How To Handle When He Pulls Away- Part 1 - How To Win a Man's Heart

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August 11, 2014

How To Handle When He Pulls Away- Part 1

Why is He Pulling Away?

Short answer is- I don’t know. Romantic relationships are so confusing.

Whether you just had your first date, meetup or hookup; whether you’ve been dating many months; or whether you have been married for 18 years – romantic relationships are a place where we often get confused.  For most folks our relationship comfort is of huge value and importance. Healthy people want and need attachments of all sorts, yet we never truly know the ideas floating around inside another human being’s mind.  So we don’t always know how committed they are to us at any given juncture.  I know. This is a hard truth. Sorry.

But there are indicators that our lover or a new person is interested and connected. I will go over some of those indicators; but I have to tell you from years of watching new relationships form and old one’s die, people remain to varying degrees,  a mystery to us. That is why becoming stable and secure within oneself is so vital,  be you 21 or 81.  Love and relationships are always a leap of faith. But that doesn’t mean we should close our eyes and jump without checking out the water.  And it’s important to me that you understand that it also doesn’t mean that you should ignore warning signs of trouble. Whether the signs suggest that he isn’t emotionally or physically a safe person or even that he isn’t really that excited about you – you owe yourself the dignity of choosing wisely.

So here’s where you might be:

1. You have had what you think is a fantastic date with a man and you are eagerly looking forward to his phone call but he doesn’t call or text.  Or he calls/texts 4 days later, not the next day.

2.  You have had a few great dates with a man, there’s has been texting and fun banter and then he goes silent for days or even disappears forever.

3. You have sex with someone and then he starts withdrawing.

4.  He “chases” you. Shows a lot of interest in you and wants your time and contact. Then when you begin to show interest, he pulls away or is even unpleasant.

5. The relationship has progressed to a point where it’s steady and long term and you are waiting for him to propose but that never happens.

6. You have been partners for several or more years, you have had ups and downs but he has always remained committed, then he starts ignoring you or coming home later or becoming disinterested in sexual or emotional contact.

Of course there are plenty of other situations but I wanted to show that some of the advice I can give in this short space can be applied to many different situations.

 I am also not going to give pat answers to why any of the above may be happening. Truth is that there are innumerable reasons why any of these or other pulling away behaviors occur. There could have been a death in the family that you aren’t aware of; he could have hooked back up with his ex; he could be cheating; he could be playing with you until he finds something better; he could just be a confused or clueless person in relationships; he could be a straight up jerk or narcissist; he could have become or be struggling with depression or severe anxiety, etc.

Often though what is happening when you sense or observe that he is pulling away is that HE IS. And often it isn’t extremely complicated.  Often it is that you are feeling what he is sending; and that is (if it’s brand new)- he just wasn’t that into you.  If it is a longer relationship – it’s possible that he has lost the appropriate interest and commitment to behave committed.

That’s doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you. When we are talking about very new relationships, there are just too many factors to worry too much about why this is happening. It may be better worth your time to just LET GO. Move on and don’t obsess about why.  If however, you are experiencing a  repeated pattern of first or second dates leading nowhere than it might be helpful to read more about how you are comporting yourself so as to attract and keep the interest of the good ones, and keep out the bad ones. Look for more on this in my future posts.

But  I want to say clearly is that while it is great to learn more about the sociological and psychological dynamics in relationships, in some ways it doesn’t matter. What it often comes down to is that if you want to be in relationships where you are honored and treated as valuable, you need to spend more time taking care of you and not spending too much time worrying and wondering what’s up with him. Consider taking back your space, or letting go and moving on.

All of this gets trickier in long term relationships where you have invested time and there has been love and commitment in the past. Then it’s worth taking the time necessary to really sort it all out, often with a good counselor who can help you both get the truth on the table.

But let’s begin a little of that here:   I remember asking my Mom when I was  little, “How do I know if something I am about to do is wrong?”  She said,  “When in doubt – don’t”.  Well I have a similar go-to for my friends and clients when a lot of these issues arise and it is:  when you are confused, are getting mixed signals or are freaking out, DO NOTHING.  This often shocks my friends because I am known for being a proactive personI am a bit of a fixer.  I am direct and I don’t like to sit long and wait for problems to iron out. This is true especially in close relationships when I am feeling particularly unsure of where I stand with someone I care about – I want to know what is going on. I want to confront and get the truth.  And there is certainly a time for this, and it is a very useful skill I encourage you to use at the proper times. (In fact this is a topic I write and counsel the most about). But a lot of undue drama has been avoided and answers have been revealed when my friends have taken a deep breath, focused on getting good with themselves for a few hours, or days (weeks even, in marriages for instance) and  Done Nothing in response to the worry of “ is he pulling away?”.

Of course as I said earlier you don’t want to invest your precious time an emotions in a guy who isn’t showing you proper attention via reciprocal contact early on because it usually isn’t worth it. The signs are there that this isn’t the right guy for you when this happens early on.  When I suggest  “do nothing” for awhile, what I am saying is that there is value in being as non-reactive as possible.  Instead you want to be active, stable and thoughtful in sorting out the answers you are looking for when you feel he isn’t attending, or something has changed, or you aren’t sure how he feels.  So if you are an anxious person, have a history of being reactive in ways that have alienated or sabotaged, then this is good advice for you.  Slow down. Become aware. Open your eyes, watch and wait a little and do good things for yourself that aren’t focused on him, while seeing what happens next. If you give it a day or a few,  you can find that space and also you will likely see his follow-up behaviors and know more.

Depending on where your relationship is or has been you don’t want to over react or under-react. And often we do. If we have been lied to in the past, you may read in to “signs” where there are none. Or if your style is to fear the truth, you might under react and let a bad situation fester.  This is when I see  women staying in relationships where he is clearly, not that into her anymore. Or worse.

So if you are feeling reactive. Sit tight as I said earlier and think about getting into a more calm and centered place.  From there you do not want to avoid your concerns, ignore your feelings of discount your gut instincts. You want to follow up, communicate and face the truth. Come from a place of self value and be open to hearing the truth. If you are overcome with fear, go back to the Do Nothing and get grounded. To get to the truth you have to be willing to hear the truth, to ask questions when appropriate, to observe the answers you get, both directly and indirectly. Many times you will not get to the truth simply by asking and so you will be left to act on and decide what to do based on behaviors alone.

Then you have to be good to you and know your limits-the deal breakers. Some things can and should be worked through, especially the longer the relationship and the newer this dynamic or concern has been happening. But if you have had one date and he doesn’t call or text you afterward I would say just move on. No need to pursue it any longer as you do not want to start out chasing someone. Nor should they have to chase you. This is a bad dynamic for any relationship. You don’t want to make yourself unavailable to a decent guy with whom you are sharing some good times in order to appear more desirable. You also do not want to pursue a guy who isn’t showing sincere interest.

Here are some good questions to ask yourself:

Do you feel like he really digs you? You know what I mean. How does he look at you? Does he say nice things about your personality? Does he want to spend a good portion of his free time with you? Does he talk about his life, and ask you about yours? Does he seem truly concerned about your interests, needs, or any important things going on in your life? Does he kiss you and want to show appropriate affection even in public? And is all of this balanced with respect for any boundaries you have set? This is reasonable attention I am talking about, not 100 texts a day or always wanting to know where you are for instance – that’s not “into you” – that’s creepy.

More:

1. Does he respond to your call or text in a relatively short amount of time?

2. Does he initiate a couple or a few contacts during the day? A text for instance in the morning if you aren’t living together saying “Good morning, hope you have a good day”.  Or “Im headed to bed but wanted to say goodnight”.

3. Does he remember little things you like and try to get them for you? Like your favorite potato chips or wine?

4. Is he courteous? Does he walk at your pace, hold your hand, introduce you to his friends in a polite and respectful way?

5. If you call on Thursday and suggest getting together for a meal on Friday is he usually happy to hear the offer and accept, not always saying he already has plans?

6. If you are living together, is he spending time with you? Do you have a night that you can tell he values your company and you pick a movie together and make some popcorn and cuddle on the couch?

7. Does he ask and listen to how your day was?

8. If he is running late does he text/call to tell you? Does he offer an apology if it’s a significant amount of time alteration, and are his reasons reasonable?

9. Is he intimate? Does he look at you when you have sex? Does he respond when you initiate affection?

10. Can you talk about things of importance where he looks at you and listens with curiosity about your concerns or passions?

11. Will he come in an emergency? (Drop things to come get you if your car breaks down or you are injured or very sick.)

12. Does he act like he likes you? He thinks you dress cool, or he respects how you work hard, or he says you are interesting or fun, – he wants to be with you and shows it.

I obviously could rattle a thousand little markers for signs that he is connected.  And you know better what is important to you. He may not display all of the above, and probably doesn’t (nor do we usually) but some of these sorts of things should be a Yes.  Bottom line is, if things have seemed distant, if you feel less important, if you are beginning to hurt inside and worry about what is going on… don’t panic, don’t beg for attention,  don’t accuse, and do not ignore your feelings. Honor yourself, be open to reality, look at his behaviors more than his words, and get help from a therapist if you are extremely distraught.

Click here to read part 2 of this article

About the author

Kris Gooding

Kris Gooding, LCSW is a psychotherapist, community and clinical educator, free lance writer and Mom living in Gainesville, Florida. In her practice she sees both individuals and couples. Among her clients are folks working on relationship issues, communication, sexuality and intimacy goals, anxiety, self esteem, postpartum anxiety and depression, divorce, parenting struggles, grief and other life changes. You can find out more about her at Find-Within.com.




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