In a relationship, is there anything more gut-wrenching (or confusing!) than the phrases “Leave me alone” or “I need space”?
UGH. What are you supposed to do with that?!
What does it mean? What should you do?
The stakes are high. In this post and video, I’m going to show you what “Leave me alone” means to women and what it means to men (they’re different!) so that you can feel confident about how to respond to your partner in a way that serves the relationship, builds trust, and strengthens your bond.
Pay close attention. Doing this wrong can ruin a good thing.
“Leave Me Alone!” Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means
When it comes to a man, the words “Leave me alone,” mean one thing only: Leave him the heck alone or face the fire-breathing dragon.
No dance steps.
It means exactly what it says.
Often, women make more of it than it is and take it personally as if they’ve done something wrong and he’s mad.
99% of the time, he wants to be alone for a while to cool down, relax, let off steam, take a break from thinking about somebody else’s needs — and it has NOTHING to do with his lovely partner. After a short cave time, he’s ready to play again!
As long as she doesn’t get needy or angry during this critical cave time, the relationship stays strong, and “Leave me alone” or “I need space” isn’t a big deal — it’s just straightforward communication.
Men really need this time to pull away, and it’s not personal. It’s actually the best thing for your relationship. If you’re curious to learn more about why that is (and what you can do about it), I have a free 3-day email course that will explain EXACTLY Why Men Pull Away, from a scientific and biological perspective. You can sign up to get it right here.
But when it comes to a woman, this phrase is slightly more nuanced and can mean more than one thing.
(It’s not fair, but it’s true.)
This leaves most men confused. Sometimes, when a woman says, “Leave me alone,” and a man automatically respects it (as he would hope she would do for him), she gets even more upset.
This is mind-boggling. After all, she just said the words, “Leave me alone.” So why is he in trouble for respecting her wishes?
This is an age-old question. And I’ve got the answer.
This Is What “Leave Me Alone!” Really Means
Women have two different meanings for the phrase, “Leave me alone!”
Meaning #1: “I’m very upset with you. You did something to piss me off, and I’m not available for intimacy. It’s not going to be easy for you to make this better. You screwed up dude. You better fight to make it up to me.”
Meaning #2: “I need some me-time to relax and be by myself. I’m not available for intimacy right now or for giving to anyone. I just need to give to myself right now, and I need space to do it.”
Because there are two unique meanings for the same words, men have a 50% chance of totally screwing up.
Not great odds.
High-Stakes Misunderstanding: What Happens When You Guess Wrong
If she’s aligned with meaning #1 and you choose to leave her alone, bad things will happen.
If you don’t follow her, apologize, and try to make things better, she feels like you don’t love her and that she’s not important to you. If she felt hurt before, she feels even more hurt now.
This can result in:
1. An explosive fight later on when you least expect it where she lists ALL the things you’ve ever done wrong.
2. A slow-burning resentment that causes her to nitpick, criticize, and ice you out of her heart completely.
If she’s aligned with meaning #2 and you choose to run after her, bad things will happen.
If you follow her when she needs me-time, and she’s expressly set the boundary that she wants to be left alone…
1. You will lose her trust. A woman needs to feel that her boundaries and requests will be honored; otherwise, she feels that she can’t trust you. Trust is one of the main ways a man receives love. Without it, the love will slowly disintegrate under a blanket of doubt, insecurity, and secrets.
2. She will feel like she needs to take care of your feelings. She will feel guilty for pulling away and will sacrifice her need for space and me-time in order to make you happy and ease your concern.
This is not what a woman does for her man; this is what a mommy does for her son. Over time, with enough of these of sacrifices, she will lose any and all sexual attraction she had for you, and you can kiss your sex life goodbye.
So you see, this “leave me alone” misunderstanding can be high stakes.
When to Chase and When to Walk Away
So the question is: When should you chase after her and when should you actually honor the words she’s saying and “leave her alone?”
What I’m about to reveal is not a perfect system, but it’s the most consistently effective strategy I’ve found.
And it’s probably no surprise that my strategy is communication.
3-Step Formula Script to Find the Truth of Her Meaning
Step 1: Follow her, but give her plenty of physical space. Don’t act scared. Be confident. This is about her — not you.
Say, “Hey. I’m just checking in. Have I done anything to make you feel unloved?”
Step 2: Give her a couple of minutes to answer.
Ever seen an ice-cream cake melt in the sun at a birthday party? If she’s upset with you, then this is what’s happening to the ice she’s built around her heart for protection. It’s slowly melting.
Step 1 followed by step 2 will invite her to:
1. Open her heart and say what she’s upset about so that she can feel better OR
2. Say, “It’s all good. Just leave me alone.”
Step 3: If she remains quiet, and she refuses to answer you, say, “Is there anything I can do for you?”
This is a second invitation. Sometimes, with women, it takes two.
1. If she asks for anything now, give it to her. This will re-instate intimacy and trust. Just the simple act of getting her a glass of water or getting her a Kleenex box can be all it takes for her to open up.
2. If she says “No,” say, “Just let me know. Enjoy your me-time.” Walk away, and leave her alone.
But…what if she lies?
The secret is: Believe her — whether she’s telling you the truth or not.
With these three communication steps, you’ve done your part. You’ve said the most loving, safe, and inviting things you could say.
A woman needs to learn to be responsible for her own happiness if she hopes to have a successful relationship.
She needs to learn to be able to:
1. Articulate her upset feelings when you’ve lovingly extended the invitation.
2. Verbally confirm her desire for me-time with confidence when you check in.
Relationships take two to tango. Communication is a responsibility that falls on each partner.
This is how a man can best communicate an invitation to his partner to communicate her true intention behind the words, “Leave me alone.”
Otherwise, a man is left in the realm of guessing — and I think we all know how frustrating that is for both the man and the woman.