My boyfriend has become withdrawn lately. He’s really stressed with not working, his dog dying, best friend’s dad having lung cancer, and everything just adding up.
He’s been pulling away for a couple weeks and has recently started going a day or two without texting me.
Should I stop texting him all together, or will that be showing that I don’t care, that I’m not supportive? I want him to know I’m here for him and that I’m not going anywhere, even though it’s tough.
Here’s a few things to consider:
First, remember that his situation is tough for him (independent of whether or not he’s in a relationship).
It’s important that you don’t take his being withdrawn personally. It’s most likely not about you at all.
When a woman is upset about something, most women talk to their friends and lean on their support group. It’s culturally accepted, which helps.
Guys, on the other hand, typically view themselves as weak and incapable if they voice their feelings or lean on other people for help / support. A guy might do it, but he’ll typically feel like a loser or weakling for asking for support or even talking about his feelings.
The way women handle difficult emotions is much more psychologically healthy and healing, but it is what it is.
With that said, when a guy is under a lot of emotional / psychological stress, he will want to withdraw socially until he’s figured out his situation. Guys don’t like to be around people when they don’t think they’re at the top of their game. Plain and simple.
So just remember that his withdrawing is a factor of him not wanting to appear weak or out of control and just allow him space for that.
Next, make sure that you give him space “the right way”.
What does that mean?
Well, remember what I was saying before about guys not wanting to appear out of control or needing of help / support?
If you start offering help or support to him, a lot of guys will actually resent it. They won’t resent the gesture in it of itself, but they’ll resent the fact that they feel like they’re an object of pity… like they can’t handle their situation themselves.
Instead, the best thing that you can do is admire and appreciate all of the good parts of him. If you are a well of appreciation, love and admiration, he’ll feel good around you and it will have a healing effect on him. He’ll feel relief and he’ll appreciate that you’re not trying to play therapist with him (playing therapist typically backfires for the reasons stated above.)
Just remember to be a source of relief for him without directly trying to “help him” with the problem. When he feels relief from you, it will be easier for him to work out his own issues.
Finally, on that same note: Don’t bring up his stresses or struggles – he’ll bring them up himself if he wants to talk about them.
On that same token, if he wants to talk about his stresses or struggles, just listen. Feel free to ask questions, but seek to understand and not help solve.
When a guy shares something with you, his main desire is for you to understand him and his experience. He doesn’t want your help – he wants to feel you understand him.
One last thing to keep in mind: It’s unfortunate, but sometimes in an effort to help, women actually cause men to retreat deeper into their shell because of how they react to his withdrawn behaviors.
Women either try to be helpful (which makes the man feel emasculated) or they take it personally and start becoming really insecure / needy (which makes the man feel burdened even more).
So just remember: don’t try to solve and don’t take it personally.
Just be a well of admiration, appreciation and love and give him the space to come around.
Hope that helps,