Ever been in a situation where you met a guy, you date him twice or thrice and that proverbial spark happens? You tell yourself “this is it…he is the one” and then the world agrees… but suddenly he seems awkwardly distant, withdrawn and walks like he has the weight of the universe on his shoulders. He has not spoken to you about anything (or have denied it a couple of times), but you know something’s not right. His silence is deafening. Your heart starts to ache.
Don’t press the panic button yet. Take a deep breath, and I’ll let you in to the secrets of being more an action-oriented woman at this point in your life.
You need to validate whether you are just falling into the trap of insecurity and jealousy, or he is already waving the white flag. Before trying to figure why he pulls away, you need to get a more solid answer if he is indeed on the edge.
Has he been emotionally withdrawn?
A man who is in the brink of losing interest wouldn’t be able to hide it for too long. His actions will reflect the overflow of the heart, whether he likes it or not. Women have built-in sensors, use them.
A pattern of changes in his behavior is perhaps the most significant manifestation of a man being emotionally withdrawn.
- When he stops being unguarded and your usual upbeat conversation turns sour and bland
- When your questions are met with yes, no or maybe – a 180-degree spin from your typical productive chats
- When he stops getting excited over the idea of a weekend getaway or starts cancelling planned trips constantly
- When he starts lying and starts creating a cobweb of excuses
If you have ticked all the boxes (or most of it), hit the panic button subtly and act accordingly. It will be understandably confusing, painful and frustrating. The next thing you see is yourself creating a list of the possible reasons why he is losing interest. Did you do something that turned him off? Are you not meeting his emotional needs? Is he gay? Is he dating someone else? The long list goes on.
The next question you would ask is “what to do when he pulls away?” Do you just arrest the situation and ask him upfront? If you are this brave, then I salute you. You belong to the minority that can bear that horrible pit in the stomach linked to the phrases “This is not working”, “I have fallen out of love” or “I can’t do this anymore”.
But if you find yourself at the other end of the spectrum, be ready for the roller coaster ride as you stop him from walking out that door. The rough road ahead is the monster in your dream you never want to wake up – the reality that you need to put the word “extra” to the words “patient”, “understanding”, “caring”, “optimistic” and “courageous”.
As you downplay the scene of a complete withdrawal, you must remember the golden rules to get him aboard the same boat again.
Draw Your Relationship Status
First things first. You need to determine whether you are still in the dating phase or already in a relationship. From here, you will be able to recognize what the next steps would be.
It is quite puzzling to really understand why he pulls away when falling in love is just lurking around the corner. This is especially baffling for those who are well within the dating phase and have found that connection, ready to take it to the next level. What the heck just happened? You could hear this little voice telling you that it would so much easier if you just let this one go while you have not gotten too deep into whatever it is. But the opposition of the heart is just so loud, you can’t ignore.
It is a slightly different story for those who are married or have been together for ages. Your option is limited to mostly “fighting to keep the love alive” or go back to square one a.k.a. the dating market.
While these two relationship statuses differ in intensity and depth, there are similarities with the approaches and with what to say when he pulls away.
Pause… Do Not Freak Out
A guy pulling away is usually a part and parcel of being a guy. More often than not, their personal struggles at home or at work can contribute to their mental and emotional state, oftentimes thinking that he is failing you as a better half, because he is failing in one aspects of his life.
It is innate for a guy to crawl back into his shell and reaffirm himself of his manhood, or at least the definition of manhood to him – that he can bounce back stronger and attack the problem without crying for help.
You have to keep in mind what to do when he pulls away. Pause, breathe in, and exhale good energy. Don’t go ballistic when he tells you that he wants space. Give him what he asks while making him feel that you will always be there for him.
Keep away from social media. Don’t let the world in to your private life. They would just add more perplexity to what is already a mind-boggling situation. Moreover, men hate it when women treat their Facebook wall as a diary.
Avoid stalking him on Instagram or his friends and officemates. You are potentially creating fictional scenarios in your head that can prompt you to confront him over imagined allegations. Going incognito and screening every woman he has been with for the past two weeks is going to drag you down and tire your spirit. This is definitely not what you want to do when he pulls away.
While he tries to deal with his own storms, take this time to focus on you. Build your character and identity by doing the things you are passionate about. Pick up an old hobby or learn something new. You will not only release tension, but you also give your heart its well-deserved pat in the back for doing a good job so far.
If you wish, visit a salon. Cut and color your hair. Pamper yourself.
Contrary to what we know of men as the stronger gender, they too feel shame sometimes. And for them, this is so much more crippling. It destroys their self-esteem and confidence, which are the usual strongholds of their masculinity. This feeling can stem from not being able to provide for you or make you happy. Studies have attributed shame to domestic violence and relationship demise.
Shame screams isolation. You need to make him feel that you are ready to traverse this season in your relationship with him, and if it will demand you to be the tougher version of yourself, so be it. Make sure you are set, however, to deal with the crest and troughs of his and your emotions. And please, stop watching sappy romantic movies that highlight women as damsels in distress. It won’t help, trust me.
Now that he is pulling away, what you need to do is be more accepting of him, his flaws and stop being judgmental. Do not demand him to revert back to his normal ways. Be more encouraging and uplifting. Be the positive voice that he hears every day. Learn his language of love, and do or speak more of that. He is vulnerable and he could use some help from you through kinder and gentler words.
In one of her Ted Talks,
Brené Brown talks about the “power of vulnerability” and how one can use positive energy to get back on his feet. She says, “When we work from a place, I believe, that says, ‘I’m enough,’ then we stop screaming and start listening, we’re kinder and gentler to the people around us, and we’re kinder and gentler to ourselves.”
Communicate Your Feelings
If you feel that you have done what you need to do when he pulls away, it is easy to attract the feeling of anger and hatred. The same easy pass that you can give to resentment when he comes back. We have this natural tendency to blurt it all out. But, some women can go about self-expression in a wrong way.
Use kinder words such as “it feels great to hear your voice again” instead of bombarding him with “Where are you? Why are you not picking up? Are you with another woman?” Let him see the light in you. Make him look forward to a conversation that is fun, rewarding and full of positive vigor.
Why do men pull away is no longer a question at this point. There is a big likelihood that they will do, for a reason or two. Looping all the emotions and decisions altogether, and this will sound like a complete paradox but the only way to keep him from pulling away is to stop trying to pull him back. Instead of forcing the situation, give him the liberty to make a choice to come back or withdraw.