It’s a scary feeling when a guy you’re seeing seems to be pulling away. You aren’t sure if he’s actually withdrawing or if your own insecurities are acting up and making you paranoid. Even worse, if he is withdrawing you don’t know why, let alone what you should do about it.
Often, a woman prematurely panics when she thinks a guy is pulling away and assumes it means he’s lost interest in her … when his behavior is actually perfectly normal or caused by something totally unrelated to his feelings for her.
The problem is that panicking can create a problem where there wasn’t one in the first place. He may not have been pulling away at first because of anything to do with you, but he’ll probably start pulling away for real as a result of your behavior.
We’re going to look at the things men do that cause women to panic and think men are withdrawing and losing interest. These behaviors are usually signs that he’s pulling away, but pulling away doesn’t always mean losing interest—there can also be other explanations.
We’ll talk about some of those explanations, and then we’ll tell you what you can do about it.
Take The Quiz: Is He Losing Interest?
Before we begin…
First, don’t panic! Here are signs that he could be withdrawing because he’s losing interest in you, but remember that his behavior could also be explained by things that have absolutely nothing to do with you.
Withdrawing or pulling away temporarily, for short periods, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Men sometimes need some space, and this is a gift you can give to them. So pay attention to these signs, but don’t jump to any conclusions, and leave room for possibilities that don’t reflect negatively on you or the relationship. In other words, when in doubt, think positive.
1. He’s shutting you out
Does it seem like he doesn’t open up to you as much as he used to? Does he act more guarded, or not as attentive to you or your needs? Maybe you just feel a distance in the air between you that’s hard to nail down. This is a classic sign of a guy pulling away, and yes, it is possible he’s losing interest.
But it’s also possible he’s stressed out, emotionally off balance, or has other things going on in his life that are taking up his attention.
Men tend to handle things differently than women, and that usually means retreating rather than seeking people out for support.
This can be hard for women to understand and accept. You want to support him and be a source of comfort, after all. The good news is, you can! The slightly less good news is that what he needs from you—space—might not be as comfortable as you like, or feel as natural for you to provide as the kind of support you give your girlfriends.
2. He takes forever to get back to you
Your texts don’t get a response, or his responses come 8 hours later. He doesn’t answer the phone, and when you leave a message he doesn’t return your call.
Most women immediately panic when a guy doesn’t text or call back. They often blow one or two incidents like this way out of proportion, yet men have no idea what a big deal this is to women.
While women can text and comfortably do other things at the same time, men are typically single-minded and goal-oriented. If he’s in the middle of an important project at work or even hanging out with his buddies, he may not text like he usually does or call you right back.
So if he’s not responding, it’s possible he’s pulling away, but it’s also possible he’s really busy with work or has something pressing he needs to deal with, and he just isn’t going to multitask the way you do.
3. He seems hot and cold
Maybe he’s super attentive and into you one minute and the next he can’t be bothered. This can feel jarring. Consistency is comforting, but people aren’t always consistent, and routines can change with circumstances. Those circumstances could be work-related or he could be having family issues, and these aren’t necessarily things he’ll want to talk about.
Hot and cold behavior does usually indicate ambivalence, and you know this, so it will be impossible to ignore that nagging feeling that he just isn’t sure about his feelings for you. But that’s okay! We’re not always 100% sure of our feelings for someone we’re dating, especially in the beginning of a relationship.
You have to allow him to have his own feelings and let the relationship take its natural course without questioning and trying to control his every behavior.
Is there another possible explanation for what seems like hot and cold behavior? Yes! If it’s not something new going on in his life that’s changed his routine, it could be about your relationship. It’s possible his feelings are dwindling, but it’s also possible he’s just settling into a more natural routine now that he feels the relationship is more settled.
The bottom line is, being in his face won’t help. Back off and give him space to have his own life and his own feelings. Allow him to engage in the other things going on in his life without imposing your insecurities and thinking it’s all about you or your relationship with him.
If his feelings for you were dwindling, this could actually reignite the spark because you’ll have given him space to figure out how he feels, and men typically fall in love in a woman’s absence.
4. He cancels on you, a lot
All of a sudden he’s too busy to keep plans. It’s always one excuse or another—he has to work, has to see his friends, has to go to the gym. It can be anything, the point is that whatever it is, it keeps knocking you off the priority list.
Cancelling all the time is rude, and a guy who cares about you will make you a priority, so this is a clear a sign of him pulling away. The question is, why?
As with all the signs, you need to consider this behavior along with all of his other behaviors. If he’s canceling on you a lot and doing nearly everything else on this list, then he’s definitely losing interest.
But if it’s not the norm and he’s not showing a lot of the other signs here, it’s also possible that it’s just a hectic time, and since he feels that things are more established between you, you’ll understand.
Most importantly, pay attention to how often it happens. If it’s nearly constant, you need to talk with him about it, but you don’t need to panic. That will come across clearly, and it won’t help matters.
5. Something just feels off
You should trust your gut. If something feels weird, then something probably is.
Unless you know that you have a problem with self-sabotage when it comes to relationships—in which case you probably shouldn’t be in a relationship right now anyway—then your gut telling you that he’s pulling away won’t lead you astray and should be a good measure of how things are going.
If it’s a new relationship, maybe that means backing off a bit and letting him lead, to give him the space to come back to you if that’s what he wants. If it’s an established relationship you’ll probably still want to back off and give him some space, but if that doesn’t work it might be time to talk about it.
6. He doesn’t initiate as often
Is he not initiating plans or texts like he used to? Did he used to text you sweet things, maybe good morning and good night every day, but now he doesn’t?
Changes in behavior are hard to ignore, and this is one of the things that upsets a lot of women. We know when a man is into you he initiates, so when he stops it’s worrisome.
It’s not a good sign for sure, but is he pulling away?
Maybe he’s pulling away, but for reasons other than a lack of interest. He could be getting lazy because you’re in an established relationship. This isn’t a good thing, of course! But it’s not the same thing as losing interest, and if he’s really into you it’s probably fixable.
Often when a guy feels like he’s settling into a more normal routine with a girl, he doesn’t feel the need to put in further effort to win her over. You can’t really expect him to court you non-stop, but you do want him to treat you like you’re special. You need to decide what’s lazy and what’s acceptable.
The key is, change is inevitable. His behavior will change over the course of your relationship, and that may mean he doesn’t initiate as often. Don’t immediately assume he’s pulling away because he doesn’t care about you.
7. He’s not attentive anymore
If he seems like he’s not focused on you when you talk, not responding much or not as interested in what you have to say, he could be pulling away because he’s not interested. A man who doesn’t want to be with you will often seem like he’s just not present because mentally and emotionally, he’s not.
But it’s also possible he’s distracted because of other things going on in his life. You need to look at the big picture. Is there something special going on in his life? Is he tired? Is he not feeling well? When people are stressed out, or sick, or tired, they can’t focus, regardless of the importance of the thing needing their attention.
He’s only human, and over the course of the relationship, he’s not going to be able to focus on you and give you all of his attention all of the time. So step back and set aside your feelings for a moment to consider if there are reasons for his lack of attentiveness that might have nothing to do with you.
8. He’s not moving things forward
If the relationship feels like it’s stagnating, like there’s no more momentum, it could be a sign he’s pulling away.
Does he seem like he has one foot out the door? Like he’s not fully invested? When you bring up the topic of where things are going, does he avoid the question or say he’s not ready to talk about it? This can feel like he’s pulling away, but think about it: maybe he’s not pulling away. Maybe he’s standing still and you’re pushing. It might feel the same to you, but there’s a difference.
Instead of getting consumed with your own fears and worries and obsessing over what you want and what your timeline is, back off. Let him be. Don’t push when he’s standing still, or he will probably begin to really pull away, because nobody likes to be forced into something they’re not ready for.
What Should You Do If You Feel Like He’s Pulling Away?
First, it’s best not to get consumed by fears and anxieties—that only makes everything worse. Don’t freak out and get emotional about something that may be nothing, because it will quickly become something with just a little push from you and your insecurities.
Next, consider the situation in full. You need to look at all of these signs and not just a single one of them. If he’s not paying as much attention to you when you talk and it feels like he’s just not listening … but he’s still initiating just as much and responding to all of your texts, then you need to consider the possibility that he’s distracted for some reason that has nothing to do with you. Maybe he’s not feeling well or maybe he has something on his mind.
It’s also really important to take into consideration how often these things are happening, and how long it’s been going on. If you’ve dated for a year and he’s hardly every canceled a date, then all of a sudden over the course of one month he’s canceled on you three times, remember that this is one month out of many! Don’t erase those first 12 months in your mind as if they didn’t happen.
Instead, think about what might be going on in his life to cause him to start canceling on you.
Another important thing to take into consideration is that he’s a man and he may be acting in ways you, as a woman, don’t intuitively understand. Your guy is not your girlfriend. Guys like to deal with one thing at a time. If he has a lot on his plate, he may take his attention temporarily away from the relationship. This doesn’t always mean he’s losing interest, it could just mean he’s overwhelmed.
A lot of women tend to panic the second a man pulls away and start chasing after him, but this only makes him retreat further! He feels annoyed at her for not respecting the fact that he needs space and then he really pulls away.
MORE: Why Guys Pull Away
When a guy is interested in you, you’ll know it. If he seems to be pulling away and you don’t know why, and it’s making you doubt where he stands, back off and give him space. If he wants you, he’ll let you know. If he lets you go, then he’s also letting you know where he stands, and that’s valuable information.
Take The Quiz: Is He Losing Interest?
These Are The Signs a Guy Is Pulling Away From You:
- He’s shutting you out
- He takes forever to get back to you
- He seems hot and cold
- He cancels on you, a lot
- Something just feels off
- He doesn’t initiate as often
- He’s not attentive anymore
- He’s not moving things forward