WARNING: Read Before ‘Giving Your Ex Space’

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”.

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 them alone” and using distance to manipulate someone.

You can “give someone space” by balancing being close and allowing them their autonomy (maintaining contact in a way they are comfortable with).

You can also “give someone space” by leaving them alone” (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 their 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 give your ex space, and 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” (or giving space) 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:
Give them space”, “Do no contact” or “go back to NC”. You end up “giving your ex space” trying to reconnect, failing to reconnect, and back to doing “giving your ex space” 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.

My point: 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 you ignoring them or pulling away from them.

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 them 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. If you can’t tell when closeness is too much or too little, you need to talk to a therapist. You may have insecure attachment and are needy.

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  • I wish I had found this site two months ago. My 2nd chance is over before it even began. After 5 months of taking it slow, I got my ex back. But I destroyed my chance with her due to expectations and needy habits. I thought I had dealt with it but as soon as we were back together that incessant impulse to text her constantly reared its ugly head. She said she needed space and time, and I stepped back to give her the space she needed. I guess I failed to correctly judge how much space she needed and she interpreted it as indifference. Since then, she has become distant and barely answers my texts. I tried to explain to her that I was merely giving her space but she said we’ve both changed and her feelings for me have changed.

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    • I’m sorry that you came so close and lost her again. I still think that you should not give up, yet. As long as she’s still responding, you may still have a chance.

      Start over, start afresh. Don’t actively try to get her back, instead maintain open lines of communication while you take time to really work on those “needy habits”. Then when you feel that you’re ready (really ready this time), start actively trying to get her back. It may take while and there are no guarantees, but it’ll be easier (and also good for your self esteem) to walk away knowing that you gave it your very best, than walk away wishing you had done more, done better.

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  • The space you give to someone is the space to be fully who they are. If that requires that you “leave them alone”, then so be it. But you have to know that they reserve the right to feel ignored and abandoned if they did not ask you to leave them alone.

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    • Most people seem to forget that when people don’t understand why we behave a certain way (i.e. decide on our own to “leave someone alone”), the other person will almost always interpret our behaviour negatively. It’s a negative human trait to assign a negative meaning to things we don’t understand, or agree with.

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  • I’m so happy I came across your article. me and my boyfriend broke up 2 weeks ago and I been reading about the no contact rule everywhere, and while space is good I’ve been thinking about exactly what you said. Space is good but too much and you lose the connection, and that’s not what I want. I was prepared to go a month without speaking and my friends have been encouraging me but it doesn’t feel right and I’m going to take your advice and do what feels right.

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  • I love this! I’m so glad I found your blog . I recently told my ex we should break it off and take space, then start all over when we’re ready. Be agreed and we have a time limit too, that we agreed on. Although we are taking space, we decided to still say good morning And goodnight and ask how each others days have been and let eachother know we’ve made it to our destinations safely. I’m happy with my decision now after reading this.

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  • Boyfriend for 9 years broke up with me 2 months ago. We have a 2 year old child. He loves me more than anything in the world and misses me and our family. But he does not feel anything for me anymore. He needs space and feel if he miss me and if his feelings returns. His head is full of toughts. He’s been living in our house but he is moving out soon. How do I go about this when he moves out, want to give him space but also re-establish contact?

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    • Connection and healthy boundaries is what this site is about. Spend sometime reading different articles, you’ll find answers to most questions about maintaining contact, communication, how not to be needy, emotional connection etc here.

      Use the advice on the site and see if you can re-establish regular connection. Keep in mind that almost all the advice on getting your ex on this site is for people who maintained contact with their ex. It may or may not work for someone who has had no contact for an extended period of time.

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