That inevitable moment when a guy takes space in a relationship can be terrifying.
You thought everything was going great. The chemistry is strong, you guys get along, you like each other, you connect … so why is he suddenly pulling away? What happened? Is it something you said? Something you did? You replay every moment of your last few interactions in your mind trying to figure out what went wrong, and how you can get things back on track.
More: Why Do Men Pull Away?
You’d be more OK with him pulling away if you knew for certain he would come back … but there are no guarantees and that’s what’s worrying you. You’re worried that his pulling away is a precursor to him leaving you completely. And the thought of that is terrifying and you can’t help but feel a little panicked.
You really don’t want to lose him, but you don’t know how to keep him. The real question is, what should you do now?
And I’m here to help with that!
Take The Quiz: Is He Losing Interest?
What to Do When a Man Needs Space and Pulls Away
At the heart of it, you’re afraid of losing him. And that’s really scary when it comes to a guy you like. You don’t understand why he’s suddenly pulling away and why he needs space from you. You certainly don’t want any space from him, you like him and you enjoy him and you just want more of him.
Things seemed to be going so well, the momentum was going strong and now it all seems to be rolling backward. It’s hard not to blame yourself for this. You reason that you must have done something to turn the tide, but what could to be?
I have some good news for you. Most likely, you did nothing and this has nothing to do with you. Yes, that’s right! You’re off the hook.
Is it possible that he’s losing interest? Yes, of course, it is. But what can you really do about that now? Setting out to try and win him back over won’t work, you’ll just look desperate and might make things worse.
He most likely is taking space for reasons that have nothing to do with you or the relationship. And if he’s taking space because of something you did or because he’s having doubts about the relationship, the advice is still the same, just back off and let him be.
Here are a few things not to do when he takes space:
1. Don’t chase after him. Chasing is never a good idea. For some reason it’s enticing, and in this situation, it might feel like the right thing to do. He’s moving away… and you want him close, so you go after him. But this is the wrong move. This will only make him run faster. Don’t inundate him with calls or texts or messages on social media. Don’t try to win him over with romantic gestures or by trying to seduce him. Those aren’t necessarily bad things, but if he needs space, just give it to him. The more you infringe upon his space the more he will move away from you.
2. Don’t obsess over it. This won’t get you anywhere. Instead, it will make you anxious and on edge and this just isn’t an attractive energy to be around, and he will feel it. Obsessing activates your fears and insecurities and gives them the space to run rampant in your mind and flood your entire being. So keep the gate shut and prevent those obsessive, self-sabotaging thoughts from creeping in.
3. Don’t beg, plead, or threaten him. You can let him know you’re there if he wants to talk, but then leave it at that. Don’t beg or threaten him. Don’t make ultimatums. Don’t try to manipulate him. Let him know that you’re there if he needs you and then just leave it alone.
Get Your Fears Under Control
There is nothing attractive about an anxious, worried energy. By feeding into these thoughts, you are making yourself into the problem, whereas you weren’t even the reason he needed to take space, to begin with.
Basically, when a guy starts to withdraw, it activates your fear of loss.
This is a concept we talk about a lot on A New Mode. Essentially, you feel that if you lost your relationship with him, you would lose something important beyond simply not seeing him or speaking to him anymore. Losing him has big implications for you if you attach your sense of worth to his opinion of you and to your relationship status with him.
You fear losing him because you will also lose a sense of worth. Fear of loss is also a fear of not being good enough, of not being OK. You’re afraid if you lose him, you won’t ever be OK, so you cling tightly and desperately.
This is really what’s going on. And I fully understand the feelings, I’ve been there. But you need to remind yourself that you will be OK. You were OK before him and you will be OK if this relationship doesn’t work out. If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t mean you’re flawed or bad or unlovable or unworthy. It just means he wasn’t the right guy for you and that’s really not a big deal.
No man wants to feel like a woman needs him for her emotional wellbeing. That isn’t his role. He wants to feel wanted, he wants to feel like he enhances your life, not like you need him or you will crumble into tiny pieces all over the floor.
When you let your fear of loss take hold, you are acting from a place of desperation. You are seeking his validation and reassurance. You’re no longer present in the relationship, you’re interacting with the worried thoughts in your own mind and this is what will cause the relationship to unravel more than anything else.
Also, you are no longer a good partner in the relationship because you’ve allowed your needs to trump his. You don’t consider the fact that he needs space because that’s what’s best for him. You want him to come back because that’s what’s best for you.
So What Should You Do To Bring Him Closer?
The advice here is incredibly simple- just relax and calm down about it.
It’s normal and natural for a guy to take space. I know it feels abnormal to you because most women seek out those they are closest to in times of stress or difficulty, but most men aren’t like this.
A man would rather retreat and work through whatever is bothering him on his own, and then come back into the relationship when he’s feeling strong and confident again. He doesn’t want to be seen by you when he’s in a weakened state because he likes you and he wants you to see him as “manly” and competent.
Guys prefer to think things through rather than talk them through. And he needs to do this in his own space. He’ll just feel more pressure with you there wanting to help.
MORE: Why Men Withdraw
So what does he need to think about? It could be anything.
Maybe he’s stressed at work, maybe he’s struggling with finances, maybe he is having family issues, or maybe he’s just not totally sure if he’s ready for a serious relationship right now. And there is nothing you can do about any of this. You just need to leave him be and let him sort things out.
How to Give Him Space So He Misses You and Comes Back
If he’s having doubts about you or the relationship, the worst thing to do is be in his face. It’s human nature to idealize what we don’t have. You create space for him to miss you when you’re not there. If you breathe down his neck, you just make him feel claustrophobic and resentful.
This doesn’t mean you ignore him. Let him know you’re there if he needs you or if he wants to talk. Don’t be angry or hostile about this. Don’t be punishing or threatening. Just let him know you’re there, that you support him, that you care about him. And then leave it alone. Don’t keep pushing the issue or asking him for daily updates.
And if he does open up and tell you something you maybe you didn’t want to hear, maybe he says he doesn’t know if he’s ready for a relationship right now, don’t overreact and fly into a rage. Just appreciate the fact that he was honest with you and didn’t just disappear without saying a word.
If you can step back with grace and dignity, he will regard you even more highly. It will also make him feel safe telling you things and that is what will foster a stronger bond and intimacy.
What You Should Do While He’s Taking Space
Focus on yourself!
Focus on your relationship with yourself (and not on your relationship with him, obsessing never takes you anywhere good!). Focus on having fun and enjoying your life.
I know it’s hard when you feel like you might be losing someone you care about, but remind yourself that no matter what, you’ll be fine. It might not feel that way, so tell it to yourself as many times as you need to until the message seeps in and you stop feeling like the world is going to end.
Do things you enjoy. Do things that make you feel good. Focus on building your internal sense of happiness. This is the key to having a happy relationship … it’s being happy on your own and bringing that into the relationship.
Try not to do anything with the intention of winning him back. This just reeks of desperation. Him taking space isn’t some sort of game and it isn’t a challenge for you to pull out all the stops and try to win him back.
It also isn’t him being cruel so you don’t need to retaliate by trying to get him back. None of this works. None of this fills him with warm feelings towards you. None of this will make him miss you and make him realize how special you are. Instead, you will just come across as immature and petty.
MORE: How to Give Him Space
Give Him the Space to Come Back To You
When you give a man the freedom to do what he needs to do, and you respect his needs, then he will most likely realize you are a rare and special woman and will come back even stronger than ever.
When you call and text him incessantly, or try to punish him or get back at him, he will realize he wants nothing to do with you.
So I think it’s clear how to handle these situations!
You need to decide how much space is acceptable. If it just drags on and on and you feel like you’re just waiting on a dead-end, then move on. If he really wants you, he won’t let you just slip away. If he does let you go, then he probably never intended to keep you around long term.
Look, if it doesn’t work out with him, it just means he’s not the right guy for you. The right guy for you wants to be with you. If you use his time of taking space to your advantage by working on yourself and living your best life, then it isn’t a total waste. Now you’re even better and stronger for the next relationship.
So either you’ll be a better version of yourself and will be free to find someone better suited for you, or things will work out with the original guy. There is no downside here. That’s the perspective you need to take. Not a perspective that says, “I won’t be able to go on unless he’s by my side.”
If you give him space and follow the advice in this article and he doesn’t come back, then there really was nothing more you could have done. You can’t badger someone into wanting to be with you. You can’t force them to feel how you want them to feel. You can inspire these feelings by being your best self, but you can’t ever force them. If he’s not feeling it, then that’s that and just leave sit alone.
Of course, this is only a small piece of the equation. At the root of it, there are two pivotal moments every woman will experience in her relationship that will determine if it lasts, or if she winds up heartbroken and alone. The first is probably what you’re already experiencing. You like a guy but he seems to be losing interest, withdrawing, or pulling away. If this is happening to you, then you need to read this article right now: If He’s Pulling Away, Do This...
The second issue comes when a man asks himself: Is this really the woman I want to commit myself to? The answer will determine everything. Do you know what makes a man see a woman as girlfriend material? Do you know what inspires a man to commit? If not, you need to read this next The #1 Things Men Desire in a Woman