“You should never have to look for evidence that someone loves you. True love is crystal clear.”
~ Mandy Hale
Emotional distance is not uncommon in relationships, yet sometimes navigating the difference between taking the space you need and realizing that your partner is pulling away can be difficult.
Taking proactive steps to talk about what you are feeling and work through identifying what is really going on in your relationship.
Here are 5 steps to consider taking if you are not sure if he is pulling away, or if it’s all in your head:
1. Ask yourself: what’s changed?
Are your needs different than they were? What about your partners’? Asking yourself these difficult questions can help you both feel like you’re not under attack so that you can talk about what finding middle ground is.
Say what you mean so he knows how you really feel, but be intentional about talking about what has been making you feel distant and be open to feedback.
“I feel” statements can be a powerful way to address these difficult feelings, while keeping focus on feelings and proactive solutions to addressing them.
2. Be intentional about making quality time for each other.
Create a weekly ritual and ask him to do the same. Establishing intentional time each week for your relationship can help give you a sense of stability and help reassure your commitment to each other.
3. Make your self-care a priority.
When we don’t make self-care a priority, it can be easier to dwell on negative emotions or perceptions.
Make sure you are making time for self-care everyday, including keeping a balanced work life, making time for family and friends and giving yourself quality time to pursue your own interests and hobbies as well.
4. Discuss Attentiveness Directly
Talk about what you are feeling if you think he is pulling away, and be sure to discuss what the right amount of quality time looks like for you in the relationship.
It is important not to monopolize each others’ time for a healthy relationship, but that you spend enough quality time together so that you are both satisfied. If you are feeling that he is becoming absent, talk about these things directly.
Avoiding such conversations can trigger anxiety and bring up fears of loss and abandonment, while discussing them directly is the only way you can get the resolution you need intentionally.
5. Honor Boundaries
Honoring boundaries creates the foundations for respect. Discuss yours and don’t be afraid to get specific. Ask your partner to do the same. Though it is normal to experience emotional distance, discussing the details of boundaries is key to feeling secure.
Space can help give you clarity in your relationship, but maintaining open communication about what gives you the basic building blocks for security is key to creating long-term intimacy.
Delia Berinde, MS, LPCC, Counselor & Life Coach – www.lookingforwardcounseling.com
When we think someone is losing their interest—regardless whether or not it’s true —it can turn our world upside down.
- Is it me?
- What did I do?
- What could I do?
- How do I hold on tight, but not too tight?
- Or what if I just want to pull away and write this person off and close off?
These are our defense mechanisms.
You hear about them all of the time, but let me offer some context. As kids, we develop defense mechanisms to get our needs met. We close people out so that they couldn’t hurt us. We act differently so that people love us.
We walk on eggshells as to not upset people. And all of those patterns commonly get activated when someone seems to be pulling away from us or from a relationship.
So, first things first, take a breath and take notice.
What is your inclination?
You want to pull away or you want to hold tight. Well, pause and recognize if it feels like that’s what the hurt, charged kid inside you wants to do or if that’s what *you* want to do.
Pull yourself into your adult self. Remind yourself that you’re no longer that kid. How do you want to show up in the world?
Root down in what you know to be true. If there are certain words or actions that makes you wonder if your partner is losing interest, notice those.
Then, when it’s a good time to talk (well-rested, full bellies, both are available), bring these up to your partner.
Let them know that when these actions happen or when these words are spoke, there is a story you make up that they’re pulling away. Take ownership of the extra charge you might feel. And ask them for some clarity.
It might feel awful to have to ask, yet I suspect that the stories you’re making in your head are bound to make you feel worse.
If you do feel like the stories are overwhelming or truly disrupting your life, go to the basics: focus on nourishment; rest; get fresh air and good movement; surround yourself with activities and people who ground you. Get support.
When do you speak with your partner, really hear them.
The answer might not be what you’re wanting to hear. Your partner might have needs, expectations, or feelings that might hurt to hear, yet to have the relationship you want, I’m guessing it might be key to hear your partner out.
See how the two of you align and work through times like this.
Notice how you feel when the two of you speak openly and honestly. Let this guide you. Release expectations of how the relationship is supposed to look, and instead trust yourself.
Sarah Claus, MA, LPCC – www.sarahclaus.com
Trying to decide if your perception of a situation is correct or not can be difficult. People tend to project their feelings and fears onto others.
If you do not feel secure in your relationship you may perceive behaviors as pulling away when they are not.
It is also easy to let yourself judge men for past men’s mistakes. If you had a man pull away due to cheating or lack of interest you may be hyper aware of any pulling away behaviors.
There are a few things that could be helpful in telling if it’s you or him.
- Has he told you why he is pulling away and are you reading more into it?
- Has he been busy with real life things and you see it as pulling away?
If you are doubting him without reason it may be you.
- Are you punishing him for another man’s mistakes?
When he says he’s spending the day with his brother do you think he’s pulling away because that’s what someone else did to you?
If you are jumping to conclusions maybe examine yourself first.
Tell him what you want. If you want to be called once a day, a text message every morning, or to spend time together 3 times a week, then tell him. Men are scared of rejection too and he may just think you need space or you will be annoyed if he is too involved. You also need to do your part. You can reach out to him too. He may want to feel wanted.
Know his temperament.
Depending on how long you have been in the relationship you may or may not know how much time he needs to himself. Everyone has different needs in relationships. Some need more space than others.
Be aware if he has had any big life changes.
Starting something like school or a new job can be exhausting and some people need time alone when they make those changes. He may be worn out or busy. Look for reasonable things that could have impacted his attentiveness.
Have a conversation.
Ask him what is going on. This can seem difficult, as it would be easy to be accusatory. Make sure you own that it is your perception not a fact that he is pulling away.
Instead of “you’re pulling away”, try something like “Hey you haven’t been calling me at night like you used to, it seems to me like you might be pulling away. Is something going on?”. Talking with someone is a great place to start when you’re unsure if it’s you or them.
Elizabeth Rice, LPCC – www.merakicounselingdenver.com
What’s making you feel like your boyfriend is pulling away from you? What makes you wonder if you are imagining things or sure it’s for real?
The answer can be complicated and depends on the dynamic of the relationship.
Let’s take a look at some scenarios:
- Perhaps your boyfriend has the kind of lifestyle that doesn’t make room for someone else to share in his adventures, dreams and interests. Perhaps he is too independent and is unable to compromise, be flexible or make you feel like you are special. So, if you think you are no longer number one in his life, you may assume he is pulling away and not really interested in you.
- Perhaps, he is a commitment phobe, afraid of giving himself to someone now or in the future. Think about how often you have to question whether he’s ready to stop and appreciate what your relationship really means to him.
- Perhaps, he is taking his career and work dedication to a degree that takes away from the relationship. Maybe, he can’t handle both and he becomes too busy to have any kind of social life outside of work, like he’s married to his job! Of course, that makes it difficult for you to feel secure because he’s so enmeshed in the energy of being professionally successful.
- Perhaps, your boyfriend is all about the game, the hunt, the capture – and once he’s got you, he’s no longer that interested. That could be why you are questioning his devotion and sincerity to the relationship.
Ultimately, it’s so important to know what you want. That leaves out any ambiguity and confusion on your part.
If you’re not sure of something, it means your relationship is not going in a clear and concise direction.
It means you are lost without GPS. So, you either have to talk to him about mutual goals or resign yourself to finding your Mr. Right somewhere else.
Amy Sherman, M.A., LMHC – www.yourbabyboomersnetwork.com
If you think he is is pulling away, he probably is.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. Most relationships develop in a series of cycles, with a pulling away and coming together more closely every time there is a reconnection.
Men often need to pull away after intimacy in order to reconstitute themselves and to regroup.
Particularly after physical intimacy, women will want to draw closer, while men will generally want to go to their “cave” and spend some time alone doing other things.
The key thing to do is to stay steady and occupy yourself with your own life and your own activities.
Focus on enlarging your own life. You do not want to make a man the center of your world. That creates an unattractive clingy dependency and is likely to turn a man off.
Taking time away from you to do other things does not mean that he is leaving the relationship, or that he used you, or that you are being dumped. It means that he has a life. It is simply a reflection of a natural cycle of to and fro and is typical in many healthy relationships.
If you let him pull away and then come back on his own schedule, the relationship is likely to evolve in a healthy manner.
Let go, trust, and see how things develop.
If he does not come back, the relationship was not meant to be in the first place. If he does, your relationship will continue to grow and deepen, strengthening with each cycle.
Trust the natural order of the universe and let things be what they are supposed to be.
Anita Gadhia-Smith, PsyD, LCSW-C, LICSW – www.drgadhiasmith.com
When doubts start to creep in about a relationship, it can be hard to make them go away.
All relationships go through natural ups and downs, experiencing periods of closeness and periods of distance. In a healthy relationship, a couple is able to come back together and maintain connection, even when life is challenging or they are in conflict.
If you’re feeling that your partner is pulling away from you, as hard as it may be, it’s important to name the elephant in the room.
Consider saying something like, “It doesn’t feel like we’ve been as close lately – have you noticed that?” or “It feels like something is off with us and I can’t quite put my finger on it.”
Hopefully, this will open the door for you and your partner to talk about what may be going on.
How willing they are to talk about your concerns says a lot about if they’re pulling away or not.
If they really show concern and want to re-build connection with you, you’ll start to see this after you bring it up.
If they say something like, “Nothing’s wrong”, shut down the conversation, and brush it under the rug, this could be cause for concern that they would rather ignore distance than work to bridge it with you.
Above all, actions speak louder than words.
If you’re noticing patterns in your partner’s behavior of consistently not responding to your calls/texts even when they’re available to do so or of spending less time with you without a clear cause, trust your gut that something is going on.
It may not be an issue with your relationship (perhaps they’re worried about something else or experiencing depression), but it is a problem if they won’t talk with you about what’s changed or how to become close again.
Michelle Henderson, MA, LMHC – www.nextchapter-counseling.com
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