GIGI asks: I have a boyfriend. Whenever he has problems, he likes keeping to himself. Lately he has been having problems which I don’t know of; of course he wouldn’t tell, he only told me that he needed space. This is the first time this is happening between us, because we only started dating recently. Right now we don’t talk except in person. He always avoids my calls. I texted him one day and told him I would let him be. I promised to give him the space he wanted. And now I miss him so much, and I want nothing but to talk to him. I don’t know if I should call him? I am scared of being rejected.
Hi GIGI –
Of course I relate to this one a lot. Every dog feels shut out from their humans’ world a great deal of the time, usually most of the time, with no idea why. It can be heartbreaking, such as when I can see he’s sad and I know nothing would help him more than to be jumped on and nipped by me and forced to play catch and fetch.
Of course, it’s a good thing that your boyfriend was able to tell you that he needed space (instead of just “ghosting” you), and I do believe you should respect his wishes.
We all have limits.
If he wants to be your boyfriend, and wants to be the kind of guy who takes space for himself occasionally, he needs to learn how to manage the two at the same time. What I like best is for the couple to have a clear schedule, so the “space-ee” isn’t waiting around for the “space-er” to come back down to Earth!
So for example, next time he says he needs space, you could ask him how long he’d like you to wait before getting in touch. Maybe he says a day. Okay, then you go about whatever other things you want for that day, and then give him a call if he hasn’t called you.
Now here’s the big deal here. When you do connect, he should have the right to say “I’m sorry but I’m still going to need some time. Can you give me another day,” and for you to say “Okay.” He’s followed through on what he said (you got to talk after a day), and now he’s communicating clearly again.
But you also have the right to make more demands. Maybe “I’ll give you some space now, but let’s go to the school dance Saturday night.”
The point is for you both to be acknowledging what the other needs, and communicating.
Now you might find, over time, that you simply don’t like being with a guy who needs so much space. That’s okay. This is a great learning experience for both of you.
And be happy about it. Because we pups, when our humans leave us alone, never know when they’re going to come back, or even why they’re leaving us. Which is why we give those big sad eyes at them every time!