Have you found yourself in a situation where the guy you have been dating steadily has started to pull back?
Maybe he’s been sending you good morning texts for weeks and now nothing.
You’re only getting crickets.
Or maybe you’ve asked him if wants to hang out this weekend, and he vaguely says that he “has plans.”
Here’s the thing – guys pull back from a relationship for two reasons.
The first reason that he may pulling back is that he is actually getting ready to commit more to you and wants to take your relationship to the next level.
The second common reason guys pull back is they are just not feeling the relationship anymore.
But how do you tell the difference? And if it’s number 2, what can you do about it?
That’s what I’m going to walk you through – all the tell-tale signs that show you whether he is ready to make a leap forward with you or he is ready to move on.
But before we dive in I’m going to explain why men withdraw in the first place.
Why do guys pull away before they commit
You’ve probably heard a lot of people say that men pull away because of fear or insecurity.
While this is true at times, I think when people boil it down to this one reason they can often overlook a perfectly healthy reason a man may pull away before committing.
Sometimes men are reflecting on what taking the next step with you would look like, making sure it’s the move that they want to make, and they need a little space and time to go through that process.
One way men process decisions and emotions is by going into an internal man cave. This idea was explained way back in 1992 in the best-selling book Men Are From Mars and Women Are From Venus.
As Kristina Marchant, a relationship expert and dating coach, writes:
“The first thing you should know is that this isn’t necessarily a bad thing when you’re dating a guy, and it doesn’t even have to mean he’s losing interest in you or falling out of love. In fact, if your boyfriend wants space, it can actually be an opportunity to bring you closer together as a couple. As a relationship expert, I see this quite often. People occasionally need some time by themselves to investigate and figure out their deepest feelings and thoughts.”
Yep, men like man caves for a reason beyond big-screen TVs. That’s where we go to work through shit even if from the outside it looks like to you that we are just playing video games or watching a football game.
What to do when guys pull away before committing
So what should you do? Put simply, do your best to leave him alone.
I realize this sounds harsh, but it’s the very best thing you can do.
You don’t need to respond to his pulling back by ghosting him. But you do want him to know that you are emotionally mature enough to handle your own emotions while he is working through his.
If you go running to him and try to cozy up to him while he’s pulling away, you’re invading the space he needs right now.
The result may be that he just stays in his metaphorical (or actual) man cave longer.
Send a text like “Just wanted to say hi. Hope you’re having a great weekend.”
Let him know you are there when he is ready to come out, but in the meantime, you’re living your own best life.
If you do that, he’ll want to come back and join you in all the fun more quickly.
Men pulling away before committing vs. losing interest
The other bonus to this approach is that if he doesn’t come back, it’s very clear that he is looking for a way out of the relationship, and that saves you a ton of time and energy in the long run.
When a man decides he’s moving on, no amount of coaxing is going to bring him back (generally, it will just push him farther away), so it’s best for your well-being to find this out sooner rather than later.
With that said, simply looking for a way to leave the relationship comes with a number of red flags, which I’ll get into further below.
So after reading this list of signs, you should have a pretty clear idea of what type of pulling away he is doing.
8 signs he’s pulling away before committing
Wondering if he’s still into you? Here are eight signs that will let you know if he’s pulling away because he’s thinking about committing more to you.
1. He acts like your hero
Want to know a sure-fire sign that a guy is really interested in you, even if he’s showing temporary signs of pulling away?
He acts like your hero.
I don’t mean an action hero like Thor, but an everyday hero who provides you something no other man can.
He protects you from the big and little things in life, provides you emotional support, and acts like your rock. In other words, he steps up to the plate for you because he is catching feelings.
If you see these attributes in him, then don’t worry if he’s pulling away. He’ll commit to you in the end.
There’s actually a new theory in relationship psychology that goes to the heart of this.
It’s called the hero instinct.
According to the hero instinct, men have a biological drive to live a life full of meaning, to provide for those he cares about, and the desire to earn respect from those around him.
And this drive is amplified in their romantic relationships.
James Bauer is the relationship expert who first coined the term. Click here to watch his excellent video about the hero instinct.
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 throw himself into your relationship, I think learning about the hero instinct can make all the difference.
2. He’s pulling back 50% of the way
Men who are pulling back before committing don’t disappear entirely.
He is still engaged to a certain extent because he knows that if he disappears entirely he will risk losing you, and that’s the last thing he wants.
He likes you more than friend, and might be realizing that he actually loves you – a lot.
Maybe he doesn’t text you a good morning text, but he checks in during the afternoon later that day or the next day.
Maybe instead of being available to hang out on Friday like he normally is, he says he’s busy. And then you hear from him on Sunday asking you to hang out.
If you’re thinking to yourself “I feel like he still likes me, but he’s being less consistent” that can be a surefire sign he is pulling back before committing.
3. He gets nervous when he doesn’t hear from you
Sometimes when men pull back, they don’t realize what effect that has on you. They are just thinking that they need a little space.
One thing you can do is pull back a little yourself. I’m not suggesting being passive-aggressive here or getting into any crazy dating games, but it’s okay to respond similarly to a guy who is pulling back by reigning in your communication, too.
If you do the same and he starts to get nervous by ramping up communication again, you know for sure, he is pulling back because he likes you and not because he’s leaving.
4. When you do hang out, he’s affectionate
If a man has 100% of his attention focused on you when you are hanging out, it’s often a sign that he’s still very much into you.
If he’s listening attentively, pulling you in for a hug or a kiss, if he’s reaching for your hand, if he’s rubbing your back, and doing all the things he normally has when you are hanging out, it’s pretty much a guarantee he’s still into you.
If he’s distracted though and/or responds a bit more cooly to your touch, that’s a sign that something else may be going on.
5. He asks you questions about the details of your life
Men who like you ask questions about you.
How was your day at work?
Did you get that promotion that you were going after?
How was your weekend with your friends?
Even if he isn’t communicating as often, when you are together or checking in, he shows care for what’s happening in your life.
6. He shares the details of his life with you
Similarly, a man who is thinking of committing continues to share the details of his life with you.
When you ask, he tells you what his plans are for the night.
He mentions things that happened at work or with his friend and family. He is still letting you into the corners of his life because he wants you to be a part of it.
7. He doesn’t communicate as much but he’s definitely still communicating
There is a BIG difference between reigning in communication and stopping it altogether. A guy who is still interested in you and maybe getting ready to commit more will respond to you when you ask questions.
He likes you so he’s not flat out ignoring you and is still incredibly respectful in his responses.
It may take him a little longer to respond and his answers may not be as long when he does respond, but if he’s responding to all your communication, that’s a good sign he’s invested in the relationship.
8. His friends know you and are super friendly to you
Guys who like you tell their friends about it. As a result, most – if not all – of their friends go out of their way to be nice to you because they know you are going to be in his world for a while.
If his friends are super friendly toward you, chances are good that he’s been telling them how much he likes you.
Guys typically don’t tell other guys they really like a woman, unless they are planning on sticking around.
9. He compliments you
When a guy begins a sentence with “You are so…” and ends it with something really positive (you fill in the blank – pretty, nice, kind, smart, etc.), he’s feeling it.
The only exception to this is if he only compliments you on being sexy. A man who only compliments you on your body and not other aspects of who you are, maybe be in it for one reason.
But if he’s still giving you compliments on the things that he admires about you, he’s definitely still into you.
10 signs he’s pulling back because he’s losing interest
Okay, now that we’ve covered all the signs that show when he’s pulling back before committing, let’s dive into the signs that he’s pulling back because he’s losing interest.
These are the red flags you want to watch out for.
1. He doesn’t feel essential to you
Men and women are different and we want different things from a relationship.
What do you think drives him as a man? What does he 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 his life.
This doesn’t mean you have to act clingy and suffocate him with attention. 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 hero.
Some ideas are game changes. When it comes to relationships, I think this is one of them.
Click here to watch James’ video about the hero instinct. It’s 100% free and there are no strings attached.
2. He doesn’t respond to your texts
We touched on this a little bit before, but it’s worth going into a bit more detail here. Men who like you don’t ignore you.
If he doesn’t respond to one text, then it could be an oversight.
But if he’s not responding to three or more texts and doesn’t have a huge personal crisis going on that he’s shared with you (more on that below), then chances are he’s pulling back because he’s losing interest.
3. He’s dropping hints he’s losing interest
Most men don’t like confrontation that involves emotion. Sure, we may puff our chest if another guy is threatening us in some way, but when it comes to getting into a confrontation that involves emotions that we have to talk about, many men will run for the hills.
And there’s a good reason for this.
One study commissioned by men’s health charity Movember surveyed 4,000 men about their perceptions of masculinity and expressing emotions. The results explained in this article about men’s emotions are pretty eye opening:
“What they found is most men know expressing their emotions is important—but they still feel like they’re punished for doing it. A whole 77% of men say they see talking as an effective way to deal with their problems, and 76% know it’s good for their mental health.
Even so, 58% of men feel like they’re expected to be ‘emotionally strong and to show no weakness,’ and 38% of men have avoided talking to others about their feelings to avoid appearing ‘unmanly.’
Over half (53%) of American men between ages 18 and 34 say they feel pressure to be ‘manly,’ and 22% of those in this age group say they’re always or frequently mocked for ‘not being manly enough.’”
Clearly, there are serious cultural reasons why many men avoid talking about their emotions.
So what do we instead? We avoid it and leave a trail of breadcrumbs hoping you’ll pick up the hints along the way.
We might say things like…
“I went to this party and there were a lot of hot girls there.”
“My friend and I were hanging out with these two women the other night.”
“I’m thinking of going to Las Vegas with my friends.”
Breadcrumb. Breadcrumb. Breadcrumb.
4. He is dating other women
Along those lines, if he says he’s flat our seeing or dating other women and telling you about, with no signs of slowing down, then he’s just not that into the relationship anymore.
If he says, “I am dating so and so. What do you think about that?” and he’s trying to gauge whether you want to both commit fully to the relationship, that’s one thing.
But if he’s throwing around other women’s names like people throw around Swedish Fish at a kid’s birthday party, then you can be sure he’s not looking to commit to you.
5. He’s hanging out with his ex
Has his ex has come back into the picture and he’s not putting a stop to it? If so, close this chapter of your dating life and move on.
Very rarely does this work out well. It’s best to leave the relationship and let him make up his mind about what he truly wants.
He’ll be back if he decides that’s you.
6. His friends have ghosted you
If you notice a shift in his friend’s behavior toward you as well, that may be a sign that he broke the news to them that the relationship is over before he broke the news to you.
Yes, it’s not great dating etiquette, but it happens.
They may be avoiding you so they don’t have to be the ones to break the bad news.
7. He’s vague when you ask him questions
Many men are direct and to the point in their communication style. So this is a sign that does not necessarily stand on its own.
But if questions like “How was your day?” and “How is work going?” are answered routinely with very short answers like “Fine” and “Okay,” then this could be a sign that your guy is losing interest.
A person who is interested in you – dating wise or otherwise – will at least respond by reciprocating the question.
8. He doesn’t express admiration for you… ever
When guys are into you, they often will let you know by finding something to comment on about you.
Even guys who are too scared to be direct will say something like “I like your shoes” (lame, I know but hey, something is better than nothing, right?).
Granted, it’s very common for people to compliment each other much more at the beginning of a relationship and have that fizzle out over a time. But If a guy used to compliment you and now no longer does ever, it could be an indicator that he’s getting ready to move on.
9. He is always unavailable or distracted
Is suddenly the man you’re seeing busy pretty much every weekend or night of the week? Is this a shift from when you first started dating? If his schedule has all of a sudden filled up without explanation, it’s a pretty safe bet he’s choosing to spend his time elsewhere.
Another indicator may be if when you are together, he is distracted. As marriage and family therapist Lynsie Seely explains, “If your partner is physically with you, but you have the feeling that he or she is mentally or emotionally 100 miles away or feels walled off and you can’t quite make contact, they may be energetically closed off to you.”
She adds, “We tend to close off as a defense mechanism when we don’t know how to communicate what we’re feeling but need to stay engaged in the situation.”
If he’s completely checked out, it’s a good sign you may just want to be the one to pull the bandaid for both of you and be the one to checkout for good.
10. He only gets in touch during booty call hours
Sometimes it’s tough to tell if a guy is still into you because he’s still calling frequently, so it feels like he’s still invested in the relationship.
But if all his communication has shifted to nighttime and after he’s had a few beers, he’s probably not seeing the relationship as a long-term investment.
When guys are into you, they want to send time with you morning, noon and night.
And you deserve nothing less than that, so don’t settle for a fly by guy.
All these signs are red flags that something could be up, especially when you’re noticing several of them at once.
The one HUGE exception to signs he’s pulling away
The one big exception is if something substantial has changed in his life. Maybe his boss is giving him a really hard time at work. Maybe he is having a health issue.
If you’re noticing many of the signs above and don’t know if something is going on in his life, just ask. Even though he isn’t being direct that doesn’t mean you can’t be.
If he’s pulling back anyway, you might as well get the answer you need so you don’t waste anymore time waiting for him.
How to get an answer for sure about why he is pulling away
You can say something to the effect of, “I haven’t heard from you and just wanted to check in. Is everything in your world okay?”
If he says something along the lines of “Oh ya, it’s fine” and continues on with pulling back and being vauge, then you’ve got your answer. Sometimes a non-answer is the answer.
But if he responds that he’s going through some pretty heavy stuff, that could be a different story
A response like “I’m actually have some family stuff going on. I am sorry I haven’t been in touch. I’d love to see you next week though if you’re free” is a completely different story.
Why do guys pull away before they commit – where to go from here
So as we’ve looked at, if your guy is pulling back and he’s still showing all the signs that he likes you, just give him some time.
Most guys will come back around in a week or two after they’ve had a chance to process all of their emotions, and they likely will come back stronger than ever.
If it drags on for more than a couple weeks, definitely feel free to say “I noticed you’ve been a bit distant lately. Are we stil good?”
Again, you need to be living your best life here, so you have to decide 1) how long you are willing to wait and 2) if the answer is good enough for you and your dating standards.
If he’s pulling back and showing a number of the red flag signs he’s not into you, it’s probably time to cut your losses and move on.
And here’s the amazing thing about that – every relationship is an opportunity for all of us to learn more and more about what we do and don’t like when it comes to dating people.
This relationship, no matter how it ended, no doubt taught you things that you’ll take in to your next relationship.
And that next relationship could absolutely be the relationship that all of your past dating experiences – especially, this one – were preparing you for.