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13 Core Reasons Why Men Pull Away (+ What YOU Can Do To Help)

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Your man is pulling away from you.

He is withdrawing into himself.

You are left wondering why…

He was certainly acting interested.

In fact, you’re pretty sure he likes you more than he lets on.

So why is he acting distant all of a sudden?

Why, after getting close to you, is he now backing off?

That’s what we hope to answer in this article.

We’ll also explore what you can do when this happens and how to act when/if he comes back to you.

First, it is worth noting that not all men do this. And some women act in this way too.

And it doesn’t only happen in the early stages of a relationship – guys will sometimes pull away for a time even in a committed relationship.

So let’s explore some of the reasons why men withdraw from their partner.

Speak to a certified relationship counselor about this issue. Why? Because they have the training and experience to help you figure out why he’s pulling away and, more importantly, how you should respond. You may want to try speaking to someone via RelationshipHero.com for practical advice that is tailored to your exact circumstances.

13 Reasons Why Men Pull Away

Things are going well. You are getting close to a guy and he seems to be reciprocating.

What changes in his mind to suddenly make him distance himself from you and the relationship?

1. He is scared of his own feelings.

One of the reasons why men pull away is because they are afraid of the feelings they have. The fear, insecurity, or anxiety surrounding those emotions makes them withdraw to figure out what they want.

Whether or not they were actively searching for love when you met them, the feeling of suddenly falling for someone is full of uncertainty.

Some men simply find this difficult to process.

These men are not as in touch with their feelings as others might be, and not compared to most women either.

They might find the thought of a relationship very appealing, but the emotions that come with it are harder for them to get their heads around.

So they take some time away to work through these emotions.

Only, they probably don’t communicate this to you. They just become more elusive physically and emotionally.

2. He is scared of commitment.

Some men find the idea of staying loyal to a single person quite foreign.

Perhaps they are still young and want to ‘play the field’ before settling down.

Maybe they enjoy the early throes of a romantic entanglement and ‘the chase’ of a love interest, but not what comes after.

A man might never have had a serious long term relationship and is unaware of what it involves – so he just pulls away and prevents it from reaching that stage.

His upbringing may also have a role to play, especially if his parents separated during his childhood.

3. He is clinging on to his independence.

A relationship requires dedication, time, and effort. It inevitably takes you away from some of the things you currently enjoy.

For some men, this process of two becoming one (figuratively, at least) represents a loss of freedom and independence.

And if a man particularly values these things, he may withdraw in a bid to cling on to them.

This is especially true for guys who were not actively looking for a relationship when they met you.

Sure, they might enjoy the time they spend with you, but they may also yearn for times when they could do what they want, when they want.

They might pull away and spend more time by themselves in order to figure out what their heart really values most.

4. He’s scared of getting hurt.

Past relationships can leave emotional scars and baggage which cause a man to distance himself before he commits his heart and risks further hurt.

If he previously had a partner who broke up with him when he was in love with them, it can make him afraid of experiencing similar heartache again.

This is certainly not just confined to men. Many women can feel this way too.

In this case, pulling away is a form of defense mechanism designed to protect himself.

Let’s face it, when they are falling in love, a person can do all sorts of strange things. Sometimes this manifests as self-sabotage.

It doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have feelings for you, but it does mean he isn’t sure how to act on those feelings.

5. It’s all got a bit too intense for him.

Some relationships go from zero to sixty very quickly.

As much as he might like that in his cars, he might not be so keen on it when it comes to dating.

The feelings between you and the way you spend so much time together might be a little bit too much too soon.

The relationship might be moving too fast for him.

So he pushes back and withdraws a little bit as his way of putting the brakes on things.

He might just be more comfortable taking things slowly.

6. He needs to recharge his masculinity.

Relationships change people to a certain extent. In a man’s case, it tends to make them more vulnerable and more emotionally expressive (though not always).

This can feel very unfamiliar to many men and their natural reaction might be to fight against it.

They might feel the need to pull away in order to recharge their ‘man battery’ doing the kinds of things men enjoy.

They may retreat to a place of comfort and masculinity – both literally and figuratively.

This place is often referred to as a ‘man cave’ where men do manly things, often with other men.

In the early stages of a relationship, this might mean he spends more time at his place without you.

Or he might call upon his male friends to indulge in some stereotypically male-dominated pastimes such as sports, video games, or to have a beer or two.

The latter is common in more established relationships where a couple lives together and the man doesn’t have a separate space to call his own.

Regardless, this time away from the woman in his life allows him to reconnect with a part of his identity that may be ‘weakened’ by the relationship.

7. He’s got other stresses in his life.

When a guy pulls away, sometimes it has nothing to do with you or the relationship.

He pulls away because he has a lot of stress in other areas of his life.

Perhaps his boss is asking a lot of him and, being the ambitious person he is, he doesn’t want to let them down.

Or maybe he is having some issues with his family and this is taking an emotional toll.

He could be facing health issues that you’re not aware of.

And there’s the chance that he’s got money worries.

If the relationship is still in its early stages, he may not feel able or willing to confide in you.

He may worry that these things would simply scare you away or make you doubt the long term prospects for the relationship.

So he hides them away and distances himself a little to avoid you finding out.

8. He feels he doesn’t deserve love and happiness.

Some people have such low self-esteem and self-worth that they simply can’t understand why anyone would love them.

Perhaps your guy is one such person.

He might be pulling away because he’s sure that you don’t love him and that he doesn’t deserve the happiness he might feel when with you.

He might carry emotional scars or baggage that he can’t see past in terms of your relationship and future together.

In fact, the more serious things get between you, the more he begins to doubt himself as a worthy partner and lover. If he began to withdraw soon after you made your feelings for him clear, this could be the reason.

9. He’s worried about losing his identity.

One of the reasons why men pull away is because they are worried about losing their identity. They might feel confident in who they are now and fear the changes that might happen if they get into a relationship with you.

Before you came along, he was (presumably) single for a least a little while, and possibly a long while.

During his single days, he developed an identity around that particular relationship status.

Whether or not he actually enjoyed being single, he identified with it and knew how to live his life as that person. He had routines and hobbies and people that he used to see all the time.

Now that you’re on the scene and he’s no longer single (or that prospect is looming large as things get serious), he might be withdrawing into the life and the person he used to be because he’s worried he’ll have to give up certain things that he doesn’t want to give up.

Perhaps his old life feels so comfortable and familiar that he’s worried about losing that.

10. He’s confusing lust for love… and it’s fading.

If you’ve been with this guy for a little while and he’s only now started to pull away from you, it could be that the intense physical connection he feels with you is beginning to fade.

That’s a part of the normal progression of a relationship, but it can be quite confusing if you’re not aware of what it really means.

He might have mistaken lust for love. And now that the lust is fading slowly, but surely, he’s convinced himself that you’re not right for each other because love hasn’t yet fully developed to take the place of the lust.

He’s caught up in the myth that you have to feel intense feelings for someone at all times if you are going to work as a couple, when the truth is that feelings ebb and flow all the time in even the most happy and committed relationships.

11. He’s just too busy.

Okay, so you might say that if he really cared for you, he’d make the time, but life isn’t always that simple.

If he has a lot of other big time commitments that he is simply not willing or able to drop, he might not feel able to fit a relationship with you into the mix.

Him withdrawing might not be because he wants to, but simply because he can’t keep up the digital and physical communication with you.

If he’s working two jobs, sharing childcare with an ex-partner, and helping look after an elderly relative, he might just be exhausted.

It might be a case of right person, wrong time… unfortunately.

12. He’s exploring other options.

If you’ve not yet agreed to become an exclusive couple, he might feel like dating other people is still okay.

And, inevitably, if he’s spending time with other people, he’s spending less time with you.

It’s not only the time commitment where you might see a difference, but also on the emotional side too. If he’s exploring his feelings for others, he might pull back a bit from you in an emotional sense.

13. He’s not as into you as you thought.

This is probably only a possible reason in relationships that are fairly new, but he might just not be as interested as you think.

That might be hard to hear, but many men are not great when it comes to communicating their true feelings during the dating phase.

So rather than talk to you and make it clear that they don’t want to pursue things further, they just distance themselves in the hope that you’ll reach that conclusion by yourself.

It sucks, but you’ve probably had a lucky escape if this is the case.

What To Do When A Man Pulls Away

It can feel horrible when a man withdraws into himself, like a rejection of sorts.

You may wonder whether he is testing you, but that’s almost certainly not the case.

He’s just working through his own thoughts and feelings.

So, what’s the best way to approach these situations?

Get a professional’s perspective

As much as this article can help you identify why your man is withdrawing and offer some advice on how to deal with that, yours and his circumstances are unique.

It’s often a good idea to get specific advice based on what’s actually going on in your relationship. And for that, you’ll probably want to speak to a relationship expert (most likely by yourself in this situation).

But where can you go to speak to someone? Well, the online sessions provided by Relationship Hero are a good option for many. You can chat online, via phone, or via video to an expert in these matters who can listen to you and offer specific approaches to try.

Sometimes, just talking to someone can highlight ways in which to move forward and handle your man’s cryptic behavior. Chat to a compassionate and experienced relationship coach now or arrange a session for a future time.

Give him space.

Honestly… you need to give him space.

None of the reasons above are solved by you trying to pull him back and insisting that you spend more time together.

He is pulling away because that is what feels right at this precise moment in time.

He may not be fully aware of why, but to fight against this instinct risks conflict that might make things worse and might not be necessary.

Space, yes. Silence, no.

Giving him space does not mean you have to stop all forms of communication entirely.

It doesn’t even mean not seeing him.

It means being respectful of his need to be apart from you.

Should you text him? Sure, that’s not a problem.

His mind might be full of thoughts and uncertainty, but he will probably still like it if you check in with him from time to time.

Just be aware that he may not be quite so chatty or reply quite so quickly as before.

As hard as it can be when you are really keen on him, you have to respect that people process things in different ways.

And men often process their thoughts and feelings in a different way to women.

As for seeing each other, you can still suggest meeting up, but pitch it in such a way as to make it sound flexible.

Say, “If you’re free one evening this week, we should…”

This gives him the opportunity to choose a day that suits him best rather than feel pressured into doing a certain day.

And try to make it something that you think he’d feel comfortable with. Perhaps he’s not ready to talk about things at great length, but you could catch a movie or a show together.

This keeps him close and reminds him that you care without putting any great demands on him to be vulnerable.

Or if you have been spending most weekends together, you can always say you have plans for one of the days, but you’d like to see him on the other… again, if he’s free.

This takes the intensity down a notch while guaranteeing him some of his weekend to do whatever he wants.

Be consistent.

You might be left feeling upset or disappointed when he pulls away, but try to be consistent in how you approach him.

This won’t be easy. Your feelings are just as valid as his.

But if you can, try to put yourself in his shoes for a second.

If you were confused by your feelings, fearful of rejection, or finding it difficult to transition from one lifestyle to another, wouldn’t you want to be treated with compassion?

It’s not about maturity or whose responsibility it is to keep the relationship going…

…but if you like him and think he’s just having a wobble, it won’t do any harm to remain positive, kind, and courteous toward him.

If you respond to his withdrawal by being distant, too, it’s only likely to make matters worse.

You need to show him that, whatever internal struggles he may be having, you are there to support him.

If you can do this, he might just open up to you a little more about what he’s thinking and feeling.

Keep it just the two of you.

If you’ve only been seeing him a short while, it’s a lot of pressure on him to spend time with your friends or family.

And the same goes for you spending time with him and his friends or family.

The whole ‘meet and greet’ is a big deal. It makes things feel far more official and serious.

You might be ready for that, but he might not be.

So take the pressure off. Keep things just the two of you if you can. He’ll feel more comfortable and be more likely to relax into your company.

This is what you want. If he feels relaxed, he’s less likely to feel the need to pull away.

The time for being a part of each other’s wider lives will come. Just don’t try to force the issue too soon.

Show your support for his other passions.

We spoke above about your man’s fear of losing his independence and part of this comes down to the other things he is passionate about in life.

Perhaps he is career driven or is starting his own business.

Maybe he takes his marathon running very seriously and is committed to his training regime.

Or does he just want to travel to the far flung places of the world without restriction?

If you can convince him that you’re not trying to take these things away from him, he’ll have no reason to pull away because of it.

Make time to ask him about his passions and how they are going. Try to understand what time commitments he has already and be respectful of those.

Be positive about what he wants to achieve and make it clear that you love how he has clear goals and dreams and that you really want to see him succeed.

Keep busy.

When a man pulls away, try not to obsess about the reasons why or pine over him too much.

You are a high value woman and no man defines who you are.

So keep yourself busy with your friends, family, or hobbies and enjoy yourself as much as you can.

Remember, you can still communicate with him, and telling him that you have a packed diary will confirm to him that you value your independence too.

If a man can see a future relationship where each individual maintains their own friends and interests, it will address some of his concerns.

How Should I Act When He Comes Back?

If a man truly has feelings for you and wants you in his life, he’ll come back to you eventually.

Even if you have still seen him, text him, or spoken to him in the meantime, there will come a time where he returns emotionally as well as physically.

At this point, what should you do?

How should you act?

Well, don’t go straight to the obvious questions such as why he pulled away, what he wants now that he’s back, and is he going to do it again.

He might not be sure why he felt the need to pull away, so trying to get him to put it into words will end in disaster.

Try to show him how glad you are to have him back. Be affectionate and caring.

Tell him how grateful you are to have him in your life again.

Act how you would like to be in a relationship: happy and content and excited.

Don’t try to make him pay for the way he’s treated you.

Yes, communicate how you felt, but keep it neutral or positive wherever possible.

Say something like:

I know you needed space and time to do your own thing and to process your thoughts and feelings. That’s okay. I don’t need to understand, but if you do want to talk about it now or in the future then I’m always ready to listen.

I missed you. It hurt not to see you as often, but I’m serious about this relationship if you are.

Of course, if you are in a long term relationship and your man withdraws every so often, you probably don’t need to say anything at all.

Just know that this is not an uncommon part of a relationship and be open and welcoming when your partner returns to you emotionally.

How Long Will It Take?

When a man distances himself, how long will he be ‘gone’ for?

That depends.

It could be a few days or a week. It could be longer.

The real question you have to ask yourself is how long are you prepared to wait.

If your relationship is in its infancy, you may not be prepared to hang around and keep the door open for too long.

But if you are some distance into a relationship, you might choose to give him more time to wrestle with his feelings.

That’s entirely up to you.

Are All Men Like This?

The short answer is: no, not all men feel the need to pull away emotionally or physically from a partner.

But it is fairly common.

Whether it’s just the way men are wired, we might never know.

When they do withdraw, it can be difficult to take, but hopefully this article has given you some actionable advice to follow and helped your understanding of the situation you face.

Still not sure what to do about this man’s withdrawn behavior? In situations like these, it can really help to get some one-to-one advice from someone who is trained to deal with them, rather than soldiering through it alone. They’ll listen to what you have to say and offer suggestions of how to proceed.

Relationship Hero is a website where you can connect with a relationship counselor via phone, video, or instant message.

While you can try to work through this situation yourself or as a couple, it may be a bigger issue than self-help can fix. And if it is affecting your relationship and mental well-being, it is a significant thing that needs to be resolved.

Too many people – both couples and individuals – try to muddle through and do their best to solve problems that they never really get to grips with. If it’s at all possible in your circumstances, speaking to a relationship expert is 100% the best way forward.

Here’s that link again if you’d like to learn more about the service Relationship Hero provide and the process of getting started.

You’ve already taken the first step just by searching for and reading this article. The worst thing you can do right now is nothing. The best thing is to speak to a therapist. The next best thing is to implement everything you’ve learned in this article by yourself. The choice is yours.

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About The Author

Steve Phillips-Waller is the founder and editor of A Conscious Rethink. He has written extensively on the topics of life, relationships, and mental health for more than 8 years.