From a guy's point of view
August 21, 2007 8:48 AM   Subscribe

Why do men need space ?

Boyfriend and girlfriend love each other. They have been together almost 2 years now. On and off. Its football season again and gf dont care a bit about football. Bf loves watching football with son from prior marriage. Bf and Gf always together every night 7 days a week but since there is a football game on Mondays, she volunteered to just stay at her house Mondays. She feels bad that Bf was so happy with the idea. Yes, it was her idea but she didnt know bf will take that plan. Gf is thinking if Bf loves her, bf will not like the idea of them not together on Mondays. Do you guys really get tired, suffocated of too much affection from women? I hope there is someone out here who can explain how a guy thinks when he says he loves his Gf but want some alone time with son, some alone time , needs space. does that mean, you dont really love your gf?
posted by confused1965 to Human Relations (77 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
The guy needs some time to himself, to do what he wants....7 nights a week is a LOT.

You can't spend every waking moment with the person you love...everyone needs some time to themselves.

Reading this, I would conclude that the GF is being a little too controlling, if she can't even let her boyfriend have one night to himself to do something that he enjoys. I know that sounds rough, but it's my honest opinion.
posted by DMan at 9:00 AM on August 21, 2007 [5 favorites]

Yes, ye, yes yes yes yes and YES!

i have trouble even believing this is a serious question, not to be mean, but this is definitely true!

No one wants to spend all their time with anyone, i don't think

father son bonding is very important, for both father and son

alone time is very important for a man, some women need together time all the time it seems, but then again so do some men

there was a great thread on here not that long ago about no matter what each person needs, great relationships are ones where both sides are comfortable with the amount of time spent together

it sounds like you have always dated men who either want to be with you every second, or give in to your desire for that
posted by Salvatorparadise at 9:00 AM on August 21, 2007

Of course it doesn't mean he doesn't love you. It means that there are seperate spheres in his life. Men like to be able to scratch and burp and curse together without the self-censoring that occurs in the presence of women. Be glad that his involves watching teevee with his son as opposed to strip clubs.
posted by Bookhouse at 9:00 AM on August 21, 2007

Turn things around - why do you want to spend seven nights a week with one person? I suggest you find something more interesting to do on Mondays (a class? knitting evening? bar with friends? have someone round and cook for them?) then you won't be fretting about him.

I think needing 'space' is not just a male thing. I need time with various people, even though I'm happily cohabiting. I'd feel very stifled if I spent every evening exclusively with my bf.

No, the fact that he needs alone time and space does not necessarily mean he does not love his gf.
posted by altolinguistic at 9:00 AM on August 21, 2007 [2 favorites]

I hope there is someone out here who can explain how a guy thinks when he says he loves his Gf but want some alone time with son, some alone time , needs space. does that mean, you dont really love your gf?

Wanting to spend time apart from you does not mean your SO doesn't love you. It's healthy for couples to spend time apart- gives you time to miss each other. You already have 6 nights a week with your boyfriend; use your free night to call your girlfriends, catch up on TV, clean your house, read a book, etc.- in other words, to get a life. Having a life would only harm the kind of relationship that isn't worth having.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:00 AM on August 21, 2007 [3 favorites]

It means just that, he wants alone time with his son. There isn't a deep, dark side to it.

A relationship with a child is entirely different than that of a couple, even more so in this situation.

You absolutely need to realize that it isn't from the same well. He has all this love for you, and all his love for his son. One doesn't take away from the other in the least. It is absolutely important that he has time for his son separate from you. Just imagine how it feels for his son... "Hey, this new lady is around all the time... maybe Dad loves her more than he loves me now."

I don't mean to be hurtful, but you really really need to take a step back and realize how important their relationship is.
posted by shinynewnick at 9:02 AM on August 21, 2007 [2 favorites]

I'm a woman. I've tried to answer this about 5 times without being snarky.

Many, many people, not restricted to men, myself included, need alone time. He isn't even asking for alone time, it's time WITH HIS SON. Children usually rank higher on people's priorities than girl/boyfriends.

To answer your question, no, it doesn't mean he doesn't really love you.
posted by gaspode at 9:03 AM on August 21, 2007 [6 favorites]

Gf is thinking if Bf loves her, bf will not like the idea of them not together on Mondays.

This is incorrect thinking on Gf's part.

Love is not at all the same as constant togetherness, for most people, though it may be for some. In my experience, loving someone means wanting what is best for them and wanting them to be the best person they can be while also having them helping you be the same thing. In a perfect world, you both would have identically matching goals and this would be a seamless invisible process. In the real world, there is often compromising and making decisions about what's best for you, your partner and/or the relationship. The Gf in this scenario made a decision to make what she saw as a sacrifice for her partner. He took it in the spirit he tought it was intended. She was unhappy about that. That seems to point to some sort of disconnect on her part. Why did she offer if she didn't want him to accept.

I know of no gf/bf relationships where 7 days a week togetherness is the bare minimum necessary for the other to feel loved. While every relationship is different and couples determine what's "normal" for them in their own way, I'd have to say that having one night a week off from each other still seems well withing the range of normal and perhaps more normal than spending every night together. Thinking that taking one night off in any way means that the other person doesn't love you is, to my ears, crazy talk.
posted by jessamyn at 9:05 AM on August 21, 2007 [8 favorites]

When a guy says "he loves his Gf but want some alone time with son, some alone time , needs space."--he means that he loves his gf, but needs some alone time, and some space. With his son, in this case.

I think the bigger issue is that the gf said "it's ok, I won't see you Mondays" when she really meant "I'm seeing if you will reject football to validate me."
posted by stevis23 at 9:06 AM on August 21, 2007 [15 favorites]

Do you guys really get tired, suffocated of too much affection from women?

Yes if it's the kind of thing you're talking about. You can't spend every waking minute together and I think that most people would find him wanting to have an activity once a week without you (whatever it may be) to be perfectly acceptable. Asking if this means that he doesn't love you makes you sound overly needy and clingy and if you don't address this you might drive him away.
posted by ob at 9:06 AM on August 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

GF needs to step back and nurture some hobbies, read some good books, or take nights out with her own friends and family. Even the most committed long time partners or spouses will have interests not in common with the partner or spouse, and cannot spend all their time together without going a bit bonkers.

Good luck - it's a lesson many learn the hard way by crashing an early serious relationship via emotional suffocation, so maybe by posting here and getting objective advice you will avoid crashing your relationship.
posted by aught at 9:09 AM on August 21, 2007

No matter how crazy in love you are with someone, you want alone time. If you have children you want alone time with them, whether they're from a previous relationship or not. Being in love doesn't mean joined at the hip, it means that you think about what makes each other happy, you understand that you aren't twins that have identical hobbies, whims or preferences but you give each other time to enjoy things that you might not enjoy as much.

Go take a pottery class or something on Monday nights-it will give you something to talk about on Tuesday.
posted by hollygoheavy at 9:09 AM on August 21, 2007

If you're always there, and you don't give him a chance to miss you, he'll never realize how much he loves you.

I love steak, but if I ate steak 7 days a week, I'd get pretty sick of steak. If I took a break from steak every once in a while, I'd continue to love steak until all my teeth fell out and I could no longer eat steak.
posted by Gojira at 9:09 AM on August 21, 2007

You are not describing a men vs. women thing. I'm a woman, and I wholly get where your boyfriend is coming from.

In a healthy, non-codependent relationship, BOTH partners (regardless of gender) should spend time alone or with other people besides the partner. It's good. It's necessary. That's because NO single relationship can meet 100% of someone's needs (emotional, social, etc.), nor should any single relationship do such a thing.

If you truly want someone to only want to be with you, at all times, you don't want a boyfriend -- you want an infant who will never grow up. And that's as unhealthy as it is unrealistic.

It sounds to me that you think unless you have someone's undivided attention, you are not loved, and therefore the fact that your boyfriend has his own interests (not to mention a child of his own!) is deeply threatening or frightening in some way. Not to be harsh, but that's actually your problem, and you urgently need to find some way to deal with it. Trying to make it a problem about him is a red herring.
posted by scody at 9:10 AM on August 21, 2007 [8 favorites]

I agree with gaspode about it being hard not to be snarky. I also can't believe it's a real question but I will treat it as if it is.

If GF offers that she'll find something to do so BF can enjoy something she doesn't, one night a week, and then is hurt that he accepts (because he would like to spend that time with his son), she has a problem she needs to fix if she wants to be in an adult relationship.

No two adults will love all the same things. Because of this, no two adults can do everything together every day.

If GF can't come up with something she likes to do without BF one day a week, that's a really strong signal that she's needy in an unhealthy way. She should find some things she likes to do that don't rely on BF for her happiness.
posted by putril at 9:11 AM on August 21, 2007

Maybe he accepted because gf proposed it? I never got the "I'll volunteer but please tell me no!" It's like paying at a restaurant on Seinfeld.

Seriously, he wants to spend time with his son.
posted by ALongDecember at 9:12 AM on August 21, 2007

That was pretty manipulative to offer to do something and then be upset when he accepts.

I'm female, I need my alone time - usually less than my partner, but both of us need space to just decompress and be ourselves.
posted by desjardins at 9:13 AM on August 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

I also wanted to mention that I have seen plenty of instances over the years where it was the man who wanted 24/7 togetherness and the woman who needed time/space to do her own thing - so putting it in terms of "Guys, help me understand why men are this way," might not be as useful as you thought.
posted by aught at 9:14 AM on August 21, 2007

The GF has major issues. Get counseling.

The BF should be having more time to himself, not less. Lay off.
posted by unixrat at 9:14 AM on August 21, 2007

Don't be silly. Do you not love your mother just because you can't see her every day? Nothing is hard and fast. One night a week apart is not some kind of death knell for your relationship.

Besides, its man time with his son. He needs time to teach the boy to burp and drink beer and scratch himself. You're better off not being a part of this, if only because of the odors.

Give the guy a break. Is it just because he liked the idea? If he had not liked the idea would you have been more happy with it?

It is normal to be ridden with anxiety over the minutia of your relationship, but it doesn't help much. If everything else is fine, just relax and take it easy. You're not going to lose him over football with his son.
posted by OldReliable at 9:17 AM on August 21, 2007

I would almost rather kill myself than spend every day of my life with anyone. This includes my mother, Ghandi, and Serena Williams. Men are from Mars, women are from Venus, and both of them sometimes just enjoy being alone. It has nothing to do with men wanting to "burp and scratch and curse" as some else said. You should find some way to occupy yourself with your own inner resources on Mondays, it's healthy.
posted by creasy boy at 9:18 AM on August 21, 2007 [6 favorites]

His happiness at your suggestion to stay home on Mondays may additionally result from a certain amount of relief. You don't like football. He and his son do. They want to enjoy the game. He may worry that you'll be bored and feel like he has to entertain you. This will reduce his ability to enjoy the game with his son.

Don't begrudge him his time with his son. If he's a good father, and it came down to it, he'd choose his son over you. The more loving and supportive you can be of his relationship with his son, the better. This includes happily making yourself scarce on their "guys nights".

As has been stated above, he loves his son and he loves you. The two relationships are different. He has to balance them along with everything in his life.
posted by onhazier at 9:19 AM on August 21, 2007

You can't, and shouldn't, do every single thing together with your partner. I don't think it's a male/female thing - it's just that everyone needs some alone time, or time with non-partner people like friends or children.

It's not healthy to be joined at the hip for every single activity. Use your now-free Monday nights to join a book club or start a hobby that you didn't think you had the time for.
posted by sutel at 9:23 AM on August 21, 2007

I've had this problem myself, some of the many women I have dated wishing to spend their every waking moments in my company, and I've always found it deeply unsettling and an indubitable sign of a relationship heading nowhere. At the risk of upsetting you, I'd like to give my own brutal assessment.

You've asked why men, in particular, need time alone and I'm fairly shocked because I always thought that everyone needed such time - I wonder how people can even contemplate living without it. From my own experience, I need time to contemplate the events of the day, to think high thoughts, make plans for the future, cultivate my inner life - I can do this by sitting alone with a book or staring out of the window. No matter who you are and no matter how much we love each other, I don't want you to disturb those precious few minutes that I ask to be left alone, to shut out the world and - for a few moments, at least - all the worries that are want to plague one's mind during the day

Healthy individuals are comfortable with being left alone. If I were this lady's boyfriend, I'd be concerned about not only her psychological, but also intellectual, robustness: her psychological well-being would be brought into question for obvious reasons, those being mainly related to desperation and insecurity; I'd question her intellectual calibre because I'd fail to see how she could possibly spare time to think a single worthwhile thought.
posted by Zé Pequeno at 9:26 AM on August 21, 2007

Another thing, if I was with my son, and my girlfriend was sitting around the house bored or sitting on the couch bored, I'd feel pretty bad. I'd be relieved that she acknowledges that she doesn't like football, and wants us to have fun together without having to entertain her. Preview: what onhazier said.
posted by ALongDecember at 9:26 AM on August 21, 2007

While I hate relating every problem in life to a comedic movie, I think that Knocked Up had some decent things to say about this. Be warned, I'm about to ruin a minor point of the plot.

The brother-in-law of one of the main characters, played by Paul Rudd, seems to always be going off in the evenings to do some work. It's plausible for a while because of his character's career, but eventually she suspects him of having an affair. So she sneaks over with the main characters, goes into the house his car is parked in front of, and finds him downstairs... playing fantasy baseball with a group of male friends. Does that character love his wife? Yes, and it comes out that they both could use some time on their own to pursue their own pursuits, but they had no idea how to approach the topic in conversation.

You may love your career and your home, but you have to go on vacation or visit friends occasionally. Relationships are that way, too. Some couples are together 99% of the time -- I have a friend who works twenty feet from his wife and they do pretty much everything together. Other couples have jobs where they both travel and they're lucky to be in the same state more than a week a month. Part of a relationship is finding that level of comfort. I've botched it before, so I realize it's hard, but it's also one of the main points of having a good thing.
posted by mikeh at 9:27 AM on August 21, 2007

They have been together almost 2 years now. On and off.

I hate to immediately revisit this, but... I'd certainly want some time off if dating someone meant that I was around her seven days a week, at this point in my life.
posted by mikeh at 9:29 AM on August 21, 2007

Asking why men need space is like asking why women are so clingy. It's an over-generalization. It does not acknowledge people's individuality. It's a little offensive.

On the other hand, there are lots of semi-scientific treatises concerning the behaviors of men and women. I'd be careful about taking any of them very seriously.

To answer the question though, people do need space to to live portions of their individual lives.
posted by DarkForest at 9:32 AM on August 21, 2007

GF doesn't like watching football. Good bet that when GF is watching football with boyfriend, GF is talking when the game is on, making snide comments, asks for things that takes his eyes from the screen, and makes a general annoyance of herself in a passive aggressive way. If GF things BF should do whatever GF wants, pay attention to BF's behavior when GF takes him to some boring tea party for the millionith time and sees how his behavior then probably mimics hers when she's watching football with him. GF needs to grow up and support that her BF has tastes that are not her own. GF needs to understand that a father needs to bond with his son and bonding over sports is sometimes one of the few positive experiences a son and his father can have. GF needs to stop playing mind games with her BF and say what she actually means which is a bigger problem than his desire to watch football.

GF needs to stop talking like Tarzan. GF should stop getting her relationship advice from Teen Beat or Teen Vogue and realize that space is used by a person to recharge, to destress, and to keep themselves sane so that they will be able to be the BF/GF/Spouse/HamSandwich that they wish to be and that they don't develop resentment issues. GF should be old enough to understand that space issues are stereotypically "guy things" but cross both genders. GF is probably doing a half-hearted attempt to troll metafilter. GF should try harder next time.
posted by Stynxno at 9:33 AM on August 21, 2007 [23 favorites]

A lot of the advice given to you in your previous AskMe, the one about your "friend" who was dating a man with a 13 year old son that she didn't want around ....that advice absolutely applies here. Reread that thread.
posted by iconomy at 9:37 AM on August 21, 2007 [2 favorites]

I think GF needs to get a personality or some interests. This is shenanigans.
posted by pieoverdone at 9:37 AM on August 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

This seems like a fake question.
Seven nights a week together and they live in different houses??
I think the question is why doesn't GF need time alone?
Hobbies? Friends? Work around the house? Reading? When do all of these things happen??
posted by beccaj at 9:38 AM on August 21, 2007

I'm just supporting what everyone else has said. It's completely normal for people to need alone time, especially with their kids, and that does not detract from one's love for one's significant other. I would be more wary of the significant other who demanded the partners spend ALL of their time together--the person is probably needy, possibly unstable, and so concerned with getting attention they're not paying attention to the needs of their less-needy partner. Especially if that person engages in manipulative behavior such as suggesting an idea they're secretly hoping their partner will turn down and getting upset when that partner doesn't.
posted by schroedinger at 9:39 AM on August 21, 2007

Looking back at your previous questions, I wonder if part of the problem is due to cultural differences between you and the BF.
posted by DarkForest at 9:42 AM on August 21, 2007

Do you guys really get tired, suffocated of too much affection from women?

Yes! At least I do. I don't know if it's because I'm a guy or because I'm an introvert or for some other reason, but if I don't get some serious alone time -- usually 2 or 3 nights a week, I start getting pretty stressed out. It has nothing to do with loving or not loving my gf and everything to do with needing time alone.

Also, I can't think of a better reason not to spend time with you than getting some quality time in with his son!

My guess is that you aren't very good at entertaining yourself and so you are leaning too much on your bf, which can't be good for either of you. Why don't you seize the opportunity to do something for yourself on Mondays? Take a class, have a standing dinner/drinks/exercise date with a friend, start a hobby, etc.

Your relationship will thank you.
posted by callmejay at 9:42 AM on August 21, 2007

My husband and I will be celebrating 16 years together soon. If we had spent every waking moment together and every evening together over the course of all those years, we would have either killed each other or broken up ages ago. Familiarity breeds contempt, and wanting/expecting someone to spend every night and all their time with you is asking for resentment to set in, particularly when there's a child involved that one partner needs/wants to spend time with, but just in general, adults need to do things on their own for relaxation, entertainment, or to just be alone to think.

I start going crazy when my husband and I don't have any evenings apart. I can't imagine spending every night together always doing the same things, since, even though there is overlap in our interests and activities, we both like to do things the other doesn't enjoy so much. Bf likes football and spending time with his kid. Gf needs to find something she likes to do that doesn't involve Bf.
posted by Orb at 9:43 AM on August 21, 2007

There's such a thing as "too much of a good thing".

I enjoy spending time alone because it gives me a chance to completely be myself - something I can't 100% be round other people. And sometimes I get sick of pretending to be interesting in what people say. So I take myself off to the internets for a while, just to chill out, and read what random strangers have to say. It recharges my batteries, and makes me able to face the day again.

Gf is thinking if Bf loves her, bf will not like the idea of them not together on Mondays.

Gf needs to change her thinking. You can love someone while not physically sitting next to them. I love my cat all the time, not just when it's sat on my lap purring. I love it even though it's out doing whatever it is that cats do when they go out.

It seems to me that gf is basically jealous of time not spent with bf. This isn't healthy, gf. It's certainly common, to men as well as women, but it's also called smothering, which is what you do to a fire when you want to put it out.
posted by Rabulah at 9:50 AM on August 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

I love my wife, but if I had to spend nearly every moment with her we would probably fight far more often and just have a less pleasant relationship in general. Sometimes I just want to sit and piddle on the computer, not because I don't love her, but because I need my brain to re-charge.
posted by drezdn at 9:52 AM on August 21, 2007

Looking at your posting history, this is a guy you think is cheating on you on a regular basis in the Philipines, and also whose son you believe is dominating your relationship.

You're 42. What exactly are you thinking???

(That said, if I had a gf who though me not seeing her 24/7 might be evidence I didn't love her, I perhaps might consider the odd trip to the Philipines, just to get away.)
posted by modernnomad at 9:54 AM on August 21, 2007 [2 favorites]

GF definitely needs more alone time herself. And I'd be concerned about why BF doesn't have MORE time alone with his son.
posted by you're a kitty! at 9:59 AM on August 21, 2007

Everyone else has pretty well nailed this already. I need a lot of alone time, normally, although admittedly in my current relationship that's been less true. That's not because of a greater degree of love -- it's because when we're together, we spend a lot of time not focusing on each other. Reading, cooking, playing video games, mucking about online. A constant need for attention and focus and reinforcement would certainly make me need more time alone. And I think a relationship where both partners are perpetually focusing on each other is probably unhealthy.

But let me take a step back from my preferences / ideals / preconceptions for a moment, and just say: asking "why do men need space?" (somewhat inaccurate gender stereotype noted) can be generalized to "why do people have varying degrees of need for contact and distance?" Which can be generalized to "why aren't humans all psychologically identical?" I suppose I could go into evolutionary advantage and genetics and environment and adaptability... but I'll just say I'm glad we're not all the same, even if it makes relationships complicated.
posted by coined at 10:06 AM on August 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

"Let there be spaces in your togetherness"

-- "The Prophet", Kahlil Gibran

(Part of my wedding vows all those years ago)
posted by briank at 10:12 AM on August 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

Sounds to me like if BF and GF are spending 7 days a week together - many people at this point would be thinking about moving in together. Sounds like what's maybe underlying this question is GF asking if she should just stay home on Mondays, BF gets "so happy" about the idea, now GF is thinking perhaps BF is not so keen on moving in together (soon, or eventually) since there are nights he would be "so happy" to not have her around, thus making GF feel insecure about the status of the relationship and does he love her enough that it will go to the next level at some point?

BF, in the meantime, processed it like this:

1) he likes football
2) she doesn't care for football at all
3) she asks if she should just stay home on Mondays
4) if she does, he can watch football with his son without worrying if she's having a good time, which she won't, since she doesn't care for football
5) this gives him a chance to have some father-son time

He is answering the direct question, not all the things that the question implies to the GF, and GF is hurt he is not seeing all the implications she's seeing, I bet.

So? Stop. GF needs to ask BF about these issues straight up if she wants to know where their relationship stands - and then she'll be sure of things which is better than feeling insecure and upset that perhaps "BF doesn't love her as much as she loves him". If GF is feeling insecure and hurt because she thinks she already knows the answer? Well then, GF needs to do something about it, or accept that the relationship is what it is and it's not likely to go any further.
posted by Melinika at 10:14 AM on August 21, 2007

gf might also consider that making voluntary verbal offers which she then whines about when they are taken up is also not a desperately helpful approach to a relationship.
posted by biffa at 10:18 AM on August 21, 2007 [4 favorites]

GF needs a Monday hobby. Just cause you love someone doesn't mean you have to spend 100% of your time together. I'm a woman and I need alone time.
posted by Meagan at 10:22 AM on August 21, 2007

"I think the bigger issue is that the gf said "it's ok, I won't see you Mondays" when she really meant "I'm seeing if you will reject football to validate me."

Read this again. Then read it over again. You contrived to test him in the guise of trying to be supportive and now you're upset he didn't pass your test. You set him -- and yourself -- up for failure. Don't do that any more, because that road does not lead to happiness.
posted by majick at 10:27 AM on August 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

BF needs some peace and quiet once in a while. Or just time to do whatever he wants to do without having to think for even a moment whether GF will be okay with what he's doing.
posted by indigo4963 at 10:27 AM on August 21, 2007

Do you guys really get tired, suffocated of too much affection from women?

They do, and vice versa. Especially when it's too much attention from people who refer to themselves in the third person. Maybe "the gf" needs a hobby, or some other friends?
posted by yohko at 10:33 AM on August 21, 2007

1. Boyfriend isn't getting alone-time. He's spending time with his son. The relationship between father and son is a special one, and if part of their relationship involves a regularly scheduled shared experience (whether it's a fishing trip every spring, or a regular tee time, or 17 weeks of NFL on Mondays), then that is a very dangerous part of the relationship to be messing with.

It's during these trips, these games, etc, that Son asks Dad, "What do you do when a girl likes you", tells Dad, "So, I think I'm going to propose", and many years later Dad tells Son, "My doctor found something bad last week".

Girlfriend is very wrong in thinking that she's just asking "am I more important than football" and she's acting very shitty when by volunteering to stay at home on Monday, she's actually asking a loaded question: "Does he love me enough to...?".

That sort of headgame is absolutely unacceptable. If this is the same 13-year old that the poster mentioned in a previous question, then it's especially unacceptable -- because 13 is a year of much insecurity, and having a girlfriend get in the way of a dad/son relationship could be quite devastating to some kids. Don't be that bitcgirl.

And make no doubt about it, his kid is (and should be) much more important to him than she is. If an accident happened, dad was fine, but gf and kid were rushed to separate hospitals -- which ambulance would Dad go with? Right... he goes with the kid.

If girlfriend isn't OK with this, she shouldn't be dating people with children. Period.

2. Girlfriend doesn't have any interest in the game. Football is a complicated game with ultimately simple goals -- at a glance, it's easy to understand, you capture territory by moving the ball, you score by capturing the end of the field or kicking the ball through the goalposts.

But to really enjoy watching the game (especially watching a lot of it), you need to have a good grasp on more of the nuances of the game. Otherwise, what's going on can look like just a testosterone-fueled grunt-fest. Underneath all that is a surprising amount of strategy -- when is a good time to try a fake punt? Why does the tailback run straight into the crowd of defenders in the middle, when it's clear he's going to get crushed? Whats the difference between holding and pass interference? What is the west coast offense, and what team(s) are good at defending it? That sort of thing is what makes the game enjoyable to some fans -- the kind of fan that watches every Monday night, no matter who's playing.

To be able to learn the inner workings of the game, requires more than a passing interest -- you have to want to spend time learning it, usually by watching games with someone who explains it to you (for a lot of guys, that person was their Dad).

Conversely, boyfriend may not understand why Girlfriend would want to watch these games, if she's got no interest in understanding them. He may have offered (or tried) to explain it (or Son might have -- he'd probably love to). She may have gone along because she wanted to spend time with him. But at this point, she knows that she's not interested. He knows that she's not interested (c'mon, do you think she hasn't made her feelings known at halftime more than once?). Given that in a good relationship, boyfriend would have more than a passing interest in keeping girlfriend happy, this is likely to distract boyfriend -- and lessen his enjoyment of the game.

With the new season approaching, it doesn't seem at all unreasonable for her to be saying: "Hey, I gave it a try, but I don't like football. Do you mind if I do something else on Monday this year?" -- and for that not to be code for "Do you love me?". There's absolutely nothing wrong with not wanting to be with your partner 24x7, and not sharing every single one of their interests. It sounds to me like everyone involved would generally be happier each Monday if girlfriend weren't watching the game.

Does she love him enough to want him to always be as happy as possible? Wouldn't she be showing her love by knowing that he's happier watching the game with his son, than he is if he were watching it with his son and his bored, annoyed and dramatic girlfriend?

Don't be the girl that says: "I don't like it when we spent time with your friend Joe, so I don't want you to see him anymore." If you don't like Joe (or football), then you don't always have to attend events where Joe (or football) will be the center of attention.

(On preview: what everyone else said, especially Melinka and Stynxno)
posted by toxic at 10:41 AM on August 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

a) don't offer what you don't want to give.
b) one day a week with son bonding over something the girlfriend has no interest in is NOT unreasonable. in fact, it is refreshing.
c) men need space when they feel suffocated. men feel suffocated not by affection, but by expectations. men like to feel good and be happy. your bf feels good and is happy watching football with his child, just "us boys." give him that, with a smile, and he will appreciate the gift.
posted by thinkingwoman at 10:44 AM on August 21, 2007

Not only should GF get over the idea that there's anything wrong with people having some time to do what they want without GF, GF should pick another night of the week, find something that GF wants to do, and have TWO nights a week away from BF. Spending time apart is how relationships grow and stay healthy. GF might also want some counseling/therapy to figure out what she isn't finding in her own life and which she's compensating for by being clingy and needy. IMO, a relationship where the partners "need" each other (or one "needs" the other) this way is doomed and deeply unhealthy, relationships should be about enhancing each other's lives, not clinging to each other for survival. This isn't a man/woman thing, it's a healthy/unhealthy approach to relationships thing.
posted by biscotti at 11:03 AM on August 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

WHOA, this is not a cut-and dried gender issue. I am the woman in my relationship and I really need time away from my partner. He's less social, more of a homebody and pretty content to shadow me every day. I love him, and we're close, but constantly communicating on that intimate level is not easy! I'm really good at it and all, and I'm not saying you're "difficult" or "high maintenance", just a different person whose thoughts and feelings he compares his own with on a constant basis, and that's what partnership is about, and it's fulfilling but can be draining. It's nice to just keep my own company sometimes, or at least change out my feelings-exchange-buddy for a different one.

One can seriously lose perspective and thereafter control over the steering of your relationship if one lacks enough solitary time or social time. Everyone's balance of these things is different. Typically, men are less predisposed to and less energized about relationship management tasks, and reducing their independent space is like reducing their emotional processing time. While doing frivolous things like watching a game especially, he's refreshing himself, keeping his mind balanced, healthy and unencumbered, readying it to do heavy emotional lifting the rest of the time. Maybe think of him as re-charging his batteries for you, or building up a head of missing-you steam.

Read what codependency is about. It's a pretty lightweight sort of "diagnosis," but I find it a helpful rubric for monitoring and modifying my behavior. If it's you, you really owe it to both of you to work on creating an agreed-upon boundary between your identity and his.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:03 AM on August 21, 2007

Once it is realized
that even between the closest people
infinite distances continue to exist
a wonderful living side by side
can grow up
if they succeed in loving the distance between them
that allows each to see the other
whole against the sky.

A framed copy of that Rilke poem is hanging on the wall of my parents' house.
posted by coined at 11:04 AM on August 21, 2007 [22 favorites]

That was pretty manipulative to offer to do something and then be upset when he accepts.

Agreed 100% with this sentiment from above. This is not cool behavior from a SO.
posted by mmascolino at 11:25 AM on August 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

Someone once gave me this advice:

Don't ask a question if you don't want to deal with the answer

I think this applies here. You asked him if he wanted to do this and you feel bad because he said yes. Why did you ask him? He now thinks that this is totally cool because you suggested it. He might have wanted to do this anyway and he might have done this anyway, but you asked him. This is a problem of your own making. BF has done nothing wrong here.
posted by ob at 11:46 AM on August 21, 2007

Needy much? Damn.

I'm assuming 1965 is your birth year, so you're 42 and wondering if your "boyfriend still likes you"?

Should we make one of those little paper pyramid things you move with your fingers and have you select a color and a number too?

I'm not sure what your personal life has been like, but you are at a profoundly immature emotional level if you think that having one night without you means he doesn't love you.

You need to be talking to your partner, not us.

I hate to be so insulting but I think you need some sort of jarring to snap you out of this. Hopefully this thread will be that force.

You've got almost universally "are you serious? of course he still loves you" above.

Take this as a sign that you need to do some serious working on your emotional maturity and relationship maintenance if you want to have any hope
posted by Ynoxas at 11:46 AM on August 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

Mod note: a few comments removed, at the point at which this starts to be a pile-on please take it to METATALK. thank you.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:52 AM on August 21, 2007

every one needs space.

i agree with ynoxas.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 11:53 AM on August 21, 2007

I had a friend once with a girlfriend like you. She couldn't be apart from him and followed him everywhere, regardless of whether or not she wanted to actually be there. In the end I lost touch with him because he could not do anything without her following him like a puppy, and then she would brood silently in a corner until he felt bad enough to cut the evening short and go back home with her.

This man had a life before you. Like it or not, his life is not 100% you. Let him live. If you are this insecure at your age, perhaps you need to live a life of your own a bit as well. Can you imagine taking a vacation alone? Going to movies with friends and not him? If not, you have dependency issues to work on, because that's not normal, and it screws with other relationships your boyfriend has.
posted by splice at 12:15 PM on August 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

I agree with most of the comments here, especially that this isn't a male/female thing. I know what the generalizations are, but people vary quite a bit. Many, many women need much more "alone time" than they get. It's not just men.

That said, although I generally feel that scody's relationship/personal advice is quite often the best you will find around here, I have to disagree with her (and she's not the only one who's said this) absolutism that it's not healthy for anyone to be together all the time. I think that greatly depends upon the couple involved and the kind of relationship they have.

True, some couples joined at the hip are codependent and unhealthy. But others aren't. The problem here, I think, is that we tend to generalize from our own personality and experience—and for many, many people, being together with the same person 24/7 would be terribly unhealthy. Or at least stifling.

But in the case of one SO I was with, we were pretty much able to be around each other all the time for weeks on end without it being a problem. I should say, though, that even though we were "together", we each spent considerable time doing solitary activities, like reading. And we are both pretty sedate people, not inclined to be constantly talking with each other or whatever. So for us, maybe, a lot of the together time was sort of being alone, together.

At any rate, I don't think it's best to make strong statements about what kinds of relationships are and are not healthy for all people when we're still talking about stuff within the normal range of human experience. There are, no doubt, some people who have been in each other's company for years on end who are completely happy and well-adjusted. Likewise, I read somewhere recently the absolute statement that no person can possibly be happy living as a hermit. Well, I think that's probably false, as well. There's a lot of variety in people.

All that said, I think I can say with some confidence that not spending one night a week together is something that won't threaten the overwhelming majority of couples in the world. The questioner's expectations in this regard are pushing the envelope in normality, if not puncturing it.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:33 PM on August 21, 2007


This isn't about gender at all.

I am a woman, and if I had to spend 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, or maybe even 2 nights every single week with someone else (friend, boyfriend, or otherwise), I would soon flip out. The exception would be if that person was able to entertain themselves, didn't feel the need to talk to me all the time, etc.

The ONLY people for whom this doesn't apply are my parents/siblings. Being with them is like being by myself (that is a compliment). I am single now, but any relationship I am in in the future will have to be with someone who can be with me without needing my attention all the time.

Some people get energy by being around others; some are energized by being alone. What kind of person are you? What kind of person is your boyfriend?

Even if you and he are both more extroverted than introverted (it sounds like this is probably the case?), of COURSE he needs to be spending time with his son. There'd be something wrong with him if he wasn't!

Why are you so confused and perplexed about his not wanting to be with you every single night? The fact that you're asking this question says a lot more about you than it does about him.
posted by splendid animal at 12:57 PM on August 21, 2007

I'm sorry in advance. As has been pointed out before, it seems pretty manipulative of GF to suggest quality time for BF and son, and then get all insecure when he agrees. What's up with that?! It begs the question, "How can I get over my paranoid insecurities about BF not wanting to spend 24/7 with me?" And my answer is, "It's not always about YOU."
posted by wafaa at 2:44 PM on August 21, 2007

After reading this question and the last one, I think you should do that child a favor and break up with his father.
posted by astruc at 3:05 PM on August 21, 2007 [2 favorites]

Where's OP? Are you getting any of this? I'd love to hear what you think...
posted by wafaa at 3:39 PM on August 21, 2007

It's been ingrained into our minds that sleeping seperately is a cause of or caused by an unhappy relationship. This does not have to be true. I hope that these two don't literally spend every waking moment together. So is it really a huge difference if they spend some waking moments apart on mondays, as they do frequently, and then they go ahead and sleep different places for convenience? They've still got the other 6 nights together. Also, not to imply that their relationship is not serious, but relationships between non-related adults end sometimes. He will never stop being the kid's father. It's probably a good thing that he realizes that, and even puts it ahead of his gf sometimes. The girlfriend could use the time to do things she enjoys, that she can't necessarily do with him around, or that he would not enjoy feigning interest in.

Also nthing that not all males "need space" and all females are "clingy". BF in this case wants a little more space. GF doesn't. They'll have to deal with this at some point if the relationship continues.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 4:12 PM on August 21, 2007

This kind of thing is why I tend to date out-of-towners: guaranteed time along without having to discuss it, or have "space" talks.

You're going to have to learn to let it go. I used to be that clingy and boy, did I drive people away. It doesn't mean he doesn't love you if he wants to spend one lone night a week doing something else. Stop taking it so personally and learn to like your "night off."
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:48 PM on August 21, 2007

Another woman chiming in here to say that this is not necessarily a gender thing, in either direction. I love my (male) partner with all my heart, we've lived together for several years and own a house together and I hope to spend the rest of my life with him, and if I did not regularly get to spend time without him I would probably snap and kill him. Both when we didn't live together and now that we do, my own mental health (and thus the health of our relationship) depends on me sometimes being able to say "I love you, but I really need some time alone today" and him being able to hear that and know it's not about him.

In the other direction, I can't remember him ever asking me to give him some space. He does have a hobby that he does without me regularly, so maybe that just fills his need for time without me. But if he ever did need more time without me, I'd find a way to get myself out of the house an extra night a week and be glad to do it. And hey, it would give me a chance to try one of those things I'm always thinking it would be neat to try, like a glassblowing class or a book club or something.

My previous partner was another man who just didn't seem to need personal space, and ultimately the fact that he just could not comprehend my need for time alone, and took it deeply personally, was a major factor in our breakup. That situation's led me to think that this might be one of those things that's incredibly hard to navigate in a relationship if all partners aren't on the same wavelength about how much time/space they each need. I'm sure there are people out there who make it work and they have major respect from me, but I don't think I'd ever try to do it again. This might be a deal-breaker, if you can't at least try to meet in the middle somewhere.
posted by Stacey at 5:05 PM on August 21, 2007

Echo what has been said prior. As a dad, my time with my boys (actually "our" boys) is more valuable than anything else in my life. You don't mention any ages, so I will assume teenaged.

I don't share that you are insecure or anything like that. You admit that the activity conflicts you and you are looking for REASONS WHY YOU HAVE these conflicting feelings. After all, it was your suggestion.

Watching sports (hockey and lacrosse for us) is our way of showing affection for each other - without all that awkward touching, hugging and stuff that adolescent boys are uncomfortable with anyways. They get to act like an adult (anything goes) and I get to connect with them a little better. It also allows us a little down time that is, we don't have to be in touch with our emotions 24/7 - which is something that a lot of women seem to want in todays metrosexual world.

Don't feel excluded. Accept, and hey! You get Monday nites off. Your relationship will be stronger once you are back together. He will appreciate you more, and you will have his undivided attention - for a while anyway.
posted by fox_terrier_guy at 5:06 PM on August 21, 2007

As a man, I would say sometimes. Sometimes I like it when my wife comes over and cares about me. Other times, I need some space to think things through. Ask him if he needs space. Men are straight forward, and appreciate straight forward questions.
posted by enriquem at 5:11 PM on August 21, 2007

asking "why do men need space?" (somewhat inaccurate gender stereotype noted) can be generalized to "why do people have varying degrees of need for contact and distance?" Which can be generalized to "why aren't humans all psychologically identical?"

This is well said. I am female and commonly the one who needs "space", and I know many women like me, who find themselves in relationships where the guy is basically the "clingy" one, although it's sometimes characterized as a physical/sexual need rather than an emotional one, to go along with the stereotype of "what men want". But it's not in that purely sexual sense of just getting off - it's very much the physical-emotional part of being able to touch, hold, smell, kiss or be near the person you love.

For some people this is so central to the experience of love that actively choosing not to engage in this when you can is a kind of rejection. For others, love is not so completely centered around this aspect. I find myself excited by the ideas and projects of partners, for instance, and I enjoy both working on something of my own that has been influenced by conversations with other people, and looking at or thinking about the ideas they've had. Physical closeness is important to me, but it is not paramount in the same way, I don't think, that it is for some people I've dated, and I enjoy closeness even more after time apart, whereas for some people the time apart is just an unnecessary frustration.
posted by mdn at 5:21 PM on August 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

Having read this question and your previous one concerning your boyfriend's son, I urge you to think seriously about how your behaviour and general attitude is affecting the boy's relationship with his father, both now and long-term. Forgive my candour, but it sounds as though you are bitterly jealous of this boy and feel that the normal affection and parental care your boyfriend your boyfriend shows his son diminishes the love he feels for you.

Jealousy is normal, to a certain extent. But please realise that you will not achieve happiness by trying to drive a wedge between your boyfriend and his son. Let them spend regular uninterrupted time together. As others have said above, consider this an opportunity to have some time to yourself, or to spend with friends. Pursue or create personal interests; you will feel more whole, happy and self-sufficient. It will be good for you. Even more importantly, you will be doing a kind, generous thing for your boyfriend and his son, instead of the selfish, harmful, borderline-evil thing you're doing at the moment. And that will be good for everyone.
posted by hot soup girl at 5:50 PM on August 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

There is some segment of women who tend to think that men have some deep dark ulterior motive for everything we do.

We don't. We're not that complicated. When we say we want some time alone it doesn't mean "i've fallen out of love with you but i'm still mulling over how to let you know but right now i'm going to pull away and see how that works".

We just want some time alone. Soon, we will want to spend time with you again. We are simple creatures.
posted by softlord at 6:51 PM on August 21, 2007

Also a woman. I love my SO, but would go insane if there was no space. Tonight I went out to dinner without him, and it was a ton of fun! Does that mean I don't love him? Absolutely not, it means that I have a life that revolves around more than just him.

He is saying he needs space because you are there ALL. THE. TIME. Perhaps if you actually listened and thought about what he was saying, you'd see his point of view. Even if you didn't agree with it, you could at least appreciate it. But at this juncture, you've basically disregarded any of his desires and are pulling the whole, "If you really loved me..." schtick, which is just bad. (Based on this and the previous askme.) I'd want space from you too.
posted by ml98tu at 9:04 PM on August 21, 2007

I am a woman. As a woman, I can safely say this is nothing to do with gender.

I need time alone. About an hour a day, on average, otherwise I filp out like a crazy in less than a week, and stop just being able to deal with anything much in particular. I need alone time so I can get a grip on myself, just take a step back from my life, and take a few deep breaths.

This has been proven experimentally.

My husband is much the same. He is just occasionally overwhelmed by the stuff that's gone on in a day, and needs some time to just relax and be by himself, to just unwind, wihtout the pressure that interacting socially (with anyone) causes.

We love each other very dearly, and it has been remarked that we spend an abnormaly large amount of time in each others' company. However, we do need time to just do our own thing to a greater extent than many of the people we know.

On balance? We are incredibly clingy, as a couple; as individuals, we need large amounts of time alone. Finding a balance is tricky, but doable.

One night a week? To spend time with his son? Geez. Let the guy breathe, hey?
posted by ysabet at 9:18 PM on August 21, 2007

No, it doesn't mean at all that bf doesn't love gf. It means that bf needs some time alone/wants to spend some time with his son.

Lots of people need to have time to themselves in order to recharge, process the things that have happened/are happening in their lives.

And this is definitely not just a male thing. Both I (male) and my gf have told each other at times that we needed more alone-time. This is completely normal and should be respected.
posted by number9dream at 12:41 AM on August 22, 2007

After reading this question and the last one, I think you should do that child a favor and break up with his father.

I just went back and read your last question and I have to agree with this.
posted by callmejay at 6:04 PM on August 22, 2007

I've thought about this a lot lately. I think guys lose their sense of identity, whereas women gain it, from a relationship. I know that sounds unfortunate, and I'm not Sigmund Freud, but that I think I can personally attest to. He wants to do things he knows you're not interested in; of course he's gonna be happy now that the pressure's off!
posted by gmodelo at 1:10 PM on September 28, 2007

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