Why do men pull away in the early stages?
It’s an all too common question. Most women are familiar with that gut-wrenching feeling, the one that happens when you’ve been seeing a guy, a guy you really like, and all seemed to be going well until suddenly it wasn’t.
Suddenly he seems to be pulling away. He’s not as excited by you, he’s not as responsive, he disappears for hours or days, he’s just not there anymore, not in the way he was in the beginning. So what’s going on? Is it something you said? Something you did? Something you didn’t do?
Your mind spins and spins looking for an answer and in the end, you just feel exhausted and defeated, and also really sad that all the potential of the magical relationship that could have been is slowly going up in smoke.
The worst is if this is a pattern for you, if you’ve experienced this sort of thing multiple times. How are you not to take it personally? Maybe it means that you’re the problem.
Don’t worry. Chances are it’s not you and you aren’t doomed. Let’s break it down and look at exactly why guys pull away in the early stages, and what you should do to bring him back.
Take The Quiz: Is He Losing Interest?
The Most Common Reasons Why Guys Pull Away In the Beginning:
- There is something else going on in his life that demands his energy and attention and it has nothing to do with you
- You’re doing something that’s causing him to pull away (i.e. Acting too needy/clingy/desperate/demanding)
- He’s having doubts about the relationship
- He thinks things are moving too fast and he wants to slow it down
- He’s not that interested in you
If a guy is pulling away, chances are it’s for one of these reasons. If you really look hard and listen to your instincts, I’m sure you’ll figure out which one fits your situation.
If you suspect he’s pulling away because he’s struggling with something outside of the relationship – maybe issues at work, family issues, or emotional issues, then read this article on what to do when a man needs space. And even if that isn’t the case you should still read it because it explains a lot about male psychology and male behavior, so read that when you’re done here!
For all the other situations, here’s what you need to know …
A Guy Would Rather Walk Over a Hot Bed of Coals Then Tell You to Your Face He Isn’t Interested
No one likes to have the uncomfortable relationship conversation. Girls hate it and men despise it. Most men just aren’t as equipped to manage their emotions and if they have any inclination that an emotional maelstrom is going to hit, they will do anything they can to avoid it!
It is hard to tell someone to their face that you are no longer interested. Granted it’s probably harder to be on the receiving end of this, but still, no one enjoys doing this. It’s hard and painful and it makes you feel terrible.
If you’re an ANM reader you’ll be familiar with this core concept about men: men move toward what feels good and away from what feels bad. That’s literally the only thing you need to know to understand everything about men.
It’s scary to have those conversations. You don’t know how the other person is going to react and you don’t know what you’re walking into. It’s much safer and more comfortable to just avoid.
Now a guy doesn’t usually actively make this decision. He doesn’t decide to pull away … he just kinds of puts off having the conversation. So he’s still in the relationship, but not really. And you’re confused because he’s not breaking up with you, but he also clearly seems to be losing interest. (For more on that, read the biggest signs a guy is losing interest in you.)
Basically, he’s just buying time. He’s delaying the inevitable and he’s lingering. He doesn’t mean you drive you crazy, he just really doesn’t want to be the guy to hurt you, so he avoids it the same way most of us avoid doing anything unpleasant that we really, really don’t feel like doing, like the dishes or laundry.
In his way, and this also isn’t a conscious decision, he may be trying to show you he’s no longer interested so he doesn’t have to come right out and tell you.
So he takes longer to call or text you back, he’s less engaged and interested, you’re less of a priority. He pulls away bit by bit until it’s safe to make a totally clean break.
Why Guys Do This
A guy will pull away, or do what’s known as the fadeaway, for one of two reasons. The first is he just wasn’t that into you, to begin with. Not everyone is a match and that’s OK.
Maybe he wasn’t attracted to you enough, maybe he realized he doesn’t like your personality, maybe your interests are too vastly different. Whatever the case, there just isn’t enough chemistry and fundamental compatibility to make a relationship work. And these things can’t be faked or forced. They’re either there, or not. So if this is the case, then there isn’t much you can do.
Yes, it’s incredibly painful when you feel that everything is so right and he just doesn’t agree, but the right guy for you is a guy who wants to be with you. If this guy doesn’t want that, then there’s nothing to think about.
The next reason a guy will pull away is that you’re doing something that’s turning him off (for more on that, read this article on the biggest things that turn men off to relationships).
Usually, the most common culprit is neediness.
Neediness isn’t what you think. It’s not the desperate girl acting like a lunatic and stalking her man and begging him to love her. Neediness is more subtle than that. Neediness is a mindset more than a set of behaviors. It is a mindset that says, “I need you to respond to me in a certain way or I won’t be OK.”
For example, you “need” him to be your official boyfriend or you will be distraught and will question everything about yourself. You need him to shower you with compliments or you will feel insecure and unworthy. You need him to text you back within a certain window of time or you will panic and think he no longer cares and he’s off with someone new.
Basically, you don’t feel OK on your own, you need him to be a certain way in order to feel good.
Suffice to say, this is a huge turn off for pretty much all men. No guy wants to be responsible for your emotional wellbeing and that just isn’t his job. Only you can control your emotional reactions and the way you feel about yourself and your life. He can’t “make” you feel a certain way. You already feel a certain way and then you look for confirmation of that in his behavior … and then you blame him for “making” you feel insecure when really it had nothing to do with him.
Guys also don’t want to be the sole center of your universe. The most attractive woman to any man is a woman who is thoroughly happy in her life and brings that into the relationship. She has a life outside of the relationship and has many elements in her life that bring her joy. She doesn’t only extract joy and a sense of worth from her relationship.
When you are in the needy state of mind, you act in off-putting ways. You are unhappy, insecure, demanding, resentful, clingy, and just not pleasant to be around. So most of the time when a man pulls away early on, it’s because he felt that needy energy coming off you and it immediately sent up a red flag in his mind and reflexively caused him to pull back.
How to Stop Him From Pulling Away
It’s actually very simple. You need to focus on just being OK with a situation as it is. Don’t place demands or expectations on it. Just let it flow and go with it.
If he isn’t your official boyfriend, then don’t act like his girlfriend. Don’t close yourself off to other guys and take down your dating profiles. Be as committed to him as he is to you. If he says he doesn’t want to put a label on it right now, then don’t take yourself off the market. (Also, and this is another mantra you should burn into your head: if a guy says he doesn’t want a relationship, believe him.)
If he hasn’t clearly and explicitly claimed you as his then you are free to do whatever you like. Don’t go all in and bend over backward to please him in an attempt to show him what an amazing girlfriend you would be. This is just desperation and neediness all dressed up.
It is a huge mistake to put all your eggs in one basket. This is how you set the stage to be devastated.
So keep your options open. This doesn’t mean you have to juggle dating ten guys at a time. Maybe there’s no one you want to date at this exact moment. That’s fine, just keep yourself open to the possibility of dating other guys, don’t mentally commit yourself to this guy who hasn’t committed to you.
Another important point is to focus on loving yourself and loving your life. Have a balanced, well-rounded life full of people you love and activities you enjoy. Do whatever makes you feel happy and alive. Make it a priority to do these things.
If you have issues still haunting you from your past, maybe from your upbringing or previous relationships, then deal with them! Problems don’t just solve themselves. And hurt feelings don’t disappear just because they go unacknowledged. Work through whatever is holding you back so you can be your best self and have the relationship you’ve always wanted.
I hope this article clarified why men pull away in the beginning of a relationship. There is something else you need to know that will determine if you will make it longterm. At some point, a man will begin to withdraw and pull away. He is less engaged, less attentive, less responsive to you and it seems like he’s losing interest. The way you respond has huge implications for your relationship. Do you know exactly what to do when a man pulls away? If not, then you need to read this article right away: If He’s Pulling Away, Do This...