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Create Healthy Space

How to Create Healthy Space in a Relationship

Preparing for the Wave, the Cave, and More


No matter how much you adore your relationship and love the person you’re with, you have to admit that the times you occasionally have all to yourself can be downright blissful. But it can be a little more challenging to cope with those days when independence is forced on you because of your partner’s position in the cave, wave, rubber band, or well.

You don’t have to wait for someone else’s needs to influence your plans or the way you react. There are ways to be prepared for a man’s need to be alone and a woman’s emotional cycle. When you have a game plan about how to deal with your partner’s mood changes before they happen, you can prevent the needs of the one you love from affecting you negatively and enable yourself to support them the way they need to be supported.

Love and Understanding

Accepting and acknowledging that you and your significant other will have conflicting moods and feelings from time to time is the first step to take in creating healthy space in your relationship. This Back to School article offers details about the man’s cave and rubber band and the woman’s wave and well. As a quick refresher, the cave describes the time when a man pulls away in order to distract himself from a stress in his life; the rubber band describes his natural intimacy cycle of being attentive and then being distant. The wave is a woman’s repetitive emotional cycle that can shift from good to downright terrible in an instant; the well is the lowest part of this cycle, and at this time a woman is likely to be overwhelmed by her own emotions.

Neither man nor woman wants the other to try to help fix their problems for them in their time of gloom and doom or separation. What women need is someone who listens and is understanding. Men need to be left alone and not subjected to unsolicited advice or smothering.

Often, the necessary space in relationships is compromised when a person’s inherent behaviors come to the surface. A man is more likely to steer clear of the woman in his life when she’s in the well or wave – because that’s the kind of treatment he would prefer if he were in the dumps. But a woman needs exactly the opposite – hugs and support.

Likewise, when a man is in the cave or rubber band, a woman is tempted to be all over him, showing her love and caring and concern – because that’s the kind of treatment she would prefer when feeling stressed. But he needs exactly the opposite – he wants to be left alone.

When you’re concerned about your partner’s behavior, take some time to consider whether they’re currently experiencing wave or cave symptoms. Always make an effort to walk for a moment in the other person’s shoes. And then consciously remind yourself of what that person needs at that time. Don’t give them what you would want – give them what they need.

It’s a Sign

While the cave or wave may come on suddenly and unexpectedly, there are often obvious signs exhibited by the man or woman that can lead to the conclusion that a shift in mood is on the horizon. You can help yourself out by taking note of your partner’s mood shifts and noting how their behavior changes right before their need for space or support presents itself.

It can also be helpful to the relationship if you aim to determine your own triggers as you head into the cave or wave. Do you suddenly become snappy? Do you become quiet? Maybe you get argumentative? The triggers are different for every person – once you have identified what indicates a change in your own behavior, choose a good time to speak with your partner about it. By sharing the signs that you have observed in yourself, you will both have a heightened awareness of when and what kind of mood changes may be occurring.

Awareness is half the battle. Knowing allows you to step back and accept the person’s behavior for what it is – normal fluctuations in emotions – and respect their needs, whether they desire space or extra attention.

The Playbook

For women: Think about the activities that make you happiest and make a mental list of what you enjoy doing on your own. Be prepared to busy yourself with these tasks when the man in your life needs space. Now that you know the signs of his mood change, you want to have a firm idea of what you will do with yourself while he’s “inaccessible.” If he is actively taking time for himself, this is your sign to do the same for yourself. For more details about when a man pulls away, take a look at You’re Not Being Rejected: Understanding Male Behavior.

For men: What makes the woman in your life happiest? Does she appreciate hugs or kisses, hand-holding, or just your presence? You may want to run and hide when she is in her wave and emotionally freaking you out, but this is when she needs you most. Resist the urge to disappear and busy yourself with other things, and do your best to support her lovingly and with all the care you can muster. If she is inexplicably emotional, this is a sign that she needs the comfort of your love and understanding – anything but advice.

Your level of readiness when your partner is heading into the wave or cave influences the situation positively or negatively. If you’re prepared, you’ll be less likely to expect your partner to give you what you need when you know full well that they aren’t capable of it in their present state.

Even knowing what you’re supposed to do during mood shifts in your partner doesn’t always make it easy. If you need some support to get through the situation Ask Mars Venus coaches are on hand to help ground you and get you out of a victimized frame of mind. Remember, your partner doesn’t have it in them to give you what you need when they’re in their cave or wave. Understanding can make all the difference – if you are frustrated that you can’t discover it on your own (and it’s perfectly OK if you can’t) a coach can help.

Do you have questions about this article? Do you need help understanding how this information can change your life? Talk to one of our expertly trained telephone coaches today and get the answers you are looking for. You can call from the privacy of any phone, and our operators are available to assist you with processing your call.

Call 1-888-627-7836 for details and a personal message from Dr. John Gray.


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