• Resolving Problems

When A Friend Asks For Space

Published: September 20, 2013 | Last Updated: February 15, 2022 By | 14 Replies Continue Reading
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There can be many reasons a friend asks for space but the options for responding are few.



I have a friend who is giving me the cold shoulder. We were fine after she returned from a vacation. Then, all of a sudden, she gave me the silent treatment.

I asked if I have done something to hurt her. I told her that If I have, I would like to know what it was so that it doesn’t happen again. I told her that the way she is treating me is hurtful to me.

She responded that she needs to spend time with her family and her intention wasn’t to hurt me. She said that friends give each other space. But what does that mean? She is very vague about her explanation.

I would never treat a friend this way. Friends are there to support each other. What do I do now? Move on? I feel I’m a neighbor now and not a friend. I have always been a thoughtful friend to her and her family, better than her other friends. I am totally confused by her mean behavior.

Signed, Vera


Hi Vera,

When a friend gives you the cold shoulder and asks for space, it may or may not have anything to do with you, per se. The only way to find out is to ask, so you did the right thing by doing so.

If your friend is vague or doesn’t tell you why she needs distance, you have no alternative but to step back. Coming on too strongly will only make her more distant. Sometimes people have family problems, personal demons, or other secrets they are reluctant to talk about or share with friends. She may simply need time and/or space to work out her issues.

Another explanation is simply that this friendship is less important to her than it is to you right now and she doesn’t want to tell you so. In either case, don’t take it too personally. Maintaining a friendship, like any other relationship, relies on a bit of chemistry and good timing. Friendships can change over time.

In your case, I would wait a couple of weeks and extend yourself again to see if she’s in a better (or different) frame of mind. If she still asks for space, it may be time to give up on resurrecting the friendship and try to maintain a neighborly connection.

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene

Other posts on The Friendship Blog about friends acting distant :

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Category: one-sided friendships

Comments (14)

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  1. Kim says:

    I’m going same thing but it was my faultt here. I told her I was falling in love w her. We’re both bicurious females but really good friends. Well a few months ago I’ve been “acting weird” around here becuz I was having dreams about us. And ive NEVER thought of a women/female like this. She told me it’s all good she’s not judging me here at all. So no booze in us but that open can of worms she told me she was bisexual and always wanted to experience it. She sent me a video clip of what she wanted to do. Now at the time I was straight, for Idk she was bicurious. Long story short went outta town n got a room..1 bed king bed. And we both had an amazing time..felt right, comfortable etc. Chilled in hot tub in room and played I never ever that got both even more curious I believe..shes crazy me I’m really careful. There 15 yrs difference in us and she black I’m white. To me none of that mattered to me.
    We fell askeep, well tried to and when I rolled over she had no clothes on and truthfully really turned me on so I started rubbing her back. She rolled over a d smiled n opened her legs for me. Idk what to do so I just mostly kissed her neck, breasts and thighs. She did more here..;)) for it happened 2x that night into the a.m. she told me she’s interested in staying another PM so we got a other room at a another hotel. And again it happened 2x. Both so right for both of us. At 1st when we discussed what we expected from each of us, that went out the door fast. She wouldn’t let me kiss her lips or p+÷÷$@&, she did kiss my p$!:” and breasts.
    I’ll say maybe about 1.5 months later I told her I loved her. She didn’t say much but said she loved n cared for me but not like I do in her. Really bummed out… That’s when I told her sent her a pictures of the ring I wanted to give her. She told me it wouldn’t be fair her taking it due to her not IN LOVE w me like that. I sent her a long email asking for her to trust me in giving n showing her how much I love and care for her. If she could trust herself here to to take that keep like I did here. I CANT make her love me I know that and never woukd either!! Email wasn’t too detailed but just recently told me she needed space and time to please respect that.
    I’m sooo mad hurt and confused what’s going on here?! We tty n texted each other daily and hung out maybe 1-2 per week. Now it’s nothing at all she sent me this text, ” I will miss you but im not gonna be apart of your life right now and thats ok. It dosent mean i dont care about you it just means i need some space and time please respect that.” She called to explain self but coukdnt get much in she was trying to calm me down cuz I was crying so much.
    1) does that text she sent mean goodbye?! 2) I’m stuck here thinking about what to do. It’s only been 1 day no contact and my anxiety and depression has setting in. She was my only friend I have. She told me to please get help for my anxiety. No i didn’t reach out to her today?! Idk how long to wait before I reach out to her?! Or should I just walk away. But she did say ttyl before hanging up when she called trying to explain herself. And why?! How cone she did this?!
    Now I had issues w adandment n trust now it’s even more. Especially trust, trusting myself to say how n what I feel good or bad to anyone now.
    What can I do??!! Please help me..thank you!! Any advice good or bad will be appreciated here.

  2. faveey says:

    I just came across this blog and I think I really need help on a certain issue I’m going through.
    Some friends of mine confronted me and told me that my bf was spreading rumors about me….i cried about it and decided to give him space but I changed my mind and confronted him instead and he claimed not to have spread any rumor about me…
    I decided to give him the benefit of doubt and started talking to him again…and now my friends are angry with me for not giving him space…
    So should I start giving him space even though I feel he’s innocent and I have no grudge against him or should I keep talking to him despite the fact that I dont know if he actually spread the rumor or not..

    • Lee says:

      I know you asked this a while ago, but I feel like you shouldn’t give him space unless the two of you agree on it. If you and your bf truly love each other, then I feel like he would have said something if he felt like you guys needed space. Try talking to him about it. If neither one of you feels like you need space from each other, then you don’t have to give him space.

      And it’s hard to say who could have spread the rumor depending on how long you and your bf have been dating for, but if it’s been quite a while…then it’s possible 1 of your friends might have spread it.

      It may depend on if they’re in relationships or not because I do know some friends are capable of becoming jealous when they don’t have a bf when their other friend does. But there is a chance they may also feel a little excluded.

  3. Juan says:

    I have a crush on someone but the other day it seemed like she kept reminding me that there was an obstacle in the way that would keep us from dating, we fought and she told me that I shouldn’t be mad and that she is going to give me my space

  4. Nathan says:

    So i have this close friend and i have a crush since Gr.7 on her and she doesn’t know. me and her are in high school now and she recently invited me to join her in cadets which i did.
    but she just said she “needed a break” over snap chat today, Ive been to her house before at least 50 times, she has a boyfriend which i reconised and didnt do anything rash but her boyfriend lives across town.
    we are very close i would say heh she even feeds me time to time.
    but I dont know if its my fault shes like this,
    I don’t know if i was to pushy (around her alot).
    please help today is 9/26 and Im going to cadets and i don’t want it to be awkward with her because shes my ride there.

    I REALLY don’t want our friend ship to be snuffed out.
    I wont talk to her for a bit and give her space but still im worried i know its so soon but i don’t want to [EDITED FOR PROFANITY – Please read the terms of service for this site.] .

  5. hinkle says:

    Hi me and my best friend are fighting and she told me the other day not to talk to her not to bother her, leave her be for a Lil while and let her have her space, how long should I wait to contact her, to try and solve things, or should I not try and solve them

  6. Andrew Carranza says:

    Hi so me and my best friend use to hang out a lot then one day I decided to message him that I was in the hospital for having a heatstroke, I wanted to see if he cared or not. Then a few days passed then he stopped talking to me, I also use to send him like suicidal messages. He forgave me then his mom says I need help and to back off. I need to know what does she mean by back off. My mom says to give him space and then begin talking to him again. What do I do?

  7. Aline says:

    Vera, I kinda understand both sides of your situation. I have been both the distancer probably more than the one who pursues a friendship. Some people uncomfortable with a certain level of intimacy, even in friendships. That was never my case, but I needed to address that. Some of the reasons I distanced myself from friends was that 1)I was going through a personal crisis at the time, which I knew they would not understand nor be equipped to help me with. Some of my friends have been aloof, and that’s fine, I still remained friends with them, but I just filter what I share with them more. 2) I was overworked or stressed out and just need a break from people in general. I needed to get my life back on track – organize my home, pay my bills, etc. 3) It’s kind of like dating your friend. When you see too much of them, you kind of get bored and yearn for variety. You hope that when some time has passed that the news they share with you will really be “news” to you. If you spend all your time with someone, you already know everything. The relationship gets predictable. 4) I admit there were times when there were some things I discovered I didn’t like about some friends, and I needed time to weigh if I still wanted to be friends with them or not. 5) Sometimes, taking time off really means they want to end the friendship, are too afraid to address the topic or figure out that they really dislike you after something you’ve done, and just want to leave things hanging or don’t even want to waste time explaining why they want to end it. Usually, people who do this, though, do it more so out of convenience to them. They might run into you again. You might end up being their new boss, or they might need something from you in the future. I did this once with a “friend” that turned out to be sabotaging me the whole time, trying to steal my boyfriend at the time away from me as well as all my friends. She’d literally go down my friends list and add every one of them and then start spreading rumors about me so that they would become her friends instead.

    I say take advantage of this time to make more friends. Then, you won’t need this friend as much. You can spend time each week with a different friend. Give your friend some time and see what happens. Take care!

  8. Amy says:

    When a friend sets boundaries with you, that’s not giving you the cold shoulder, that’s her expressing her own needs. It might feel kind rejection, but that’s merely your interpretation of your friend’s expression of her needs.
    Friends do give each other space and respect boundaries. She’ll like you better if you give her the space she requests.
    Friends cannot be everything to each other, which is why it’s good to have a circle of friends and acquaintances, so that you’re not relying too heavily on one person or expecting too much.
    Friendships ebb and flow in intensity over a long period, if they’re long term relationships. If we hold on too tight, you likely won’t have a long term friendship.

    • Steve says:

      Real friends don’t cut people off. It’s selfish and as it has happened to me in the last few weeks it’s causing me a lot of hurt, pain and anguish.

      I would never treat people like that. Another tough thing to deal with is that people think ending a friendship is nothing and I should just move on but I invested in the friendship, I thought my friend had too so I’m finding it very difficult. I haven’t been sleeping well since it happened.

      I see my former friend as he attends the same church as me and he won’t even look at me let alone speak. It makes me feel very low.

      I have got a few very supportive friends who have helped but it’s hard as my former friend still speaks to them so I’m now worried I’m going to lose them as well.

  9. Alberta says:

    Asking for space is not mean behaviour – it sounds like maybe you shared a lot when you were on vacation and she wants to chill out by herself and the family for a time? Introverts can be like this – needing time to recharge after extreme socializing. It is awesome that you have the lines of communication open so listen to her when she said her intention was not to hurt you – maybe her kid is having trouble in school and needs extra attention at this time. There are many reasons why she may need this space. Friends can be supportive without constantly being on call support to their friends – if the friend is thinking she needs to support their friend all the time that could be an issue.

  10. R. Davidson says:

    I am focusing on the statement that “friends are there to support each other.” I’m not sure what that means to Vera. Did she lean on her friend too much? A friend may want to be helpful and supportive, but that is a choice.

  11. Mary says:

    I’ve had friends who think it’s okay to show up at my house unannounced and stay for hours. Or expect me to spend large chunks of my time with them on a weekly basis. Frankly it’s exhausting, and sometimes I just want to spend time with my family. I’m not saying, Vera, that’s what you doing, BUT perhaps you should just take her response at face value and accept that she needs more family time. Even if there’s not personal or family crisis, sometimes I just find myself needing to re-balance my life and focus on those who are most important to me. Irene is right, give it some time.

  12. Liz says:

    Hi Vera, one other thing that it could be is the old cliché ” familiarity breeds contempt”. Have you always lived nearby? Do you and she live within sight of each other?
    I’m not saying that you have done anything wrong, but maybe she feels the need to be distant. Especially if she has some problem that she needs to keep a secret for now.
    Who knows! I admire that you had the courage to ask!

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