Almost every woman has experienced the panic and uncertainty that occur when her man starts pulling away or withdrawing. Maybe it happens out of the blue, maybe something sparks it, either way, it’s a miserable feeling, one that leaves you feeling powerless and painfully insecure.
You question what happened, why he’s doing this, and what you may have done to cause this sudden shift. The most common questions we get involve some variation of a guy suddenly backing off and the girl going into a tizzy over it.
I totally get it, I’ve been there. Looking back, all those feelings of worry and confusion were a waste because the answer is surprisingly simple and applies to almost every situation.
So what’s the deal, why do men pull away and what can you do about it? Every guy is different, and every relationship is different, but in general men pull away for three main reasons.
1. He’s Stressed
It’s pretty widely known that when a man is stressed, he retreats to his “man cave.” However, there is a big difference between knowing something and really understanding it. Most women have a hard time accepting that this is how men deal with issues because when we are having a difficult time, our first instinct is to talk about it and seek comfort from friends or loved ones.
Men don’t operate this way. When a man is having a hard time, he needs to pull back and work through his issues on his own. The biggest mistake you can make is not giving him the space to do this.
If you harp on him and pester him to talk to you and open up he will see you as another source of stress in his life and will pull away even more. This creates a vicious cycle of you pushing him, him pulling back, you pushing more, and on and on until he either distances himself from you entirely or the relationship continues with an underlying tension. You can’t force someone to open up to you, especially when it comes to difficult emotional topics. You can invite them to open up, but you can’t badger them into it.
If your guy is having a hard time, be it from external sources like his job or he’s having some internal emotional issue, you have to give him the space to work through it on his own. If he wants to talk to you about it, he’ll seek you out. And if he does, make sure you listen to him, don’t use this as an opportunity to voice your opinions on the matter and try to solve it for him. If he wants your advice, he’ll ask for it.
Remember, when a man pulls away due to stress it has nothing to do with you or his feelings for you. I understand that you think he should open up to you, but you can’t place these expectations on him. Why? Because he is wired differently than you. You wouldn’t appreciate being forced into doing something that went against your nature and the same is true for him. When someone forces us to be a certain way it’s violating and invasive. It’s a breach of our bondaries and it’s disrespectful.
So as much as you want him to open up and think he “should,” you can’t demand it of him. The best thing to do is back off and give him some space. Spend that time focusing on yourself instead of worrying why he’s pulling away from you and what to do about it. Work on recharging your batteries so that you can put positive juice into the relationship.
Putting pressure on a man is never a good strategy and will often drive him away. But when you give him the space to just be, then he usually takes steps toward you.
TAKE THE QUIZ: Is He Losing Interest?
2. You’re Being Needy and He Feels Suffocated
A man doesn’t have to be dealing with personal issues to feel the need to retreat. Sometimes too much neediness from you is enough to cause him to back away.
Neediness isn’t so much a set of behaviors as it is a state of mind. If a man feels like you need him in order to feel OK in your life, or that you need him to fill some sort of emotional void for you, he will instinctively pull back.
Men want to feel wanted and desired, not needed. This is a very important distinction that most women overlook.
Men do enjoy being in relationships (when it’s with the right woman, that is), but at the same time, most men have a huge fear of losing their freedom and getting trapped in a situation with a woman who sucks them dry and leaves them feeling drained and uninspired. A man will feel “free” in a relationship when he’s with a woman who is whole and fulfilled in her life and doesn’t rely on the relationship to meet her every need.
If you start to act needy, an alarm bell will instantly sound in his head warning him that he’s losing his freedom and he will instinctively pull away from you.
Now you might be wondering, how can I fix this and undo the damage? The answer is the same as above, just pull back, give him space, and focus on yourself. Working overtime trying to undo the damage caused by acting needy is still you acting needy. It’s you being desperate for his approval and for his love and affection. Guys hate feeling that sort of pressure from a woman, the feeling that they need to be a certain way or she will get upset.
Instead of trying to fix it and reel him back, forgive yourself for being needy, acknowledge that it’s OK and everything will be fine, and give him some space to come to you. Don’t inundate him with texts or snap chats or G-chats or anything. Just let it be and give him the space to find his way back to you. And in that time, enjoy your life and find ways to be happy. Do not spend this time obsessing over him and wondering if you ruined this relationship forever. Be confident in yourself and try to internalize the fact that you deserve an amazing relationship and with the right person it will happen freely and won’t need to be forced.
3. He’s Having Doubts About the Relationship
Doubts are normal, especially as a relationship deepens. It doesn’t necessarily mean anything about you or how great of a girlfriend you’ve been. Maybe he’s not ready for something so serious, or maybe he’s a little unsure if you’re really the woman he sees himself spending the rest of his life with. And that’s OK.
Two people can love each other very much and still not be right for each other in the long run. Maybe something happened to spark these doubts (a fight, jealousy, lack of trust, etc.) or maybe it happened out of the blue. Don’t waste your time analyzing the situation to pinpoint exactly what you did wrong, this will only make you crazy.
Instead, give him space and continue to be the best you that you can me. If you’re at your best and he decides to throw in the towel, then there’s no reason to have regrets and to play the shoudda, wouldda, couldda game.
In order for a relationship to work, both people need to be committed to making it work. That means you both try, you both put effort into the relationship, you communicate openly. You work together. One person can’t carry the team when it comes to relationships. A relationship is a partnership, a unit, and it just can’t be done alone.
If he’s having doubts about you or has some sort of issue with the way you are and how you live your life, then he most likely isn’t the right guy for you and there isn’t much you can do about that. The right guy for you is a guy who likes you and accepts who you are. Remember that.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter why your man is withdrawing. The solution is always the same: give him space and focus on loving yourself and your life. If you do this, he will most likely come around and will go back to being that sweet, caring, attentive guy that he was in the beginning.
Be sure to take our “Is he losing interest? quiz to find out exactly where you stand and what you can do to get your relationship back on track!
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