One of the hardest things to do in relationship-skills land is deciding what to do when he pulls away from you.
He may have completely ended your relationship or you might just sense that things aren’t the same as they were before.
Either way, I know how terrible and scary it feels when a man pulls away and you fear losing him forever.
The worst part about it is that if you aren’t actually broken up, your emotions about what he’s doing can actually sabotage the relationship you’re trying to save.
And those emotions can get so intense they cloud your better judgement.
It’s completely normal to feel afraid, weak and even angry at a man who has withdrawn from you. This feeling of rejection is usually worse if you have a committed relationship or marriage– because when a man pulls away, he often takes your feeling of security in the relationship with him.
The good news is that if you handle a man’s distance the right way when he pulls away, your behavior can actually make your relationship stronger in the long run.
If things happen to be going really well between you (YAY!), read anyway, since this is also a plan for the next time he pulls away from you (because it WILL happen, and no, that doesn’t mean things are completely doomed between you).
Here’s my 3 step process for what to do when you feel like your man has pulled away:
Sometimes what to do when he pulls away is more about what NOT to do than anything else.
When you sense that he’s withdrawing from you (or worse, you get dumped), I want you to stop everything.
Match his withdrawal with your own.
Take time to gather your thoughts, marshall your inner strength and get back to your emotional center. Your understandably negative feelings of fear and anger over a man’s distance need time to be calmed and worked out in private– away from him. Give yourself the gift of this space and time apart from each other. Stop worrying about what he’s doing.
It doesn’t matter whether you feel like confronting him, venting your feelings, sharing something, trying to bring him closer— pause.
Doing nothing when he pulls away is actually doing something very powerful– even if doing nothing feels powerless.
Remember that there is absolutely no urgency in ANY interaction with a man (unless he’s down on one knee… and even then).
2. Distract yourself.
This needs repeating:
“There is absolutely no urgency in ANY interaction with a man”
Slow yourself way down and go do something else for a little while to get your mind off him for a bit.
Sometimes when you give yourself some time, perspective shows up. Do not seek him out, ask him what’s wrong or in any way try to get his attention right now. Let him have all the distance in the world. Try throwing yourself into something new like a hobby or volunteer work.
3. Manage your mixed emotions when he does get in touch.
If you give him space, he’ll naturally start to get curious about what you’re up to because he will have time to think about you.
However, a man’s return after he has pulled away— depending on your personal circumstances— usually brings up really mixed emotions. You may be thrilled to hear from him and angry he was distant.
Once he does get in touch with you and/or become more emotionally present (depending on your circumstances), you absolutely MUST NOT vent any of your negative emotions at all.
This can be really hard since you might want to give him an earful about how unfair and ridiculous he’s been acting by withdrawing or ignoring you. I get it, I truly do.
But the less he can get a rise out of you once he returns, the more it will be clear that withdrawal is NOT the way to get your attention.
It helps to think about it this way:
If you lash out at him when he eventually reaches out and becomes vulnerable (the very act of talking to a potentially angry woman is vulnerable for a man), you are punishing him at the exact time he is finally doing what you want.
Punishing him for what men do naturally (taking space… as infuriating as it is) will completely destroy your relationship over the long term.
There are A TON of reasons why men pull away— and lots of them have nothing to do with you or your relationship with him.
However, if you choose to vent your anger and initiate a deep talk about the relationship the second he returns, he’ll start to feel like it was about you. He will feel trapped in your relationship which WILL make him pull away even more.
Since that’s the exact opposite of what you want, you must use SUGAR and not vinegar to catch that fly when he returns. It can be frustrating that he is oblivious that he was doing anything at all when you can feel the big difference in his actions toward you. If you’re going through this, I completely understand how frustrating it is.