“Ladies, the right man for you will pursue you. Actively. He won’t leave you wondering whether he’s into you or not.”
~ Mandy Hale
Understanding why men pull away is complicated because no two situations are the same, but if you give yourself the chance to tune into your intuition with intention—you can navigate what to do if he is withdrawing.
Oftentimes, our subconscious deep-rooted beliefs show themselves with how we navigate these inconsistencies in relationships. It is natural to feel unsure about what to do if he is pulling away.
That being said, you deserve the clarity that reflection brings
The more you reflect and act with intention, the more you will align your behaviors with your values.
This looks like actually letting ourselves say what we feel, in spite of the vulnerability and bravery required. It is never easy, but it is always worth it. Before we can speak up to our needs with intention though, we have to look at the root of our needs and desires.
Men pull away for a number of reasons, and each circumstance is unique.
That said, core reasons men pull away include:
- Fear of Commitment
- Loss of Interest
- Fear of Abandonment
- Uncertainty / wanting space
These common reasons why men pull away, look different, depending on where you are at in the relationship.
Let’s explore why men pull away, how these issues show themselves, through actions and what that reveals about the mindset he may be in.
Why men pull away in the early stages
If you have been getting to know him and it’s been a few weeks or a few months of getting to know each other and he suddenly pulls away, know that you are not alone.
Oftentimes, the early stages reveal our vulnerabilities and insecurities in partnership.
In the beginning, when a man pulls away from fear of commitment or uncertainty, he may be hot and cot in his response.
One week, he calls and texts and makes multiple plans with you, the next few, you are met with radio silence or a few sporadic texts here and there and a lot of evasiveness.
When a man takes space due to insecurity, you may find him progressively making less plans.
If this is the case, do your best to not take it personally and see his actions for what they are: a reflection of what he is working through.
In the early stages, if he has a hard time communicating his feelings or insecurities, he may pull away as a way to avoid getting hurt.
Though this may definitely feel off-putting to you, consider that moving into deep-intimacy and commitment requires a lot of vulnerability for all of us and that taking the initiative to talk about what is really going on beneath the surface is worth it.
If your intuition tells you that you need clarity, consider what you’ve been noticing, what you need and make time to talk to him about it in person, no distractions.
Why men pull away after getting close
So you’ve been getting to know each other and things feel like they are getting progressively more serious and now he has suddenly pulled away?
Let your intuition guide you towards understanding here.
Consider what you’ve been noticing. Has he been pulling away when conversations get serious, or after really opening up to you about what he really wants in a relationship?
After getting close, the floodgates of real emotional intimacy open. These can feel both beautiful and frightening, oftentimes, both at the same time.
To anyone working through intimacy barriers, such as fear of abandonment, self-sabotage can be common. Whether it is unconscious or not, he may be pushing you away because he thinks that will keep him “safe” from you having the chance to hurt him.
Especially because we are naturally nurturers, it can be easy for us to want to fix or heal these behaviors.
Remember, if he is pulling away after getting close, while it is good to reflect, be careful not to let yourself jump to conclusions or assumptions about the underlying intent of him pulling away.
Absolutely reflect on his behaviors and how they impact you, and make the time to talk, but give him the chance to have a conversation and tell you where he is at.
If he pulls away after getting close, let him know where you are at and how it affects you.
Afterwards, take note of his actions, whether he validates your feelings and takes the space you need to reflect on whether he is giving you the consistency that you need, regardless of his intent.
Why men pull away after sex
Sex not only gives an oxytocin release, but it is also intrinsically linked to our feeling of security and belonging.
Men can withdraw after sex for a number of reasons.
From feeling emotionally overwhelmed, to feeling a pull to detach due to trust issues, the causes for why men pull away after sex are varied, but the roots are the same.
If a man pulls away after sex, his actions reflect that he wants space.
If you feel triggered by this, it is okay to talk about it and ask him for the clarification you seek. Know that his actions are not a reflection of what you deserve, but of him working through his own needs.
Sex can illicit such deep-rooted emotions for us all, including triggering feelings of trust or mistrust or feeling a want to pull away.
Whatever he is doing, do not try to read into his thoughts and behaviors too much, but be willing to discuss his actions and how they impact you.
You get to own this scope—tell him what you need and what your expectations are for consistency and communication around intimacy.
Physical intimacy can foster the need to have deeper talks about emotional intimacy and leaning into this can give you the clarity you want.
Why men pull away when things get serious
Men pull away when things get serious, due to a lot of the same root causes around feelings around intimacy.
When things get serious, personal beliefs about worthiness in love, ideas around long-term fulfillment, as well as core beliefs about self may arise.
Whether you’ve been together several months or several years, if he is afraid of long-term commitment, it may be because of his own examples of love, feeling like he has lost interest, or that your relationship has lost that initial spark, or because of a number of other reasons.
Men can sometimes pull away from a relationship precisely because deep intimacy is what he wants.
This physiological defense, known as reaction formation, can leave him acting out exactly what he doesn’t want by pushing you away to keep from getting hurt.
Though the reasons men pull away after cultivating deeper intimacy are complex, the confusion or frustration you may feel from his lack of communication or consistency is valid.
Use this as fuel to reflect, be intentional about clarifying your and to initiate a talk about and normalize both of your feelings.
Remember, it is not your fault that he is pulling away and it is normal to want to get to the bottom of the uncertainty there.
In the next section, we will explore the uncertainty and confusion that arise if you are not sure if he is pulling away, or if something else is coming up.
Delia Berinde, MS, LPCC – www.lookingforwardcounseling.com
The confusion that comes from a lack of clarity is normal. If you are feeling unclear about whether he is in fact pulling away, it is important to reflect honestly and intentionally.
If you feel he is pulling away, but he has been clear that he is busy, or if you are unsure if your anxiety is leading you to feel this way, give yourself the chance to sort things out before moving forward.
Though it can be naturally frustrating or discouraging, uncertainty about whether he is pulling away can be a helpful tool for guiding yourself towards deep personal inner reflection.
Exploring your own core beliefs of love and relationships, your needs, expectations and boundaries, as well as any personal barriers that you may need to address in order to have the fulfilling relationship you desire.
Is He Pulling Away or Breaking Up?
You’ve been getting to know him for several months and you’ve shared a lot of memories together, met each others’ friends, spent many weekends together, and generally have progressively shared more of your lives with each other.
In the last few weeks, you’ve noticed he hasn’t initiated any plans and has stopped reaching out as much. When you have spent time together, he has seemed distant or evasive. When you ask him if every is okay, he says yes, but the feeling persists.
This is a scenario many women have found themselves in.
It is important to remember that what you are going through is normal and that it is okay to clarify what you need—both through personal reflection and with him.
If you’re not sure if he is wanting to break up, you deserve to revisit the foundations of what you have.
Lean into having a conversation about how things have been going generally, ask him how he feels about your relationship and where he would like things to progress in the future.
If this conversation is one he avoids or becomes defensive about, take note. Even if he is not pulling away, this is definitely a sign that he is not comfortable with this subject.
If this sort of uncertainty triggers you or leaves you feeling in an unhealthy dynamic, being proactive about addressing this is crucial so that you can take the steps you need and don’t feel stuck in the process.
Is Pulling Away or Just Busy?
You’ve been seeing each other for a couple of months. He has opened up to you, makes plans frequently, but you’ve noticed a change in his demeanor recently. He hasn’t made many plans in the last few weeks, seems to send quick texts, and just hasn’t been around.
Ultimately, a sudden change in how often he is around could be reflective of him just being busy, rather than him pulling away.
If you think it could be that he is busy, ask him directly how he’s been feeling lately and how balanced his schedule is feeling.
Avoiding such conversations will just move you further away. If he’s been putting in 50-60 hours at work and trying to navigate other changes, he may be pulling away to try to keep up with his schedule.
If you think this is the case, talk about feelings, worries or concerns. We all get overwhelmed with our schedules sometimes, you deserve to know if he is pulling away or if he is busy.
If he is occupied, talk to him about what the relationship might look like moving forward.
If he is evasive, he may be indicating that he doesn’t know if he will be able to make the relationship a priority, but, again, it is crucial not to make assumptions here and to ask direct questions so that you can get clarity on the situation.
Is Pulling Away or Is It In My Head?
You’ve been seeing each other a year. You’ve gotten very close, met each others’ families, spent holidays together and are planning to move in together in a couple of months. The last month you’ve felt as if he hasn’t been emotionally available.
He hasn’t opened up to you about how things have been going in the same way he used to. You still spend time together, but you have been increasingly feeling like he is slowly pulling away. You want to address this directly, but also don’t want to jump to conclusions.
If you’re not sure if he is pulling away in terms of intimacy and wonder if you are overanalyzing things, the best way to clear the confusion is to be intentional, thoughtful and direct.
If you haven’t noticed a change in his actions, the quality time he invests and feel he is pulling away in an emotional way, allow yourself the chance to clear things up by making time to do something you both like and check in.
If he says he isn’t pulling away, believe him unless his actions reflect otherwise.
If you find yourself triggered into these types of thinking patterns, seeking professional guidance can help with unlocking your underlying thinking patterns that may be cautious, anxious or insecure thinking.
Revisiting your underlying habits and triggers is important in addressing barriers in intimacy. We all have roadblocks. Being reflective and transparent about them can give us the capacity to work with our strengths and lean into our areas of growth with vulnerability and the presence that it takes to bring forth intentional change.
Is He Pulling Away or Just Getting Comfortable?
It’s been two months. You’ve been dating consistently and are exclusive. You have a clear connection, open communication and have felt like you have been building trust together.
Lately, though, you’ve noticed a shift in his thoughtfulness and consistency. He made you dinners at first, took you out steadily and you’ve noticed the date nights are less frequent, the sweet texts, also less common. You want to address what’s going on, but you also don’t want to jump to conclusions.
Remember, comfort and complacency aren’t mutually exclusive.
So, in a healthy dynamic, a person getting comfortable in a relationship will look like leaning into telling you what works, what feels best, and, also, being open and vulnerable enough to show you the various sides of himself.
If instead you’re feeling him getting complacent, that is, being less intentional and thoughtful, tell him.
Sometimes, other factors contribute to all of our abilities to be present, so if you aren’t sure what is happening, open the conversation. Tell him how much it meant to you when he planned date nights, or when he sends you thoughtful texts throughout your busy work day.
Be willing to open up in a way that matches the intimacy you want. When we show up in the ways that we want to be seen, we encourage others to do the same.
See what page he’s on and if he doesn’t validate your feelings, take note. You deserve to be considered and you both deserve the clarity that having these sort of tough conversations gives.
Is pulling away or just stressed?
It’s been a month. You’ve absolutely enjoyed spending time together on the weekends, and a couple times a week and are looking forward to seeing where things go.
He says he loves where things are going in your relationship, but you’ve noticed him putting less effort and time into getting to know you lately. His texts are shorter and, on the weekends, he’s mentioned needing more time alone. You’re not sure what is going on and you don’t want to be left in the dark.
If you’re uncertain about whether he is taking space from your relationship or if he is just stressed being open, honest and transparent is key.
Whether he’s stressed about work, finances or an illness in his family, he may be pulling away because it is early and he doesn’t want to put pressure on you to help him navigate these tough moments. Or, maybe he needs space to work through his stress, get the things he needs done so that he can look forward to more of the things that he loves.
Whatever the case may be, talk about stress, your schedules, what works, and what doesn’t work. This will help you build a foundation of open communication and mutual respect.
Allow yourself and him the breathing room to talk openly about your feelings. Leaning into this sort of vulnerability is tough, but not as tough as denying ourselves our true wants and desires, by not acknowledging them. Let your intuition guide you into bringing up what is most important to you in conversation.
Be prepared to acknowledge tough emotions and differences in what you may want now, and in the long term too.
These conversations can be as exciting as they can be painful. They are powerful in helping you stay present and be realistic about what is happening, and this is crucial to cultivating the love you want.
In the next section, we will explore how to handle it, if he is in fact pulling away.
Delia Berinde, MS, LPCC – www.lookingforwardcounseling.com
How to Handle It
As we discussed earlier, understanding why men become emotionally distant is complex because no two scenarios are the same. However, in order to move through this sort of road-bump in your relationship, explore how to consider if he will come back to the intimacy you once had.
He Pulled Away Will He Come Back?
Revisiting and having honest discussions with him is key to knowing if he plans to come back to what you had before.
Talk to him and be honest with yourself about what his words and actions are implying.
If he says he has a fear of commitment and is hesitating in taking the next steps with you in the relationship after years of dating, talk to him about this if you are not on the same page.
If he is committed to working through what’s coming up, you will both be proactive and mindful about what next steps you could take.
On the other hand, if he is pulling away because of loss of interest, this may look like him genuinely sharing less with you, including you in his life less and genuinely feeling complacent or even lazy about spending quality time together. If this is the case, see it for the red flag that it is.
It is normal to go through periods where your spark doesn’t quite feel the same—we all have so many factors that influence our ability to be present for the things that matter.
However, if he has lost interest and isn’t addressing it, don’t be afraid to tackle the subject head on. Also, it may be helpful to ask yourself, if he’s lost interest and not addressing it, do you really want him to come back?
If he has a fear of abandonment, or if he is facing overall insecurity in the relationship, he may pull back for some time to evaluate the relationship or reflect on his needs.
Though this may be hard to move through together, it can be key to talk to him about what you can do to face moving through these relationship challenges as a team.
You may not have a clear-cut answer about whether he’ll come back to the emotional intimacy you once had, but you will have a much better idea about what support he may need and about his commitment to your relationship and working on overcoming these emotional roadblocks.
If he is pulling away due to uncertainty, or, wanting space for the sake of it, knowing if he will come back can be tricky.
If he doesn’t know what he wants, that leaves you waiting, and also, could naturally trigger feelings of insecurity. If you’re okay waiting while he sorts out his feelings, give him the time you feel you can give without compromising your own emotional needs for long-term fulfillment.
What this looks like could differ, but do be mindful of your needs and prioritize them here.
Love requires patience and both partners deserve clarity—be willing to let yourself explore what patience looks like, rather than emotionally compromising.
If he is pulling away because of frustration, knowing if he will come back to the relationship to be ready to talk about his concerns can also be difficult.
Ask yourself, if he has been steady in the past about working through his frustrations and addressing difficult conversations when needed.
If you can’t answer this with a solid yes, be willing to be proactive about addressing the frustrations and then stay solutions-focused.
Does he want to work through what’s coming up, or is he blaming you?
Find a middle ground to talk, listen actively, but also acknowledge if his frustrations are rooted in dynamics in your relationship or if it feels like they are based in frustrations with who you are as a person.
The former is normal and healthy to work through, the later may be indicative of potentially toxic relationship habits. Reflect on this and seek guidance if you need as well.
When A Man Pulls Away How Long Will it Last?
Knowing how long he will take emotional space can be difficult to navigate and this is normal. Especially if he is working through knowing what he wants or he is not prioritizing your romantic relationship, it can be natural to feel like you are waiting in limbo.
While patience is a virtue, not respecting your own emotional needs and boundaries is not.
If the root of what you are sorting through in your dynamic is uncertainty or managing a busy schedule that leaves little time for your relationship, then discuss how long you are willing to wait to have the kind of quality time you need.
It can seem impossible to know how long him pulling away will last, but with a positive, solutions-focused frame of mind in partnership, you can talk about why space might be healthy for both of you and how to reconnect in deeper ways.
For instance, if you feel like a lot of your time is spent sitting around, watching tv—talk about being intentional about trying new activities, projects and spending more quality time together. Sometimes less time feels like more, especially if that can allow us to share our undivided attention.
Remember, it is normal and natural for all of us to go through periods where we pull away, and oftentimes, we may not notice these shifts until someone points them out.
If you feel like you need more answers about how long him pulling away will last, be willing to have open, vulnerable discussions.
Also, strike a healthy balance of giving him space and asking him to commit to what you need while he sorts through what has come up and made him pull away in the first place.
Though these types of challenges are inherently difficult to navigate, it is such an important part of showing each other that you are truly there to support each other and that you both can find security and grounding through healthy communication.
In the next section, we will explore how to handle it if he is pulling away.
As we explore this, keep in mind that your intuition and dedication to healthy communication will guide you through this process—as you learn how to handle the situation in the way that works best for you.
Delia Berinde, MS, LPCC – www.lookingforwardcounseling.com
If he is pulling away, you should let your intuition guide you in handling it.
If you’ve tried addressing the distance and feel even less clarity, it is important to trust your gut and act according to your needs. You deserve stability.
Striking a balance between talking about the distance and respecting your own needs is key.
When He Pulls Away Should I Do The Same?
If he pulls away, do the same only if he has asked for distance or if you feel you need space for your own clarity. If he says he is pulling away due to work stress, feel free to welcome in more closeness. Tell him you’d like to be there for him through the hard days and see what happens.
If he is pulling away and being evasive, be sure to be honest with him, but do take the space to address your own emotional needs.
If he is consistently inconsistent—take note. If he is vulnerable and distant, try to be open to finding a way through the road bumps.
When He Pulls Away Should I Ignore Him?
When he pulls away, don’t ignore him. Though it can feel natural to want to ignore him if you feel slighted, ignoring him would be acting from a place of fear or hurt.
Be brave and vulnerable.
Ask him to talk and if he does genuinely slight you, be compassionate and assertive in taking space for your own clarity.
When He Pulls Away, Should I Do Nothing?
When he pulls away, do act. Allow yourself the chance for patience, but do not compromise your own needs. Journaling, seeking professional guidance and meditation can all be great practices for deeper and more mindful reflection.
Ultimately, using moments of emotional distance to take inventory of your own wants/needs as well as overall strengths and challenges in the relationship can help us create the foundations for what we truly want.
Doing nothing does not align you with your deepest wants, needs and desires.
Though it can be essential to practice patience in such moments, act with intention. Allow yourself to validate your emotional space and set the tone for the boundaries you seek and to cultivate the space in your life for deeper levels of fulfillment.
How To Stay High Value When He Pulls Away
When he pulls away, be willing to have open, realistic, but firm expectations for the respect that you deserve.
Take the following steps to maintain your own needs and honor your personal worth:
- Make your self–care a priority.
Put this into practice by starting and ending your day with a self-care ritual. Starting your day with a facial and meditation and ending it with a bubble bath, are just a couple of practices you could incorporate in your routine to make personal care and wellness a part of your daily practice.
- Take inventory of your emotional needs and stay connected to your community.
Stay connected with friends, family, spiritual leaders or whomever gives you safety and grounding. Allow those you trust to give perspective where you could use insight.
- Set boundaries for reaching out and practice affirming them.
If he says he needs a couple of weeks to sort things out, but you find him texting you out of the blue, late evening Friday, remember to honor the personal boundaries you have set for yourself. If you said you’d wait two weeks, honor that for yourself.
Tell him you’d like to continue taking space. Though it may be hard, affirming our own boundaries and not catering to others’ whims help us emotionally navigate these tough moments from a place of personal intention.
- Make personal reflection a daily practice.
Journaling or keeping daily notes on personal commitments or affirmations can be a wonderful way to help with gaining personal insight.
Find practices that help you stay committed to your short, mid and long term goals and that allow you to understand your deeper needs in a more mindful way.
What our subconscious spills out on paper can sometimes surprise us. Also, having daily affirmations and gratitude practices is proven to help with reaching goals.
- Cultivate balance –physical, emotional and spiritual.
Dedicate yourself to personal balance—physically, emotionally and spiritually. Map out practices for each of these areas. Incorporate practices like yoga, journaling, spiritual guidance and quality time in nature.
Staying intentionally committed to ourselves allows us to be most in tune with our biggest gift: presence.
Delia Berinde, MS, LPCC – www.lookingforwardcounseling.com
# Module 5: What To Do When He Comes Back After Pulling Away
I Am Back
A partner taking distance or some space at times can be normal, however, if you find yourself in a situation where your significant other completely disappeared after pulling away, do take precautions moving forward.
Whether it has been days or weeks, if he disappeared and began emotionally unavailable, do take your needs and the respect you need moving forward into consideration, set boundaries and consider how to move intentionally so that you are able to act according to your best interest if he pulls away again.
What to Consider about Giving Him Another Chance
When considering giving him another chance, it is important to truly consider what your intuition is telling you.
- Do you genuinely feel there is productive space for moving forward?
- Are you reconnecting because you still have feelings and miss him, but do you know deep-down that he isn’t committed to making you a priority or stable in what he invests his time in?
Though these questions can be hard to sit with, remind yourself that sitting with the truth right now may be painful, but it is nowhere near as difficult as making yourself open to getting hurt over and again by not protecting your needs and boundaries.
What Boundaries to Set
If he reaches back out and speaks intentionally and gives you the impression that things could move forward positively and progressively, consider setting boundaries in the following ways:
If you need to discuss why he pulled away in full, this is okay. If you need clarity about his wants, needs and the future of your relationship, this is okay too. Set boundaries as far what you need to know to feel security and stability. You deserve this.
Tell him what quality time looks like for you ideally. If you’re reconnecting and you always felt like he engaged in a push-pull dynamic—in other words, being hot and cold with his attention and affection— be willing to bring these key elements up.
Address it directly with him by saying something like,
“Quality time is important to me, and so is consistency. I love spending time with you, but when you pull away without warning, it made me feel insecure about building a future with you. What can we both do moving forward to get more of what we need?”
- Your Dynamics
Be honest with yourself and with him. What is the source of the inconsistency in your relationship?
Address what you need to put healthier boundaries around your dynamics.
For instance, if he has a habit of texting you late in the day to make last minute plans, tell him moving forward you won’t be as open to last minute plans because you like feeling like you’re being made a priority. Stick to this. Though you can enjoy meeting up spontaneously once in a while, make it known through your actions that you mean it.
What to Do If He Pulls Away Again
If he pulls away again, consider this a true reflection of where he is at in his life. His actions reflect that he is still deeply sorting out what his priorities are or that he just isn’t sure about making you a true priority.
Though it can be hard, try not to take this personally. He may be really into you, but also deeply unsure of his own focuses.
We can’t change people and we can’t make our own feelings disappear.
These are both hard truths to sit with at times. Always remember that you can change how you align yourself to your true intentions—to what you really want and how you really want to be treated but that this requires the brave vulnerability of reflection and making change.
If he pulls away again, tell him how you feel about it, what you’re planning on doing (not talking to him for a while, focusing on other aspects of your life, etc.).
Act with intention and speak mindfully. Do not try to hurt him or yourself with your words—just take the steps you need to not be actively and assertively tending to your own emotional needs.
When someone is inconsistent with how they show up for us in our lives, it can make us doubt our needs, and, at times, even what may be fair. Setting basic boundaries, being open to clear communication and receiving feedback and taking space are all key aspects of being able to address the most difficult aspects of relationships.
When someone is pulling away, we can feel unsure of how to move forward because it can feel like uninvited change has shifted our emotional landscape.
Moving forward looks different for each of us, but ultimately requires intentionality, commitment and clear boundaries.
Whether you move forward together or individually, honor your own needs and worth first and foremost.
The respect we give ourselves in these situations is what protects our needs.
Remember to speak with compassion and to seek guidance from friends, family, counselors or spiritual leaders. It can be helpful to have support form your community.
Be willing to move slowly, act intentionally and let yourself align your actions with your values and the way you want to be treated in love wholeheartedly.
Delia Berinde, MS, LPCC – www.lookingforwardcounseling.com
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