A strong connection can feel rare.
So why, when it looks like you have found it, would a man pull away?
After all, it was all going so well. You always have the best time together. Then without warning, it’s as if something suddenly changed.
You’re probably feeling pretty confused and wondering whether he’s been spooked by the thought of things getting more serious.
If you want to know exactly what’s going on, here are 12 reasons why a man will run away from love.
1) It’s going too fast for him
At the beginning of a new relationship, or when we first start to date, it’s easy to get caught up in a whirlwind.
It’s exciting and we’re on a high as we get this rush of feel-good hormones around our body that come from spending time with the object of our desire.
What’s not to like, right?
But at the same time, dating and relationships can feel like a bit of a theme park.
Sure they are exhilarating, give us butterflies and we can easily get swept away in all the action.
This ride called love has ups and downs. When we suddenly come back down to earth and have our feet on the ground again, we may realize how swept up in things we have gotten.
For some men, they may start to freak out at this point.
So even though he’s been having a great time with you, he could feel like he needs to pump the breaks a bit.
Of course, if he doesn’t communicate properly what is going on, from where you stand it looks like he has gone from “all in” to totally backing off.
We all have our own timetable for transitioning into something more serious and we all need to go at our own pace.
If he needs things to develop a little slower, avoid coming on too strong, as you’re just likely to scare him off more.
Sometimes when overwhelm kicks in from everything moving too quickly, just a little bit of space and time can resolve things.
2) He’s not ready for a serious relationship
He is an amazing guy, you get on so well, he ticks pretty much all of your boxes. There’s just one catch — he’s not at that stage in life where settling down is his priority.
This can be for plenty of reasons. He may feel too young to commit right now, he might be really focused on his work or study, maybe he is simply enjoying dating life.
Whatever the individual reasons why he isn’t in the market for something serious, ultimately it doesn’t make a difference. What really matters is that he isn’t in that place.
It can feel so frustrating when we meet Mr. Right at the wrong time, but timing really is everything.
We may think that if you meet the right person everything else will fall into place. It won’t matter because we can’t help who we fall in love with, right?
Even though that can sometimes be the case, the truth is that internal timing is just as important as the external circumstances when it comes to making a connection work long term.
Research has shown that this is true. One study found that a higher degree of readiness was associated with higher commitment to a relationship.
As Kenneth Tan, Assistant Professor of Psychology in the School of Social Sciences at Singapore Management University says, there really is such as thing as meeting someone at the wrong time:
“We see from the research that timing is important in that it has an influence on boosting — or undermining — relationship commitment”.
When someone is not open for a relationship, it doesn’t matter how amazing you are or how great the two of you are together.
Ultimately guys will run away from love — even when they really like you — if they aren’t looking for it.
3) He hasn’t had to work for it
This one is crazy I know but it’s also human psychology.
We don’t want things that come too easily to us. We’re suspicious of it. We actually value something more when we have to work a little for it.
We’ve all heard that guys love the chase. This isn’t simply anecdotal either, there’s even some scientific evidence that backs it up too.
Researcher Dr. Aparna Labroo says the reason behind it is we’re taught by society that the more we work for something the better the reward.
“This relationship between effort and value is so closely associated in a consumer’s mind that wanting the best outcomes automatically results in increased preference for any outcome associated with effort, even pointless effort.”
Which roughly translates as — if it comes too easily, you don’t think it’s worth as much.
4) He’s stuck in his routine
Fun is one thing, but when something starts to feel “real” it can bring with it a lot of questions and doubts.
Investing in love and a relationship means being prepared to make space in your life for another person. Not all guys are ready or want to change their life.
Let’s face it, even good change can be a bit unsettling. Whenever something new enters our life, we’re also asked to give certain things up.
If he is accustomed to doing things his own way, then he may realize that going from “me” to “us” will require some sacrifices.
If he likes life the way it is — hanging out with friends, sticking to his own little routines, plenty of time for hobbies and interests — he might not be so keen to give it up.
Love demands significant change and some men will be afraid of this or too stuck in their ways.
5) He was hurt in the past
Very few of us get to escape the pain of heartache in life. I’m sure most people can instantly recall at least one person who cracked their heart wide open, smashing it into a million pieces.
Of course, love brings so many wonderful things to our lives, but for anyone who knows, heartache is also one of the most grueling things we’ll go through.
Even once we have carefully glued together all the pieces again, the memory still remains.
None of us want to get hurt, so it’s a natural defense mechanism that we might try to avoid putting ourselves in that situation again.
If he hasn’t truly healed from past relationship traumas, he may be easily triggered — thinking that “feelings equal danger”.
When we want to avoid pain and suffering, it can feel like the simplest solution is to avoid getting too close to anyone — and running away from love altogether.
6) He just got out of a long term relationship
If you know that before meeting you, he was recently in another relationship, there is a chance he isn’t ready for something serious again so soon.
Getting over a breakup can take longer than you think.
Whilst one study in 2007 found that it takes on average around 3 months to move on — the reality is that there probably is no “average” time because everyone is different and every relationship is different.
When we’ve experienced a break-up, our emotions tend to be all over the place and we’re just a lot more unstable.
We all deal with things differently, and whilst some of us will cry into our pillow night after night, plenty of others jump straight into something new in an attempt to “move on” or distract themselves from the pain.
The problem is that at some point those feelings you have been trying to avoid can later catch up with you.
If he is still processing the fallout of another relationship, he may need to take things slower or have a bit more space to first deal with any resolved emotions or situations with an ex.
7) He’s a bit of a player
Whilst there is definitely plenty of fish in the sea, some of them are sharks.
Unbeknown to you, your relationship may have been doomed from the start.
Player, fuckboy, womanizer, cad — there’s been plenty of names over the decades to describe this kind of man.
His hallmarks are making you feel so special, like you are one in a million, only to unceremoniously withdraw that affection at a moment’s notice.
Whilst it can be difficult to spot a player, they do often give off red flags. Maybe he blows hot and cold. He may text you every day and then suddenly go MIA for a week, only to pop up again as if nothing has happened.
It’s usually just enough to keep you interested and wondering if you’re crazy or if he actually is messing with your emotions.
Men who want to play the field are ultimately not looking for a commitment. As relationship expert April Masini explained to Insider:
“Some people prefer the freedom of one-night stands and playing the field. They revel in not having to be there for someone when that someone needs them. Commitment means the end of that lifestyle, so they shy away from commitment.”
If he was only ever looking for a hookup or something casual, then as soon as it seems to get more serious that could be why he has pushed you away.
The problem is he knew from the start he wasn’t looking for anything serious.
So as much fun as he may have been having, he always had a protective wall up, with no intention of really letting you in.
8) He’s going through a hard time
So often in life, we can be quick to jump to conclusions when we don’t have all the facts.
Could there be something going on for him that you don’t know about that might be behind his strange behaviour?
For example, some kind of stress that he is dealing with right now — anxiety, depression, work problems, family issues, or bereavement?
Sometimes we all face difficulties that we find it challenging to open up about. Everyone handles hardship differently and some men may just withdraw altogether in order to cope.
One of the reasons that depression can be particularly troublesome in men is that they can struggle (more so than women) to talk about their feelings.
They may feel a pressure to appear “strong” or handle it themself. He might feel like he is burdening you with his problems or that you would be better off without him around.
If he is going through a hard time, he may have decided he doesn’t have the headspace right now to handle love or a relationship.
9) He’s keeping his options open
In the era of modern dating, it can feel like everyone is less keen to commit.
Dating apps make it easier than ever before for men to keep their options open. It’s almost like there’s plenty of window shopping, but not as many guys who are prepared to buy.
Dating expert James Preece thinks our increased choice really has become a bit of a problem.
“The more choice someone has then the less committed they will become. They won’t put the effort in or give someone a good chance or take time to develop a budding relationship if they know there are lots more options just a few clicks away.”
Whereas once upon a time, we might meet one person, form an attachment and settle down — dating these days is far more of an open marketplace.
If a man has a “disposable” attitude towards dating, then whenever he tires of a connection he knows there will always be someone else just a swipe away.
Perhaps research into the differences between how men and women use dating apps could shed some more light on what’s going on.
A study found that men on tinder are much less discriminating over matches and far more likely to swipe right, but they’re also much less likely to follow through with a message too. Women on the other hand tend to only swipe for men they are serious about connecting with.
Real relationships take real effort. For some people, it can be tempting to wait and see if anything “better” comes along before making their choice.
10) He’s afraid of commitment
Someone who is emotionally unavailable or afraid of commitment — it’s such an eye-rolling cliche, right?
I don’t know about you, I’m sooooo tired of emotional baggage. It can feel so frustrating. We almost want to shout at them, “sort your shit out”.
But the kinder truth is that most of us are carrying some kind of emotional baggage around with us.
Sadly, a lot of the time we don’t even notice our own shadows. So we can’t always see our defense mechanisms when they’re in play.
We just get these strong signals in the shape of our emotions that tell us “danger, step away”.
We may find ourselves backing off, without even always knowing the reasons why.
Even when you are left wondering “Why do guys run away from love”, the truth is that he might not even know the answer himself — he may just be instinctively responding to discomfort that he is feeling.
If you suspect he really does like you and that he may be nervous about commitment, the best approach is patience, understanding, honesty, and open communication with him.
11) He’s scared of his feelings
Maybe you’re definitely not crazy or imagining it all — and he really does love you but is terrified to fall for you.
Some men are afraid of intimacy or confronting their own feelings. It takes vulnerability to open ourselves up to another person.
If he has been giving you all the signals that you are special to him, but then he has started to run away, he could be grappling with his emotions.
This push, pull you sense happening between you two could be a representation of what is going on inside him. He wants you, but he doesn’t want to want you.
12) It’s not love for him
As brutal as it can feel to hear, he just might not feel as strongly as you do. Many of us experience unrequited love at some time.
Whilst we may not want to face the possibility of rejection, it’s really important to find the courage to be honest with people about how we feel and what we want from them.
I know I have been guilty many times when dating or in relationships of not truly expressing exactly how I feel because I am worried about rocking the boat or putting too much pressure on.
But keeping things to yourself only ever delays the inevitable.
When we hide our true feelings in the hope that one day we will magically arrive at the same place and want the same things — we waste our time and energy.
It is better to know sooner rather than later if someone is not as invested in you as you are.
On one level we may not want to know, but realistically you are saving yourself heartache in the future.
Further down the line, you will only have wasted a lot more of your precious love and time on someone who doesn’t feel the same.
Wouldn’t it be better to spend that energy looking for someone who does want the same things as you and appreciates you in the same way?
Steps to take when a guy is running away from love
STEP 1: Look for any causes you can identify
Has something happened recently that you think could have contributed to him pulling away?
It might be something that has happened between you two (like a fight or significant milestone that could have triggered fear) or something in his own life.
STEP 2: Talk to him about what is going on
There’s a reason that good communication is the lifeblood of any successful relationship.
Life will always send trials for us and being able to discuss and work through difficulties together is the only way a relationship is ever going to last.
STEP 3: Make it clear that you care
Especially if he is scared of getting hurt or nervous about his feelings, it will help to reassure him about how you are feeling.
STEP 4: Respect yourself and accept his decision
Ultimately, he is responsible for his own actions in life and you cannot make him change. We also cannot make people feel things they don’t.
If after talking it over, he still decides to run from love, the best thing you can do for yourself (no matter how sad that may feel) is to accept it and move on.
The bottomline is that there is almost an infinite number of reasons why a man may pull back and seemingly run away from love or a relationship. The only way you’ll ever truly know is if you ask.
Laying our cards on the table — telling someone how we feel and asking them how they feel is undeniably scary. But it’s also the only real way of finding out where you stand.
If you play guessing games with his behaviour, there is always the chance that you will interpret things in the wrong way and make an already confusing situation worse.
Instead, opening up to him may be the first step to resolving the problem.
Even if you don’t end up getting the answers you hoped for, at least you are then free to move on and find the love you deserve.
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