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Dear Dr. Frankie,

My partner and I have been dating for 2 months and we have become very close very fast.  Maybe too fast? We met through a shared friend right after both of us got out of 10 and eight month relationships. We share very strong feelings, have an amazing sex life, and have healthy communication—so I thought. Recently she told me that she wants to slow down, not spend so many nights together, and not spend “so much time” together. She said she feels overwhelmed by school (we are both 24 and about to graduate college), work and life, and that she “just needs some space and time to herself”. I told her that I understood her needs and respected them, agreed that yes, perhaps we do spend too much time together.  I told her that I want her to be happy, so I just want her to communicate her needs with me and I will do my best to accommodate them.

For some reason I feel like there is something she is not telling me and I wonder if this is the end of our relationship. She says she doesn’t want to be with anyone else and she still kisses me and holds my hand.  It has been two days since our talk and I’m giving her space.  She has been over to my place but has not spent the night – and I haven’t asked why.  Why do I feel like I have been so rejected? Why do I feel as if I have been torn apart? I feel as if she has been leading me on or something…and then I feel guilty for feeling that way.
I feel as if I should let go of her and let her do her thing, and hope she comes back to me.  I have no idea how to handle this curveball because I thought everything was happy and perfect.

Dear Dumbfounded,

If your girlfriend has not given you any reason to doubt her intentions, then take her request for space as simply that.  Don’t torture yourself by reading between the lines for hidden messages.  Graduating from college and embarking upon a career path is a major turning point in one’s life, one that can be quite daunting.  Take comfort in the fact that she still spends time with you and shows you affection.

And very importantly, when you submitted your question it was only two days after your “talk.”  I think you were expressing concerns that the relationship was over and that maybe it was time to “let her go” extremely prematurely.  Your girlfriend saying she needs time apart was a mature and healthy request. If for some reason your girlfriend is on the fence about the relationship, honoring her request for space will only work in your favor.  Putting pressure on her to spend more time with you, especially after such a brief period of time, will come across as needy and inevitably push her away

In the meantime keep yourself active with healthy distractions.  Spend time with friends, exercise.  Exercise is the world’s best anxiety management tool in my opinion!  Revisit your favorite hobbies or explore an activity or hobby you’ve been considering for years.  The more you focus on yourself and respect her wishes, the more she will miss and want to be with you.

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