Is your man pulling away?
Are you wondering what you can do about it?
Then you’ve landed on exactly the right article.
One of my friends refers to men pulling away as the “eighth great wonder of the world” because it happens, well… All. The. Time.
In this article, I’m going to show you exactly what to do when he pulls away. I’ll walk you through the 8 most common reasons men pull away and then the 12 things you can do right now.
Though you may feel like you don’t have the control and are waiting on a guy when he pulls away, you actually have a lot of power in this situation.
But first… let’s dive into the reasons he’s pulling away in the first place.
Reason #1 He’s Pulling Away – He’s Exploring His Interests
In a healthy relationship, both partners explore their own interests.
Sometimes men will get sucked into something that they are passionate about and put everything else on hold while they pursue that passion.
Ask yourself if there’s a big project or event that’s pulling him away? If he’s a musician, maybe he’s recording an album with his band? If he’s into sports, maybe there’s a big series or championship happening right now?
Whatever he’s into, there’s probably a good reason he’s distracted right now.
When men pull away due to something they are very interested in for a week or two, often it’s because they are totally engrossed in that interest and not actively ignoring you.
I’m not saying this is the right thing to do, but it happens, so it’s important to consider it before jumping to any of the other reasons he may be pulling away.
Reason #2 – He’s Wants to Slow Things Down
Did your relationship pick up speed super quickly, and now you notice he’s pulling away? It may be that he’s feeling like it’s too much, too fast.
Pulling away is his way of tapping the brakes.
“I’d like to take it slow” is one of the things you will hear from a guy who is feeling overwhelmed by the speed of a relationship and maybe feeling a bit smothered.
Let me be clear though — this often isn’t the woman’s fault. For a relationship to pick up speed, it takes two people to make that happen.
It may be that he was feeling it as much as you initially, but then realized that the relationship has grown into something more serious than he was initially expecting or is ready for. As a result, he’s pulling away to try to regain some independence and wants to slow things down.
This doesn’t mean that he’s not into you, but it may mean that he wants to take things at a slower pace before making a big commitment.
And that can be a really good thing for the long-term stability of your relationship.
According to Professor Emerita of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Susan Krauss Whitbourne, slowing down is a “process of assessing whether [a couple] will make it for the long haul that may impact their relationship quality, especially for the women.”
Slowing down, according to Krauss, gives you both time to reflect on the long-term potential of the relationship, including life values, goals, compatibility, and emotional intimacy.
Reason #3 – You Haven’t Triggered Something in Him
The number 1 reason men pull away is that they’re not getting what they really need from you.
There’s one thing every man needs to commit to a relationship, and ultimately experience deep and passionate love.
What is it?
Above all else, men need to feel wanted, needed and essential by the woman in his life. In other words, he needs to feel like your hero.
Not an action hero like Thor, but an everyday hero that provides you something no other man can.
There’s a new concept in relationship psychology that’s generating a lot of buzz at the moment that goes to the heart of why men pull away from women even when things seem to be going well.
It’s called the hero instinct.
According to the hero instinct, men have a biological drive to live a life full of meaning and to provide for those he cares about.
And this drive is amplified in their romantic relationships.
The interesting thing is that you can actually trigger the hero instinct in your guy.
There are words you can say, phrases you can use, and little requests you can make to trigger this very natural instinct in him.
I don’t often buy into popular new concepts in psychology or recommend videos. But if you want your guy to fully commit to a relationship with you, I think learning about the hero instinct can make all the difference.
Reason #4 – He’s Feeling Controlled
This reason is a bit more complicated than simply needing more space or slowing down the speed of the relationship.
Pulling away due to control happens when men feel like they are losing their power and sense of self.
Do you schedule things for the two of you without confirming first with him? Do you ask him lots of questions about where he’s been and what he’s doing in a demanding sort of way? Do you criticize him frequently?
If you feel like this could be the reason your partner is pulling away, take a look at the signs of a controlling relationship, and be honest with yourself if any of them apply to you.
If he’s beginning to feel like he needs to answer to someone else (i.e., you) like he would a parent or authority figure, he may be pulling back to regain a feeling of autonomy and independence.
Reason #5 – He’s Feeling Pressured
Another reason men pull away is when they feel like their partner has expectations for the relationship that they aren’t totally sure if they share or can live up to.
This can be especially hard on men who only want to do something when they are sure they can succeed at it.
Have you talked about making a big leap in the relationship such as meeting each other’s parents, moving in together, or making a bigger commitment? Are you pressuring him to do more in his career than he wants to do himself?
If you’ve recently been talking about any of these things (even in an off-the-cuff kind of way), it may be that your man is feeling pushed into something he’s not quite ready for.
Even a passing comment that you think nothing about, can be a huge red flag for a man if he’s not sharing the same expectations, which may cause him to not love you anymore.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that he wants out of the relationship, but he may just be pulling away until he feels he’s ready for the same things that you want.
(If you’re worried your man is pulling away, please take our quiz below. Find out what is missing in your relationship and what you can do to win his love and commitment for good):
Reason #6 – He’s Contemplating His Next Move
It also may be that your guy is giving your relationship some serious thought. He may be actively contemplating what it would be like to make more of a commitment to your relationship.
As Clayton Olson, International Relationship Coach, says:
“Think of it this way: premature certainty creates more uncertainty. These words aren’t true just in relationships but in other parts of life, too. Would you want to buy a house before you were really sure you liked it? Would you want to sign a contract with a company before you were really sure you wanted to work there? Would you want to cut your hair if you weren’t truly sold on the style? Why should dating be any different?”
A man who pauses to contemplate the relationship before having “premature certainty” as Olson says, is being incredibly pragmatic and realistic about the future of the relationship.
This is a good thing.
Reason #7 – He’s Still Hung Up on Someone Else
Has your guy mentioned any former girlfriends or crushes lately — maybe once or a small handful of times?
If so, this could be why he’s pulling away.
In cases like this, he may still like you and enjoy your company, but if he’s mentioning someone else — or an even more obvious sign, hanging out with that person — it may be that he hasn’t gotten over that other person.
Ideally, he would tell you this straight out, but men don’t always communicate clearly because:
1) They fear hurting your feelings
2) He wants you to still be there if things don’t work out with the person he’s hung up on.
Reason #8 – He’s Trying to Gain Control
Sometimes men pull back because they want to control the relationship.
This is different from the reasons mentioned above because it’s not about him working through his feelings and emotions, it’s about him manipulating your emotions.
This is usually something men do to keep a woman at arm’s length, but just close enough that he can enter back into the relationship when he wants.
Though he may not even be fully aware of what he’s doing, frankly, this is an unhealthy relationship dynamic.
But here’s the good news — in all of these situations (including the last) you do have control.
So now we’re going to take a look at what you should do when he pulls away.
Step #1 What To Do When He Pulls Away – Make Him Feel Essential
Men and women are different and we want different things from a relationship.
If your man is pulling away, then you need to think about what’s driving his behavior? What does he really want from a relationship with you?
You may think that men are all about money, sex, food, sports, and power.
Sure, those things all come into play at times. But I think there is a deeper truth that few women are aware of.
Men are actually driven less by those external things above and more by how you make them feel about themselves.
Above all else men want to feel essential to the woman in their life.
This doesn’t mean you have to overload him with attention and be clingy. What it does mean is that you need to make him feel that he is providing you something that no other man can.
In other words, he needs to feel like your hero.
I mentioned the hero instinct above. It’s a fascinating new concept in relationship psychology that’s generating a lot of buzz at the moment.
The simple truth is men want to be your hero. And if you want your relationship to succeed, you need to let him be one.
How do you trigger the hero instinct in your guy?
The best thing you can do is watch this excellent free video by relationship psychologist James Bauer.
He outlines the things you can say or do to make him feel like he’s your everyday hero.
Some ideas are game changes. When it comes to relationships, I think this is one of them.
Step #2 – Give Him Space
Okay, first thing’s first — if he’s pulling away and directly or indirectly asking for space, give it to him.
In the classic relationship book Men Are From Mars & Women Are From Venus, John Gray explains that men and women have two different reactions to stress. Men retreat into their “caves” to work through a problem on their own and women want to talk through the problem.
Obviously, this can set a couple up for some relationship challenges if you’re not aware of the needs of the other person.
So it’s essential to understand that pulling away is a very common and natural thing for men to do and the best thing you can do as a supportive partner is to give your man some space when he asks for it.
The sooner you give it to him, the quicker he’ll be able to work through whatever it is that’s on his mind.
Step #3 – Communicate Your Feelings
With that said, part of being in a healthy relationship is to also be able to communicate your feelings and needs.
So when your man is pulling away and you’ve been giving him space (say, for a few days) and there’s still no change in his behavior, then it’s time to communicate what’s happening for you.
Step #4 – Get down to the root of the problem
Let’s be honest about this – your man pulling away is horrible.
It’s not easy. It’s enough to make you want to give up on love and walk away – especially if you can’t get through to him.
But I want to suggest a solution. You have all the tools you need to do this right now, right where you are.
I learnt about this from the modern-day shaman Rudá Iandê. He taught me how the lies we tell ourselves about love are part of what trap us in things like unhealthy relationships.
As Rudá explains in this transformational free video, love is available to us if we cut through the lies that we tell ourselves.
We need to face the facts about why people pull away when in a relationship.
The alternative is to end up in loveless relationships or endless dating frustration that only leaves us cold and empty.
Rudá’s teachings showed me a whole new perspective.
While watching, I felt like someone understood my struggles to find love for the first time – and finally offered an actual, practical solution as to why I struggled to keep relationships going.
If you’re done with wasting your time on love that doesn’t work, I invite you to watch this short video and open your mind to new possibilities.
Step #5 – Keep Communication to a Minimum
Once you’ve communicated what’s going on for you clearly, let him sit with that. If you continue to call, text and get in touch to “check-in” or “see how things are going,” you’re taking the focus off the real, larger conversation about the state of the relationship.
Don’t distract from the real conversation at hand by muddling it up with a bunch of small talk.
Sure, it may not be necessary to go completely MIA (that may be over the top), but it’s important if he’s asking for or taking space that you honor that by not filling up that space with a deluge of communication.
Step #6 – Do Nothing (Small But Powerful!)
Okay, okay – I know I just said you don’t need to go completely MIA, but there are certain instances where this can work in your favor. The point here, similar to above, is to say your piece, and then see what happens next.
One woman I know took this advice wholeheartedly, and it worked out well for the relationship.
Her relatively new boyfriend had been texting her multiple times daily and then went on a week-long trip with his friends and stopped communicating with her altogether.
Once he returned from his trip, she communicated how it made her feel, but her boyfriend didn’t understand. He was just having a good time with his bros and wondered why she couldn’t understand that.
So what did she do? She literally did nothing and did not get in touch with him for a few days herself.
The end result?
The boyfriend called and texted numerous times finally understanding what it felt like to be on the receiving end of someone pulling away. And then he apologized for not fully understanding how his actions were affecting her.
So the point is this – when you do nothing, it can be more powerful than doing “all the things” to try and fix the situation.
I’m not encouraging a passive-aggressive confrontation here but by mirroring your partner’s actions, you may give him some food for thought about how his communication (or lack thereof) is impacting the relationship.
Step #7 – Gauge His Emotional Intelligence
Sometimes men just aren’t that emotionally intelligent (as the example above illustrates).
According to Psychology Today, “Emotional intelligence refers to the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions, as well as the emotions of others.” And a person’s level of emotional intelligence often affects the quality of relationships that person is capable of having.
In the example above, the boyfriend was completely unaware of how his sudden behavior change was affecting the emotions of his partner.
A lack of emotional intelligence doesn’t excuse the behavior, but it does let you know if someone may be aware of how their actions may be affecting you and you can do your best to help them become more emotionally intelligent.
Ultimately, you have to decide what level of emotional intelligence you are willing to accept in a relationship, and whether you feel that your partner is someone who has the potential to become more socially aware and emotionally intelligent as they grow as a person.
Step #8 – Turn Inward
When a partner pulls back from us, one of the things that can make it so painful is that we feel like we don’t have control in the relationship.
We can feel like we’re just watching the clock tick while we wait for the other person to get their act together. Tick tock, tick tock — we’ve all been there.
But remember, you always (yes, always!) can choose whether this relationship is working for you. Don’t just wait for time to pass until he sorts it out on his end — use this time to reflect on whether this is the type of relationship you want in your life.
Ask yourself questions like…
Is this a pattern and something that’s recurring in our relationship?
Does this person show understanding and empathy for how his actions are affecting me?
Does this person seem like they would make a good long-term partner?
At the end of the day, the choice to be in this relationship is always yours. It may feel like you’re waiting on your partner to re-engage, but this is also an opportunity for you to assess the relationship and make choices that are best for you.
You only lose control in the relationship when you give it away. So if he pulls away, now is the perfect opportunity to assess what is and isn’t working for you.
Step #9 – Surround Yourself With Good Vibes
Another thing that is painful when a partner pulls away is that it can often make us doubt ourselves. Many people find themselves wondering things like What did I do wrong? Is there something wrong with me? Am I loveable?
Whatever the reason is that your partner is pulling away, you are seriously loveable and it’s so important that you remind yourself of that right now.
Relationship expert Amy Sherman, M.A., LMHC says this is what you should focus on doing when your partner pulls away: “Take care of yourself, above all else, to ensure you maintain your health and well-being. No relationship is worth disrupting your life and compromising your integrity to keep someone around.”
Hang out with that friend who always makes you feel like you’re glowing. Treat yourself to something special. Read a book like You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero.
Make sure you are not doubting your worthiness so you can decide whatever type of pulling away your guy is engaging in is working for you.
Step #10 – Trust Your Intuition
Oftentimes, our gut will tell us something long before our mind will catch up.
Do you still feel like there is a lot of substance to the relationship even though your partner is pulling away? Trust that.
Or do you feel like the relationship has been running on fumes and this is just another example of that? Trust that.
Our minds will often lead us down a rabbit hole of possibilities listing out all the evidence and dumping it in either Column A and Column B.
But just for a minute – stop that. Don’t think. Listen to your gut. What is your gut telling you about this relationship?
Step #11 – Accept the Gift
No matter what the answer is to the question above or what happens with this relationship, there is a huge opportunity to learn here.
You may learn what it’s like to truly support a partner and put their needs ahead of yours to help them work through an issue.
Or you may learn that you’re too often putting your partner’s needs before your own, and it’s time to make your needs a top priority.
Whatever the lesson is for you in this experience, it has the power to be transformative and move you forward on the path to being in the type of relationship that YOU want.
Step #12 – Be Clear & Direct
When you’re communicating your feelings, you want to be clear and direct while remembering to stay curious. You may feel like you know why he is pulling away, but keeping an open mind is essential if you want to have a meaningful conversation with him.
Ask straight-forward questions like…
It seems like you need more space right now. Is that right?
It seems like you’re being more distant. Can you tell me why?
Can you tell me why it’s been difficult to connect with you lately?
And communicate clearly with statements like…
When you pull away, it makes me wonder if you’re still interested in this relationship.
When you are distant, it leaves me doubting our relationship or if it has a future.
When we don’t connect, I wonder if this relationship is important to you.
Notice, these aren’t emotionally charged statements and they aren’t making any assumptions or accusations about him. They are simply statements about the relationship.
They are clear, direct, show curiosity, and communicate what’s going on for you without judging him.
Your Relationship Is Like a Basecamp
Scott M. Peck, the author of the classic book The Road Less Traveled, has a very insightful quote where he compares having a successful relationship to mountain climbing.
He writes, “If one wants to climb mountains one must have a good base camp, a place where there are shelters and provisions, where one may receive nurture and rest before one venture forth again to seek another summit.”
And that’s the thing about relationships – each partner has to climb their own mountain in life. Your goal isn’t to have your lives so intertwined that you’re climbing the exact same mountain.
The goal is to have your relationship be the basecamp where you both go to recharge and refuel to climb your own mountains.
If you can find the balance, where you both are tending to the basecamp – the relationship – so then you can do your own things in the world, then you have found the balance between being together to support one another while being independent enough to have your unique paths in life.
But the basecamp has to be tended to.
So if your partner is pulling away, it’s up to you to decide whether this is the person you want to build your base camp with? Whatever is your answer to that question is the only answer you need.
And you know what happened to that couple that I wrote about earlier (the one where the boyfriend couldn’t understand what it felt like to be on the receiving end of pulling away)?
They’ve been happily married for over ten years now.
So yep, sometimes pulling away is a stepping stone a relationship needs to go through for a couple to end up on the same page.
The Ball is in Your Court
By now you should realize men always pull away for a reason.
And there is always something you can do about it.
If you want to stop him pulling away, and develop a deep and passionate relationship with him, please check out this free online video by relationship expert James Bauer.
He’ll introduce to you a radical new concept in relationship psychology called the hero instinct. I’ve talked about this briefly above.
Men are different to women and they want different things when it comes to a relationship. I think learning about the hero instinct holds the key to stopping your man pulling away — for good.
Can a relationship coach help you too?
If you want specific advice on your situation, it can be very helpful to speak to a relationship coach.
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