Is Your Man Pulling Back? Here’s Why

Relationship Rules
17 Apr 2023
17 min read
Why Men Pull Away - Know 14 Reasons

So, here are two situations when commonly men pull back. First, you have begun a relationship with a guy and things are going well. You’ve had a few dates, had fun, and things are progressing in a completely normal way. All of a sudden, the calls and text messages stop. And he’s not responding to yours either. What gives? Things were going so well.

Or, you have been in a relationship for a while and have developed strong feelings for this man. You also have a strong sense that he feels the same way. But lately, things seem to be different. He is too busy to spend time with you the way he used to; he’s acting distant; the emotional connection you have been feeling from him just isn’t there like it used to be.

Now, you are in a phase of self-doubt, losing the state of a high value woman you are. Did you do something wrong? Have you been too clingy? Are there other women in his life? He has plenty of reasons why he is physically and emotionally unavailable, but none of them seem to make sense to you.

Just what are his true feelings? And what are the reasons why men pull away like this? The reasons are many. We’ve made up a comprehensive list of them.

14 Reasons Why Men Pull Away

“If a woman says her man never pulls away (which again, is an exception), it’s not necessarily that he doesn’t pull away. It’s more that she (the woman) doesn’t perceive that he pulls away. Either she ‘gets’ him, so she doesn’t find his actions a threat to her emotional safety. Or, she has secure attachment (so his absences don’t bother her too much).”

, coach in masculine feminine polarity, authenticity & long term relationships

Generally, men pull away due to psychological reasons, either in their own minds or due to the perceptions of their partner. Let’s take a look at how this works. You may find one or more that sound like what is going on in your formerly healthy relationship that is now seeming to go south.

Related reading: Powerful Signs of Male Attraction – A Checklist for You

1. He Is Scared or Uncomfortable

While he may feel that your relationship is an incredible opportunity for the love he has been seeking, he is afraid of an emotional commitment. What he is feeling is new to him, and he just isn’t sure about dealing with it. He wants to be in control of his emotions and feelings, but the intense feelings he has for you make him feel that he is losing that control.

The stronger his feelings get, the more fearful he becomes. His defense mechanism is to pull away until he can sort out his feelings.

You may want to ask him what is going on and if he needs to take it slow so he can figure things out. And also assure him that you are sure of your feelings so that he doesn’t have to worry about that.

Give him time but not forever. If you see that he is just not moving toward a commitment, even after you continue to reassure him, he may have attachment issues that you won’t be able to “fix.”

Losing independence is one of common reasons why men pull away

2. He Fears Losing His Independence

If you are in the early stages of a relationship, and he has not been in a relationship for a while (or maybe never), he may worry about losing his freedom and his independence. After all, committed relationships require considering the partner when plans are made, and at least informing that partner when he is going out with the guys or co-workers. He’s not used to this, and while many women and men who are in relationships consider this completely normal, he does not.

He’s wondering what he got himself into and will pull away to think about things for a while. When men withdraw for this reason, it’s time for patience on your part. Don’t harass him, but do stay in touch so he knows you are still there and thinking about him.

3. He Fears Getting Hurt

If men have been in previous long-term relationships and were dumped, their mental well-being may be fragile when moving into a new one. They may have abandonment issues.

“Abandonment issues can largely be created based on childhood trauma and schemas developed as a result.”

Chrystal Dunkers, LPC, a licensed counselor

This is one of the common reasons why men pull away in the initial stages of a relationship. If your guy has told you about being hurt before and he then pulls away, you can be pretty sure that is the reason. While you may feel hurt, it is also important that you develop some understanding of where he is coming from. He hasn’t disappeared into thin air the way some men pull away. He’s backing away because of a painful previous relationship, not because of you. Don’t lose sight of this fact.

Better to assure him that you aren’t going everywhere and are willing to give him whatever space he needs right now. Of course, stay in touch and reassure him that you are still there. Don’t make things worse by becoming angry or asking incessant questions about how he is feeling.

4. He Doesn’t Want a Relationship

You may be ready, and you may be emotionally bonding to this guy. If he gets a sense that you are and he just doesn’t want this, he will pull away and do so pretty quickly. It will be practically impossible for you to change his feelings because he is focused on his own interests, not yours.

Related reading: Relationship Advice for Women That Will Help Your Love Life

Save yourself from the endless suffering of being rejected. The man knows you are around, and if he’s interested at any time in the future, you’ll be the first to know. Above all, don’t become a “stalker,” especially on his social media accounts. Certainly, if he has not unfriended you, you can follow his posts, but refrain from commenting on all of them. Just be friendly and nonchalant. One reason men pull away is that a girl is coming on too strong.

5. It’s Getting Too Intense Too Fast

If you are looking for a common reason why men pull away, then here is one. If you have met and are spending long weekends at each other’s places almost immediately, things are indeed moving fast. It’s easy in these circumstances to develop some unrealistic expectations about his commitment to a permanent partnership.

He, on the other hand, is feeling more and more uncomfortable because things are moving too fast, and your emotional bonding has become so intense. While you are definitely a love interest for him, he is feeling overwhelmed by it all.

Men pull away when things go too fast

His response may be to back off. And if he is not upfront about it, the man pulls away without explanation. He will begin to be too busy with work or with friends, for example.

It’s time for an honest conversation. You be the one to approach the subject. Ask him why he is pulling away. Tell him you will understand any issues he may have and will adjust your expectations to match where he is right now. If you have real feelings for this guy, give him the space he may need right now. Slow things down. This is not about you – it’s about his comfort level.

6. He is Feeling Inferior

You have met this really great guy. And you are hoping that something develops between the two of you. He is just a regular guy with a regular job. You, though, have a top-level career position, have far more education than he has, and are basically a “mover and shaker” in your profession. You are what is commonly known as a “high-value woman.”

Guys pull away from such women because they feel they cannot “measure up” and that they will be discarded when someone “better” comes along. And so, they are reluctant to put the energy and time commitment into a relationship that may not come to anything in the long term. It’s an issue of their own feelings of self-worth.

If a guy pulls away, maybe he's not your guy

For women, it’s worth telling him about the great qualities you’re attracted to. Or, in another scenario, openly address the situation. Ask him why he is pulling away and ask for an honest answer. If he speaks to his feelings of inferiority, then address them.

Your values are not based on “credentials” that people have. They are based on deeper things. He may not trust this response at first, but over time he will.

7. He Is Stressed By Other Aspects of His Life

If your dating life with this man is relatively new, you may not have the intimate details of other aspects of his life – his work, his family, etc. These come over time and as relationships grow and develop. And there may be stressors that you know nothing about. Men deal with stress differently, and they have different stress levels in their lives. One result of stress is men pulling away from even the best relationship because of that stress. They must spend their energy and time dealing with those stressors rather than a relationship at the time.

You are left wondering what is going on, and it can feel horrible when the guy pulls away. He hasn’t told you why and, in fact, he may not. But if he makes a general statement like, “I’m just swamped at work,” and still keeps in touch with you, take him at his word at least for the short term. If it lags on and his communications are pretty inconsistent, though, he may just be breadcrumbing you, so best to move on.

When men pull away, you don't know what's going on in his head

8. He Is Emotionally Unavailable

Men and women process emotions differently: the female limbic region of the brain, where emotions reside, is larger than the man’s. And so, women tend to be more emotional, though this is not a hard and fast rule.

The other factor here is that many men have grown up with societal norms that tell them they should not be emotional – it’s not tough and manly. So, they often suppress emotions. Fortunately, we are moving away from this stereotype, but it is still there and can’t be discounted.

And still, a third reason may be past trauma from a failed relationship in which he bared his emotions and got terribly hurt.  Because he has a hard time processing his emotional connection to you he may pull away rather than “give in” to those emotions. Relationship coach Michael Fiore has more to say on this topic.

9. He Wants to Explore

Well, this is his option and a common reason why men pull away. You met, have been dating a lot, and you have moved into exclusivity with him, turning down other dates to be just with him. But now your new man withdraws from you and is not at all as attentive as he was when the dating was new. He calls less often; the dates are much less frequent.

One of the possible reasons is that he has decided that he doesn’t want a single exclusive partner but would rather explore his other options right now. Most women would find this turn of events hurtful, especially if they have thrown all of their “eggs” in this guy’s basket.

But there is nothing you can do but hope he is honest with you and says he wants to play the field. At least you know what’s up and can make your own plans to play the field as well.

10. It’s Lust, Not Love

You’ve met him, and realize he has a strong physical desire for you. You are flattered, excited, and ultimately hop into bed with him. It’s pretty amazing, and sex is now an important part of every date you have. After a while, he pulls away and wants to see you less and less. And now every date is just about sex and nothing more – no going out, no daytime stuff together. It’s all at your place or his, and once the sex is over, he finds a reason to leave or have you leave.

It’s pretty obvious. He isn’t interested in a serious relationship with you. Not all men will admit this to you, but you aren’t stupid – you know the signs.

The first thing you do is walk away now. The more you linger hoping that this will turn into something else, the more painful it will be.

Related reading: Are You in Love or Lust? Here’s Your Answer

11. There’s No Challenge

Most men love a challenge. While he may see you as a challenge in the beginning, you have made everything too easy for him. You are available at the precise moment he calls or texts. You cancel other plans to be with him. In short, you have changed your life activities in order to accommodate his every need or desire. If so, it should be no surprise when he pulls away. The hunt is over; the challenge is no more. He will move on to new challenges with a woman who is not so easy.

“When we put more effort into trying to get someone to be attracted to us, once we get over that challenge, there’s a big reward.”

Xianchi Dai et al. (2013). Why does playing hard to get increase romantic attraction?

The most important piece of advice here is that, from the beginning, do not be so available. Keep your other activities and your previous schedule in place. Go out with your friends rather than wait hoping he will call. This is no way to live. And if he learns that you are not available, his interest will remain.

Now, in the long-term, if this is a man who is only interested in the challenge and then loses interest once he has conquered, this isn’t a man you will probably want in a long-term relationship.

Related reading: The Making of a Sexual Goddess

12. You Have Made Him Feel Unimportant

This is the opposite of the above issue. You are vastly independent and want him to know this. So, you are unavailable to him. You deliberately return calls late or even ignore them. You are not available for dates on purpose. Your goal is to make him believe that you are a real challenge, thinking that this will keep him on the hook.

And it may for a while. But if you overplay your hand, you will come to see that he pulls away. And why do you want to play these games anyway? Be honest and forthright, tell him he’s important to you but that you have other interests and friends that will take up your time too.

There are too much change so he pulls away

13. He Feels Things Changing

Suppose in your zeal to become an important part of his life, you start to include him in all of your life activities – get-togethers with friends, office and family events, your hobbies and interests, etc. He is happy to do these things with you.

But you also insert yourself into the other parts of his life not really invited to do so. You may know where he hangs out with his buddies and show up there. You may know that he has certain outside hobbies, interests, and volunteer work, and you insert yourself into these things too.

He is beginning to feel that he is losing his identity apart from you, and this is one of the most common reasons for especially men to pull away.

Related reading: Dating vs Relationship – What Are the Main Differences Between Them?

14. He Doesn’t Feel Like a Hero With You

Part of a man’s self-esteem stems from his belief that he is a “protector and provider.” Now, we all know that most women today are totally self-sufficient. They have their own lives, their jobs/careers, and their lives apart from men. This doesn’t mean that they don’t find a male partner an important part of their lives. They do. But they can exist without someone to take care of their financial and personal needs.

“The Hero Instinct is biggest secret to becoming a man’s deepest passion and priority in life.”

James Bauer, psychologist, author of His Secret Obsession

Most guys, however, still have this “hero instinct” built in and doing certain things for their partner is really important. They step up when she has car trouble; they bring her food and groceries when she is sick, and they go pick up her prescriptions. In short, when she has problems or crises, he is right there with as much help as she needs.

But there are women who are so independent that they only rely on themselves in times of need or crisis. they will call AAA for car problems. they will order stuff delivered when they are sick. Thy guy isn’t feeling he can have the role of “hero” and, again, this is one of the most common reasons men pull away from women who are just too self-sufficient.

Things to do when your man pulls away

So What Do You Do?

There are just so many reasons why men pull away, and you are a person who wants to know why. And this seems like almost an impossible task, especially if your love is not communicating with you. What should you do?

Here are a few tips you can try:

  • Have an open honest conversation with a real positive intent of learning the truth. Tell him you feel he is pulling away, that he is not spending time with you like before, and you’d like him to be honest about why. You may or not get an honest answer, but at least he knows you know he is backing off from the relationship. Don’t show anger or resentment, or he will likely shut down.
  • If he tells you that he has commitment or relationship issues based on his past, suggest that he consult a relationship expert so he can learn to trust again. Assure him you are not going anywhere.
  • If he says things are moving too fast or your being too clingy has caused him to pull away, agree to set boundaries for the relationship dynamics. Once set, abide by them. If he still pulls away, there are other issues at play.
  • If he admits that he is not ready for a monogamous relationship, then let it be. You aren’t the person who can change that right now, so either live with it or move on

Now It’s Your Turn!

If you feel your man pulling away, you may not know the exact reason why even after reading this article. Maybe he’s no longer interested; maybe he is pulling away because you are too aggressive, too needy, or not needy enough. He may be pulling away because it’s getting in too deep and he’s afraid of a committed relationship or of being hurt. He may be wanting a passionate relationship but suffer from low self-esteem and don’t feel worthy.

If you can’t figure it out and he is not willing to tell you, then you have a choice to make. Stay in the “limbo land” with him, or choose to move forward without him. You do what is right for you.

Love&Sex Expert
Cherie Hamilton
I’ve always been inspired by women who are outgoing, very sure of themselves, and not afraid to be who they were, including their sex lives. Under their tutelage, I gradually shed my old self, hung out and socialized with them, and, over time, became the empowered, self-confident, and sexual woman I am today. Happy to share my insights with other women today!
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