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How to Know When to Give Someone Space: 19 Signs They’re Sick of You

If you want to know when to give someone space, it’s not always easy to do. So, here are the signs that a person might think you are smothering them.

how to know when to give someone space

When someone needs space from you, it doesn’t mean they don’t love you or are annoyed by you. Needing space is all about personality. But how to know when to give someone space can be learned!

Introverts, for instance, thrive off of alone time. Even though they adore their friends and family, too much time with others exhausts and overwhelms them.

And it can be hard for someone who needs space to vocalize that because they don’t want to risk hurting your feelings.

The good news is that you can figure out how to know when to give someone space. This will prevent you from becoming overbearing and allow your partner or whoever you’re concerned with to recharge.

[Read: Smothered in a relationship – 37 signs someone is totally suffocated by you already]

Why someone may need space

Before you learn how to know when to give someone space, we want you to understand why space is so important. And not just that but, also that it isn’t a punishment.

Just because someone may need some time alone doesn’t mean they don’t want to be with you. A lot of people want to be with their significant other 24/7, but they know they need their alone time too.

Some people thrive off of being alone with their pets. Whether that means they are cleaning their house, watching Netflix, or just sitting in their towel and staring at the wall, that is the space they need to recharge and feel energized.

Some people need space to cool off after a fight, to think things out. Others just need that alone time to feel their best.

Learning when to give someone space isn’t about backing off or being less needy, it is about giving your partner what they need.

Understanding the need for space is so important. You will be more eager to offer someone space knowing they will feel better afterward. And you may even enjoy your alone time as well.

[Read: 15 ways to give someone space and feel closer than ever]

How to know when to give someone space – The subtle signs they’ll drop your way

When your partner is craving some space, there is a good chance they are emitting some telltale signs that you are just overlooking. Because you may not need as much space as them, you likely miss the signs that they need space.

When someone shows these signs, it’s time to give them space!

1. When they get irritable

Irritability can be caused by stress, work, or hormones. If you notice that after three days together nonstop they always seem to be easily annoyed, it could be that they are craving some alone time.

They may not even realize it so they can’t tell you. But if you pick up on it, you can let them know you have work today so they can relax alone. Or you could let them know you’ve noticed that after so much time together, they get short with you. You want to give them the space they need. [Read: The subtle yet obvious hints your partner will give if they want their space]

2. When you are having fights based on nothing

When your partner starts picking fights over something small, it could be that they’re pushing you away so that they can breathe a little easier.

This isn’t their way of breaking up with you. But when they get too overwhelmed because they are missing their space, it could lead to resentment.

3. When they are overwhelmed

Whether it is family troubles, a high-pressure job, or anything else, not everyone is comforted by cuddling with their partner. Some people thrive on space on their own. If you comforted your partner or took them out on the town when they are overwhelmed and it backfired, let them be.

Let them know you’re hanging out with your friends for the evening, and they have the house to themselves. Maybe draw them a bath, order them their favorite dinner, and give them the night alone. [Read:  You-complete-me relationships and why you need your space]

4. When they depend on you for everything

This is a partner that definitely needs their space but doesn’t know it. If your partner relies on you for comfort at all times and always needs you around, it could lead your relationship into an unhealthy place.

Give them a little nudge to take their own space by taking yours. Have a friend’s night once a month or pick up a hobby you do once a week so they have space to build their independence too. [Read: Am I codependent? 14 signs you’re clingy and overstepping boundaries]

5. When they are too agreeable

Some people are non-confrontational and won’t start a fight when they need space, instead, they will go with the flow because it is easier. They don’t want to give you a hard time, so they will go along with whatever you say.

If you notice your partner biting their tongue and not speaking their mind, give them space to recharge so they can be their full self again.

6. When they are physically agitated

Do you know how everyone waiting at the DMV is agitated? They are biting their nails, tapping their feet, or doing something else to release that frustration physically. Your partner may not start fights but must release their need for space somehow.

They might slam doors, be angry at the kids or pets, or lose their temper with service workers or household appliances. These things show that something is wrong. It could be that they need some space from you.

7. When they ask for space

If your partner asks for space, give it to them. If they say, “I need a minute,” after an argument, don’t ask them how they are 10 minutes later. Take the night apart. Go see a movie so they can calm down. Don’t check in constantly.

Trust your partner. Space doesn’t mean cheating or even venting to friends. It just means space. [Read: When a girl says she needs space – What she means and what she expects from you]

8. They disappear for hours

We don’t necessarily mean they disappear out of the house for hours without you knowing where they are, but they may be hard to reach sometimes. This can be a way for your partner to create their own space without mentioning it.

They may take hours to text back even though you know they’re just at work because they need that space.

9. They make plans without you

Whether they make plans with their friends or alone, they might be dying for a little time to themselves, and that is fine.

This doesn’t usually mean they love you less, it just means they’re craving some me-time away from being a part of a couple 24/7. [Read: 24 critical signs of an unhealthy relationship that ruins love forever]

10. Their body language is closed off

Believe it or not, most of the meaning of a message is in the nonverbal part of the communication. And a big part of nonverbal communication is someone’s body language. It can even contradict what they say, but it’s difficult to control how you act because it reveals your true feelings.

So, if this person has a closed-off or annoyed feeling to their body language, it’s probably because they need space.

11. They are acting codependent

When someone is codependent, they can’t function on their own. The way they think and act is centered around another person. They place their own needs as a lower priority than the other person’s.

So, if this person seems excessively preoccupied with your needs, then they need some space from the relationship. They won’t want it, but they need it so they don’t lose their individual identity. [Read: How to spot codependent behavior early and regain your self-identity]

12. They have changed their schedule to have more alone time

If they have the chance to re-arrange their work schedule, workout schedule, or any other routine behavior that they normally have, then they will do that.

The reason is that maybe they are trying to be free when you aren’t. And they know they can have alone time without you interfering with it and wanting to be with them. [Read: How much time should couples spend together – 24 clues to your number]

13. They are obsessive about their hobbies

Perhaps they have hobbies that they like doing. But suddenly they have a renewed passion for doing them.

Let’s say they love basketball, but now they have joined an intramural team *or more than one* and are doing it a lot more than they normally do. That probably is because they need their space away from you.

14. Something doesn’t feel right anymore

Never ignore your gut feelings – they are almost always right. So, if you have a bad feeling that this person is acting weird or things just aren’t the same between the two of you, that’s probably because they aren’t. This is one of the ways to know if you should give someone space.

15. They are less talkative and give short answers

When someone wants more alone time, they tend to be annoyed and frustrated because they might feel smothered.

This feeling can – and probably does – come out with how they speak to you. It could be in person or even over texts. If you feel like they are trying to talk to you less, then they probably are. [Read: How to give space to a guy without losing him or your mind]

16. They always need to “run errands”

If you live together, or even if you don’t, they might find a lot of errands to run – all the time. It’s really just a tactic for them to get out of the house without you.

Sure, you could invite yourself, but no one likes running errands because they aren’t fun. So, they hope that you won’t want to come with them due to the boring nature of what they’re doing. 

17. They drop hints

There is no easy way to tell someone that they are feeling smothered and need some space. They probably don’t want to hurt your feelings and have you take it personally. So instead, they might try to hint around hoping that you’ll pick up on it and let them have the space they are craving.

18. They are getting negative

If they are acting grumpy and negative all the time, that is also one of the big ways to know when to give someone space. This could be accidental or it could be on purpose.

If it’s accidental, it’s just because they are uncomfortable with never getting alone time. And if it’s on purpose, they are hoping you will notice the negativity and want to keep your distance from them. [Read: 23 reasons why good relationships end even if there are no red flags]

19. They are full of excuses

If a person needs their space, they might say anything they possibly can to do so. If you ask to hang out with them, they will always have an excuse for why they can’t.

They suddenly seem so busy and they might even come up with really obvious, lame excuses for why they can’t see you. They probably want you to get the message but don’t want to come right out and tell you directly that they want space from you.

How to give someone space

Knowing when to give someone space and actually doing it are two different things. You may know your partner needs their alone time. But you crave the attention and affection you get when you’re together. [Read: You-complete-me relationships – why you need your space]

This can be hard to be alone for some people. Some of us don’t like being alone with our own thoughts. We thrive off the energy of others.

If that is you, and your partner prefers alone time, you can still make it work. When your partner needs space, go out with your friends or pick up a hobby. Take your group time to have fun while your partner relaxes alone.

Couples are so pressured to spend all their time together, but time apart is healthy. To maintain a relationship, keeping hold of your individual life like this is vital. If you spend too much time together it can cause codependency and unhealthy levels of attachment.

[Read: How often should you see your boyfriend or girlfriend? The exact answer you need]

You can easily learn how to know when to give someone space and do it without feeling lonely. Just pay attention to the signs, take a step back now and then, and give space for your love to grow.

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The editorial team of LovePanky comprises relationship experts and real-life experts that share their experiences and life lessons. If you want the best love ad...