Question: Yangki, I’ve read many of your articles and you seem to advocate not giving your ex space. Why is that? Almost all experts say giving someone space is healthy for all relationships. I just wonder what you base your advice on?
Yangki’s Answer: If you read my articles more carefully, you will actually see that I’m all for “giving your ex space”. I even have an online course designed just for the purpose of learning how to balance closeness and space.
The difference between my advice and most other people’s advice is that I’m more about approaching the issue of “giving space” from a place of love rather than fear or anger, connection rather than disconnection.
I actually take the time to make the distinction between “giving space”, “leaving him/her alone” and using distance to manipulate someone.
You can “give someone space” by balancing being close and allowing the other person his/her autonomy (maintaining contact in a way they are comfortable with).
You can also “give someone space” by leaving him/her alone” or cutting off all lines of communication (not contacting them at all).
Both approaches have a goal and achieve a purpose.
The goal of balancing being close and allowing the other person his/her autonomy is to maintain the relationship, without intruding too much into the other person’s space.
The goal of leaving someone alone is to disconnect from the relationship either with the intention of reconnecting later, or not reconnecting at all — ever.
There are many inherent problems with disconnecting from a relationship when what you really want is connection. Most people are either unaware of the risks, are only thinking about their “emotional survival” or just following what the “experts” say. Many find out about the risks when they try to reconnect with their ex. They find out the other person has completely disconnected and does not want to reconnect again, or the relationships has been irreparably damaged by the strain of disconnection.
The relationship is never the same, and sometimes that “connection” is never fully recovered.
In defense of trained experts (and I mean trained professionals like therapists), when they advice you to disconnect from the relationship, they actually mean well. They are thinking of your emotional well-being and trying to help alleviate the emotional anguish and pain.
They are not thinking about your relationship at that point. They’ll tell you to do “no contact” for 3 months because they know that in 3 months time, you will have “moved on” or your ex will have moved on. Some will even try to convince you that your relationship is unhealthy, your ex is the reason you are in such emotional pain, you are better off without your ex etc (and sometimes they are right).
But even for “experts” who say “no contact” is the way to get your ex back, a majority are hoping that after 3 months, you will be ready to move on.
If you insist you want your ex back they become vague with their advice on how to get your ex back. Most of the time you get the same advice over and over: “Do no contact” or “go back to NC”. You end up doing “no contact”, trying to reconnect, failing to reconnect, and back to doing “no contact” until you realize (usually on your own) that doing the same thing over and over with the same result is insanity.
The truth is that most have no real plan beyond the 3 months of “no contact”. Getting your ex back wasn’t the intended purpose and goal behind the “no contact” advice. You were supposed to move on. That was the GOAL.
If deep inside you know that your relationship isn’t what others are telling you it is and if you are self-responsible enough to admit that you played a role in the break-up, others telling you to “move on” will not feel right even if the intentions come from a place of love and caring.
This is where your real problems begin. If when you were thinking of your emotional survival you neglected the relationship and your ex, trying to reconnect after a long period of no connection is not easy. If you are “lucky”, you may re-establish contact (contact is NOT the same as connection) but that’s as far as you get. No CONNECTION.
When you give someone “space” they didn’t ask for, or don’t need. They are not going to see it as “you giving them space”. They are going to see it as ignoring them or pulling away from them.
You may even get back together, but not for long. Why? Because you never learned to balance being close and allowing the other person his/her autonomy. Instead you just disconnected hoping that re-entering your ex’s life later on would automatically create connection. It doesn’t.
Connecting with another human being needs work. It needs practice and it needs consistency.
A text here and a text there is NOT connection. That’s just contact. Even a thousand texts a day is not connection if all you’re doing is exchange superficial conversation or be polite to each other.
This is why I urge people reading my articles to think twice before “giving their ex space”. What’s your goal? What do you hope to achieve?
If your goal is connection, then DO NOT disconnect. Instead work on finding a balance that allows for connection and space at the same time.
I think you’ll agree with me that what almost all of us want to is to be emotionally close with the one we love without suffocating him/her with neediness, or being too emotionally distant that they assume we don’t care.
People who are able to balance closeness and space have better relationships. They are also more likely to get their ex back because they know when too much is too much and when too little is too little.
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