Why Men Need Space in a Relationship

List: Posted: 09/26/11

Evolution is a wonderful thing.  Without it, we’d still be picking fleas off each other’s backs and throwing rocks at our rivals.  Sadly if you watch your boyfriend picking lint out of his belly button it seems evolution hasn’t quite reached its peak.  Men are undoubtedly hardwired differently than women.  I’ll come back to this point in a bit.

If you’re reading this article, you have probably noticed your man distancing himself from the relationship at some point in the past.  He may have actually asked for more space or stopped texting you back as fast as before.  Is this cause for concern?


The answer is no.  Whatever the reason, it probably doesn’t warrant a full on panic attack.  Understanding the male brain may help resolve any insecurities you may have that your man is no longer interested in being with you.

Like I said before, in your relationship, evolution may have seemed to skip your man.  Ask him to do two things at once like walk in a straight line and answer his cellphone call at the same time, and you have a disaster waiting to happen.  As you know from freshman year biology, your corpus callosum is bigger than his (it’s the space in between both sides of the brain).  Because this space is bigger, your brain needs more neural pathways which make you better at language, emotion, cognition, perception, and awareness.  Basically, women can multi-task.  That ‘mothering’ instinct you have and that ‘feminine touch’ of sensitivity that women are blessed with comes from the extra neurons.

What does all of this have to do with your man wanting more space?  Well, where you can talk on the phone, cook a five course meal, and study for an exam all at the same time, your boyfriend hardly has the ability to tie his shoes and listen to the news together.  This is a microcosm of his social skills as well.  If he directs his attention on one thing at a time, your man can be as focused as a laser.  Throw in a small distraction and he’ll be as confused as Paris Hilton on Jeopardy. 


This single-mindedness applies to his relationship too – for better or for worse.

For example: if your man has a stressful job, or is studying for a big test, he needs to commit his entire brain to that task, whether it be for an hour or a week.  Not that you are distraction, but in order to cope with any situation involving attention, he needs to dedicate all his energy to that particular task... and away from you.  

On a similar note, this is why men ‘forget’ a lot of things you say.  Instead of forgetting, he probably was distracted while you were talking on whatever he was doing, and never even absorbed the information in the first place.  Don't talk to your man while he is mending the TV remote, re-boring your car's oil cylinder or reading the label on his beer bottle at the bar, and you'll find he magically 'remembers' a whole lot more of what you tell him.

Other than on a biological level, men need space just like everyone needs space.  If your man is more of an introvert rather than an extrovert, he may require more alone time than most people.  For instance, although I enjoy a large crowd, I get drained pretty fast socializing at parties and clubs.  I need a few hours every day by myself either reading or writing or watching TV in order to recharge my batteries.  Extraverts have a hard time understanding this because they need to be constantly surrounded by people and don't understand why some people may find talking to others exhausting.

The good thing about men’s single-mindedness is that they are usually straightforward about it and don't try to hide it if questioned.  Try not to read into the situation too much if your man asks for some space or wants the occasional night out with the boys at the pub.  Don’t assume it’s because he wants to spend less time with you - he just needs a little breathing room.  Be sure to voice your concerns and he is likely to respond with an honest answer.

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