How to Tell Your Boyfriend You Want to Be Left Alone

Three Parts:Preparing for the ConversationHaving a TalkMoving Forward

Even in a happy relationship, it's important to maintain a sense of self and individuality. If your boyfriend wants more of your time than you're able to give, you should have a talk with him about personal space. Take time to plan out what you want to discuss ahead of time, be careful with your language throughout the conversation, and work on compromising to more forward in the future.

Part 1
Preparing for the Conversation

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    Do some personal reflection first. In order to best prepare to talk to your boyfriend about space, you need to do some personal reflection. You need to have clear boundaries you want to set so you can best express your needs and wants to your boyfriend.
    • Ideally, how much time do you want to spend with your boyfriend? Ideas of what's normal or healthy vary. If your boyfriend thinks spending 5 or 6 nights a week together is important, and you'd rather cut it back to 3 or 4, this is something you two should talk about openly.[1]
    • What kinds of activities do you enjoy doing as a couple? What would you rather do alone? There's no right or wrong answers, but you and your boyfriend might have different ideas of what should be alone time and what should be shared space. You might, for example, find the idea of working out with another person intrusive while your boyfriend might thinking going for long runs is a fun, romantic activity.[2]
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    Consider why you're craving space. Asking for space in a relationship can trigger feelings of insecurity in your boyfriend. Try to figure out why you're craving alone time before going into the conversation. The more transparent you can be about your intentions, the better your boyfriend will understand the more successful your conversation will be overall.
    • Why is the amount of alone time you want important? Oftentimes, when one person in the relationship wants space the other takes it personally. If it doesn't have anything to do with how you feel about your boyfriend, make this clear in the conversation. Maybe you want to spend more time with friends or family members one-one-one. Maybe you want more time to devote to a hobby or activity it's hard to do in the presence of another person. Maybe you simply want some time to yourself to relax and recharge. Whatever the reason, you should know it before you go into the conversation.
    • If you find there are more serious reasons at hand for wanting alone time, this might be a sign your problems run deeper than different ideas of what constitutes healthy space. If, for example, you find you want to be alone because you're not that attracted to your boyfriend, you're not that interested in him anymore, or there's something he's doing that's hurtful or upsetting to you. If this is the case, you might want to evaluate whether you want to stay in this particular relationship or at least talk to your boyfriend about some of the deeper issues at hand.[3]
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    Be frank about wanting to talk. You need to pick a time to have this discussion. Trying to drop a big relationship talk on someone out of nowhere comes off as an attack. Set aside a specific time to talk with your boyfriend.
    • Choose a time where there are no external constraints that could prematurely end the conversation. Do not, for example, aim to talk before your boyfriend has to be at work. Instead, have the conversation after work or dinner one night.
    • Aim for a time when you'll both be relaxed. Having a big talk when there's already something stressful going on is a recipe for disaster. Pick a weeknight where you both have little to do and don't have anything stressful in the morning. It might be best to wait until after dinner or a meal, as you don't want to talk on an empty stomach.

Part 2
Having a Talk

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    Use your language carefully. When you begin having the conversation, phrasing is very important. It's easy to accidentally come off like you're blaming or judging the other person. Proper phrasing can help the conversation go smoother.
    • Avoid statements that start with "you" as this comes off as you forcing external judgment on the situation. Instead, phrase everything in terms of "I" and tie it back in to how your feelings affect your ability to function in the relationship.[4]
    • For example, instead of saying "You don't let me spend weekends just with my friends," say something like, "I like to sometimes just go out with friends Friday nights, and if I was able to do that more often I'd be happier when I came home to you."[5]
    • Avoid harsh language in general. Words like "clingy" or "needy" can come off as judgmental. If you feel your boyfriend wants too much of your time, instead say something like, "I feel like it's hard to meet all your needs all the time, and I don't have energy for myself when we spend all our time together."[6]
    • Be transparent. Talk about what you discovered while reflecting on the relationship and yourself during your talk. Saying you need space can potentially make your boyfriend feel very insecure, so focus on how the issue is about you and your needs and has nothing to do with how you feel about him.[7]
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    Listen to your boyfriend's needs as well. A relationship is a two way street. If your boyfriend has different ideas of what constitutes healthy space than you, the two of you need to address this together. You should listen to how he responds to what you're saying.
    • Your boyfriend's needs and desires are as valuable as your own, so treat them as such. Remember this as you have the conversation. This is not an issue of one party being right and the other being wrong. It's an issue of differing personal boundaries.[8]
    • If you don't understand, ask for clarification. Something like, "Why do you feel that way?" can really help you better understand your partner's needs.[9]
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    Reinforce the positive. At the end of the talk, reinforce your enthusiasm for the relationship so things do not end on a bad note. Say something like, "Even though I need alone time on occasion, I really do love spending time with you and want to be with you." It's a good idea to, throughout the talk, throw in positive statements and sentiments. Like, if you discuss spending more nights at your own place, follow up with something like, "Even though I really do love waking up next to you in the morning." This can help the conversation sting less for your boyfriend.[10]

Part 3
Moving Forward

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    Compromise on alone time. Once you've had the talk, you need to set new boundaries. Even if your boyfriend is okay with much of what you're saying, you'll still need to compromise on some issues.
    • You need to make sure your boyfriend's needs are still being met, even if you're spending more time alone or without him. If you've gone from, say, six nights at his apartment to four he might be feeling a little lonely.[11]
    • There are ways to compromise on space without you feeling smothered. If you two end up spending less physical time together, you can try to make that time more valuable. Spend less time on your phone texting or e-mailing in his presence. Be more physically affectionate when you're together. Text or call more often on the nights you're not coming over. All these things can help your boyfriend feel secure even while you two spend less physical time together.[12]
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    Address any underlying issues. Oftentimes, wanting less space in a relationship could be a sign of underlying problems. Talk to your boyfriend openly about any issues on his end.
    • Not wanting any space is often fueled by insecurity. Was your boyfriend cheated on in the past? Was one of his parents not present in his early childhood? Did he move a lot and, as a result, lose friends throughout his life? These, and other issues, can make someone insecure about losing others. Asking your boyfriend more about his own history can help you better understand his fears.[13]
    • Some people are simply codependent on others. Codependent people tend to put others' needs first, don't really know themselves well, have low self esteem, and have never really learned healthy relationship boundaries. If your boyfriend has had similar issues in the past, you can try to talk to him about dealing with his codependent tendencies to be a healthier, happier person.[14]
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    Evaluate your motivations. Once again, you should evaluate your own motivations for wanting space. If you're not interested in the relationship, or if your boyfriend does things that make you uncomfortable or unhappy, you should seriously consider whether you want to stay in this relationship at all.


  • Talk to him in a quiet, solitary area, such as in your home, at the park, or a small coffee shop.
  • Try to listen as much as you talk during the conversation.


  • If your boyfriend is adamant about not letting you have your space, and does things like checking your phone or email to monitor who you're interacting with, these are warning signs of abuse. You should get out of the relationship as soon as possible.

Article Info

Categories: Commitment Issues