Let’s talk about why men pull away and then come back.
It could be a guy you’re casually seeing, or maybe it’s your long-term partner. No matter what the case, it’s disconcerting and you can’t help but feel panicked and on edge.
Did you do something to upset him? Is he losing interest in you? Does he want to break up with you?
These are all terrifying questions to ask … especially when it’s regarding a man you really care about.
The fact is, men do pull away and come back in relationships. It’s a naturally occurring cycle and happens for important reasons. Men and women are different and as such, the way they deal with emotions and stress can be different.
I know it feels confusing but it’s pretty simple really and I’m gonna break it all down for you.
Men typically retreat and withdraw into their “man cave” when dealing with stress or difficulties. That is just the way most men prefer to handle things, as opposed to most women who usually prefer to seek out and lean on those closest to them.
It feels good for a woman to talk to her close friends and family when she’s upset. This doesn’t feel good to most men. Most men feel ashamed when they’re off their game. And the last thing they want to do is be seen by others. Actually, that’s the second to last thing they want, the real last thing they would ever want is to be pitied and receive unsolicited advice from said pitiers. This is crushing and crippling to a man.
A man would much rather withdraw and work through whatever the issue is on his own, and then come back into the relationship when he’s feeling strong and confident again.
You may know about this on an intellectual level, but on an emotional level it hurts because you really wish he would just talk to you. You feel almost offended that he doesn’t want to open up to you. You might think it means he doesn’t really love or trust you. But that’s not the case. He does care, and that’s the reason he’s doing this! He cares so much about what you think that he doesn’t want you to see him when he’s not at his best.
Fine, maybe you would love him no matter what but it’s still not a good feeling for him. So he withdraws and takes space.
These are the most common reasons a man will pull away and take space from a relationship:
1. He’s dealing with problems that have nothing to do with you.
Maybe he’s stressed at work and his job isn’t going well, maybe he’s struggling with anxiety, maybe he’s having family issues, or maybe he’s having financial issues.
Life is filled with potential problems and setbacks, and when they arise, a man will want to take a step back to deal with them. Most men can only process one thing at a time, they can’t juggle and multi-task as efficiently as women. So when something comes up, he will put all his energy and attention into it.
2. The relationship is moving too fast.
Relationships often start out at lightning speed, and this isn’t always healthy. In the beginning, it’s all so exciting and exhilarating so the momentum is strong. You’re flying on a surge of feel-good hormones like Dopamine and Oxytocin.
It seems like things are going great, but a guy may panic at this point just a little bit because things are moving a little too quickly. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t like you or isn’t interested, he just wants to slow things to a more comfortable pace. And really, what’s the rush here? This is a common occurrence in new relationships that started off with a bang.
3. He’s having doubts about the relationship.
This is more common in a long-term relationship. Look, sometimes people have doubts. That’s perfectly normal. If that’s what’s going on, he may want some time away to sort through his feelings. And this will work to your advantage because you not being there gives him the space to miss you.
What will have the opposite effect is if you go into overdrive trying to win him back and prove yourself to him. This will just make him resent you for being unable to give him something he needs (space) and it can make you come across as desperate and needy, which is never a good look.
4. You’re doing something that’s causing him to withdraw.
Maybe you’re being too clingy, too demanding, too negative, something along those lines is recurring in the relationship and he just doesn’t want to deal with it.
Most men want their lives easy and drama-free. The best relationship for a man is one that enhances his quality of life… not one that just adds more stress and burdens. This doesn’t mean you have to be on your best behavior at all times. You can certainly express negative emotions but there is a big difference between doing this in a way where you take ownership of your emotions and reactions… and one where you blame the other person or use your relationship as an emotional dumping ground.
As I said, the first scenario is the most common, but the others are likely as well. You’ll just have to assess your individual situation.
So What Should I Do When He’s Pulling Away?
No matter why he’s pulling away, the advice on how to respond is the same: just give him space and let him do what he needs to do.
If he’s having doubts about you or the relationship, you being right there in his face will not change his mind, if anything it will make things even worse and he may become more annoyed with you and then he will really start rethinking the relationship.
Feeling upset can put us in a very selfish frame of mind. All we see is our pain and we try to find ways out of it. But you need to factor in how he’s feeling and what he needs, that’s what emotional maturity is all about. If he needs space, then it’s unfair of you to decide your need for him to be present is more important.
Try to maintain perspective here and realize that he’s doing what’s best for him, and what’s ultimately best for the relationship. If you just back off and give him space to naturally come back to you, then he will, and he’ll be even better and stronger and more of the partner you need. If you suffocate him, he’ll just resent you.
Just play it cool, focus on yourself, let him know you’re there if he wants to talk, and then just let it be.
Obviously, this shouldn’t drag on forever. He can’t just keep you on the back burner. So give it a few weeks and then reassess what’s going on. If he’s not coming back to you, then it’s likely that he doesn’t want to and is just buying more time.
Either way, use this time to better yourself. That’s the best thing you can do for yourself and your relationship. Look at your life and at the way you feel about yourself and see if you can find areas of improvement. Then set small, achievable goals for yourself to get there.