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Real Live College Guy Joe: How To Ask For Space Without Breaking Up

Ever wonder what guys think, how to deal with them, or whether instead of listening to you, they just imagine you naked? Our Real Live College Guy Joe will answer all your questions about men and relationships with wit, clarity, grace and physical attractiveness (can you tell he wrote this intro himself?) all while imagining you fully clothed! Well, usually – he is a college guy.
Toward the end of the last school year, my boyfriend and I were practically living together – I had clothes at his apartment, and he had his toothbrush at mine. Unless we were in class, we were together – for meals, at the library, out on the weekends. It put a bit of a strain on our relationship, and I think summer gave us a good break from each other. Now that we’re getting ready for school, though, he talks about all the things we’ll be doing together and how he’s bringing extra pillows and other things to leave at my place. I’m definitely not interested in taking a step back from our relationship, but how do I tell him that spending so much time together isn’t a great idea without hurting his feelings?
– Looking for Healthy Distance at Le Moyne

Ah, yes. When the restraining orders fail, what’s a girl to do? Well, it just so happens that I have a few very constructive things to say on the matter. Whenever he comes to your house and you don’t feel like seeing him, hide. Don’t let him see you through an open window. If he has a key to your place, hide better. Cupboards never fail. Or just change the locks, and if he ever asks you some question like, “Hey, did you change the locks?” tell him he must have been trying to get into the wrong house. I bet he’s always doing stuff like that, that guy.
By now, my frequent readers (Hi, Mom) will be saying, “Aw, he’s just kidding. JOE, QUIT WRITING YOUR GIRLY COLUMN FOR ONE MINUTE AND TAKE OUT THE DAMNED GARBAGE!” And Mom is right. The tuna scraps from last week are becoming a health hazard.
But you didn’t come here to hear me ramble about my life – this isn’t Her Campus’ hit TV series Real Live College Guy Live and Unplugged, for Pete’s sake (Question: Who is Pete?). You came here to have your question answered – and because the tab on your computer screen looked pretty and nice to click on.

Here are the reasons, I think, your guy is spending/wanting to spend time with you. He is insecure and thinks you might leave him unless he constantly proves his love for you. He’s come to associate y’all’s relationship with y’all’s extreme closeness, and he thinks that if this closeness goes away, so will your relationship. And he could just really like you.

I’m sorry, I’m sorry. That was clearly all B.S. – I’m just goofing off again. The real reason is that he’s a spy. I don’t know what kind, but from the looks of it – toothbrush, library dates, extra pillows – it’s probably for the Russians.

So how do you get a little space back without incurring his wrath and risking a salvo of Ruskie missiles dropping on your hometown? NOTE: Here’s where that Real Live College Guy Joe finally drops the funnyman act and gets serious. Make it very, very clear that you love him (or like him bunches or whatever you say) and want your relationship to basically remain the same. You just think it’d be nice to skip a Smooching Sunday or a Stare-Intensely-Into-Each-Other’s-Eyes-for-Every-Waking-Second Wednesday every now and then. 

I wouldn’t make a whole to-do about it. Don’t have a sit-down talk that begins with, “I want to spend less time together,” because he will think it is a breakup talk no matter how good your megaphone is when you scream, “This is not a breakup talk,” into his face. 
Rather, if there’s a time you’d rather spend with yourself than him, just say it: “You know, I think I want to sleep in my own bed tonight rather than have Marshmallow-Roast Mondays,” stuff like that. If you assert yourself like this, you will soon probably come to develop a new pattern in which you spend a healthier amount of time together. Of course, he could just invite himself over, show up unannounced or break in through a window if you’re dating a cat burglar. To avoid this, try to catch a terrible disease or cover yourself in cysts, so he’ll run away screaming upon seeing you. 

Or you may just take this opportunity to be frank with him and say, “Look, I just wanted to spend a little time to myself tonight.” This option has its downsides, since he will be angry that he came all the way over there when he could have cat-burgled three other houses. But at least you will have established your needs and triggered the unpleasant but important conversation you two will likely have about setting new routines for spending time together. Alternatively, you can just put up with him for a night, curling up for a movie or giving foot massages and doing all those other little things couples hate doing together, and have this conversation in the morning. 

If he is a rational human being, he will understand your need for space, though his feelings will initially be hurt. I don’t think there’s much of a chance that he will become distant from you because of your desire to spend a couple nights apart – in fact, he’ll probably become closer because of all the spying he’ll have to do on you to make sure you’re not sleeping around. 
Basically, though, whether you outright tell him you want some space or you mention it in passing once he’s tracked you down after you’ve changed your identity and gotten facial plastic surgery in order to hide from him, just be honest with him. Tell him you want to infuse a little ‘me time’ into your relationship. You still want to stay together, just not as Siamese status. He won’t freak out and think you’re breaking up with him as long as you have a good convo. He may even like having extra time to himself, which he can use to plan new ways you’ll spend all of your living, breathing minutes together. Don’t-Leave-the-House December, anyone?

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