Four months ago, my boyfriend asked me to move in. He even went and purchased furniture for my own personal glam room. Yesterday he said he “needed space” and we spend too much time together. We both work from home. I never moved completely in, but I feel hurt that he said he needed space. When I asked if that was the end of our relationship, he said no. I started crying, and then he said I don’t have to leave. He went back to acting as if nothing happened. I decided to pack my stuff to go. I’m in the process of moving now. End of the relationship, or no? —Anonymous
You may have overreacted here. Yes, there’s a possibility that your partner meant that he needed space from the relationship and he didn’t want you around anymore. But there’s also a likely possibility that he was overwhelmed by the two of you spending what sounds like an enormous amount of time around each other. Even people in healthy, happy relationships (and marriages) need “space” sometimes. Being around another person 24-7 for days on end is a lot, especially when you’re not accustomed to it, and especially when there’s not a lot of physical space.
It sounds like you heard, “I need space,” and jumped to the worst possible conclusion. He said he needed space and you assumed he wanted you out of his house and that the relationship was over. You ran with that narrative, even when he said he didn’t want to end the relationship.
Your relationship is in desperate need of clarification. To be fair, your partner needs to be more clear about exactly what it is he wants. Is it that he thinks the two of you should take turns going to a coffee shop or working in separate rooms during the day so that each of you can have some time to yourselves? Do you need to work in separate rooms? Or is it that he’s had a change of heart about that invite, that he feels smothered and he wants you to get out? This needs to be discussed. Your partner’s pretense that this whole conversation that left you in tears just didn’t occur is obviously more harmful than helpful.
About that invite to move in: He made a nice gesture by creating a glam room to make you happy in his home, even if it was jumping the gun. Four months ago, he also extended an invite for you to live with him. But what exactly is your answer to his question? You’re at his home like you live there, but apparently you are still maintaining your own apartment, since you “never completely moved in.” Do you want to move in with him or not? Your actions send mixed signals. I imagine that your partner might be frustrated by that, even if he hasn’t expressed it directly.
Packing up your things and heading home seems like a rash reaction, at least until you get clarification. But perhaps you’re using this rift as an excuse to blame him for what you really wanted to do. He needs space, and apparently, so do you. Is that perhaps why you’ve kept your apartment as a backup plan?
I wonder why you haven’t been clear with your partner about where you stand on moving in together. Something is holding you back. Is it that you don’t believe in living with a partner before an engagement or marriage? If so, that’s totally fine. Or is there something going on in the relationship that makes you hesitant to take it to the next level? Whatever your reasoning is, you need to figure it out for yourself and then express it to your man.
Is your relationship over? It depends on what he means by “I need space” and how hurt he is, which you intended to do by taking your things and going home. If you both actually communicate with each other in detail about what you want, this is probably salvageable.
Demetria Lucas D’Oyley is a contributing editor at The Root, a life coach and the author of Don’t Waste Your Pretty: The Go-to Guide for Making Smarter Decisions in Life & Love as well as A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life. She answers your dating and relationship questions on The Root each week. Feel free to ask anything at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Previously in Ask Demetria: “My Ex Won’t Move On, and Now He’s Sending Me Texts With a Nude Photo of Me”