12 brutal truths about why guys become distant after intimacy

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Dating is hard – opening yourself up to someone and taking a chance, pouring in your time, money, and your heart.

Let’s be real: it’s HARD to figure out if a guy’s feelings are genuine, especially if you’re just starting out. 

In my dating days, it was so exhausting to figure out who really liked me and who just wanted a good time for a short time. There were guys I hit it off with, but they left just as quickly as they came.

Was it something I said? Something I did? I just always wanted to know why. 

And if you’re reading this, I’m sure you do too.

This time, we’ll talk about what intimacy means and how men and women differ in their perceptions and experience of intimacy. Then we’ll get into 12 brutal truths about why guys become distant after intimacy, and what you can do when it happens to you.

What is intimacy?

When we talk about intimacy, there are different kinds. It doesn’t always mean the physical type. Intimacy is the closeness between two people; it’s their bond and their connectedness. In intimate relationships, there is self-awareness, respect for the other person as a whole, genuine responsiveness, empathy, trust, and openness in terms of experiences.

It’s so important, in fact, that it has actual positive effects on mental and physical well-being. The irony here is that we need intimacy to have successful relationships, but it is this very thing where most of us encounter roadblocks. 

What kinds of intimacy are there?

Guys and girls experience intimacy differently. Girls tend to value and put more effort into communication and emotional closeness, while guys tend to focus on shared activities and sex.

When we talk about why guys become distant after intimacy, figuring out what type of intimacy you shared with a guy can bring you one step closer to understanding why he’s suddenly acting cold and aloof towards you.

Emotional intimacy

This type of intimacy is highly necessary for a good relationship. Emotional intimacy is being able to share your innermost feelings, your real self. It fosters a sense of security and safety because each of you knows that the other understands and values them.

This includes conversations about the future, concerns, and venting to your partner when you’ve had a bad day.

Interestingly, a study found that emotional intimacy is so important that the more of it there is between two people, the more there is of sexual intimacy. 

Intellectual intimacy

Meanwhile, intellectual intimacy refers to when you and your partner share ideas and opinions with each other freely. You two are able to have different views on certain things, but still keep an open mind.

Experiential intimacy

This aspect of intimacy is how couples usually begin relationships – by having experiences together. You and your man could build on experiential intimacy by taking a class or a new hobby together.

Spiritual intimacy

This does not just refer to your religious convictions, but your values and life philosophies. It’s often through sharing these with each other that couples judge whether they are compatible, especially if they are looking to settle down. If the guy you were dating started 

Physical intimacy

Although it’s often used as a euphemism for sex, physical intimacy is not limited to that. It refers to skin-to-skin contact like hugging, holdings hands, or kissing. However, it is after this type of intimacy that guys tend to pull away. 

What problems do people usually face in having intimacy?

However crucial intimacy is to any relationship, a lot of people tend to find that they are struggling with showing intimacy themselves, or getting their partner to show intimacy. Some of the reasons include:

  • Conflict

When couples fight or disagree on something, that loss of harmony fosters feelings of distrust, resentment, and even anger at the other person. Look back on your fights with your man – did either of you feel like being close to the other at the time? I wouldn’t think so.

  • Stress

Life is full of things that cause undue stress: work, sickness, money issues, and for married couples, children. When you are burdened by any one of these things, it’s hard to focus on putting effort into your relationship. 

  • Communication problems 

Arguably one of the most common hindrances to intimacy is being unable (in some cases, unwilling) to communicate your thoughts and feelings to your partner. When you can’t talk about it, your partner won’t know. And when he doesn’t know, how can you be close?

  • Intimacy issues

Some people experience trauma early in life (or at least, before they met you), causing them to balk at the idea of being intimate. These could be anything from having just gotten out of a bad relationship down to deep-seated abandonment issues. 

So what causes guys to become distant after intimacy?

Here, we’re going to dive into the 12 brutal truths about why guys become distant after intimacy.

If you’re stuck in a cycle of opening up, being intimate, and getting ghosted shortly after, consider this your wake-up call.

Whether you’re in a friends-with-benefits arrangement, a one-night stand or you’re dating non-exclusively, you might just find the reason for your man becoming distant in this list.

1) He was just after sex

It’s harsh, but true. It’s one of the most common reasons that a man would become distant. As I mentioned earlier, the aspect of intimacy that guys value more than communication, and emotional bondedness (which is what girls tend to focus on), is that of sex and other shared activities.

There’s also that concept of guys wanting the thrill of the chase. Once they get what they want, then they lose interest.

That said, it might interest you to know that men liking the thrill of the chase was actually demonstrated in a study by researchers from the University of Chicago.

The study went as follows: two groups of male volunteers were asked to designate themselves as either ‘smooth talkers’ or ‘shy gawkers’, and then were shown two pictures of the same woman. One photo was blurred while the other was clear.

The ‘smooth talkers’ reported they were drawn more by the blurry image, because the woman seemed less attainable, while the ‘shy gawkers’ liked the clear image better. The same pattern emerged when they were asked to choose products from a store’s shelf that were easy to reach versus those that were kept in the back of the store.

One of the researchers, associate professor of marketing Dr. Aparna Labroo, said: “It’s the same with sex and the classic chase – many men find the chase exciting and it strikes their ego to feel they’re the one who is finally going to get her attention – and into bed. Add to this the fact that men are very goal focused and an elusive goal can seem all that much more interesting.

While this is true for a number of guys, to lump all men together in this category would be a mistake.

2) The spark isn’t there anymore

Another reason for why guys become distant after intimacy might be the all-powerful ‘spark.’ 

While intense attraction can happen at first sight, some guys do use the loss of the spark as a reason to detach from you without taking responsibility for his own actions. 

I once dated a guy who spent a lot of time with me. For a time, we really enjoyed each other’s company, and we got closer with every time we got together. 

But out of the blue, he started acting cold towards me. When I prodded him, he finally admitted that he didn’t want to date me anymore. According to him, the electricity between us fizzled out. 

Sucks, right?

3) He just doesn’t find you stimulating enough

We’ve established that the reason why guys become distant after intimacy isn’t always physical.

The fact is, he might find you might be good in bed, but your sense of humor and intellect are just not compatible with his. If this is his reason, don’t blame yourself, don’t feel too bad. Everybody is different – it’s what makes us who we are.

Somewhere out there is somebody else who is on the same wavelength as you. And that guy? Instead of pulling away, he’ll be latching onto you every chance he gets.

4) He doesn’t want to be tied down

It’s all fun and games in the beginning, but as the relationship between you grows deeper, he might be feeling the first stabs of fear. This is a guy who might have what people call commitment phobia. Contrary to what some people might think, this is a real, diagnosable condition. 

So when a man you’re seeing has a fear of commitment, that poses a real challenge when it comes to forming long-term relationships. He might be racked with anxiety when faced with the prospect of being in a serious relationship with you.

Commitment phobia normally develops because of past trauma – maybe he saw his parents’ marriage fail; maybe his past relationships didn’t work out. 

Another viewpoint on why guys become distant after intimacy is that he enjoys his life as it is – a bachelor’s lifestyle. He has no accountability to one single girl; no one to tell them what they can or can’t do. 

That said, the prospect of change can be daunting for them, and so, walking away altogether feels easier.

5) He feels suffocated

As I mentioned earlier, some guys have become attached to their routine. They like the way their life is – it’s what’s comfortable and it’s what suits them best.

They also like their own space, videogames, cars, their nights out with the boys, and whatever else they might be into. 

Even in my own experience, my husband had to adjust to not spending all his time playing video games and cleaning up after himself without my nagging him.  

So, it could be that your guy is pulling away from you because while carrying on a relationship with you, he notices that the status quo is getting disturbed, leading him to feel out of sorts. 

6) He met someone else

Yes, it hurts. I should know. Yet, this is sometimes why guys become distant after intimacy. 

The cold truth is that you might have been just a rebound. 

He might also be getting back together with an ex, or else starting up a new flirtation with someone he met right after you spent a night together or opened up to you. This is very possible in today’s age of Tinder and Bumble.

When this happens, he met someone who he vibed with better and didn’t want to deal with giving you a clean break.

Remember: this says more about him than it does about you.

7) His family and friends don’t approve of you

No matter how horrible this sounds, this is a possibility. 

Let me tell you a story – this time, it’s about my mother. When she was young, she had a Chinese boyfriend. Where I’m from, Chinese typically end up with other Chinese. Not always, but that was the norm. 

However, the boyfriend’s mother did not approve of her. It had nothing to do with her personality or attitude – it was only because she wasn’t Chinese. As you might have predicted, they didn’t last long after that. 

Sometimes, it’s really hard to win against the family of someone you’re dating. Then again, if you’re to have any chance at a successful relationship, it’s generally not a good idea to be at odds with his family.

8) He has abandonment issues

As I have said, one of the reasons why guys become distant after intimacy is past trauma. 

People with abandonment issues may show the following signs:

  • They have trouble creating and maintaining healthy relationships
  •  They avoid opening themselves up
  • They find it hard to trust others
  • They face difficulties managing and expressing their emotions

In fact, one of the key characteristics of people suffering from abandonment issues is fear of intimacy. Now, this can manifest differently from person to person, but it can very well be that what that person shows is sometimes exactly the opposite of what he really wants to happen. 

For instance, if your man is indeed showing signs of abandonment issues, he might be afraid of wanting a connection with you. He wants one, but he’s scared to want it. 

9) You have conflicting habits and values

As I mentioned earlier in the article, intimacy does not just apply to physical touch or sex. It can be the kind of intimacy where you open up to one another in terms of what you live by and what you believe in (spiritual intimacy). 

This can be a factor in why guys become distant after intimacy, too. When you reveal things about yourself to each other, there’s no knowing whether you both will be on the same page about long-term issues. These include marriage, having children, child-rearing, money, relocating for work purposes, and other things.

In some cases, it’s perfectly fine to have different values. It becomes a problem, though, when your values lead each of you toward different futures. With contradicting ideals, you and your man might see each other as enemies instead of as partners. 

Thus, your man may start putting some distance between you if he feels that there is no point in furthering the relationship with you.

10) He needs time to make sure of what he feels for you

Other times, the reason why guys become distant after intimacy is because he’s confused about how he really feels about you. 

During these times, he may need to step back to take a look at the bigger picture, and see where you fit in. Maybe he also wants to know how it feels to be away from you and how you would handle distance from him. c

A sign that he might be figuring out his feelings include being inconsistent in conversations, whether in person or over text message. He might also be hot and cold – one day, he’ll be sweet to you but the next day, you’ll hear no word from him at all.

Here’s the thing: being inconsistent is connected to his inability to commit.

So what can you do? Depending on how much you like him, you can open up the subject with him: ask him what he wants, and assure him of your own feelings. Otherwise, accept his behavior and just let things unfold naturally.

11) He’s busy with other responsibilities

While so far we’ve covered not-so-pleasant reasons why guys become distant after intimacy, it could just be a case of bad timing. 

If your man neglects to keep in touch with you after shared intimacy – physical or otherwise – he might be preoccupied with a family emergency, a make-or-break project for work, or a thousand other things. 

If you’ve been burned a few times, it’s natural to feel anxious when he starts distancing himself. But it would also be fair to him if you make sure what’s going on at first to see if there’s anything to worry about in the first place.

12) He just wants to take it slow

When you find someone you vibe with and whose company you enjoy very much, it’s totally normal to want to take things to the next level in a short amount of time. 

But the thing is, your man might be the type to want to take it slow. 

It could be that he’s interested in you, but he might feel that you want to move at a faster pace than he’s ready for. 

This is not necessarily a bad thing. Taking things slow is a good way to ensure that you both don’t burn out before you even get to the really great parts of a relationship.

Now what?

Now that you know this, you might be wondering if there’s anything you can do about it.

The good news: there is. Try these out:

  • Give him space, but don’t disappear altogether: This means keeping things light, but make sure to check in on him every now and then.
  • Talk to him like you’re his friend: Be careful not to come across as smothering or clingy.
  • Try not to take it too personally: It’s frustrating, I know. But getting too worked up over it doesn’t serve you nor will it bring him closer to you.
  • Encourage him in his goals: If your man is the type to hyperfocus on his career or passions, show him you support that. Celebrate his wins and encourage him to aim higher. This could be the way to show him you’re the type of partner who will encourage him instead of shackle him.
  • Stay busy: Don’t forget to be your own person. Keep your friends and loved ones around and make sure you have a life outside of him. After all, there’s nothing more attractive than an independent woman. 

Final thoughts

There’s a myriad of possibilities for why a guy would just pop out of your life after being intimate. Especially in this technological era, where swiping left and right is the norm, it can be easier than ever to discard someone you’re just not that into anymore. 

Here’s what you should try and remember: it’s not really so much about why guys become distant after intimacy, but how you respond to it. 

Ask yourself: wouldn’t you want to be with a guy who can be his truest self with you than one who you have to cajole into opening up? Is this relationship worth going after/salvaging? Can your current beau ever follow through after intimacy? When you quote a line from Adam Sandler’s movie Click: “Will you still love me in the morning?”, you want someone to answer with: “Forever and ever babe.” 

At the end of the day, all you can really do is work on yourself, improve, live your best life, and let the right guy come to you at the right time. 

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If you want specific advice on your situation, it can be very helpful to speak to a relationship coach.

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