What To Do When He Pulls Away
Lately, you’ve felt like your guy has been distant. More withdrawn or holding back. Like he has a weight on his shoulders, but one he won’t tell you about. He hasn’t said anything to you (perhaps he’s even denied it), but you know it’s there.
At this point, your mind is probably starting to run into overdrive. You might be finding yourself freaking out, wondering what might be wrong, and even if your relationship is doomed.
Rest assured; there no need to be thinking in such extremes quite yet.
As you’ll read, a guy pulling away can mean any number of things and not necessarily that your relationship is in turmoil.
I’ve found that if you’re asking this question, you likely fall into one of two categories:
1) You’re in a relationship (there’s been at least verbal commitment), and the guy is withdrawing; or
2) You’re in the seeing/dating phase (he hasn’t specifically told you he’s exclusive), but you’re enjoying it and wondering why his interest seems to have suddenly slowed.
While these situations are similar, they differ enough to be worth addressing individually.
Here’s what I recommend when you sense a guy is pulling away.
If you’re in a relationship…
1. Don’t freak out.
Your relationship isn’t over!
Pulling away is sometimes a normal part of being a guy.
Sometimes, we aren’t handling things well. Life is throwing us curve balls we feel like we aren’t dealing with. Struggles with our work, our health, our family, or even our mental status could be really getting to us, and we can often feel like we’re failing you as a man.
As guys, we often deal with these situations by retreating, not from the situation, but just back into ourselves to look for our own inner strength, to reaffirm to ourselves we can handle things without relying on you or others. It’s a time to rethink, consolidate, and come back to you stronger than ever.
“you freaking out about the one thing he felt solid with (your relationship) is absolutely the last thing he needs on his already overwhelming plate.”
You freaking out about the relationship is exactly the opposite of what a guy needs when this is the case. Knowing you’re there to support him is important. But having you push him to open up to you when he wants to deal with it himself, or worse, having you freaking out about the one thing he felt solid with (your relationship) is absolutely the last thing he needs on his already overwhelming plate.
Yes, he could also be losing interest or rethinking the relationship. But you freaking out isn’t going to help in that scenario, either.
2. Let him know you’re there for him, while still giving him plenty of space.
Let him know you’re there for him. Then leave it. “Hey baby. I know you’ve been a bit off lately. Is everything ok/is there anything you want to talk about?” If an answer isn’t forthcoming, simply say, “Ok, well I’m here for you any time you need. Talk to me whenever you want.” Then leave it alone.
If you do it repeatedly, it feels like pressure, and if he’s retreating back to himself, that’s not what he needs. Give him space to figure out his shit.
3. Focus on you.
Giving someone space isn’t always as easy as it sounds. What do you do with that space? It can be a tough question to answer if you’ve gotten used to your partner filling it.
The answer is: Focus on yourself.
In the midst of us feeling like our partner might be losing interest, it’s easy for us to forget what we bring to the table. Now, it’s time to remember. Whether it’s work, a hobby, or your own friends, now is the time to put a focus on everything that makes you, individually, a great person. Doing this gives him space to regroup and come back to you, while giving you an alternate focus that boosts your own self-worth.
4. Continue step 3, until…
As you work on yourself and continue to reassure him that you’re there for him, one of three things will happen.
– He’ll get his stuff sorted, find his confidence again, and bounce back to you.
If this happens, then you’ve handled the situation well! Later, when he’s in a better headspace, the two of you can chat over what was getting to him and what he needs from you in the future if a similar thing happens.
– He’ll open up to you about the problem.
In which case, you can deal with it. While dealing with specific relationship issues are not the focus of this article, the general rule is that if he’s willing to work on it with you and takes action to do so, there’s a good chance the two of you can work out.
– He’ll continue to be closed off
This is the most difficult scenario to deal with, because eventually, you’re going to have to decide what you will and won’t tolerate from your relationship and your partner.
You can’t live forever with a partner closed off to communication, so eventually, something has to give.
Over (plenty) of time, ramp up your efforts to open the communication channels. The important thing is to take time (proceed over weeks-months) rather than pressuring him after just a few days. If that fails, consider counseling (if your partner is open to it) as a final option.
If he continues to be closed off and unwilling to work with you, you’re going to have to decide if this is something you will accept in a partner. (Hint: It shouldn’t be).
If you’re just dating…
Unlike when you’re in a relationship, a more casual frame of dating means a guy doesn’t ‘owe you’ as much in regards to explanations for his behaviour. In a lot of cases (unfortunately), a guy pulling away in early dating means he’s just not feeling it or he’s getting too much pressure from you. But there are other possibilities. There could be family, work, or health issues going on that you are mistaking for disinterest. As such, it’s important you don’t push him further away.
1. Do not put any pressure on him (especially by text message).
Unlike in the relationship scenario, in the dating one, you’re unlikely to have as regular access to the guy. Thus, the temptation will be to relentlessly text or Facebook message him about your feelings and what’s going on.
Avoid this at all costs.
If he is losing interest or wanting to distance himself, the absolute worst thing you can do is try to close the distance yourself with constant messaging. You’ll only encourage his behaviour and push him away further. You have to let him come to you.
2. Give him space for a day or two to establish if his ‘pulling back’ is real.
Sometimes, when we think the person we’ve started seeing is pulling back, they’re actually just temporarily busy. This happens a lot more in the dating (as opposed to the relationship) scenario, because you don’t have as much access to the person; thus, misreads of the situation are more common. This is the most important reason (as above) not to freak out – you can easily push a guy away by coming off needy when there was absolutely no reason to do so.
Giving space for a day or two gives him time to check in with you and let you know if anything’s going on without you having to ask.
3. Check in via text.
As above, you want to keep the pressure off him. But that doesn’t mean you can’t let him know (once, but clearly) that you’re there for him.
Shooting him a quick statement-rather-than-question text message saying, “Hey hey. I could be imagining it, but I just get the sense you’ve been a bit off lately. Make sure you let me know if there is anything I can help with 🙂 Would be good to catch up! x.” Because this message is only an offer and is phrased as a statement rather a question, it doesn’t put pressure on him, and if it is an issue that has nothing to do with you, it gives him permission to come to you of his own free will when it feels right for him.
Remember, do it just once, then leave it. There’s absolutely no need to repeat yourself, and it will harm your efforts if you do.
4. Focus on you.
This is critically important to the whole process and is, usually, the step that gets forgotten. Assuming no or little response comes, then it’s time to take your focus off him and put it all back on you. In the midst of someone (possibly) losing interest in us, we often forget our own value, as if they were the prize and our luck has run out.
It’s important, at times like this, to remember how much you bring to the table and the giant loss it would be for him if he were to end things.
Dialing back to focus on yourself is the most powerful thing you can do. Not only will it give him space he probably needs, it’ll make you feel better and get you back to being the most attractive, powerful you that you can be. You’ll look at things with a healthier attitude and will be less likely to make emotional mistakes, like excessively pressuring him.
5. Reinitiate, showing interest.
So you’ve spent some time, maybe a week, focusing on yourself.
If things still haven’t been clarified, it’s time to see where he’s at. You want to shoot him a positive message about your life that makes your interest clear and gives him one more chance to be involved.
“Have had suuuch a fun week. Heading to (DJ/Band) tonight with the girls… can’t wait! How are you? Would love to hang out soon! X”
If no or little response comes to this, or he’s still flaky, it’s time to move on. You’ve made your interest clear, so don’t keep doing so when it isn’t reciprocated. There are plenty of guys out there, who would be happy to work hard and be excited to have an amazing girl like you in their lives. Time to go find one of them.