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March 9, 1998   CONTINUED e-mail e-mail to a friend in need


Dear Breakup Girl,

I have been with this great guy for about four years. However, all of a sudden he decided that we need space, so he can focus on himself and the issues of how he thinks he treats me and that type of thing. He is a really hard thinker and has to focus on one thing at a time. He said there is nothing that I did, but he thinks that he depends on me too much. We are in love, but are SUPPOSEDLY having space. Now we really haven't had the space because we are best friends and we still spend time together occasionally. He assures me that I am the love of his life and we will be married one day, and all of that, but I want to know just what I am supposed to do to give him space. I want this to be over as soon as possible because my heart hurts knowing that we are committed to each other but not totally together. Should I be alarmed about this, or just have faith in our love? We have been sweethearts since high school, so therefore, I understand some things that may go through his head. HELP.

-- Lonely

Dear Lonely,

Goooood question. Space is, like, an absence -- so how do you give it to someone?

Here's the deal: as long as you two are still, technically, a couple -- even one on hold -- you are still entitled to some degree of say in the situation. When one half of a couple needs "space," the other half should assume position at Ground Control. Request -- and demand stickage to, on both of your parts -- some guidelines: What level of "space" does s/he need? Cold turkey? A weekly check-in phone call? Hanging out every so often? (Note: "space" does not mean "Well, we can still sleep together; we just won't spoon.")

Also, don't forget the space-time continuum. It's completely fair for you to ask for some sort of deadline. Could be a few weeks or a few months, whatever he thinks he needs in order to get some clarity on what he wants. No fair leaving you dangling indefinitely.

In general, "space" -- if it's going to make a difference -- should be treated as an active part of a relationship (the way rest is part of a workout, if you'll forgive the mixed metaphor). If he's willing to handle it this way, you should have faith at least in his good intentions. If not, take his voyage as a message reading: "Crew Expendable."

Breakup Girl



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