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What Does It Mean When a Guy Says He’s Confused and He Needs Time to Think?

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When you find yourself in a serious relationship, there are some phrases and words that can cut you like a knife. When you are certain that you have found Mr. Right, hearing him tell you that he needs space can crush your soul and leave you flailing. When he says he is feeling confused, that leaves you wondering what you have done wrong, and how he could possibly have to make a choice about being together. If you are sure, he should be too, right? What’s there to think about?

If you are the unlucky recipient of that phrase, then there are a few things you should do to keep your sanity. Although you may be halfway through a box of Kleenex, digging into a tub of ice cream, or just finished from some serious butt-kicking cardio to take the edge off right now, pay attention. If you have any hopes that he’ll come back, then you need to take care of these things while he’s gone.

1. Most women immediately take this on themselves and think they must not be good enough for him, or what he really wants. Do not do that! His confusion is his and is not anything you can help. Besides, you do not even know that you are what he is confused about. Maybe it is something completely different and he just needs a little time to work it out by himself.

2. Relationships require vulnerability and, let’s face it, that is not a guy’s strong suite. Sometimes it is natural for a guy to pull back a little bit and set some boundaries. He may just need to ground himself so that he can be sure he is making the right decisions. We all need to ground here and there, so give him the opportunity.

3. Relationships are a balancing act no matter who you talk to. When he pulls back, sometimes it is best to also pull back so that when he comes in, it will be because he wanted to be drawn in by you. When it is completely his choice, he will feel so much more confident about it that you will see a whole other side of him. A more confident side.

4. Stop, think, evaluate, and proceed. This is a common decision making strategy. He may be thinking and evaluating where he wants your relationship to go. No matter what his decision, it is a good thing that he stopped and thought about it before being brash and rushing into something artificially. This could simply be his way of contemplating proposing like his mother keeps hinting at.

5. Consider your response. Him telling you that he needs space is definitely going to cause a reaction from you. Your job, away from him, is to look at those emotions, figure out what they are, and determine why you felt them. For example, if you felt panicked, it could be because you don’t want to be single again instead of being head over heels in love with him. Figure out those emotions while he is not around to cloud your judgment and influence your decisions.

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6. Take a breath and stop thinking so hard because you will break your own heart. There is no way for you to know exactly what is on his mind until he tells you. And, since we are not telepathic, unfortunately, and have learned from experience, we all know that men have a way of projecting something on the complete opposite side of the scale from what they are actually thinking.

7. If you love something, set it free. Every sappy movie ever has featured at least one moment of returning the animal to the wild, breaking up with someone to give them a better shot at something, or a scenario equally as emotional. The fact of the matter is, squeezing too hard here will do nothing but drive him away. You have to let him take this moment and do so fully. Do not call and text him ten times a day trying to figure out what’s going on. He asked you honestly for space, give it to him. If he comes back to you, you will be stronger than ever together.

The most important things to remember if you find yourself in this situation are to keep breathing, don’t blame yourself for something you have no control over, and most of all, wait until he tells you what is going on before you make assumptions and judgements.

In the movies, the girl would always say that the guy obviously doesn’t love her if he has to think about it, but real life isn’t that way. You can find a lot of people to love, but having your mind and heart committed is what makes a lasting relationship.

86 COMMENTS

  1. Hi. So me and my ex broke up over a year ago. Since then we last spoke in September. Things didn’t end well.he said he wasn’t in love. So I left. Then he said he wanted a baby in two years. I said no because I’m only 21 and he’s 22. I was so confused. I was upset and said I didn’t want to talk to him again. And he should only message me if he loved me. So he left messages saying how are you And your pictures are nice etc. But I ignored them because I was hurt and feeling tired of him being confusing. I ignored him for 6months Then i finally replied. We had a lot of small talk but he said he was going to be in town and wanted to see me. I was initially worried but I agreed. When the day came closer I didn’t hear from him. And then he told me last minute that we could meet, But i didnt have enough time to see him. I just felt he didn’t want to really see me or he would have said earlier. I asked him why did he leave so many messages over the past months. Did you have feelings for me. I told him I have feelings for him. He said he doesn’t know if he has feelings for me and he wanted to meet up to see if he does or if we can be friends. But I felt confused. Why after one year of breaking up why he was so insisting on getting me to reply him if he’s not sure of his feelings. His actions dont line up to his words. I told him in the past many times being friends would hurt me because I like him so it would be a no. Ive been through a lot. I really do love him. But it’s really confusing to me why he still wants anything to do with me after so long and so many tears and arguments…

    • Then after he said he didn’t know I’d he had feelings. He said he needs more time. But didn’t elaborate what that meant.

      • He is uncertain and confused about your feelings toward him. He is likely unsure of himself as well. The two of you were unable to meet, so it is likely that his feelings have faded. Determine what you want for your future. Decide what kind of relationship you want to nourish. Have a great day, Sarah!

    • He is uncertain and confused about your feelings toward him. He is likely unsure of himself as well. The two of you were unable to meet, so it is likely that his feelings have faded. Determine what you want for your future. Decide what kind of relationship you want to nourish. Have a great day, Sarah!

  2. My boyfriend of two months has suddenly told me by text he needs time to think. He said that he thinks I love him more than he does, that I deserve better and that part of him feels like he likes me, but another part of him feels like we are just friends and that we rushed too quick into a relationship. What I don’t understand is how he never seemed to feel that way and he has always been so affectionate to me, even on our last date.I asked him what he wanted to do, if he wanted to break up and he told me multiple times that he feels like he needs time to clear out his mind. I am extremely sad and feel really hurt as I didn’t see this coming, but I’m willing to wait. I just don’t know if it’s the right thing to wait for then to only be heartbroken again. He is my very first boyfriend and I adore him so much…I don’t know what to do and how to cope with what I’m feeling at the moment. I am at university right now and even though I have never missed a class, I feel so broken I don’t think I’m able to function properly, I can barely eat and sleep. I always thought I’d be able to be rational and cope with a heartbreak, but what I’m feeling right now is very similar to the feeling of grief.

    • He has shared his thoughts and feelings. It is likely that he is being influenced in his life. He may feel as though he could not maintain a relationship with you. It is beneficial that this relationship ended now instead of later due to his actions. Allow thoughts of him to fade. If he reaches out to you in the future, then share your thoughts and feelings with him. Have a great day, Margaret!

  3. I am a little confused about if I did something wrong, if it’s normal to blame myself or if it’s him. So I’ve been in a relationship this guy for about 2 months going on 3. Everything has been good. He told me if he ever has a problem he would come to me. I’ve met his mom, siblings, friends, barely any arguments…more like talks to pick each other’s brain. Recently I’ve noticed that he’s been really busy at work. No I don’t think he’s cheating, he tells me every where he goes, even though that doesn’t mean anything now a days. I did notice that I haven’t been at his house lately. I am a homebody and so is he but he doesn’t like to be at his house. I guess he just wants to relax but at his house he really can’t. We both live with our parents. So on his day off I said “can I come over later?” He said “when will I be able to come over to your house?” In response “I said to him, does it bother you that you haven’t?” He said “yes I don’t like being at my house all the time, if it’s going to be a problem then idk”. So I said “it’s not going to be a problem you should have just told me I would have set up something so you can meet my parents”. We talked about it a little more and then he said “he’s kind of over it”. I said “your not because it bothers you”. In my mind parents are a little more strict when it comes to their daughters having company than their sons. So I felt a little bit blindsided by the whole thing because this could have been avoided. Plus everything was fine earlier that day even the day before. I called my mom I ask her she said “yes that’s fine I don’t mind meeting him”. I told him, he said “he had other plans and that he has a lot to think about”. I ask, “is it involving me or general life things?” He said all in one. I didn’t hear from him the rest of the day. The next day he tells me he’s at work n I said “ok are you feeling better?” He said “no but it’s all about timing”. I asked “are you the type to be in an on and off relationship or are you the type to say you need space?” He said “space I need to get my mind right”. I said “do you want me to give you space right now?” I got no response. So my next text message was “I’ll give you your space. Just pray and let everything fall into place. Text or call if you need me.” He said “yes and thank you.” I am a little confused and scared because the last person I gave “space” to disappeared for 5 months and then came back thinking everything was fine and wanting to work it out. I know I shouldn’t compare but how can I not. I don’t really know what to do when it comes to that I just basically don’t contact the person, but I don’t want him to think I don’t care…are we together, is it over? I don’t know if space is a way of saying you don’t want to be with the person. Every possible question is going through my mind right now.

    What should I do?

    • He has shared his thoughts and feelings with you. He is unable or unwilling to maintain an emotional relationship with you. You are interested in emotionally supporting him at this time. He may reach out to you in the future. He may decide to develop a new relationship. Determine what you want for your future without him. Have a great day, Lisa!

  4. Ive been dating my bf/ex for 8mths.. ive left him twice due to the frustration of him telling me he is not sure about us and his feeling may have faded. I left because at that moment i told myself ‘why the heck am i still doing here if he is unsure about us?’

    1st week of April, that was the 2nd time when I left, I packed all my stuff and left his place. 1week after I regretted and called for a patch back. He was frustrated and scolded me for leaving and wanting to come back again.. TWICE. He told me he needed time and would want to be alone .

    1st of May I asked him out for a chat. Putting our relationship aside, once and for all we had a heart to heart talk Of what went wrong and our relationship goal – to settle down and start a family when we met the right partner.

    I asked if there is a possibility for us to reconcile? He said Yes! I was over the moon! But he needed time to ‘reset’ his frustration over me as he wouldnt ve able to treat and love me like how he used to. Fair enough because I left twice. We then kissed and hug goodbye. I told him I love him and not to give up on us.

    After that he has not texted nor call me. Should I take the initiative to contact him? Or just leave him space? I dont know how long it’ll take…. i cant bear the feeling of my partner is not there to share with me whats going on for the days.

    I really love him ans wanted to marry him. What should I do?

    • He has told you that he would not be willing to treat you with the love and respect that you deserve from your partner. When you left him, he realized that you were willing to end the relationship. You chose to act in this manner twice. He is not interested in communicating with you at this time. Allow him to reach out to you when he is ready. You should determine what you want for your future. Have a great day, Chonky!

  5. So I met this guy on-line. From the start, he told me that he had just separated from his wife a few months ago and was only looking at dating. Initially he thought that I may have been scared off by this comment but I told him no, that I understood and was fine with just dating at this time. He lives 2 hours away. We talked daily for a week and a half before we had our first date. We got along great! Both of us were smiling and laughing and admitted that we had a great time and agreed to meet up again.

    Apparently, the week after the date, he had been having a lot of confused thoughts and was feeling guilty that it may be too soon after his separation. He feels bad as he says I’m a really nice person, great, understanding and positive, which is why he doesn’t want to play games with me or drag me along and hurt me emotionally while he sorts some things out. He admitted to enjoying talking with me as well as spending time with me. He thinks that with a little time and space, we can try dating again. He said that he wouldn’t be reaching out daily right now and that he appreciated that I was likely hurting by his decision. He said that he wouldn’t be dating anyone else during this time and that he wants to focus whats on his plate daily right now. I told him I understood and would agree to respect his request as I felt he was a good guy, that I appreciated his openness and honesty and that I wanted the opportunity to get to know him more.

    I feel that there could definitely be some good that could come out of this if I simply demonstrate patience and show him respect. I am struggling in that I’ve suggested setting up some ground rules/boundaries during this time so that both of our needs are being respected. I haven’t heard anything. It’s been 2 days now. I get that this is not long. Given that I’ve been burned in the past, there is a part of me that’s worried that I may be agreeing to this for nothing or may never hear from him again. My gut is telling me that he’s different however as he’s actually communicating with me openly and honestly which no guy really ever has. He’s actually taking into account my feelings and not just his own.

    To be clear, I’m not looking at us becoming serious right now. If it happens, I realize that it will happen on it’s own when we’re both ready. I simply want to enjoy him for now and get to know him better.

    • It sounds as though have have developed an insightful viewpoint on your relationship. He has shared his thoughts and feelings with you. If he reaches out to you in the future, then share your kindness and compassion with him. For now, focus your emotional energy elsewhere. Give him time to make a decision regarding his current relationship. Have a great day, Carolyn!

  6. I’ve long distance relationship, this past may 3rd we supposed to have our 3rd anniversary… but on April 11 he told me that he needed space to think about things and that he felt confused about himself after been with him for 2 weeks (we talked about marriage, kids and I fit a ring during those days because he asked me to try it). I asked him what happened and he just said he wants to focus on his career and maybe next month or at the end of the year we can get back together…
    Today I texted him saying hi and basically that I thought someone made him change his mind and he said “Im just not the guy for you right now..😞 im lost.. i will trully treasure all the momories we had together”
    At the end I told him that I don’t know why he was saying that and told him that we’re a strong, stable couple that loves each other and we’re just looking to be in the same place, that probably he got unfocused. Finally I asked him to tell me if he still wanted me to be there… he just saw the txt

    Help! 🙁

    • He has shared his thoughts and feelings with you. There is likely another influence in his life that may be causing him to act in a certain manner. He explained that he wants to focus on his career. He may be uncertain of whether or not he can treat you with the respect that you deserve. He has chosen to end this relationship. If he reaches out to you in the future, then share your thoughts and feelings with him. Have a great day, Alex!

  7. I have been seeing this guy for almost a year and we have been in a serious committed relationship. He has changed since we first started dating( he would always reply to my messages and after I would leave he would want me to tell him when I got home safely) after dating for a few months things started changing he was less responsive and every thing we had talked about was changing (such as moving in together he now says he needs to readjust to a relationship with kids involved because I have 2 and he isn’t sure when he would want to move in) I feel like he has been pulling away lately. Then a couple days ago we were talking and I was trying to have a conversation with him about how my day went and he was not being responsive so I said that I should just start calling him when I want to talk since he doesn’t reply very well in a joking form he responded with sorry I don’t reply every 10 seconds I actually have stuff I enjoy doing…this came across as rude and I told him that was rude to which he responded no it wasn’t. I said it was to me and he didn’t talk to me til afternoon the next day. I responded to his first message about something that happened at work but then kept to myself the rest of the day. The next morning he sent me a text saying he wasn’t coming over this weekend because he had some stuff on his mind that he needed to work through and figure out. I sent him a message asking if he was thinking about ending our relationship to which he responded I need to clear my head nothing more nothing less. I asked again if it was because he wanted to end things and he said he is having mixed feelings on stuff and he needs to work it out on his own. He refuses to tell me what it’s about and has asked that I leave him alone and give him his space(and I have been) but I’m extremely stressed out trying to figure out what is going on.

    • This is definitely a stressful situation. The one-year mark is a common time for people to realize that they are about to be in a very committed relationship. At first, you relax and enjoy dating someone. Planning for the future sounds fun, but it doesn’t seem real yet. At around the one-year mark, the fantasy suddenly becomes reality and some people just can’t handle it. It sounds like he may have realized that this is the moment when he has to decide if he wants to commit completely to you and if this is the relationship he wants for the rest of his life. There is nothing that you did or didn’t do wrong–his responses are because of what is going on in his head. He snapped at you when you asked him to listen because he may feel guilty about his thoughts or about the fact that he doesn’t actually listen enough. Right now, all you can do is just give him space and let him work through things. If you continue to be an amazing girlfriend, relax and give him some space, he will be able to figure out if this is the relationship he wants to commit to for the long-term. Good luck!

  8. Hello. Recently I’m very concerned about a ‘relationship’ I thought I had with a guy. So, we’re actually co-workers (I’ve only been there 2 months now) and we decided to give it a try after we confesed to each-other that we were actually flirting with one another. We dated for about 1 month. I used to go to his house and make out and we only had a few coffies around his neighbourhood. To be honest since the beggining he told me that probably we might not work out because recently he didn’t have any proper relationship and that I might get hurt, but we both wanted to giv it a try. Also when we talked about it he said that we had something and let’s see how it goes, but he was treating me in a really affectionate way ( making jokes like when he was gonna come live in with me or stuff like :my mum would be thrilled if she knew I finally met someone). As we work together we spend most of the day at the same place, and afterwards we were used to chat with each other most of the time. As I didn’t want to become clingy I let him reach out most of the time and he was actually writing to me most of the time. He took vacations for 1 week to spend time with his sister coming from abroad , but we chated a lot even during this time. When he came back he seemed a bit upset and down and also his grandfather had some health issues the day he returned. 2 days went by and the other one he said we could have a coffee together. He only spent 20 min with me and said he had to leave. We also had a small argument as I asked him twice if something was wrong. Anyway during the weekend that followed he wrote to me and we talked, but I knew smth was going on. I asked him if I could go over to his place on Sunday and he said he’d tell me when he finished what he had to do and that he was really tired with all issues he had on his business. He never texted that night. This was 1 week ago. The other day he acted like he didn’t do anything. Afterwork he had things to do and he only asked mewhat my plans where. No text that night either. The other day dhe same situation. At the end of the day I asked him to talk. He said he didn’t have time, but as soon as he finished that afternoon he would tell me and that he wasn’t happy with the situation and that yes we needed to talk. No text that night as well. The other day I asked him to talk again and that we had smth pending. He said he knew it, but he wasn’t really in the mood and that he needed some time and we could talk. I told him that we’re grown ups and that it required him only 2 minutes. He said he knew that but he didn’t like the fact that I was asking him constantly to talk and that this relationship is different from his previous. And he told me that he was afraid I would ask him’the question’ and that hd didn’t want to answer or didn’t know what the answer was. Then I told him to take his time. And all this conversation was by phone. It’s been 4 days now, no reaction. I get to sit next to him at work and get this silent mood when we’re alone. On the other hand he sometimes hits at me and makes jokes giving me a smiley look and also he called when I didn’t get back to work after lunch brake and said that some colleague asked for me that’s why he called. I feel really confused and don’t know what to expect. Is this a way of him to dump me in an easier way or is he really asking for time to think things over?

    • His behaviors are indications that he is confused about his thoughts and feelings. He may want to develop a relationship with you, but some other influence in his life may be preventing him from nourishing the relationship. Determine what you want for your future and what is viable for this relationship. Speak with him about your thoughts and feelings. If he does not believe that he can maintain a romantic relationship with you, then allow thoughts of him to fade. Have a great day, Klaudia!

  9. Hi, my boyfriend and I have been dating for 6 years and we were engaged last year (just a very small ceremony with just both our parents). But since my boyfriend and I started living together, he started being distant. Last month we had a fight because I found that he had a girl that he was hitting on for a whole year. I was the one who was supposed to be mad, but then he asked to break up saying that he wasn’t happy last year. And then he quickly said he regrets it. Then a week later, he broke up with me over the phone. He said he needs time to fix himself. He said things like ‘I’m not sure whether I can ever marry’ and ‘I loved you more than anyone and I don’t think I will in the future’ but he still “needs” time because of his own anger. Do you think he will come back to me?

    • He has chosen to be upset because you caught him speaking with this other woman. If he was cheating on you, then determine what you feel is appropriate for your relationship with him. He decided to end this relationship because of his actions. If you want to nourish a relationship with him, then reach out to him. If not, then focus your emotional energy elsewhere. Have a great day, Karen!

  10. I’ve been seeing this man who I’ve grown very fond of. I like him, he tells me he has feelings for me.
    All of a sudden he needs time to process and may. Call in a few days.
    I see today he is back on the dating site we met on.
    Wth? Should I just cut my losses and move on. He told me he was not on the site but obviously he is. Ugh

    • He has decided that he does not want to nourish this relationship. He is on the dating site. Determine what kind of relationship that you want for your future. Decide if his actions are appropriate. Focus your emotional energy elsewhere. Have a great day, Josie!

  11. so I met this guy in February and like we hit it off GREAT. Everything was perfect we were so happy and like I would spend the night at his house every night whatever and 3 weeks into knowing eachother he left to his hometown for the weeek of spring break and during that week I told him I miss him and he was like “prove it” so I did ! I drove to his city and surprised him and like he loved it and I met the whole family and stayed there for 3 days. Anyways so he cane back to SA to start school again and everything was still great, he met my family, he spent my 21st with me…everything was perfect. Then slowly he started being really like quiet around me and all this stuff but we would still hangout and all that. Sooo I would ask him if everything is okay and he would always say yes anyways well it got bad we’re i just told him f**k this let’s end it and he was like no I don’t want too, I just don’t know why I’m not getting that fight to fight for you and I would tell him how much he meant to me and all that. Anyways so now he left to his hometown this past week and we’ve been kinda arguing and he says he wants us to be happy but he doesn’t know why he can’t seem to fight for me, so now I’m all lost and idk what to do now. I don’t wanna lose him, I honestly could see myself with this guy for a while.

    Now he’s in his hometown for another 2 weeks now and idk what to do. I’ve tried to end it and he tells me no he said he’s not ready to end it and he’s not done with me but that he just doesn’t know how to feel everything I’m feeling for him. We talked on the phone last night and idk like it went everywhere. He was honest with me saying he’s not feeling what I’m feeling but that he’s frustrated with himself and the fact that he can’t feel it. He says it’s not my fault at all. I told him just give it time and he just was like okay I will but then the way he was explaining himself just didn’t sound like happy. So I told him “fine you win, let’s end this” and he was like “no no!!! I’m just frustrated how I just can’t feel it, just give me time to think” but then he was saying how he should be missing me right now but he doesn’t even wanna come home yet. I couldn’t stop crying on the phone I didn’t know what to say. He says he tries to talk about with his family and it just frustrates him even more. Like he was screaming on the phone saying “f**k” and hitting his steering wheel because he says he’s frustrated on the fact that he can’t feel what I’m feeling. But I just don’t get that when I tell him “fine let’s end it” he tells me no. Like right away. Like I’ve had enough but it’s like I don’t get it. I’m so lost and it’s not making sense to me the way he answers is like “fine Ale you want that, I’ll do it for you”
    And even at that he screamed at me saying “I’m sorry!!! I’m fucking sorry that im not your person in this world!!”
    And I just started crying and hung up. I just need advice on what to do so that we can fix this but also give him his time. I want him to really think about this and start to miss me. I never did anything wrong to him, I treated him so well in so many ways. When he comes back we’re suppose to have a face to face talk on either to end it or to keep trying but I just don’t know what to do anymore. Should I even bother to text him. It’s been since last night and the phone dal ended pretty bad. He still hasn’t texted me today.

    I’m stuck on what to do. I want him to miss me and let it click in his head but I just need to know what to do on my part.

    • Both of you are confused or uncertain about what you want for the future of this relationship. Speak with him about your thoughts and feelings. You may want to speak with him somewhere that you feel comfortable. If he ignores you or treats you poorly, then you are aware of his feelings. Have a great day, Alejandra!

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