you'll realize that you're both better for it and your relationship will be more interesting. Just think of all the exciting things you'll have to talk about when you reunite (especially if you go sky diving). It's hard to be a bore when you actually have a life of your own.

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