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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.

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.

90 COMMENTS

  1. What is there to think about when he is the one at fault though? Should you have to wait around & give him space for that too? It’s worth fighting for but why can’t he just admit he’s wrong and we move on?

    • If your partner has shared his thoughts and feelings with you, then it is best to take action according to those feelings. If he is at fault and has decided that his actions have caused him to no longer be interested in nourishing a relationship with you, then allow your thoughts of him to fade. You may choose to speak directly and honestly with him about your thoughts and feelings. Have a great day, Elle!

    • He has shared his thoughts and feelings with you. He is unable or unwilling to establish a relationship with you. Do not attempt to contact with him at this time. Focus your emotional energy on yourself, your friends, and your family. Have a great day, Sass!

    • He has shared his thoughts and feelings with you. He is unable or unwilling to establish a relationship with you. Do not attempt to contact with him at this time. Focus your emotional energy on yourself, your friends, and your family. Have a great day, Sass!

    • i want to tell you to leave him. its hard i got that treatment on and off over 6yrs and EACH time he cheated in total 11 times in 6yrs THATS why they need space……

      please please leave…..

      • Thank you for sharing your insights and experiences. Feel free to share your thoughts and feelings in the future. Have a great day, Sunet!

  2. My new boyfriend Mateo asked me out yesterday and today he said that he needs to think but I don’t understand he also says that he thinks hes rushing things but he’s not I’m confused
    Help me

    • It sounds as though he is confused about his feelings toward you. It is likely that he is uncertain about his emotions. Take this time to determine what you want for the future of this relationship. Speak directly and honestly with him about your thoughts and feelings. Give him an opportunity to share himself with you as well. Have a great day, Kennedy!

  3. My boyfriend got upset yesterday at something Last night that happened he thought i was lying, and told me “don’t lie” I told Him I’m sorry, but he didn’t respond & texted him this morning if he’s mad, & he responded just thinking about stuff . What does he mean by that?

    • It is possible that he is confused or uncertain about his feelings regarding your relationship. Take this time to determine what you want for the future of this relationship. Speak directly and honestly with him about your thoughts and feelings. Give him an opportunity to share himself with you as well. Have a great day, Abby!

  4. We’ve been dating for four months, now that we are at the end of the fourth month I asked him to tell me where this is going because I want something more solid and he needs to show and act on it if he wants something more solid. He stated he knows he needs to show more but he also needs time to see if he wants this ? It just makes me so Confused ?

    • It is possible that he is interested in developing a relationship. He may be confused or uncertain about his thoughts and feelings. Take this time to determine what you want for the future of this relationship. Speak directly and honestly with him about your thoughts and feelings. Give him an opportunity to share himself with you as well. Have a great day, Chrys!

  5. He started dating too soon after the death of his wife and being with me sent him into a spiral of guilt, I reacted badly, I was ready to love and be loved but not ready to cope with the heartbreak and loss of a partner, I’ve been widowed 3 years. I had a breakdown which he does not know about. I texted him to say I was thinking and praying for him and he texted back to say thank you Praying he’s for me. I’m totally in love with him.

    • It is possible that each of you have a strong emotional connection with each other. It is possible that he is interested in a developing a relationship with you. Take this time to determine what you want for the future of this relationship. Speak directly and honestly with him about your thoughts and feelings. Give him an opportunity to share himself with you as well. Have a great day, Wilsy!

  6. I broke up with my boyfriend because I was dealing with alot of things at the time and I came back to him the next day and he told me that he’s thinking about it but now he’s ignoring my messages.

    • If he is ignoring your messages, then he may have decided that he is not interested in developing a relationship with you. It is possible that he has been uncertain or confused about what he wanted to say. Do not reach out to him at this time. If he reaches out to you, then share your kindness and compassion with him. Allow the consequences of your previous actions influence your behavior in the future. Have a great day, Sharai!

  7. We have been best friends since 8th grade, fell out of touch after high school and reconnect sophomore year of college, only to discover we always had feelings for each other from the beginning. We have been on and off for the last two years now and recrnly started again for the 3rd time 4 months ago. We have said we love each other not just as friends but more and things were going amazing and then he had made a weird comment about being friend zoned this year and I was very confused as I thought we were on the same page and not dating other people, regardless I had confronted and asked if we could be exclusive, he had agreed but had mentioned that he wasn’t sure what he wanted and that until he figured us out he promised not to be with anyone else. I had expressed that I was feeling more anxious and doubtful of the relationship ironically after we had agreed on being exclusive, I kept waking up feeling like something was off and decided to share my feelings, something that I wasn’t very good at it but had made an effort to be more open and honest. I was met with a “maybe we should take a step back” a lot of apologies to me, but he wants to catch up after he gets back from his winter break with his family. I am very hurt and confused and don’t know what to do if I should hold out hope or move on.

    • It sounds as though neither of you are fully committed to this relationship. He has shareg his thoughts and feelings with you. Take this time to determine what you want for the future of this relationship. Speak directly and honestly with him about your thoughts and feelings. Give him an opportunity to share himself with you as well. Have a great day, Elizabeth!

  8. How much time should I give him? He was my friend for a long time, and when he finally kissed me, my views changed. My whole world changed. So when he tells me he needs space and time, but he doesn’t want me out of his life, just how much time do I give him?

    • He has shared his thoughts and feelings with you. Do not reach out to him at this time. If he reaches out to you, then share your kindness and compassion with him. Determine what you want for your future. Have a great day, Hachiko!

  9. So we have been dating for four months and i have almost said the “L” word … Good thing i didn’t bc his ex girlfriend/baby mama has just told him she wanted to work things out … He told me he is now confused he knows what would happen if he get back with her and also told me he is already invested in me and starting to “catch feelings” but it’s going on three days now and he still says he needs time to think on what his next move it … I feel like I’m just waiting on him to dump me … What should i do ??

    • Take this time to determine what you want for your future. Speak directly and honestly with him about your thoughts and feelings. You make broaden your perspective while you make your decision. Give him an opportunity to share himself with you as well. Have a great day, Amandia!

  10. My boyfriend now ex said “he thinks and feels that we need time to figure things out…even if that means we start of as friends..because at the moment I’m working a lot at the farm and I don’t want to seem as if I don’t care about things when I do.. I don’t think it would be good for us to be in a situation where we feel like shit or inadequate” this came after a huge argument we had where I was just upset that he was neglecting me and our relationship (he had been pulling away a lot).. it’s been over a month, he hasn’t called and I haven’t texted or called either.. We were so in love, just surprised it all went down hill this way.

    • He has shared his thoughts and feelings with you. He is unable or unwilling to nourish a relationship with you at this time. Determine what you want for your future. Focus your emotional energy elsewhere. Have a great day, Fa!

  11. My boyfriend wants to go back being friends with me for a month because he’s confused about his feelings with me. I don’t know what to do… I love him but I’m hurt of what he said few days ago… I felt he changed… idk anymore. I can’t seem to give the rs up.

    • He has shared his thoughts and feelings with you. He is unable or unwilling to nourish a relationship with you at this time. Determine what you want for your future. Focus your emotional energy elsewhere. Have a great day, Ann!

  12. My boyfriend of 4 months said he needs time to think and space. His job has become very stressful and he has an issue with his young adult daughter. He said he really, really likes me and he thinks Iam perfect……his words. I love him but haven’t told him yet
    It’s been 1 week of no contact. How long should I wait?

    • He has shared his thoughts and feelings with you. He is unable or unwilling to nourish a relationship with you. Take this time to determine what you want for your future. Reach out to him and share your thoughts and feelings with him. If he can not maintain a relationship with you at this time, then focus your emotional energy elsewhere. Have a great day, Sharon!

  13. Thank you for sharing this!

    After we’ve been traveling together, he told me that he saw things he didn’t like and things I didn’t have. We’re both disappointed from the trip as it went rough almost all the time but still we were holding each other’s hands. We are not living in the same countries. The reason that we traveled was we wanted to get to know each other more but me myself feel that I ruined it.

    I’ve been thinking over and told him that we should discuss about this because I cannot just let it go without doing nothing. I guess that’s what we’re supposed to do after we’ve been through a hard time together so that we could see what my flaws or his are, then figure out the way to fix it.

    He asked me to give him some times to think about it. But how long should I wait for? What can I do besides focusing on my emotional energy or family or friends? I wanted to text him as normal just to see how he’s doing but at the same time I’m afraid if I’m bothering him

    • You have shared your thoughts and feelings with him. There is nothing wrong with sharing your kindness and compassion with him. Take this time to determine what you want for your future. There is no reason to attempt to maintain a relationship with him if you do not think it is viable. If he reaches out to you, share your thoughts and feelings with him. Have a great day, Chutima!

  14. We started talking recently only. We like each other,he says that he don’t want to lose me in his life and gives much importance to me.the thing is he got breakup once we started talking,so he’s in a mindset that kinda fed up of all these relationship stuffs.I really love him a lot and I expressed to him too he told me that he needs some time to think about a new relationship (he’s fed up of love,and got breakup very recently) really not in a mood to get into relationship. In this case we meet weekly once and last time we went for a movie date,and unexpectedly we end up kissing each other for so long(around 15 minutes) he felt bit guilt,but still it makes him feel more intimate with me. What shall I do now? Will he say yes or be just friends?

    • It is possible that he is uncertain about his emotional state. He may not want to harm you. He may be confused or uncertain about his feelings. He likely feels a strong emotional connection with you. Take this time to determine what you want for your future. Speak directly and honestly with him about your thoughts and feelings. Give him an opportunity to share himself with you as well. Have a great day, Ash!

  15. Hi my boyfriend of 2 years told me 2 weeks ago he needed some space to think things through so he could decide whether he was ready for marriage. He said he would check on me occasionally but never did so I tried to contact him last week and he insisted he needed the space. This time he said he wanted to figure out if I we had a future together and to see if I was the one for him.
    This scares me because he also mentioned that he has been going through a lot and he not being able to share those with me has made him realize he needs to rethink our relationship.

    • He has shared his thoughts and feelings with you. It is possible that he wants to end this relationship. It is clear that he is confused or uncertain about his thoughts and feelings with you. Take this time to determine what you want for your future. Speak directly and honestly with him about your thoughts and feelings. Give him an opportunity to share himself with you as well. Have a great day, Danny!

  16. All of a sudden, for no reason I can fathom, he began yelling at me, talking over me. When he somewhat calmed down, I wanted an apology. None. So yes, though wrong, I retaliated through messages. Next I know his dad began calling, telling me his son told him what happened. That didnt bother me. His dad though, said we need to talk things over. I agreed, and apologized. Next I know I get a text from dad that he talked with his son, which he accepted my apology, and hope that I accept his, that TO “GIVE HIM A MOMENT AND HE’LL REACH OUT TO ME.” BUT THAT WAS TWO DAYS AGO! Im getting anxious, no Im ALREADY anxious! What exactly does “give him a moment” mean?
    Thankyou.

    • He has chosen to treat you poorly. He may have a reason that he is unable to speak with you. He may be unwilling or unable to nourish a relationship with you. Take this time to determine what you want for your future. Speak directly and honestly with him about your thoughts and feelings. Give him an opportunity to share himself with you as well. Have a great day, Etta!

  17. My boyfriend told me he was confused about his feelings for me and that he needed some space, he also felt like something was wrong with our relationship when I asked him what he sent this
    “Okay. You need to be patient. It’s in none of our best interests for me to start listing the problems with our relationship, especially without any reasonable solutions at hand. It’s just going to make me seem vindictive. Don’t forget I mentioned just one in that first letter and you took it as a personal insult. So this is not just something I can reply to right now, that’s why I asked for time (and space) to figure out what the problems are and try to come up with reasonable solutions. Many of these problems are from your side of the fence and I haven’t explored them yet. Also, I’ve come to realise that some of these problems aren’t even problems they are just me being selfish.
    I haven’t written down the list of ‘things I don’t like about her’ and ‘things I like about myself’ yet but I’ll get to it soon.  
    At this point all I can ask u for ‎is space and time. Also I’d advice you to make a few lists yourself.”
    This stung so bab, what hurt more was that he texted it to me. I gave him some time, almost 2 weeks I just felt like I didn’t deserve to feel this miserable so I sent him a text yesterday saying I broke up with him. He still hasn’t replied yet. Did I make the wrong move? I really love him. I feel so miserable right now

    • He is attempting to determine his thoughts and feelings regarding your relationship. He is confused and uncertain about both of your feelings. Take this time to determine what you want for your future. Speak directly and honestly with him about your thoughts and feelings. Give him an opportunity to share himself with you as well. Have a great day, Khadijah!

  18. My boyfriend and I have been in a long distance relationship for about a year. We started off long distance but have never went more than three weeks without seeing each other. I recently moved to another state for a one year nursing program feeling that it would better our future together and make a future move to his location more possible. Our last two visits went very well, however we went out drinking with friends and I ended the night crying both times, other than the tears the visits seemed to have been fine we talked and laughed and were still physical. I believe I cried because I have been feeling more of an emotional distance coming from him lately. Before moving for school I told him I would move wherever he wanted to be if we could make it through the school part, he replied by saying he “is willing to get through the school part whatever it takes”. After our last visit I asked if he still felt the same. He said “yes, but I haven’t been as happy lately like I used to be.” We decided to discuss it further, I expressed to him how much he meant to me, he told me he loved me too but ended the conversation saying he needed some time to think. I gave him a whole 24 hours and then sent him a photo of us saying our relationship is worth fighting for. He replied with “I know. I just need time to think”

    • He is confused or uncertain about his feelings at this time. It is possible that the long distance relationship has been difficult for him. Take this time to determine what you want for your future. Speak directly and honestly with him about your thoughts and feelings. Give him an opportunity to share himself with you as well. Your best option is to attempt to spend time with him in person. Have a great day, Hadley!

  19. I met this man almost 2 months ago and it has been great from the very begining. Howeved, I realized I have trust issues when he has not proven anyhow to be untrustworthy. But as the relationship gets established, I want more or I want things to stay the very same as the begining. So, any slight change in his behaviour, way of talking etc to me, make me think he does not like me anymore or starting to lose interest in me. I get jealous, lack confidence, and act needy.

    I honestly think he likes me but I have been kind of a pain recently for him. He told me he carea about me, he does not want to break uo with me. But he needs time to think what he really feels for me.

    • It is likely that he has a strong emotional connection with you. You may find benefit in spending additional time with your partner, as this will strengthen your relationship. Do not allow your fears to damage this relationship. Take this time to determine what you want for your future. Speak directly and honestly with him about your thoughts and feelings. Give him an opportunity to share himself with you as well. Have a great day, Sam!

  20. I started dating a person about 2 months ago. I was separated and have been for 2 years . When I started dating this guy I was in the process of moving put of the matrimomial home. At ome point when I was out my ex who had zero possesions in the hpme and had mot beem living there for over 2 years decided to arbitrarily just break in amd change locks. I subsequently removed the rest of my belongings and let my lawyer and police deal never even spoke to him.
    However the person I am/was currently dating told me he needed space as he felt he was the other guy and there was still “stuff” that is not finished.
    I don’t understand I am legally separated in the eyes of the law and soon to be divorced so him telling me this confuses me and I don’t know how proceed. He said he felt guilty every time he was with me and that is what was stopping him from moving forward…Please help me understand

    • He has shared his thoughts and feelings with you. He likely believes that the two of you still share an emotional connection. Determine what you want for your future. Speak directly and honestly with your partner about your thoughts and feelings. Give him an opportunity to share himself with you as well. Have a great day, Ms. Thompson!

  21. My bf and I just went through a very big ordeal. We both agree were at fault but hes says he cant get over the pain that we caused each other and that he still loves me but he is really confused as to what he wants to do. He said he needs some time but I see him on a dating site regularly. Do you think I’m wasting my time believing there’s some hope?

    • He is on a dating site. He is uncertain about his emotional connection with you. He has shared his thoughts and feelings with you. Determine what you want for the future of this relationship. Decide what you believe is acceptable and appropriate for your relationship. Speak directly and honestly with him about your thoughts and feelings. If he responds without commitment or with negative energy, then do not pursue this relationship. Have a great day, Rachelle!

  22. I recently told this guy that I’ve been seeing that I like him he already knew this and want to be with him. We’ve been talking for a couple months and have seen each other half a dozen times I’ve met his friends and have hung out with them he’s told me before he’s looking for a girlfriend I told him I wanted to be her he didn’t reply after a few days and then he texted me but I told him we needed to talk about what I said and he said he needed more time is there a chance for us to be together or am I just dreaming

    • It is possible that he is interested in developing a relationship with you. He may be confused or uncertain about his feelings. He may be unable or unwilling to nourish a relationship with you. Determine what you want for your future. You have already spoken with him, so give him an opportunity to reach out to you. Have a great day, Robin!

  23. I haven’t dated someone since 2 years ago. However, I’ve recently started to date this guy. He’s been nice and even told me that I could ask him anything that I wanted…but today he said that he felt like our relationship is not what he expected it to be. He says he loves me and that he feels like I need someone better. But why didn’t he tell me before? Why did he wait this long to tell? I sometimes wonder if this was just all a joke?

    • He has shared his thoughts and feelings with you. He is no longer interested in developing a relationship with you. This is a positive event. You do not want to spend your life with someone who does not respect you. Allow thoughts of this person to fade. Do not reach out to him. Determine what you want for your future without him. Have a great day, Angie!

  24. I’m a single mom with a child age 7. Going out with a guy I’ve known as friends for 5yrs and started a relationship for the last 1yr. I was in a 1 way direction with my ex for 12yrs. Which turn me into this defensive, c4 bomb kind of person in an argument.
    Recently we had an argument which was related to my kid’s well being. perhaps He is too young to understand my feelings as a parent since he us 10yrs younger than me(m:27,f:36).
    Bcos of the outburst from me, now he wants a time out (to rethink and assess if this is what he wants).
    Would it just be best if I just let him go? After all, I have a feeling he is going to end it anyway.

    • If you believe that this relationship is no longer viable and you feel that your partner will end the relationship, then determine what you want. Decide if this relationship is healthy for your child. Speak with your partner about your thoughts and feelings. Give him a chance to share himself with you as well. Have a great day, Mama!

  25. I’m a bit curious if this is code for him just being nice and trying to get me to leave him alone.

    “I’m really sorry I’m pulling this ghosting shit. I appreciate the sentiment I just need to think about it.”

    And here’s the back story. We we’re each other’s first love about 8 years ago and he recently got out of a long relationship and she really hurt him. I decided to reach out to him and see if he wanted to get a drink and catch up. He initially said yes but it hasn’t happened yet. So why would he initially say yes then now say that what I quoted above? I’m honestly not sure what he really meant by what he said up above.

    • It sounds as though he is uncertain or confused about what he wants for the future of your relationship. He needs time to determine what he wants for his future. Determine if you are currently in a relationship with him. Speak with him about your thoughts and feelings with him when he next reaches out to you. Have a great day, Valerie!

  26. I’ve been in a relationship for 3yrs. I have 2 kids (not his) but he treats them as his own. Things just recently feel like he’s distancing himself from me. I’m very supportive of him since day #1. I love him for who he is not what he can do for me. Bc of off & on jobs for the most of the relationship I’ve carried all the bills. But he contributed when he could w what he could. He started distancing himself recently to where it felt like I had to learn a new person. He’s 8 years younger than me. Recently out of nowhere he said we needed a break bc he has to figure some things out & learn some things on his own. I’m devistated & don’t know what to do. I’m so afraid he’s gonna find someone else & fall in love with them. He says that he doesn’t want a relationship with anyone else but me. But because he’s younger he wants to be able to get everything out of his system so he can be the man he wants to be for me. He doesn’t want me to hate him & treat him bad bc he says he loves me & he rathered take a break to protect my feelings bc he cares. I told him I understood but idk. I don’t want to loose him. We’ve been through so much together! I’ve been hurt before in past relationships. I’ve seen texts to other females & etc but he did tell me. We live together and the kids adore him & he adores them too. We used to do everything together. Now he goes out after telling me that with the guys. He takes me here & there but not to clubs like he used too. What should I do?

    • He has shared his thoughts and feelings with you. He is not interested in maintaining a strong, romantic relationship with you at this time. He likely is interested in developing physical relationships with other women. Determine what you want for the future of this relationship. It would be most beneficial to speak directly with him about your thoughts and feelings. You may find benefit in focusing your emotional energy on your children at this time. Have a great day, Mother!

  27. I hurt this guy 3 times last year we were on and off I was confused and too focused on partying and drinking he loved me so much now that 2018 April game I texted him and we started talking again for 3 weeks it was all good until a he changed from day to night what caused it ? He said he’s frustrated from work he’s confused he needs time he said he loved me I asked him did he mean those I love you’s he said yes I did and I do mean them he’s not coming home until 2 weeks will he call me or something I love him

    • It sounds as though he is busy at work. He is likely emotionally confused and uncertain. He may want to look inward and determine what he wants for his future. Give him time to make these decisions. When he reaches out to you, share your thoughts and feelings with him. Ensure that you are always kind and compassionate. Have a great day, Jennifer!

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