Do you ever wish you could get a little more breathing room with your partner? From your perspective, they move in so close that you wish you had a snorkel so you could get a little air.
Your partner on the other hand is feeling hurt wanting more intimacy and is receiving your request for space as a form of rejection or lack of caring. You notice this conflict repeating itself in little and big ways. You want to be able to ask for space and know that your partner trusts your caring. Your partner on the other hand, is longing for you to come closer without having to ask.
It seems these needs are in are in conflict. Of course, needs are never in conflict; the conflict resides in the strategies to meet them. Taking time to clearly identify your need or needs then to create multiple strategies for meeting them can help.
First, identify your need or needs by slowly looking through the needs list while keeping your request for space in mind. Identify the need or needs you are attempting to protect or meet with that request. Just being able to express your need when you request space, will help the two of you connect. Beyond that, take time to identify other ways you might meet that need in your relationship. Having multiple strategies to meet any particular need allows you to remain equanimous when making a request.
You can also check in with your partner about their needs when they are asking for more closeness. Moving in close isn't always about intimacy or connection. Often other needs are at play like reassurance, acceptance, and love. You can ask you partner to look through the needs list as well. You could also just make some empathy guesses. Once they have identified the need, ask your partner about other ways you could contribute to that need. There is likely many ways to meet that need that don't trigger reactivity or irritation for you.
Lastly, when a conflict is repetitive, it usually means some healing work is asking for your attention. Identifying the needs present gives you clues about the nature of the healing work. Undone healing work, can result in attempts to control your partner so they don't trigger those tender spots. Your healing work is yours to do. It's not your partner's responsibility to indefinitely accommodate those tender spots. On the other hand, if you have identified the healing you need to do and it is underway, your partner would likely to be happy to accommodate requests to be gentle around tender spots until the healing work is complete.
Take a moment and reflect on any interaction in which you have asked for space. Look through the needs and identify what needs you are attempting meet or protect by getting space.