Is He Pulling Away? What Should I Do?
It’s the worst possible feeling.
You try to ignore it. You try to justify. But you know what’s going on … he’s pulling away from you. This on its own isn’t so terrifying. It’s your perceived reason for why he’s doing it that fuels the pit in your stomach. You’re terrified it means that he’s losing interest and he’s going to leave.
It’s not always easy to put your finger on what’s happening. He may be there physically, but emotionally he seems to be somewhere else. He seems withdrawn and emotionally closed off and the worst part is he won’t talk to you about it. You ask him, but he just brushes you off and makes you feel like a nuisance … which only adds fuel to your panicked heart.
You can’t help but think of the worst case scenario and beat yourself up over what you possibly could have done to push him away.
Well, relax! I promise you it’s not as bad as you think and getting things back on track isn’t that difficult.
Why He Pulls Away
Before we talk about what to do when a man pulls away, let’s talk about why they do it in the first place. It’s usually for one of the following reasons.
1. It has nothing to do with you. Maybe he’s stressed at work, he took a financial loss, he’s having family problems or health problems. Whatever it is, it has nothing to do with you. When men are stressed or emotionally off balance, they typically prefer to deal with it on their own. This is why he won’t come right out and talk to you about it.
2. You’re doing something that’s causing him to pull away. Maybe your insecurities are running wild, maybe you’ve been extra needy, maybe you aren’t giving him space when he needs it. Maybe you were rude to his best friend. Whatever the case, you did something that he found off-putting.
3. He’s having doubts about the relationship. This is every woman’s worst case scenario. What if he’s losing interest? Well if he’s pulling further and further away, and it’s been going on for a while, that might be what’s going on.
(For more on the reasons, read this article: The Top 3 Reasons Why Men Pull Away)
A guy can pull away at any stage of a relationship, but the advice I give is different depending on whether you’re in a committed relationship or you’re casually dating.
This is what to do for either scenario:
When You’re in a Relationship and He Pulls Away
1. Do not stress about it.
Stressing is a total relationship ruiner. Not to mention mood and self-esteem killer. I know you’re scared. I know you’re worried. But feeding into these feelings will just give them more power over you and they will just make the problem worse.
You don’t even know what you’re dealing with yet, and your mind is going into overdrive trying to fix it. Don’t solve a problem until there is an actual problem to solve.
Like I said earlier, a lot of the time when a man withdraws is has nothing to do with you. This is just how men prefer to deal with stress and difficulties. I know it’s hard for you to understand because us women aren’t like that. When we’re having a hard time, we seek out those closest to us for support. This is what makes us feel cared for and just talking about the problem somehow makes it better even if we don’t reach a solution.
Men aren’t like this. They don’t see a point in talking about problems for the sake of it. Men are also conditioned to appear strong and in control so it’s not easy for him to be so vulnerable with you.
If you’re in a committed relationship and he’s pulling away, it most likely has nothing to do with you so don’t turn his personal problems into relationship problems. This will just cause him to retreat even further.
Or maybe he is having doubts about you … okay, that happens. But panicking about it isn’t going to fix anything so try to keep your worried mind under control.
2. Be there without being overbearing.
If you pester him to open up and talk to you, he will just move farther away. Nagging, begging, pleading, and threatening him won’t work.
Yes, I know you want to know what’s going on in his head and you think he should talk to you, but this isn’t the way to go about it.
All you need to do is let him know you’re there for him and then just leave it alone. If he comes to you and asks for your advice, then, by all means, share your thoughts, but only if he asks.
If he isn’t opening up just lovingly tell him, “I’ve noticed something has been on your mind lately and you’re not yourself. I just want you to know I’m here if you want to talk or need anything.” Follow that with an affectionate gesture and then just leave it alone. If he wants to talk to you, he knows how to find you.
And you don’t need to keep reminding him you’re there if he wants to talk. Once is enough!
After that, try not to stew in anger or bitterness. Just let him be. Which brings me to my next point…
3. Give him space (and take your own space!)
If he wants space, then use it as an opportunity to take some time and space to focus on yourself. Being our best selves is an evolving process. We don’t just arrive at some finished product one day, we need to continue working at it.
It’s easy to lose yourself in a relationship. Now is a good time to get those parts back. It’s a good time to remember what it’s like to be on your own and to pursue the things that once fulfilled you but have since fallen by the wayside to make room for your relationship.
If you really feel devastated by him pulling away and can’t stop crying or obsessing about it … now is a good time to figure out why! It’s a good opportunity to get to know yourself a little more deeply. What is it you’re really afraid of here? Why don’t you trust that you are worthy of his love and that he’ll come back? And even if he doesn’t, what will that mean to you and how will that impact you?
When You’re Casually Dating and He Pulls Away
This scenario causes even more heartache and grief for women because there is no stability in a “casually dating” relationship. He doesn’t owe you anything, and you really just don’t know if this day will be the last in your relationship.
And these days, “ghosting” is an accepted form of breaking up … so as the hours and days roll by without hearing from him, you’re left wondering if you’re even in a relationship anymore. The uncertainty is enough to drive you crazy and cause you to seriously question yourself. And it’s disappointing because it’s the end of the potential of what could have been. You didn’t even get a fair shot with this guy and he’s already bailing???
I know your instincts are to sink into a pit of despair or send him a nasty text about what a jerk he is and his mother should be ashamed of the man she raised, but this is a better way to handle it:
1. Wait a minute.
Before you start reflexively panicking, just take a minute because he might not be pulling away at all!
He might just be settling into a more normal routine. In the beginning, a guy brings his A-game because he wants to win you over. He texts constantly, he books the next date, he is attentive and available. Once things have gotten into a little more of a rhythm, he doesn’t have to go so full force anymore. Also, doing so isn’t sustainable. People have jobs and lives.
Now the woman can easily interpret this as meaning he’s pulling away or losing interest. But really, he might just be getting more comfortable with you and settling into a more natural and normal state of being.
I remember in the days leading up to my first date with my husband (we dated in high-school so we had a history) we were talking non stop! All day long on text and Facebook Messenger and G-chat. We couldn’t get enough. Then our first date was 7 hours long! This was followed by more constant chatting and another amazing second date and then I didn’t hear from him for an entire day. I was literally losing my mind. I was replaying everything to figure out where I went wrong and what I did to push him away.
And that night, as I was mourning the loss of the relationship … he texted me and everything was just fine and normal! I created a whole drama in my mind for absolutely no reason.
The point is, figure out what you’re dealing with before you freak out about it. (Also, try not to freak out at all because like I said, that never solves anything!)
Now if it’s clear that he is pulling away … maybe it’s been days since you heard from him and his answers to you when you reach out are cold and short then ….
2. Just leave him alone.
Don’t call him or text him or show up places where you think he’ll be. If he isn’t contacting you, it’s because he doesn’t want to at this moment in time. He doesn’t need you to text him to remind him that you exist. He knows where to find you!
I know it’s tempting to send him something funny, you know, to remind him what a hilarious chick you are … or to go on an angry tirade to let him know what a scumbag he is … or to send him something cute or sweet or charming to re-ignite his feelings. But none of this will work. He will be able to sense your desperation and it will just make him pull away even more.
And if you do message him and he doesn’t answer … definitely do not send follow ups. This will just make you look crazy and your dignity will take a major hit!
3. Focus on yourself.
This is the same advice I gave above. It’s the same advice I give in almost every article because this is what will help you get the love you want. Focus on yourself and your happiness.
Stop worrying about what you did to turn him off and push him away. If you acted needy, then try to get to the root of the behavior and correct it. If you didn’t do anything needy and you were your true authentic self with him … then he probably just isn’t the right guy for you and it wasn’t a match.
I know a guy pulling away can have a devastating impact on your self-esteem but if you internalize these negative feelings, they will just cause problems for you in future relationships. Use this time to rediscover what you love about yourself and to realize why you’re a catch and would be an amazing relationship partner to the man that is worthy of you.
4. Send out a feeler after a week.
After focusing on yourself and getting back to a mentally strong place, send him a feeler to see how he reacts.
Now don’t send something like, “Hey stranger. Where have you been hiding?” This is just an accusation dressed up as a flirtation. Don’t even mention his disappearance. Just keep it light and casual.
Something like, “I saw the funniest meme today and it made me think of you.”
Or, “I had such a wild weekend at the beach. How have you been? I’d love to catch up!”
If he doesn’t respond well … no message is also a message.
If he’s short or cold, maybe he answers your question but doesn’t engage in conversation by asking a follow-up question, then he’s just not interested.
If he’s receptive, great! Maybe things will get back on track. Just try to move forward with a clean slate and don’t hold onto resentment or anger over the fact that you didn’t hear from him. If you don’t bring it up, the chances are high that he’ll say something about it. He might say, “I’m sorry I’ve been MIA, work has been insane.” Whether it’s true or not doesn’t matter, he’s just expressing to you that he feels bad about it so just leave it alone and move forward.
Now if his disappearing acts become a habit, that’s a red flag and strong sign that he just isn’t into you enough.
Getting Him Back After He Pulls Away
If you follow the advice for your given scenario then one of the following outcomes will take place:
1. He’ll work on whatever issue he’s having on his own and will come back even better than before. This is the ideal scenario. We hope that with a little time and space, he’ll get his head sorted and will come back into the relationship as an even better man.
2. He’ll talk to you about it. Not all guys refuse to talk about problems. Some will want to share with you. But this will only happen if you are compassionate and give him space. Not if you hammer away at him to open up. If you give him space and do your own thing, then he will feel safer coming to you and talking about what’s wrong. If he does do this, try to just be supportive and listen rather than trying to solve the problem for him.
3. He’ll continue to fade away until he breaks up with you or fades away completely. If you’re in a committed relationship, then he will most likely give you a proper breakup after a period of pulling away. If you were casually dating, he might just fade away or “ghost.” I know it’s not right, but it’s a common practice these days, unfortunately (you can read more about exactly why guys disappear in this article).
I hope this article helped you better understand exactly what to do when a guy pulls away. But there’s only so much one article can cover. The fact is, most men pull away at some point in the relationship. And the way you react can determine if he will end it for good, or come back and be even better. Read this next to learn more: If He’s Pulling Away, Do This...