Lately, you’ve felt like your man has been distant. More withdrawn, holding back.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 about it (maybe he’s even denied it!), but you know it’s there.
Your mind is starting to run wild wondering what could be wrong, and even if your relationship is doomed.
Rest assured; there’s no need to be thinking in such extremes yet.
A guy pulling away can mean any number of things – and not necessarily that your relationship is in turmoil.
I’ve found that the women asking me this question fall into two categories: 1) Those in a relationship with a boyfriend who is withdrawing; or 2) Those casually seeing a guy and wondering why his interest has slowed.
While these situations are similar, they differ enough to be worth addressing individually.
If You’re In A Relationship:
1) Don’t freak out.
Your relationship isn’t over!
A guy pulling back is sometimes a normal part of being a guy.
At times, we aren’t handling things well. Life is throwing curve balls we feel like we aren’t catching. Struggles with work, health, family, or even our mental status can lead to us feeling like we’re failing you as a man.
Men often deal with these situations by retreating back to their inner resources to reaffirm they can handle things without relying on you or others. It’s a time to rethink, consolidate, and come back for you stronger than ever.
You freaking out about the relationship is the opposite of what a guy needs when this is occurring. Him knowing you’re there to support him is important. But having you push him when he wants to deal with it himself, or worse, having you freaking out about the one thing he felt solid with (his 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.
Clearly 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.
If you do it repeatedly, you pile on pressure, and if he’s retreating back to himself, that’s not what he needs. Give him space to figure his shit.
3) Focus on you
Giving someone space isn’t always as easy as it sounds. What do you do with that space? Who are you outside of the relationship? It can be a tough question to answer if you’ve gotten used to your partner filling your free time.
The answer is: Focus on yourself.
In the midst of feeling like your partner might be losing interest, it’s easy to forget what you bring to the table.
Now, it’s time to remember.
Whether it’s work, a hobby, your own goals or friends, now is the time to put a focus on everything that makes you a prize catch yourself. 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, until…
As you work on yourself while keeping him reassured 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.
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 should a similar situation occur.
– He’ll continue to be closed off, and/or end the relationship.
Eventually, you’re going to have to decide what you will and won’t tolerate from your relationship and partner, communication wise. If he doesn’t come right out and end it, but continues to be closed off, eventually, you’re going to have to decide if this is something you will accept in a partner. (Hint: It shouldn’t be).
– He’ll open up to you about the problem.
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.
If You’re Dating Casually
A more casual frame of dating means a guy doesn’t ‘owe you’ as much in regards to explanations for his behavior. In a lot of cases (unfortunately), a guy pulling away in early dating means he’s just not feeling it or was 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).
In the casual dating scenario, you’re unlikely to have as much regular access to the guy. Thus, the temptation will be to have a text (or messenger) mini-freak out, sending him long essays about your feelings, asking him what you did wrong and how you can fix it.
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 with constant messaging. You’ll only 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’ve actually been hit by a temporary tsunami of life. In the casual dating scenario, you don’t know the person as well so misreads of the situation are more common. This is the most important reason not to freak out… you can easily push a guy away when there was absolutely nothing wrong.
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. Once it’s been a couple of days, check in.
As above, you want to keep the pressure off him. But that doesn’t mean you can’t let him know (once, but clearly) 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. I hope everything is well. Would be good to chat soon. Make sure you let me know if there is anything I can help with. X”
Because this message is only an offer and is phrased as a statement rather a question, it doesn’t put pressure on him. 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 once, then leave it. As long as you’re clear, there’s absolutely no need to repeat yourself. Doing so will only hamper your efforts.
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, our tendency is to forget our own value, as if they were the prize, we were the winner, and our luck is about to 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 things were to end.
Dialing back to focus on yourself is the most powerful thing you can do. Not only will it give him the space he probably needs, it’ll get you back to being the most self-assured, attractive and powerful woman you can be. You’ll look at things with a healthier attitude and take actions appropriate to that.
5. Reinitiate again, showing interest.
So you’ve spent some time (a week or two) focusing on yourself. If things still haven’t been clarified, it’s time to see where he’s at. 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/Event) tonight with the girls… can’t wait! How are you? Would love to chat/hang out again soon if you’re free.”
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.