How to Tell a Friend You Need Space in Sobriety

early recovery relationships Jul 12, 2021

How to Tell a Friend You Need Space in Sobriety.


Each person experiences different, unique feelings during recovery and will require different levels of support. 

There will be times when you’ll need extra love and moments when you need space. The people around you will want to support you as much as possible, but you have a right to ask for space whenever you need it. 

Today we’re going to chat about how to ask for some breathing room! 

Reasons you might need space.

There are a few different ways you could need space. You might have too many people trying to feed you advice, and even though it’s coming from a good place, that can get overwhelming! 

Or, you could be facing judgment in a negative way from friends or family. Maybe they don’t fully understand your decision and are having trouble adjusting. Whether you’re facing a positive or negative overwhelm, you might need a break

Overwhelm can also come from too much time online. You might need space from social media! Virtual support is so helpful, but if you’re taking in too much of it, then it can consume you. 

How to ask for space.

If you’re nervous to ask, take a deep breath with me here. Doing what’s best for your recovery should be priority number one. 

First things first, decide what “space” looks like for you. 

Does this mean fewer phone calls and texts? Or physical space? Try to map out what you think you’ll need before chatting with someone. That way, you’ll know what to ask for! 

Even the healthiest of relationships require a little “me time” for both parties. 

Find a time to sit down with this person (or people) and be honest about what you’re experiencing. Try to use “I” statements and let them know that by giving you space, they’re supporting you

They might feel as if they’ve done something wrong, but you can let them know this is just what you need at the moment. It doesn’t have to be someone’s fault. 

What to do with your space. 

You’ve conquered the hard part and asked for space, now what the heck do you do with it!? I have a few ideas to keep you on track and utilize it to the best of your ability. 

Set a calendar reminder: Put a weekly reminder on your phone to take the time you need for yourself. It’s easy to get swept back up into the swing of life and forget that you’re supposed to be resting your mind. 

Find a way to relax: It can help to develop a new, simple routine for self-care. If you took some space to reconnect with yourself, try picking up a journal to help you reflect!

Develop new boundaries: Try to use this time to evaluate the boundaries in your relationships. After you’ve taken time to reflect, reevaluate your boundaries! Is there a bigger reason why you needed space? 

If you need a little more pep-talking, check out this TED Talk - Sarri Gilman talks about how good boundaries can free you. If you’d rather crack open a book, Say What You Mean by Oren Jay Sofer is a great read!


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