It may not be Meant to be

Dear Toni--

After three months of getting to know each other, we thought we were just what each of us had been looking for. The next month advanced to the physical stage and life was nirvana! Then, after a misunderstanding she suddenly wanted "space".

When a woman says she wants some "space", what does that mean? How long should I give her, and what's the best thing I can do to get her back? Pursuing her has made it worse. Can I rekindle things after doing that?
--At a Relationship loss

Dear At a Relationship Loss--

This painful situation occurs frequently and leaves one of the individuals in a state of hurt and confusion. Things were great, then there was a "misunderstanding" and everything changed. You didn't share what the issue was, but it sounds like it may have been a deal breaker for her. She didn't give you any specific information or feedback on why she wants space, so it's understandable that you have no idea what to think now.

The best possible way to proceed (in a perfect world) is to have an open and frank discussion about WHAT happened for her. Often, this doesn't occur because the person feels uncomfortable and wants to run away with their changed feelings inside them. When this happens, the other person often pursues, looking for a reason and hoping to make things better. It often doesn't work. Why not?

Because whatever occurred caused her to change her feelings about you and/or the relationship. Knowing the reasons would help you to proceed and save you a lot of guesswork and anxiety, but probably wouldn't change the outcome. However, you can't be completely sure. In some situations, there is a misunderstanding that can be cleared up with openness and honest sharing. The fact that she chooses not to attempt this is important information for you. She appears to have made her mind up and now wants to move on.

Relationships have stages. Couples have to successfully negotiate each stage before they can move forward. You two were in the first stage. Many relationships fail at this point because one or both people have decided the other person is not the right one.

Read my article at: for more information on the stages of relationships and what you can expect from each.

(from May 2004)

Want to read other columns on this subject?

"Relocating For Love: How/When is this Decision Made?"
List of more
"Relationship Challenges"

"Meeting His/Her family for the First Time"


Toni Coleman, LCSW
Phone: 703-847-1768


Copyright 2008-2015 Antoinette Coleman. All rights reserved.

Distribution Rights: The above material is copyrighted, but you may retransmit or distribute it to whomever you wish as long as not a single word is changed, added or deleted, including the contact information. However, you may not copy it to a web site.

Reprint permission will be granted, upon request, to student newspapers, universities, and other nonprofit organizations. Advance written permission must be obtained for any reprinting of this material in altered or modified form.