When a man withdraws, it feels like total crap. We have a hard time thinking about anything else. We might try having long talks and prodding him for action. We want that feeling of closeness and connection back, so we innocently go about trying to connect, to create closeness again.
As fear blooms, so does our desire to stop him from pulling away and draw him close again to prevent total loss.
The resulting panic-freak-out strategy mode is dangerous since we feel like we can get his attention back if we do something.
There are reasons why men pull away that have nothing to do with you, but if you make it about you, he’ll pull away even from you in short order because it will be confusing that you’ve personalized it.
First, here are 4 reasons why men pull away and become distant that are not exactly your fault:
1. He’s gotten legitimately busy.
Men solve problems differently than women do. When they’re putting out fires at work, school or in their general life, they have a hard time thinking about anything else. This single-minded focus definitely helps while hunting prey or slaying predators but is less valuable when there are lots of different problems at once.
If he’s going through a busy time, the fact that he’s pulled away might have absolutely nothing to do with you— even though it might seem like a lame excuse. Men will get quiet sometimes when they think anything they say might make things worse.
2. He needs to recharge.
Falling in love decreases men’s testosterone levels, which in turn puts them at increased risk for depression and a bunch of other health problems. To naturally prevent this, a man will pull away, recharge and return, often without even realizing he’s doing it unless there is some conflict.
3. It’s time to give to himself and his other relationships.
Men get overwhelmed and tend to naturally pull away after they spend a lot of time in their relationship. They need other stuff to break up the love.
Women typically don’t get overwhelmed like this, since spending a lot of time getting close feels awesome. We might want space, but we don’t tend to be totally ON and then completely OFF like a man might do.
The truth is, maybe you’ve been going full force for awhile and it’s naturally time for him to pull back. It can feel like before, he was so easy to see and was getting in touch all the time and is now suddenly not interested.
4. He’s gotten comfortable in your relationship because it has matured.
None of these reasons why men pull away mean that a man doesn’t love you or that he’s given up on your bond. They just mean that the early days of falling in love while staring longingly into each other’s eyes might be winding down and he needs a palate cleanser. Or he’s dealing with his own problems and doesn’t want your input on solving them.
A man’s process of pulling away from a relationship and then returning isn’t usually a conscious decision, it simply IS.
If you press him on why he’s pulling away— looking for something wrong, he will likely come up with some reason on the spot when before that he hadn’t actually thought about it.
Before you asked, he just thought he wanted alone time.
Most men aren’t elegant about needing space— especially when they think (mistakenly or not) that they’re going to disappoint you if they don’t want to spend the same amount of time together.
This goes double if you have ever pushed him for more time together or refused to take his “no” for an answer. Men tend to DO things rather than loudly inform anyone they’re doing things. This includes taking space and not hanging out on Saturday night even though you spent the last 45 Saturday nights together.
If he’s seen you during most of his free time for a considerable period of time, at some point he’s probably going to need to pull away from you to replenish himself.
So… what should you do when a man is pulling away?
You must, MUST stop worrying and enthusiastically throw yourself into your own life.
Then, when you act appropriately in regards to him— reward yourself.
There’s one relationship truth I’ve been faced with continually and that is:
Worrying about your relationship with a man NEVER improves that relationship.
In fact, flooding your body with negative emotional energy about him simply makes you associate him with the negative, icky fear-based thoughts that you use to then convince your he’s eventually going to hurt you in the long run.
Nothing negative— whether it’s airing your negative thoughts, feelings or behaviors or just dwelling on the negative— actually improves things between you.
Yet, so many of us (me included) have felt that we’re actually “doing something” when we’re simply obsessing and strategizing about our relationship.
And this negative, self-doubt spiral is exactly what causes a man to feel trapped, fearful, and pull away from you even more.
Now it really IS your fault he’s pulled away. Also, bringing him closer will be even harder because now there’s baggage.
Your gorgeous, safe, fun, feminine essence has gotten hijacked by worry.
I get it, feeling afraid that things seem to be falling apart or he might not come back after pulling away from you is absolutely miserable.
But, personalizing problems that you or he— or both— are going through, and making that about the relationship or what he is or is not doing for you is absolutely the kiss of death for true partnership.
So, what actually works to bring him closer when he pulls away?
Staying so centered in your own irresistibility, purpose, goals and life that you’re actually glad he’s busy so you have time for other stuff.
Since you might have gotten here by googling “what to do when a man pulls away” and you’re probably feeling some totally understandable and relatable FEAR, that might sound totally insane right now, but hear me out.
If he really cares about you, he’ll let YOU know when he wants to come close again. And, if he doesn’t truly love or care for you— isn’t that actually valuable information?
It’s not that closeness feels bad to men, it’s just that sometimes a little goes a long way. If you turn a man’s natural comings and goings into continual rejections, you’re going to feel like crap… often. Because the level of closeness that men are able to have in the beginning of a relationship is often not sustainable.
Feeling a sense of loss when a man pulls away is NORMAL, but making it a problem that he needs to breathe, wants time and space to do his own thing and simply live his own life often causes a man’s only real problem with you which is feeling smothered because his natural behavior upsets you.
His need for time to himself does not diminish you when your own life is so delicious and full that you barely notice when he’s not around.
A man’s distance and space doesn’t have to automatically equal rejection.
And, in the case he’s actually rethinking your relationship, rejecting a man’s rejection or not allowing him time to think without jumping down his throat WILL cause him to feel smothered and force him to make a decision he might not already have made about you.
The truth is that men don’t have all the answers or a specific plan for “relationships” or whatever they’re doing with any specific person. Women often think that they know more than we do or they’re doing things intentionally, but usually men are operating MUCH more in the present moment than women.
Asking him about his intentions (like he actually knows what they are) or assuming he’s intentionally doing some behavior that irritates you is not a helpful position to take.
This stance automatically assumes his behaviors are intentional AND have something to do with you— when the truth is, his behavior could have nothing to do with you and assuming it does will immediately put you in a bad light AND make it about you.
Even if his distance IS about you, let that unfold in it’s own time.
While I say this, I don’t mean to say that NO MATTER WHAT a man does that you should prop the door open and just pretend it’s all okay no matter what.
But you have to say no by removing your attention from him, not chasing after a man to beat him over the head with your no.
Your loving, sweet attention IS a prize. Don’t cheapen it by running after him to force him share your gifts.
Men know instinctively that their access to a woman goes away if they don’t act relatively quickly to prevent loss. And frankly, lots of them mess this up anyway because they get complacent, busy and lazy.
But, negotiating with a man for more closeness, affection and love simply doesn’t work since the threat of loss doesn’t really inspire ANYONE to act sweet and vulnerable— which is what true affection requires. That’s why a forced compliment doesn’t satisfy.
Like Jennifer Anniston’s character says to Vince Vauhn’s character in the movie The Breakup, “I want you to WANT to do the dishes.”
You don’t get to the heart of what makes a man cherish and want to WANT to come closer by chasing him to angrily repeat your “standards” for him and the relationship.
While you might be inspired to “just talk about it,” or “tell him your needs,” the truth is people don’t BUY needs. They aren’t inspired to lovingly meet yours simply because you tell them what you think you need.
That’s why tending your own garden, depersonalizing any one person’s behavior and keeping it moving while staying open to all opportunities is the most peaceful, self-loving answer.