Sometimes you’re in the mood to text, hang out, and spend countless hours with your BFFs. And sometimes you’re just
not. You might be tired, overwhelmed, or down in the dumps. You might be 100% fine but in desperate need of an evening alone with nothing more than your dog and a good show on Netflix. Whatever the case may be, it’s always OK to text a friend and ask for space.
Not only that, but doing so is often “critical for healthy relationships,” says
Billy Roberts, LISW-S, a licensed therapist. “There is never any point to over-extending yourself but quietly feeling frustrated that you need alone time, self-care, or time apart from your friend. Good boundaries make good relationships.”
This is never more true than after a
tough moment in a friendship. If you have an argument or misunderstanding, it might feel right to take a breather. By sending a quick text you can do just that without giving off bad vibes and “causing your friend anxiety,” Jessica January Behr, PsyD, a licensed psychologist, tells Bustle. The key is to send a quick message and let them know that you’ll reach out soon.
While there are many reasons why it might feel weird to
ask a friend for space, don’t let your fears hold you back from getting what you need. If you need time to yourself, here are 13 texts that’ll help you ask for it in the nicest way possible. "I'm actually not in the best headspace to text much right now. Everything’s cool, just need a minute."
If your friend is reaching out a lot and it feels like you can’t keep up with their messages, let them know with this sweet text.
“Finding creative ways to make it more about you and your needs is a good way to communicate firmly and kindly,” says Roberts.
“Hey, I'm actually needing some me time. Let's reconnect next week?”
Let your friend know you’ll be falling off the grid for a while by sending this text, along with a rough estimate as to how long you’ll be gone. “Asking to circle back another time ensures you're not ghosting them,” Roberts says, which will make the request easier on both of you.
“I need five days before I can really start to miss you ;)”
If you’re looking for a funny way to ask for space, go with this text. Keep in mind, though, that “text messages don't come with tones or inflictions,” psychotherapist
Jhanelle Peters, M.A., B.Sc., tells Bustle, so you’ll want to make sure they know you’re just joking (the emoji helps). “I need to pass on this invite but let me know the next time you get together!”
If your friend invites you to a hangout, but you
really don’t want to go, that’s totally OK. Peters says this text lets them know — in a very polite way — that you won’t be able to make it, while also keeping the door open for the future. “I would love to get dinner but I can’t tonight. How about I get back to you with another day that might work?”
If you aren’t sure when you’ll feel ready to reconnect, send a text like this one. “With this response, you leave yourself in control of picking a time that works for you,” Peters says.
It also shows that you appreciate being invited, which makes it easier to say no without feeling rude.
"Hey bestie, I'm pretty beat and need a day to chill. Catch up with ya tomorrow?"
Similarly, this approach communicates your need for space in an easygoing way while also reinforcing your desire to connect again soon,
Dana Basu, PsyD, a licensed clinical psychologist, tells Bustle. Simple as that. “I know you’re the last person I need to explain this to but I’ve been overwhelmed by my schedule lately. I’ll reach out as soon as I can come up for air.”
This text lovingly acknowledges the importance of your relationship, says
Leah Rockwell, LPC, LCPC, a licensed professional counselor, while also making it clear you’re busy. “I’ll get back to you ASAP when I have more bandwidth.”
The wording here puts the onus on you, says Behr, so that your friend won’t think they did something wrong. It’s perfect for friends who might take a “no” personally.
“There’s been a lot going on between us and I need time to process.”
As mentioned above, sometimes friendships hit bumps in the road and it becomes necessary to take a break and give each other space. If that happens, this text might help explain how you’ve been feeling while also buying you time to reset.
"I'm having some alone time but can we meet for coffee next week?"
If you tend to feel guilty when asking for space, therapist
Sara Sharnoff Tick, MS, LMFT suggests immediately following up with other plans.
That said, don’t feel bad if your friend has a negative reaction. “Some friends may struggle once you
begin setting boundaries,” Tick tells Bustle. “You may need to evaluate those relationships and see if they should continue being a part of your life.” “I need to recharge by myself tonight.”
Even though it’s tempting to craft an elaborate lie when asking for space, therapist
Liz Hughes, M.Ed, LPC, RYT 200 recommends resisting the urge. It’s much better to have integrity, she says, than to assuage guilt with a fake story.
Not to mention — good friends can
always tell when you’re making things up. “I can’t make it. I’m sorry!”
Leave out indirect words, like “I
might make it” or “hmm, maybe!” As Hughes says, “Being clear in your communication leaves less wiggle room for the other party to argue with you.”
Once you send this text, go ahead and enjoy your alone time — no questions asked.
“My life is a bit wobbly so I’m asking everyone to give me some time to rebalance. But I love you and will talk to you soon!”
“This blames no one — hence it’s more likely to be received well — and it reaffirms the relationship with the closing sentence,”
Kimberly Perlin, MSW, LCSW-C, a licensed clinical social worker, tells Bustle. And what could be better than that?
While it might seem scary, asking for space creates an opportunity to actually feel
closer to your friends, says Perlin, because you’re being open and honest about your needs. It’ll also give you a chance to take good care of yourself, which is what any good friend would want. Experts: Billy Roberts, LISW-S, licensed therapist Jessica January Behr, PsyD, licensed psychologist Jhanelle Peters, M.A., B.Sc., psychotherapist Dana Basu, PsyD, licensed clinical psychologist Leah Rockwell, LPC, LCPC, licensed professional counselor Sara Sharnoff Tick, MS, LMFT, licensed marriage and family therapist Liz Hughes, M.Ed, LPC, RYT 200, therapist Kimberly Perlin, MSW, LCSW-C, licensed clinical social worker