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8 reasons guys act distant when they like you (and what to do)

Your man is acting distant. He is pulling away. Withdrawing himself.

You have no idea why. After all, you thought he was interested.

In fact, you’re sure that he actually genuinely likes you. So, what in the hell is going on?

Why is he acting distant?

That’s what I hope I can answer for you in this article.

You see, I’m a man, and I’m not afraid to admit that I have acted distant in the past to women that I genuinely liked.

There were various (albeit complicated) reasons I did this, but some of them aren’t so obvious.

Before we start, it’s also important to remember that it doesn’t always happen at the beginning of a relationship or the “wooing” stage.

Some guys even act distant when they’re in a committed relationship (yep, I’ve seen that many times before).

So le’s dive deep into why your man might be acting distant.

1. He is scared of his feelings

This is probably the biggest reason men act distant to a woman they like. They are scared of their feelings.

The feeling of love is a powerful emotion. We can all attest to that. And when a man suddenly feels something so powerful, he feels uncertain and doesn’t know how to properly process it.

I’ve been there. It’s not easy to experience.

You’d think love is nothing but a positive emotion, and in most cases, it certainly is.

But what if you already had your life figured out?

You had plans in place for what your goals are in life and how you’re going to achieve them.

And then all of a sudden, you’re less certain about everything because you’re feeling a powerful emotion that threatens to change the trajectory of your life.

Those nights out with the boys? The business you wanted to start? The trip you wanted to go on?.

It all becomes secondary when you’re falling in love. After all, love becomes your priority.

So that’s exactly why he might be feeling scared. He may want to ignore the feelings of love hoping that it goes away.

And look, he might find the idea of a relationship with you as highly appealing, but the emotions that come with it are difficult for him to get his head around.

It may take him longer to process these emotions than you might expect. Women are generally a lot more in touch with their feelings than men.

So he might take time, and he probably won’t communicate this to you, either. He’ll just act distant for a period of time until he’s able to get his head around them.

2. He is scared commitment

Some men struggle with the idea of losing their freedom.

Maybe they are young and they want to test out the waters before they decide to settle down.

Perhaps they find the “courting” stage thrilling but see the “stable relationship phase” as boring.

So when it moves beyond the initial attraction stage, they start to act distant.

Some men don’t have serious long-term relationships until they’re well into their 30s. It’s actually more common than you might think.

And the reason is simple.

According to relationship experts, Linda and Charlie Bloom, it’s common for men to believe that freedom and commitment are mutually exclusive, that you can’t have it both ways.

But the truth is, if you’re in a healthy relationship, you do have both. In fact, it’s absolutely necessary.

If you’re in a relationship and you feel like your freedom to act is determined by someone else, then, of course, that’s a relationship you don’t want to be in.

In the best relationships, you feel trusted, respected, loved and free. Love and freedom aren’t mutually exclusive. They must work together if a relationship is to be successful.

So what does this mean for you?

The more time he spends with you, the more he’ll understand that his freedom actually isn’t compromised.

But it’s up to you to make him realize that.

One counter-intuitive way to do this is to make him feel like a hero.

As someone you genuinely trust and admire.

When a man feels like a hero, not only does it feel like he has the freedom to do whatever he wants to do, but it triggers something deep inside him.

There’s actually a fascinating new concept in relationship psychology that’s getting a lot of buzz at the moment.

It goes to the heart of the riddle about why men fall in love—and who they fall in love with.

The theory claims that men want to be your hero. That they want to step up to the plate for the woman in their lives and provide and protect her.

This is deeply rooted in male biology.

People are calling it the hero instinct. I wrote a detailed primer about the concept which you can read here.

The kicker is that a man won’t fall in love with you when he doesn’t feel like your hero.

He wants to see himself as a protector. As someone you genuinely want and need to have around. Not as an accessory, ‘best friend’, or ‘partner in crime’.

I know this might sound a bit silly. In this day and age, women don’t need someone to rescue them. They don’t need a ‘hero’ in their lives.

And I couldn’t agree more.

But here’s the ironic truth. Men do still need to be a hero. Because it’s built into our DNA to seek out relationships that allow us to feel like a protector.

If you would like to learn more about the hero instinct, check out this free online video by the relationship psychologist who coined the term. He provides a fascinating insight into this new concept.

3. He’s been hurt in the past

If your man has been hurt in the past from previous relationships, then he might be scared about falling for you.

Perhaps an ex abused him or cheated on him, and he can’t get that terrible experience out of his mind. Fair enough.

This is why his guard might be up, and he is naturally afraid of getting close to anyone again.

So when you triggered deep feelings within him, it may have caused him to start acting distant to you.

Acting distant is a form of defense mechanism designed to protect himself.

Don’t panic though. If this is the case with your man, then you just need to work on building trust and making him comfortable.

When he gets to know you better, he’ll realize that he really likes you for who you are and that you’re not going to hurt him.

Just keep this mind:

When you’re dating a guy who has been hurt in the past by a crazy bitch, it’s all about making him feel safe and secure in the relationship.

When he realizes that he can trust you, it will alleviate his worries about falling for someone that could potentially hurt him.

4. He doesn’t think you like him back

Can you come across as a bit of an ice queen? You know, the type of girl who despite her best intentions can’t get rid of that good, old resting bitch face?

If you think that might be the case, then I can guarantee you that he might be scared about falling for you.
Guys are actually easily intimidated by an attractive woman.

And the last thing they want is to be rejected (it’s terrible for their ego).

You might not think that you’re acting a little cold to him, but you’d be surprised.

Sometimes we can appear colder than we expect.

And you might think that it’s up to him to “woo” you anyway, so it shouldn’t matter how you behave.

But you need to give him some sort of signal. Smile at him, give him eye contact. And if you’ve been dating for a while, then ask him out every once in a while.

Even in committed relationships, nobody wants to be the partner that is falling in love much harder.

When you have stronger feelings in a relationship, it can lead to neediness, desperation and getting hurt.

Nobody wants to be in that position.

If you think that he might be scared about falling for you because you’re acting a little cold, then this actually great news.

Why? Because all you have to do is show him that you are interested, and he’ll realize that his feelings are reciprocated.

There are many different ways to show him that you like him, from smiling and winking at him to asking him out on a date.

Once he knows that you’re into him, he’ll stop acting distant and show his feelings to you.

5. It might be moving too fast for him

Some relationships can move pretty damn quickly.

Before you know it, you’re planning your future together and counting how many kids you’ll have.

That might not be you, but if he feels that it’s moving too fast then he might be feeling intimated by that pace.

Relationships are big commitments, and while he might be sure that he really likes you, he might feel better about it if it moves a bit slower.

If the relationship is moving too fast for him, he’ll start acting distant as a technique to put the brakes on things.

There’s nothing wrong with this. In fact, the strongest relationships tend to take time to grow into a rock-solid bond.

So if you think he might be acting distant because things are going so fast, take a moment to let him know that you’re okay with going slower.

6. He needs some time to spend with the boys

If he’s like other guys, then before he met you he was probably spending countless hours hanging out with the boys.

Perhaps they’d drink beer and watch football together. Or they’d go out on a Saturday night and try to pick up girls.

But now that he is spending the majority of his time with you, he’s losing that sense of masculinity that he is so used to.

Maybe he has become more vulnerable around you and all of these feelings are bubbling up that he isn’t comfortable with.

So now he is making an effort to recharge his masculinity. And part of that involves retreating towards his man cave and acting more distant around you.

Don’t get down about it. After he has recharged his man batteries, he’ll likely come around again and stop acting so damn distant.

7. He has other stuff to focus on in life

What stage of life is your fella in?

When a guy is in the late 20s, he’s (likely) trying hard to establish himself in his career.

He’s starting to make money and he knows he needs to focus if he is going to be successful.

Maybe he’s ambitious and his boss is asking him to work late and put in extra hours. Or perhaps he has other issues going in his life.

Life is complex, after all. We have all battles and struggles that we have to overcome.

He might be acting distant because these stresses and priorities are taking up his focus.

If you’re only in the early stages of your relationship, then he might find it difficult to be fully open you.

Maybe he’s scared about how you’ll react so that’s why you’re left in the dark.

8. He suddenly realized that he’s not that into you

If you’ve only recently started dating (meaning it’s early in the relationship) then it might just be that he’s not interested in you.

This is probably brutal to hear, but many aren’t great at communicating their feelings so sometimes they don’t tell the girl that this is the case.

He might not want to offend you, either. So he’s acting distant hoping that you’ll eventually come to the conclusion that he’s not into you.

If you’ve fallen hard for this guy, then it definitely sucks, but do you really want to be with a guy who isn’t upfront and honest, anyway?

You’d never understand what he’s feeling and thinking. A better view to take is that you may have dodged a bullet.

What to do when a man is acting distant

You might be feeling terrible that he’s acting distant.

Maybe you thought you had something special going on, or perhaps you’ve fallen for him hard.

But here’s what you need to know:

Just because he is acting distant doesn’t mean he doesn’t want a relationship with you.

As we mentioned above, there are many reasons for why he could be acting distant, and only one of them signifies that he doesn’t like you. All of the other reasons are easily worked through.

After all, he’s just working through his own thoughts and feelings.

So how should you approach this challenge?

1. Give him space

This may be tough to hear…but you need to give the guy some space.

None of the reasons for why he is acting distant isn’t going to be solved by desperating trying to pull him in and spend more time with him.

He is acting distant because that’s what feels right to him.

If you give space and time to figure out things out, then eventually he’ll more than likely come around.

As we mentioned above, guys take longer to process their emotions. So give him that time.

2. But don’t stop all forms of communication

Space? Absolutely. Silence? Not so much.

In fact, giving him space doesn’t mean not seeing him, either.

It means understanding his need to spend time apart from each other, but it doesn’t mean that if he wants to meet up with you that you should say no.

Should you message him online? Definitely. Just don’t act needy and don’t pressure him to move fast with your relationship.

Be relaxed and chat to him like he is your buddy.

If he’s acting distant then he may not be as forthcoming with his replies as you like, but that’s okay. Don’t panic. Remember you’re giving him space to allow him to work through his feelings.

You can still organize to meet each other, but keep it casual.

Don’t organize a big, pre-planned romantic chat. Meet up to hang out and enjoy each other’s company.

This keeps him close to you and lets him know that you’re still around and you’re not desperate to move into a stable long-term relationship.

3. Don’t get angry with him

If you’re frustrated because he is acting distant, try to not let that frustration show.

It’s easy to pin the blame on others when things don’t go your way, but it won’t do anything to help you move your relationship forward.

Getting emotional will actually have the opposite effect of pushing him away further.

Instead. try to show compassion. Imagine if you were experiencing strong emotions that were totally foreign to you and you didn’t know how to process them.

Let him know that’s okay for him to take his time with processing his emotions.

He’s most likely confused by his feelings, or is fearful of rejection, or is finding it difficult to transition from one lifestyle to another, so try to act positive with him. Be kind.

If you take it easy with him and give him space, he’ll come around quick enough.

Don’t withdraw and follow his lead (that will just make things worse).

Keep in contact (keep it casual) and let him know that you’re always there for him. If he can trust you and feels comfortable around you, then he might open to you in ways you can’t imagine.

4. Don’t introduce him to your family or friends yet

If he’s acting distant, then it might be because things are moving really fast.

If you’ve only been seeing him for a short amount of time, then don’t put even more pressure on him by introducing him to your family.

The whole “meet the parents” scenario is a big deal. It solidifies the relationship.

You might be ready for that but he might not be.

Remember:

Guys generally process their feelings slower than females. So take your time. He’ll eventually want to meet your family. Just give him space first.

5. Show him support for his other passions

We spoke about the fact that men fear losing their independence.

Well, show him that won’t happen when he’s dating you. Support his other passions in life.

If he is career-minded, ask him how he’s work is going and cheer him on from the sidelines.

Perhaps he is a marathon runner. Ask questions about it and be enthusiastic whenever he achieves something small.

Does he like traveling? Embrace his adventurous instincts.

Make the time to ask him about his passions and what he is up to you.

Try to understand him and respect what he’s interested in. The more he sees that you’re supporting all areas of his life, the less he’ll fear losing his independence.

6. Keep yourself busy

Likewise, make sure you focus on your own individual passions in life.

You don’t want to come across as a girl who only cares about her man in life and nothing else. That will freak him out.

Instead, make sure you have a life outside of your man. It will make your life more interesting as well. When he asks what you’ve been up to, you’ll have something interesting to share.

How should you act when he stops acting distant?

If he genuinely likes you, then he’ll come back to you at one point or another.

Even if you’ve kept contact throughout his “distant mood” there will be definitely a time where he will open up emotionally to you.

When that happens, what should be your course of action?

Well, don’t complain to him asking why in the hell has he been acting distant. That might scare him off.

Don’t grill him on why he’s back and whether he’s going to act distant again. This might put too much pressure on him.

He might not even be sure why he acted distant in the first place, so trying to get him to tell you why won’t end well. Instead, show him how happy you are to have him back.

Be positive, kind, and affectionate. Tell him how much you love having him in your life.
Don’t try to make him pay for acting distant towards you.

Here is something you could say:

“I know you need space to do your own thing and that’s totally fine. I don’t even need to understand but I’m happy to listen if you ever wanted to talk about it. I like you and I missed you. It wasn’t fun not seeing you as often as I’d like, but I’m serious about this relationship if you are.”

If you’re in a committed relationship and your man acts distant every now and then, then you probably don’t need to say anything. You know he’ll eventually come around.

In the end, acting distant is not uncommon for man. The key is to be there for him when he is ready to open up to him.

Lachlan Brown

Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 6 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter or Facebook.
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