11 reasons why he pushes you away when he loves you (and what to do about it)

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Have you noticed some alarming signs your man is withdrawing from you?

Maybe he’s suddenly become way less affectionate; it’s a bit of a mission to even get hold of him lately, and he’s started telling you things like “you deserve better”.

Everything was going great and so you’ve been left blindsided by his recent behavior.

You’re scratching your head wondering ‘Why did he suddenly push me away?’ and perhaps more importantly, ‘Why would someone who loves you push you away?’

This article will help you get to the bottom of what is really going on and what to do about it.

Why do guys push you away when they love you? 11 reasons

1) He’s stressed, busy, and preoccupied

Before your mind races off at a million miles an hour, try to get some perspective. It’s not always about you.

In the early stages of romance, you tend to get wrapped up, as if you are the only two people in the world. But real life doesn’t quite work like that. And at some stage, external pressures and demands factor into a relationship.

From family dramas, money worries, busy periods at work, and even mental health struggles like anxiety and depression — there are countless daily stresses that people face.

Women and men have different communication styles. It may be a stereotype but often men aren’t always as good at talking about the pressure they are under and instead can bottle things up.

His withdrawal may have nothing to do with you and everything to do with other things in his life that he isn’t opening up about to you.

2) He’s scared of his feelings

Whilst intimacy can be a beautiful thing, it also makes plenty of us start to squirm too.

In fact, according to Psychology Today, around 17% of adults in Western cultures fear intimacy and avoid closeness in relationships.

If he is one of these people, you may have gotten a little too close for comfort and he is scared of getting hurt.

When a man catches feelings for someone, it can bring up a lot of conflicting emotions that he might not know how to deal with.

If he doesn’t know how to handle that, pushing you away can be his unconscious (or conscious) way of avoiding the discomfort.

It sounds counterintuitive that if we care or even love somebody we would withdraw, but feelings can be intimidating.

Perhaps he was not planning on these strong emotions for you emerging, and he’s pretty spooked.

Navigating new and unexpected feelings can be a minefield. He may even know that he loves you, but is freaked out at the thought of losing himself.

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4) He’s scared of commitment

We may as well get all of the male stereotypes out of the way nice and early.

The image of the emotionally unavailable man may be an eye-rolling cliche, but let’s face it, he is certainly out there in spades.

But how can you end up dating or even in a relationship with a genuine commitment-phobe? After all, aren’t they actively dodging these situations?

Well, yes and no.

The problem is that there’s a big difference between wanting a relationship and being ready for one. Commitment readiness has been shown to be an important factor in the success rate of a relationship.

Many guys like the idea of it in theory, but deep down they’re not in a place where they are prepared to open up to what a commitment to somebody involves.

He may not want to be alone, but he isn’t ready for a connection that goes deeper, feeling more comfortable with surface connections.

He may give all the right signs in the beginning that he is looking for a partner, but when push comes to shove, his dating strategy doesn’t match up with his readiness for a relationship.

In the process, he sets himself up for failure and you for heartache. These men aren’t always the easiest to spot, as the red flags he doesn’t want a relationship may only appear later.

Has he had a series of short-term things that always seem to end as soon as they heat up? If so, your guy could have an irrational fear of commitment.

5) It’s moving too fast

Sure he loves you, but the casual chat about what you’ll name your first kid came a little too soon for him.

Everyone has their own unique timetable for a comfortable pace at which a relationship develops.

You and your bae may not be quite on the same page. Perhaps you’re ready to skip to the ‘happily ever after’ chapter, but that doesn’t mean he is.

There aren’t any rules as to how fast or how slow you take things, but it needs to work for both parties.

If you’re silently planning the wedding day in your head, whilst he is silently wondering when to bring up the boys trip he intends on taking — there’s going to start to feel like a disconnect between you.

What you see as loving and attentive in the relationship, he may feel is clingy and needy.

If he starts to feel smothered or under pressure from you to progress quicker than he’s ready for, he might begin to back off as a signal for you to slow down or that he needs more space.

6) You’re leaving the honeymoon phase

Depending on the intensity of your relationship and how much time you spend together, the honeymoon phase can last anywhere from a few months up until two years.

The effortless times that you seem to share at the beginning of a romance — you know where your partner can seem to do no wrong and everything is magical — don’t last forever.

This is the fairytale stage of a relationship where a rush of feel-good hormones taint everything with a warm and fuzzy glow.

The sad truth is that plenty of couples break up because they don’t know how to adjust when they leave this phase.

When reality starts to set in, inevitably the relationship no longer feels shiny and new. Some of that excitement starts to fade.

The good news is that as you enter the next level of your relationship, it brings whole new levels of rewarding intimacy.

If he’s inexperienced in love or relationships, your guy might not be prepared for the changes he has started to notice. He may think that the loss of excitement means things are going wrong or your relationship is getting stagnant.

Some guys aren’t prepared for the real work that relationships take, so start to exit for the door rather than stick around to put in the effort.

7) He’s having doubts

Love is a complicated and multifaceted thing. We may like to believe that ‘love is all you need’ but when it comes to making a relationship work, that’s rarely the case.

He may well have loved you, and still love you in a way, but feelings also change.

Pushing you away could be his way of preparing you, or himself for the end of the relationship.

It doesn’t mean he doesn’t still have strong feelings for you, but he could be having some real doubts or concerns about your relationship and any potential future together.

It might seem cold-hearted to try and disconnect rather than talk to you about what’s going on, but acting distant is an easy (if not cowardly) defense mechanism many men fall back on.

He could be pushing you away to drop the hint that he’s not happy, because he feels guilty about the potential breakup on the horizon, or because he’s already started to emotionally check out.

8) He’s insecure

All those dating nightmare stories out there might have you thinking that every guy is a total player, but plenty couldn’t be further from this bad boy image.

For every man who thinks he’s God’s greatest gift, there is another who is secretly wondering how they measure up.

Anyone who is an overthinker may find it easier to empathize with what is potentially going on in this type of guy’s mind.

If he is feeling in any way unsure about your feelings for him, he may also be feeling pretty anxious. In this state, it can be difficult to know how to behave.

You think he’s amazing, but he can’t quite believe it himself.

Even if you’ve given him no cause to question your feelings, that won’t necessarily stop his mind from working overtime, as psychotherapist Perpetua Neo told Business Insider:

“We are run by stories, and we don’t know what kinds of assumptions rule us until we pause and reflect…In therapy we call these stories ‘core beliefs’ … but I say we are run by stories. It could be upbringing, it could be a difficult experience, or attachment, that can lead to stories about us, such as ‘I’m not good enough,’ ‘I’m not worthy,’ ‘I’m unlovable.'”

If he feels like he cannot give you what you need, then his own insecurities may be the reasons he is holding back.

9) He didn’t learn how to be in a relationship

Knowing how to create healthy relationships doesn’t come naturally to us, it’s something we learn.

Some people act crazy and push people away. Others are so afraid of being needy, they never show love. 

For most of us, our attitudes and behaviors towards love and intimacy are heavily shaped by the first relationship models we see in life, usually within our own family unit.

Attachment styles are part of attachment theory in psychology. It says that how a child develops depends on their ability to form a strong relationship with at least one of their caregivers (which for most people is a parent).

The way someone is brought up and the experiences they have can lead to either secure or insecure behaviors in later life relationships.

People who are avoidant in their attachments often seem very independent (both physically and emotionally) but they are actually trying to steer clear of getting too close to others.

According to Medical News Today, adults with an avoidant attachment style may:

  • avoid emotional closeness in relationships
  • feel as though their partners are being clingy when they simply want to get emotionally closer
  • withdraw and cope with difficult situations alone
  • suppress emotions
  • avoid complaining, preferring to sulk or hint at what is wrong
  • suppress negative memories
  • withdraw, or tune out, from unpleasant conversations or sights
  • fear rejection
  • have a strong sense of independence
  • have feelings of high self-esteem while having a negative view of others
  • be overly focused on their own needs and comfort

10) He’s been burned in the past

Most of us have a past when we’re getting into a new relationship, and old romance often equals current baggage.

Rejection, heartbreak, fear, and sadness aren’t something we get over straight away when we’ve been burned in the past.

Even when we have healed, the memory of that pain can still live on for years to come.

Having your heart broken can make you wearier next time around. If your man feels like he naively jumped straight in head first before and suffered the consequences, he could be more hesitant now.

Being cheated on by an ex, being dumped by someone you were in love with — these types of events may have done some damage so that he’s scared and pushes you away.

He may be hesitant until he feels confident that he can trust you with his heart.

11) You’ve changed

There is a chance that it’s not just your man that is behaving differently, have you changed too?

The early stages of dating are almost like a job interview. We want to make a good impression, and so we’re on our very best behavior.

We keep those less appealing sides of ourselves (which we all have) slightly more under wraps.

A common occurrence is that we try to act all cool and casual in the beginning. For example, have you ever told a date it’s “no problem” that they want to reschedule when secretly you’re seething?

In an effort to be all “chill” and avoid rocking the boat, we tend to be way more relaxed towards our partner in the beginning. But as we get closer and things progress, we become increasingly demanding.

This is to be expected, and unless you are overly demanding or pushy — to the extent of being high maintenance — it’s part of a natural progression of a relationship.

But your guy may still have a hard time adjusting to these changes. If he feels like more is being asked of him than he’s prepared to give, he might back off.

What to do when he’s pushing you away?

1) Don’t jump to conclusions, ask him what’s going on

Reading the possible reasons why he’s pushing you away may have given you plenty of insights. But unless you are psychic, you don’t know exactly what is going on in his head.

Rather than jump to your own conclusions, it’s best to speak to him and see if there’s anything going on right now that you don’t know about.

That way you give him the opportunity to open up to you about things that could be on his mind and show him that you’re there to support him.

It doesn’t even need to be a big, heavy conversation. A simple “is everything ok?” or “you’ve seemed a bit distracted recently, is there something going on?” could be enough to encourage him to open up.

2) Trigger his hero instinct

If you haven’t heard of the hero instinct by now, then for sure you need to. It’s a psychological theory that is causing a real buzz.

It says men are biologically programmed to want to feel essential, respected by, and to provide for the woman he cares about. In short, they want to feel like your hero.

When a woman makes him feel like this, she has him wrapped around her little finger. But when she doesn’t, he can become withdrawn, inattentive and uncommitted.

(You can check out this free video to learn all about exactly how and why it works.)

Ways of triggering his hero instinct include:

  • Asking for his help
  • Supporting his goals and dreams
  • Letting him know he makes you happy
  • Showing your appreciation for what he does for you

I’ve barely even touched the surface of this fascinating concept, so I’d recommend watching that free video.

It’s also going to show you exactly how to trigger the hero instinct in a guy to create more loving, passionate, and lifelong relationships.

Here’s the link again.

3) Don’t try to “fix” him

Know that it’s not your responsibility to make everything better between you. Whilst you may want to be there for him, he’s a grown man and responsible for himself.

That may sound harsh, but in the long run well-intentioned hopes of fixing someone else usually end up in disappointment and broken hearts.

If you notice he is pushing you away, a far better strategy can be to give him some space and time.

That doesn’t mean cutting contact, but allow him some room to figure out what is going on. If he does love you, he will want to be with you.

4) Focus on yourself

If you feel like he is withdrawing and you desperately want to know what to do when he pulls away to get him back, you may end up fixating on him.

This can actually make things worse rather than better. It creates desperate energy that can make him retreat even further.

Ask yourself if you want to wait for him to be ready, or if you actually deserve better.

Build your own self-esteem. Surround yourself with friends, family, and people who love you. Do fun things that you enjoy. Make him see what he is missing when he’s not around.

This isn’t to try and make him jealous, it’s to build your own self-worth. If you do want him to come back, the positive byproduct of this is that nothing is more alluring than inner confidence.

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.

I know this from personal experience…

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