Sometimes you make a new friend who has more free time on hand than you, so the other person will expect more time from your side so asking for more space might be considered as rude or showing fake attitude.

In this situation, how can you ask them to give you some personal space without hurting their feelings? Especially when you have a lack of time compared to them but don't want to lose them or damage your friendship.

  • This question is of a kind I am calling "asserting your boundaries". Please edit this question to add details about the specific problem you are facing beyond learning to be assertive while polite. Jun 29, 2017 at 6:45
  • @curiousdannii I can't see what detail is missing here and it's betetr to decide something on meta first without leaving such comments as meta seems to be received badly. Jun 29, 2017 at 6:52
  • The details that are missing are: if you know you need to be politely assertive, what in particular is hindering that? Jun 29, 2017 at 6:52
  • @curiousdannii it's clear in the last line Jun 29, 2017 at 6:55
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat. Jun 29, 2017 at 6:58

4 Answers 4


Be direct.

You don't necessarily have to beat around the bush. You don't have to make assumptions. Go to them and honestly, but nicely, say something along the lines of the following, bearing in mind that although you apparently have more time than them, you might not actually, since you may have "less pressing" personal projects that this relationship is pushing out of the picture.

Say, I really enjoy spending time with you, but recently I've had other time commitments.

I really don't want to cut off our relationship, but I'm afraid I can't invest quite as much as I used to.

I appreciate our relationship, but recently I don't seem to have had the time to invest in it that I normally have. Just thought I'd let you know, it's not because I don't like you; it's just I haven't had the time I'd like to.

Hope this helps! :)


If you want to ask for a personal space without hurting anybody's feelings, you should start with small steps.

Sometimes, we fail to save our personal space just because we don't want to sound rude. Setting boundaries in anger doesn't work at all. Therefore, you must set boundaries politely, but firmly and clearly.

You can also start saying no in small situations, but not in every situation. Say no in situation where you feel it's not that important. This may enhance your confidence.

Also, don't feel guilty while doing so. Most of us get back while protecting personal space just because of this. If someone intrudes your personal space, just give him a gentle reminder.


This is something I have to deal with a lot, because I am much more introverted than most of my friends. I got over my nervousness about being direct/honest with them by imagining what it would be like if the roles were switched. If I wanted to hang out more often than another friend did, I would be totally okay with it if they told me "You know, my 'social battery' runs down really easily, so I generally need more time between hang-out sessions. Don't take it personally, it's just how I am!"

It's so much worse if you realize after the fact that someone has been spending time with you even when they didn't want to, just in order to avoid conflict. Trust me, if they're a respectful person they will immediately understand and appreciate your honesty.

A good technique is also to casually bring up your own personality needs in conversation with them, like saying "Man, work has been so exhausting lately, all I want to do on weeknights is just come home and crash, you know what I mean?" If you present it as if it's obvious and you're expecting them to agree, they probably won't feel too offended.


The best way I have found to deal with this in a casual way is to say 'sorry I can't make it tonight, - but how about we catch up on the weekend?' Or '- but I'm looking forward to [whatever activity you already have planned together]'

This way you have created a boundary for yourself for their current request but have reassured them that it has nothing to do with them personally because you are looking forward to future plans with them.

This is also handy if you are uncomfortable doing things with people without much notice.

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