How to approach your partner when they request to have space after a conflict.

Hi there, I’m in a situation where my anxiety and depression has pushed my girlfriend away, at the moment she needs some space to work through her emotions. The major issue was she felt I didn’t want to be a part of her life due to procrastinating on meeting her family and friends which caused her to cancel plans with them multiple times. I reflected a lot and I’m now ready to meet the people in her life but I don’t think she will be able to believe me, we haven’t talked in about a month and I want to know a way to approach her and have a conversation ? She doesn’t do very well with pressure so I’d like to connect in a friendly way where she feels comfortable with me.


Dear M

It sounds like you have done some good introspective work on yourself! There are many efficient ways to approach your girlfriend. It may be beneficial to write down your feelings and send it to her (choose a method that you think she would be more receptive to ie e-mail, Facebook, etc..). When you write out your feelings, this allows the conversation to be more on her terms so she can decide what to do when she is ready without the pressure of her feeling she has to immediately respond. It may also help you cover all that you want to say to her in a thoughtful manner.

The following are some questions to consider and some potential options that you may want to include in your communication with her. You can choose what best resonates with you.

  1. Express that there is no pressure to your communication and acknowledge that you know that she wants space and that you respect her decision to have that space. You can mention that the intention of the letter is not to add pressure to her but for her to gain insight into your mindset and fears that lead you to make the choices that you did in the relationship (if that is the case). You can explain in more detail as to why this is.

  2. What is the reason you are reaching out now? Is your intention to give her some insight on what was happening in your mind during the relationship? Do you want to express your truth about what has happened? Do you want to tell her that your actions of not meeting her friends and family were due to your anxiety and was not indicative of the way you felt for her? Why do you want to meet her friends and family now?

    Whatever your reason is for reaching out you are more likely to connect with her if you take ownership for your part to why the relationship degraded.

  3. Talk about your journey. What has changed? How are you different now from how you were before?  What have you learned from your self reflection? Express how this journey will impact and change your future behaviours and decisions.  Do you have a plan on how to work through your triggers so they do not affect the relationship? If so, tell her your plan.

    This will help show her why this time you will not repeat the same actions that you did previously.

  4. Validate all her past concerns and feelings that she had about you and the relationship. This will help her see that you understand her perspective. You can’t change a situation that you don’t understand. Showing that you heard her and that you understand may help her see that there is greater potential for change.

  5. Express once again that there is no pressure and acknowledge that you know that she wants space. You may also want to mention that if she would like to discuss this matter further that you would be happy for the opportunity. Show her that you are willing to do things on her terms.

  6. Finally, thank her for her time and express your appreciation.

It is important to keep in mind that while these points that I listed may be a good place to start, that there are unfortunately no guarantees to get the outcome that you desire. All you can do is try your best. Everyone has free will and base their decisions on their own pain, triggers and perspectives. You could do everything correct and still not change her mind. This would be due to her own issues and journey that she needs to work through.  If this is the case, forgive yourself for the choices that you had made in the past. Make a note of what you learned so that these past fears/choices do not interfere in your future relationships. Most importantly, truly acknowledge, feel and be proud of what you have learned and how far you have come.

If you are interested in gaining some tools to help you mange your anxiety and depression so that your triggers do not interfere in future relationships, please feel free to contact me and schedule a session. I am here to support you.

Best regards,