So I’ve been seeing this guy for a few months now. At first, everything was amazing. We hit it off right away and during the first few weeks, he seemed super into me. He would text me things like, ‘I miss you’ and ‘Can’t wait to see you’ and on our second date he said he ‘never liked a girl so much after only two dates’. He was also super attentive and super sweet.
All this was great, but then he started to shift and lately has been acting really shady- he cancels on me last minute, he’s been acting distant, and I’m just getting weird vibes. At first, I thought he was just trying to end things, but then from time to time, he’ll text me something really sweet, like about how much he wants to see me, or that he’s been thinking about me, so obviously, he’s still interested or why would he do that?
Anyway, I’m really confused by his behavior, my friends say I should just forget him but I really feel like we could have something great and I’m not ready to throw in the towel just yet.
Am I deluding myself? Please help! Why are guys like this!?
Okay, I’m gonna let you in on something that very few women know. When a guy says things like, ‘I’ve never liked a girl so much after only a few dates’ or he texts you saying he misses you when you barely know each other, he’s not making some kind of grand, everlasting declaration that he’ll always feel this way.
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Is it normal for a guy to withdraw in a relationship?
Before I can talk about a guy withdrawing, I need to talk about relationships in general.
It can be helpful to look at the initial period of dating as it’s own phase with its own specific qualities.
MORE: Exactly Why Men Withdraw From Relationships
For example, in the beginning, both of you might feel a lot of excitement and also an undercurrent of fearful restlessness. The excitement is on thinking about all the things they like about you. The fear is rooted in insecurities: What if they don’t like me as much as I like them? What if they’re not that into me and I end up making a fool of myself falling for someone when they don’t feel the same way? What are they feeling?
It may seem hard to believe, but in the beginning of a relationship, a guy will try to feel out how much a woman likes him … especially if he feels some amount of insecurity about how much she’s into him.
For instance, if a guy says something like “I like you so much” or whatever during the early phases, he very well might mean it, but he also wants to see how you’ll react. Specifically, he’s checking to see if you’ll say that you feel the same way.
MORE: The Top 3 Reasons Why Men Pull Away
If you say something like, “Really? I really like you too!” and get all excited, then he knows you’re really into him. If not, he will probably dial it back on his part because he doesn’t think you’re all that into him… that doesn’t mean he’ll lose interest in you, but if he already had some insecurities about whether or not you are into him, this will stir up his insecurities further and he’ll keep doing and trying things to “make you like him” so he can feel secure.
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So, for starters, I would say that the more insecure he is about you liking him, the more of this stuff he’s going to say until he’s convinced that you really like him a lot.
Once he believes that you really like him, it’s at that point he’ll relax and start being himself.
In the beginning phase of a relationship, the guy wants you to like him and wants to know that you do. Everyone wants to be liked and if there’s any potential to the relationship whatsoever, the guy wants to know that you like him. This is a normal and healthy thing.
So when he’s texting you sweet things, saying all that mushy stuff and being really attentive, there is an element of wanting to hook you in and see where he stands with you.
MORE: 5 Steps to Stop a Man From Withdrawing
Men and women both do this, but sometimes it’s harder to see when we’re thinking about the person we’re with. I’m not saying they’re genuinely interested in you too.
What I am saying is that in the beginning phase of the relationship, it’s common for one or both people to have some amount of insecurity and want to go out of their way to make sure the other person really likes them before they let their guard down. So one of the ways they might see if you like them is to do and say anything they can think of that they think you would like.
Again, this isn’t a bad thing. You would want the other person you’re with to feel secure with you, so that they can let their guard down and be their true day-to-day self (without all the added performances to make you like them).
I’ve described this kind of thing as people wearing a pretty “mask” at the beginning of a relationship and how, if you know about this, you’ll make sure to see the person behind the mask (and not mistake their pretty “mask” as who they actually are).
When both of you are convinced that you like each other, you can both “drop the mask” and start acting like yourself, fully. “Dropping the mask” is something I talk about extensively in the article link below…
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- In the beginning of a relationship, both men and women may be insecure whether or not the other person likes them.
- In order to calm their insecurity, they will do and say whatever they can think of to make the other person like them.
- Once they’re convinced the other person really likes them, they can drop their guard and be their normal self without the various attempts to woo you (which were fueled by the insecurity that they might lose you or you might not like them).
- While they might have an insecurity that fuels them to impress you and try to get validation you really like them, that doesn’t mean that they don’t also have very real affection, appreciation or admiration for you.
So he’s being all sweet and really getting you to like him … and then he shifts …
I took the time to explain the first phase of relationships (and the role insecurity can play) because I want to make a few important points here:
- His behavior might change, but it’s not for a bad reason. It’s because his insecurities have cleared up and he feels comfortable being as he is now.
- A little insecurity at the beginning of a relationship isn’t unhealthy, it’s normal. Just understand that what the other person is doing and saying in the beginning might be a performance fueled by their insecurity and, once they’re comfortable, might get dialed back considerably.
- It’s normal for the excitement level and sweet, over-the-top declarations of love to decrease after the initial phase of the relationship. This isn’t a bad thing, it opens the possibility for a deeper, more open, more honest, more authentic relationship once you’re out of the first phase.
Let’s look at a scenario of a guy who was largely fueled by insecurity in the first phase of dating a woman…
After that guy determines that you really like him, he has you, and he’s no longer worried that he could lose you to another guy. He feels secure and he feels the current relationship dynamic is secure.
This is around the time where things are starting to get comfortable: You make plans regularly, you’re in contact more frequently and maybe it even seems like a relationship is just around the corner.
Or so you think…
What will determine if you actually do get into a relationship with him?
A couple of things:
- Is he open to having an exclusive, long-term relationship with you?
- Will you keep sticking around and continuing the relationship dynamic if he doesn’t agree to get into an exclusive relationship with you?
If you have a guy who is not open to getting into a relationship with you, a scenario like this might play out:
You might start getting really excited by this prospect that you and this guy will have a relationship, but this particular guy has specifically said he doesn’t want a relationship.
MORE: Signs He Doesn’t Want to Be With You
He might give you some excuse as to why he can’t get into a relationship, but the excuse isn’t the part that matters. As I’ve said time and time again: When a man says he doesn’t want a relationship with you (for any reason), believe him!
The reason he gives is just to soften the blow.
It makes me sad to see, but there are a lot of relationships I see where the guy is insecure and wants to make sure the woman likes him. He does all sorts of things to woo her and win her over, but simultaneously, he (for whatever reason) does not want to be in an exclusive relationship.
So as soon as the woman declares that she really likes him, she assumes it means that they’re headed towards a relationship. The guy, if he hasn’t already, starts talking about how he doesn’t want to be in a relationship for some reason.
And now the woman and man are in a holding pattern:
- The woman stays in the relationship dynamic because she thinks it is making progress towards a relationship.
- The man stays in the dynamic because it’s comfortable, secure and (in most cases) there’s ongoing sex.
- And, of course, both people like and enjoy each other’s company.
But the problem here is this: The guy already says he doesn’t want a relationship with you. And when a guy says this, it is virtually guaranteed his mind isn’t going to change… especially if you stay in the current dynamic.
I mean, think about it: Why would the guy change his mind if you’re going to stick around regardless of whether or not you’re in an explicitly committed, exclusive relationship?
He already knows you’re not going to go out with other guys. He already knows you have decided to be exclusive to him.
So from his perspective, this is a perfect situation: He still gets to be technically single but also has your ongoing exclusive commitment, sex, and companionship.
The punchline is this…
It’s not that he’s withdrawing, it’s that he doesn’t want a relationship but wants things to stay as they are now…
So if he starts feeling pressure from you for him to get into a relationship with him, he’s going to pull back…
Or if he feels that the current dynamic is feeling too much like a “relationship” to him (whatever he defines that as), he’s going to pull back.
Is it because he’s withdrawing? No! It’s because he doesn’t want to be in a relationship… and no amount of asking, begging, hinting, pressuring or convincing is going to change that!
Let’s return to that scenario I was talking about a moment ago, with the insecure guy who wants a woman to like him, but simultaneously doesn’t want to be in an exclusive relationship right now…
MORE: When a Guy Withdraws After Sex
While in the beginning, his insecurity was compelling him to do everything he could to woo you and win you over, now his insecurity is satisfied and his mind has moved on to other things.
He cancels plans, he goes MIA for days at a time, he acts distant. Possibly because he’s just not fixating over whether or not he “has” you, possibly because he wants to hold things back from becoming an exclusive relationship dynamic.
In a worst-case scenario, the same sense of insecurity that made the guy obsessed with finding out if you like him is now scaring him into thinking that you’re going to “take his freedom away.”
Generally speaking, most guys have a fear of being “trapped” in a relationship, but in this particular scenario you’re dealing with a guy who’s actions are especially dictated by avoiding unpleasant situations as a primary motivator.
If you start getting on his case (“Why didn’t you call?” “Why are you being so shady?”, etc.) he will feel trapped and suffocated and start pulling away.
The central problem is not that he’s withdrawing because of something you did… it’s because he explicitly does not want to be in an exclusive relationship with you
In nearly every case, the guy will have said this in some way, shape or form.
The problem isn’t that you somehow screwed up with how you were acting with him. The problem is that you’re saying “Yes” to a guy who doesn’t want a relationship… and, if you want to be in an exclusive relationship with a man… these are the guys that you have to say “No” to.
If you say “Yes” to a man that tells you that he doesn’t want an exclusive relationship with you… for any reason… ANY reason… then you will always run into problems like this for as long as you’re together.
It will always feel like you’re swimming upstream and pouring in all your energy just to keep the relationship going. You will always feel like something is wrong like he’s acting shady or pulling away. You will always feel like the relationship is just out-of-reach.
Why? Is it because he’s withdrawing?
No! It’s because you want a relationship and he doesn’t. It’s that simple.
You can avoid this from ever happening to you by following this simple guide:
- When a guy tells you he doesn’t want a relationship, believe him!
- You are 100% single until a guy clearly, directly and eagerly commits to you the way that you want.
- Relationships do need time to grow, so don’t expect commitment immediately. But if he ever says he doesn’t want a relationship with you, for any reason, remember that you are 100% single.
- If you want a relationship, don’t say “Yes” to men that say they don’t want a relationship. Say “No”.
- If you want a relationship, say “Yes” to a man that wants a relationship or, at least, is open to one.
- Relationships are easy when you choose a man who wants to be in a relationship.
- Relationships are impossible when you choose a man who does not want to be in a relationship.
Choose wisely! The man you select will determine 90% of your relationship success. Don’t say “Yes” to the men that don’t want what you want.
It sounds simple and it is. Women make the mistake of thinking that you can choose anyone and then someone entice, convince or inspire him to want a relationship. Not a smart strategy and look at the dating scene – it’s obvious that trying to change a guy’s mind is a losing strategy.
And it’s not just guys … this is human psychology.
I have seen it happen the other way, where women are on the other side of the tables – pouring the sweetness on thick and then pulling back to test how much the guy will put up with. Testing boundaries isn’t necessarily pretty, but it is a way for a partner (who has fears and insecurities) to form trust in the relationship.
It’s easier to look at his behavior if you can see it through a lens of compassion, and not from a place of frustration or fear.
MORE: When a Guy Won’t Call You His Girlfriend
So how do I deal with him withdrawing like this?
If you’re dealing with a guy who doesn’t want to be in a relationship, the way you deal with it is that you make a realization for yourself: You are 100% single.
Remember that you’re 100% single until you’re 100% in a committed relationship. None of this “it’s complicated” stuff. Black and white, simple, clear, clean – you either are in a clear committed relationship or you’re not.
If you’re not, you step into the reality that you are 100% free to meet other men, go on dates and find a man who does want to commit to you and have the kind of relationship you’re looking for.
A funny thing in these situations is that oftentimes if you maintain that you’re single until you’re in a clear relationship, one of two things will happen. Either:
- The guy will all of a sudden realize that he does want a committed relationship with you and directly commit, or…
- The guy will know that he could lose you to another guy and, even still, do nothing to stop that from happening
Either way, you win. You either get into a committed relationship with the guy you’ve been seeing or you discover that he wasn’t all that into you in the first place.
So in other words, you either get into a clear relationship or you save yourself from weeks, months or years on a guy who was never going to commit in the way you wanted!
What if we’re in a committed relationship and he’s withdrawing?
Based on the reader’s question in this article, we spoke about how a relationship can start off great but then hit the brakes later if it’s a guy who doesn’t want a relationship. That scenario routes back to the root problem that the guy doesn’t want a relationship and his “withdrawing” is just a symptom of the real problem.
However, what if you are seeing a guy who wants a relationship (or is at least open to one), but he seems to be withdrawing? Or what if you’re in a committed relationship and he seems to be withdrawing?
One of the qualities of a healthy relationship is that you and your partner are able to give each other space.
If you’re in a relationship that’s clearly defined, exclusive and committed, then withdrawing in this context is different.
After almost a decade of working with men and women, it is almost guaranteed that whenever I see a partner withdrawing in a relationship, I see the other partner has trouble giving them space.
It could be because of insecurities or a lack of trust or that the other partner leans on the withdrawing partner as his or her sole source of entertainment and companionship… but for whatever the reason, not being able to give the partner space goes hand-in-hand with a partner that’s withdrawing.
At the root of it, not being able to give your partner space stems from you having a fear that you’ll lose them.
You fear that you’ll lose them, so you constantly try to measure if they’re losing interest in you. You constantly do and say things to try to “keep them” or prevent them from losing interest or slipping away.
However, the fuel of all of your behavior in this case is rooted in fear and this gives off a vibe of desperation and neediness.
When someone’s frequently feeding into a fear that they’ll lose you, it shows up in their energy… their mood… their vibe… and that’s not an enjoyable energy to be around!
It sucks the fun and enjoyment out of the relationship because instead of you being the fun, carefree, happy person you were when the relationship began, now spending time with you feels murky and serious and dark. There’s a pressure he’ll feel like he is walking on eggshells.
Fear of loss is a self-fulfilling prophecy. That is to say, the fear of the problem actually becomes the cause of the problem.
How Fear of Losing Him Causes A Guy To Withdraw:
- You are afraid you might lose the guy you’re with.
- You look at the guy for reassurance that he won’t leave.
- He reassures you, but after some amount of time, you feel that fear again and seek reassurance.
- This repeats again and again, but your fear is like a bottomless pit and his reassurance is never enough.
- The overall mood of the relationship stops being light, open and fun. Now it feels like serious business, where he’s constantly moderating everything he says to avoid triggering your fears and frequently reassuring you.
- The relationship starts to feel like a drag because the tone of it has become servicing a bottomless pit of fear… and he’s starting to get exhausted.
- He starts trying to get some space so he can recharge his energy, but when he does, that triggers your fear of loss even more, causing it to be even more of a drain.
- Now he feels like even taking space for himself is a trigger for your insecurities, so you unknowingly are cutting him off from the natural places where he recharges his own energy.
- His mood starts to decline and he starts being less pleasant to be with. Arguments start or he starts displaying even more worrisome behavior, which stirs up your fear of losing him even more.
- At some point, the mood of the relationship becomes so unbearable that he leaves.
Now see, that whole scenario doesn’t play out that way if fear of losing him doesn’t get out of control.
Granted, this only applies to a relationship where you have a committed, exclusive relationship in the first place. After all, if it’s one of those “complicated” relationship dynamics where he said he doesn’t want to be in a relationship and you stay with him anyway, then… yeah… you’ll constantly fear losing him because you want a relationship and he doesn’t, so keeping anything going requires your total energy to keep it going at all.
In a relationship where both of you want the relationship to be good, then that’s where you need an appreciation for giving a guy space.
When you give a guy space
- You realize that you’re giving him the opportunity to “recharge his batteries”, so he can bring that good, happy, rejuvenated energy into the relationship
- You learn to live your life in a way where you’re not looking for another person to “make you feel OK”
- Rather, you live your life in a way that feels happy to you and you look at your partner as someone you share your life with.
Perhaps a better way to say it: You don’t extract happiness from relationships. You bring happiness into your relationship and share it.
You don’t extract a feeling of security or worth or well-being from your relationship. You bring security, worth and well-being into your relationship and share it.
MORE: Why Men Withdraw and What to Do About It
And he does too! That’s how you have a happy relationship, a secure relationship, a good relationship. You bring these things into the relationship and share them.
I’m not saying that you can never have an insecure moment in a relationship or that you can never have a bad day (or even a bad week). I’m saying that when you primarily view your relationship as a place where you bring your happiness into and share it, that’s a relationship that grows, deepens and thrives.
The reason for it is simple: When you bring good feelings into the relationship, the relationship feels good to be in!
And when one of you is having a hard time, there’s such an ocean of “goodness” that’s been built over time that the occasional tough moments just get easily washed away like nothing.
Relationships work best when both people come into it whole, happy and fulfilled, and as the relationship progresses, continue to view the relationship as a place that they bring their happiness into and share it.
Guys are highly receptive to the mood and energy of a relationship. When you can be the example of being in a good mood (and as a natural result, having a good vibe or “good energy”), he will naturally understand how to be that way too.
When it comes to the vibe or emotional tone of a relationship, men follow the woman’s lead. When you make your mood a priority and live in a way that has you feeling happy on the inside… and you bring that happy emotional tone into the relationship… he will respond to it over time and start bringing that emotional tone into the relationship too.
MORE: What to Do If Your Man is Withdrawing
So this is what to do when a guy withdraws:
- Give the other person space to recharge your batteries.
- Understand that giving your partner space to charge their batteries is a good thing.
- Live your life in a way that recharges your own batteries independent of your relationship.
- Your mood matters! Your mood becomes your vibe. A good mood becomes a good vibe and a good vibe attracts love from every corner of your life.
- When you’re happy, you bring your happiness into the relationship and share it, which makes your relationship feel good to be in.
- Understand that you can either feed your fears or you can feed your joy, but you can’t feed both.
- Feeding your fears will destroy your vibe, which will destroy your relationship.
- Feeding your joy will bring joy into your relationship, which will improve your relationship with every passing day.
If you want some great advice on how to give a guy space, take a look at the following article:
MORE: What To Do When He Says He Needs Space
I hope this article helped you better understand why guys withdraw. But there is more you need to be aware of. Most guys will start to pull away at some point. They may even lose interest. You may notice he’s acting colder and he’s less responsive and attentive to you. Do you know how to handle it when this happens? If not, you run the risk of making a common, and major, mistake that might push him further away so be sure to read this next: If He’s Pulling Away, Do This...
If you want some help figuring out if he’s losing interest, the best thing you can do is click here to take our “Is He Losing Interest?” quiz and find out right now…
Hope it helps,
Take The Quiz: Is He Losing Interest?
Click here to take our quick (and shockingly accurate) “Is He Losing Interest” Quiz right now and find out if he’s really losing interest in you...