How Much Space Should I Give My Ex?

“I’m giving him/her his/her space” is the excuse most men and women give for not contacting their ex. This so overused excuse is usually qualified with “I don’t want to come across as needy” or “I don’t want to push him/her away.”

On a superficial level, it sounds oh-so caring. You care so much about your ex that you do not want to “bother” him/her. But it isn’t your ex that you are so worried about, is it?

It’s you. You fear that if you start contacting your ex, you wouldn’t know what is too little or too much contact, and you probably wouldn’t be able to stop yourself until you’ve completely ruined everything.

I’ve heard it said that F.E.A.R, is False Evidence Appearing Real.

Uh-Um. Not in this case. Your fear is REAL. Evidence exists that if you contact your ex too much, you will push him/her away. If you try too hard to show that you love someone, you’ll scare him/her away. May be it’s even happened to you personally. You sent too many texts, made too many calls, and the other person pulled back or said “I need space” . You showered your ex with “love” (flowers, gifts, romantic gestures etc), and they said “Wow! wow! easy!”.

So now you are too afraid to send even one text or make even one phone call. Too afraid to do virtually anything. I don’t blame you.

There are people who can send their partner/ex 20 texts a day and spend practically every waking moment together, and guess what, the partner/ex doesn’t think that’s needy. The even think that’s “really sweet”.

People who know how to balance closeness and independence, can send as many texts as they want, and call as often as they want, any time they want. You know why?  Because these people know how to emotionally self-regulate. In a layman’s language, they know HOW much is too little, and WHEN too much is too much.

The reason you can’t balance closeness and independence, and often swing from one extreme (wanting too much closeness) to another (giving too much space) is because your emotional self-regulator isn’t working. And because it isn’t working, there is a mismatch between your actions, reactions, responses, and/or modes of expression, and what you are trying to achieve (e.g. get your ex back).

It’s because your emotional self-regulator isn’t working that the “No Contact” Rule (or any other “rule” for that matter) feels like a Godsend. You NEED something (rule, technique etc) other than yourself to regulate you, and you follow it like a religion. God forbid you break just one commandment!

It’s because your emotional self-regulator isn’t working that “giving your ex space” feels like the solution to neediness. In your mind, you are not contacting him/her = you’re not needy!

It’s because your emotional self-regulator isn’t working that you need someone like me (a coach) to help regulate you.

But all these measures are only band-aids. At some point you will have to contact your ex, and then what? Coaches or therapists can’t always be there in all situations to tell you when you are doing too little or too much.

It’s like when you have a broken faucet and you secure something around it to stop the water from over-flooding your kitchen. First of all, it’s only a temporary fix. Secondly, you better get it right. If you tie it too tight, you are not going to get any water. If you tie it too lose, your kitchen is still going to over flood. At some point, you have to fix that faucet.

If you are asking, “how much space should I give my ex?”, it’s a confession that your own self-regulator is broken.

Fix the emotional self-regulator; that little warning voice that tells you HOW much is too little and WHEN too much is too much.

No advice, no strategy, no rules, no plan of action, or number of contacts per week/day will get back your ex (and keep him/her) if YOU don’t work on why you can’t tell HOW much is too little and WHEN too much is too much. 

May be you are insecure as a partner. May be you don’t have much experience with relationships and need to learn relating skills. May be you over analyze too much and scare yourself mindless with your worst-case scenarios. May be you struggle with anxiety disorder. May be you are controlling and act out-of-control when you’re not able to control.

Until you fix the emotional self-regulator, the fear of doing too little or too much will always undermine your efforts.

  • You’ll always worry (and for good reason) about how much is too little or too much contact.
  • You will always act on impulses. The craving for contact/closeness will build over time and before you know it, you’re overdoing it — again.
  • Painful emotions like sadness, fear and shame will last like forever.

Unfortunately, unlike fixing a faucet, fixing the emotional self-regulator can’t be done over night. It requires serious inner work — and time.

Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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6 Comments

  • I couldn’t agree more with this analysis. Many opportunities for amazing relationships but I get needy and clingy and things fall apart. I’ve been working on becoming less needy but it seems like I take one step forward and 3 steps back all the time.

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  • Yangki, my ex of 1 year also says he wants space and time but I fear that if I leave him alone for too long, he will forget me. I wrote him a long email telling him how I feel but he did not respond, it’s over 3 weeks now.

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    • May be he really needs space and time, and will respond at some point, I really don’t know.

      Will he forget about you? I don’t think so. Very few people can switch their feelings of love on and off like a tap.

      Will he move on? That’s a possibility. But he’s asked for space and time, trying to force yourself into his world may actually speed his moving on.

      Best to accept that what he chooses to do, you can’t control. Not easy, but it’s your best option.

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  • It’s funny, I dumped my last ex because I felt smothered and as a result lost some attraction for her. Last week my ex dumped me because she felt smothered and lost attraction for me. So now I’m trying to figure out how not to be needy and clingy so that she is attracted to me again. This site is really helping, but I feel like there is no way she’s going to be attracted to me again.

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    • If you say you CAN, you’re right. If you say you CAN’T, you’re ALSO right.

      Your mindset and attitude matter just as much (or even more) than the strategy or plan you put into action.

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      • Dr Yangki , i love how your site is different than all the other ones ive seen about these same subjects…you have such positivity.and i really do think that that matters…in getting an ex back sometimes i feel confident and have a plan that i want to stick to , but then i start feeling insecure and mess things all up again..just thank you for your positivity and not being like all those other sites out there..your articles always make me feel hopeful

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