When a man starts to pull away or withdraw, a lot of women reflexively panic and do what they can to bring him back and get the relationship back on track. Their intentions are good, but most of the time they inadvertently make the situation worse and push him even further away.
It is a crushing, miserable feeling. You feel powerless and scared and have no idea what the right move is.
Everything seemed to be going so well but now something is off.
Maybe he doesn’t text as often… he doesn’t seem as enthusiastic about you or the relationship…or maybe it’s nothing you can put your finger on, just a feeling in the pit of your stomach.
So what now? I’m going to tell you exactly what NOT to do when he’s pulling away.
First, let’s address why this happens.
There are two primary reasons a man will pull away
1. He’s dealing with something and just needs space to work through it. It could be something at work, financial issues, emotional issues, family issues… whatever the case, he’s stressed and emotionally overwhelmed and wants to deal with it on his own. This is a common male response to stress.
2. He is losing interest in you (this is the nightmare scenario women fear).
It’s important to correctly identify which is which, but if you don’t know, it’s better to assume he needs space to work out his own emotions, this way you don’t make things worse.
It’s normal for people to cycle between wanting to get close and wanting to spend time on their own. This actually makes for a healthy relationship.
If one person has a more insecure or anxious attachment style, they may have a hard time when their partner pulls away and then it becomes a relationship problem.
OK, so now that you know the why, let’s talk about what not to do when this happens.
1. Don’t try to win him over.
When a guy pulls away, a lot of women react by trying to win him over again.
She thinks maybe if he re-discovers how amazing she is, then he’ll come back. She is extra attentive, goes above and beyond, and tries to be what she thinks he wants. This is useless for several reasons.
First, acting this way infringes upon his freedom and makes him feel smothered (and makes you look desperate).
It might have nothing to do with you so there’s nothing to prove here. And if he’s pulling away because it does have something to do with you, then again, there’s nothing to do. Just let him be. If you keep coming at him he’ll just become more annoyed with you and will pull away further.
When you try to win him over, you are essentially lowering your own value, you’re saying “I’m not worthy of you, but I hope you’ll pick me anyway!” Now would you want to date someone who was sending out that message? Exactly.
When you’re in this headspace you send out a desperate vibe that he will pick up on. Even the most obtuse, most emotionally oblivious men can pick up on vibes because more than 90% of communication is non-verbal.
2. Don’t obsess over it.
Stop putting mental energy into figuring out what he’s thinking, how he’s feeling, if he’s losing interest in you, and so on. Spend that time literally doing anything else, anything.
Worrying about how he feels makes the situation worse. This applies to all areas of life: when has worrying about something ever lead to a good place?
You have better things to do with your time than stress. So go do anything else. Read, write, go for a run, a swim, a bike ride, go shopping, go to the spa, go out with your girlfriends for a drink, just do something fun that you enjoy and that makes you happy.
The way to reignite a man’s interest is actually quite simple, be interesting.
There is nothing interesting about a woman who is desperate for a man and pining away for him. What captivates a man’s attention is a woman who can be happy on her own and doesn’t need a man in order to feel good about herself.
3. Don’t smother him.
The biggest mistake is to cling to him even tighter and shower him with love and affection to reel him back in. This is the opposite of what he needs.
He’s taking space because that’s what he needs. When someone imposes their needs upon us, for instance, you putting your need for closeness above his need for space, it just makes us resent them. People who are emotionally mature are able to give their partner what they need, even if this is counter to what they want.
Don’t smother him, don’t beg him to talk to you, don’t make demands or ultimatums. Respect what he needs and do yourself and your relationship a favor by working on your own happiness during this time.
4. Don’t lash out.
When a guy withdraws, you will feel a lot of emotions, one of the most poisonous of which is anger. Anger destroys everything it touches.
Yes, you’re hurt, you feel neglected, and you’re uncertain of what’s going on.
But realize a lot of this is self-generated and not necessarily his fault. He doesn’t owe you 100% of his time and attention. And it’s not his fault if you get upset because he needs to deal with things on his own.
Try to be compassionate, and understand he’s doing something that is natural and necessary for him. If the feelings reach a boiling point and you can’t contain them, then you can speak to him about it but be mindful of how you come at him. It’s not usually what we say, but the way we say it, that causes conflict.
Don’t come at him with blame and accusations. Just tell him where you’re coming from.
It’s much better to respond instead of react. When you respond, you have a choice. You take in all the information and decide what the best course of action is. When you react, you’re a slave to your emotions and you usually say things you regret.
I know it can feel personal, but it really isn’t.
Some men have a much harder time processing and handling emotions than women do. They don’t have the same kinds of support systems, and sharing their innermost thoughts and feelings just doesn’t come naturally to them. For him, escaping from his feelings temporarily is sometimes more beneficial than trying to sort through them. Try to tap into your empathy rather than leaning into the anger.
5. Don’t worry.
The way to not worry about this is to just be OK with the outcome no matter what.
Either he’ll get a handle on whatever is going on and he’ll come back better than ever… or he’ll won’t be back and all that means is he isn’t the right guy for you and that’s not a loss.
He just realized that this relationship wouldn’t work out, and yes, it’s hard that he came to that realization before you did, but it’s also a good thing. It means he spared you from wasting more of your precious time, spared you from being strung along.
If you suspect he’s losing interest in you, the worst thing you can do is panic about it. That just won’t take you anywhere good.
Instead, put your hand on your heart and say, “I will be OK no matter what.” Spend a few moments taking some deep breaths and really letting that sink in.
The most important thing you can do when your guy is withdrawing or pulling away is just give him some space (but space has a limit, this can’t go on indefinitely!), step back and focus on yourself. Enjoy having the time and space to connect with yourself for a little, this is a gift!