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16 reasons why men pull away (even when things are going great)

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One day you might have the most amazing relationship in the world, and then next you might feel like your man is little more than a stranger.

Sound familiar?

Many women (and men) in relationships with men find themselves dealing with problems like this at least once in most relationships, where the man suddenly withdraws emotionally and pulls back.

So why exactly do men pull away? What is it about them or you that causes them to pull away? Is it because he’s emotionally unavailable?

The answers may be different than you think.

Keep reading to learn why the person you like might be pulling away from you and what you can do about it.

What does it mean when someone pulls away?

Pulling away from someone comes in a few different forms. 

For some, it may feel like a bit of distancing. Maybe you’ve been in a relationship with the person for a while and they seem “distant.” They’re short with you, every time you’re together it seems strange, and so on.

For others, the man may pull away during the initial stages of a relationship. This is usually when you get ghosted. That means they stop interacting with you completely.

No texts, snaps, DMs, or anything else. All of a sudden, they disappear. You may reach out to them a few times, and each time, there’s no response.

The person pulling away is putting in effort to distance themselves from you.

16 reasons men pull away

When a guy pulls away, he may stop responding as quickly, fail to follow through on plans, or just not talk to you at all.

Whatever the reason is, you’re probably left wondering what’s going on. Are they busy? 

Pulling away can happen for a number of reasons. One day you think everything is great, and the next, you’re lost.

Maybe you’re overreacting to it, or maybe they really are just trying to get away from you.

But the real question is…Why do they do it? Here are 12 common reasons why a man may be pulling away from you.

1. His feelings scare him or make him uncomfortable

How you feel about it: This is the best relationship you’ve ever had in your life. You’re feeling levels of love and companionship that you’ve never experienced before, and you love every minute of it.

Sure, it might not always be the best – there are fights and arguments like in all relationships – but you just know that you’ve finally found “the real thing” and you want to do everything you can to hold onto it.

How he feels about it: He might be feeling the exact same thing: this is the best relationship he’s ever had in his life, and for the first time ever he’s finally found a partner who is willing to give him the unconditional love that he knows he deserves.

But though he is in love, he is pulling away because he’s afraid. These new feelings are essentially that – new, and he doesn’t know how to deal with them.

Most men need the feeling that they’re in control, minimizing the amount of surprise or unknown factors in their life.

The further your relationship grows and evolves into uncharted territory, the more terrifying the feelings attached to it become.

So he tries to ease away because even if he loves you as much as you love him, the reality of that love isn’t something he is sure he wants to handle.

He needs time to understand what this is and whether he’s really ready for these changes and this commitment.

How to fix it or help him: Ask him what’s going on and give him the time to adjust. If he needs to take it slow, then decide if you are willing to wait for him to adjust and get used to this new chapter in his life.

Hold his hand through the process and show him you aren’t going to leave or abandon him, or that the “good vibes” aren’t just a temporary thing.

Guide him into being the type of partner he knows he wants to be but is afraid to try being, because he’s never done it before.

2. You make him feel unessential

How you feel about it: As a woman, you’ve been taught that guys need to work for it. You’re emotionally invested in this man but you’re worried that being too open about your feelings will cause him to take you for granted.

Instead of showing him how you really feel, you make it a point to show him that he doesn’t have you on the hook: messages answered late, calls rarely returned, invites turned down or rarely accepted.

How he feels about it: You’ve done too much of a good job pretending you don’t like this guy to the point that he actually believes it.

He’s pulling away because he’s convinced you’re simply uninterested in him, and that all further efforts will be stonewalled.

For a man, feeling essential to a woman is often what separates “like” from “love”. And feeling unessential is a common trigger for pulling away.

Don’t get me wrong, no doubt your guy loves your strength and abilities to be independent. But he still wants to feel wanted and useful — not dispensable!

This is because men have a built in desire for something “greater” that goes beyond love or sex. It’s why men who seemingly have the “perfect girlfriend” are still unhappy and find themselves constantly searching for something else —  or worst of all, someone else.

Simply put, men have a biological drive to feel needed, to feel important, and to provide for the woman he cares about.

Relationship psychologist James Bauer calls it the hero instinct.

As James argues, male desires are not complicated, just misunderstood. Instincts are powerful drivers of human behavior and this is especially true for how men approach their relationships.

So, when the hero instinct isn’t triggered, men are unlikely to commit to a relationship with any woman. He holds back because being in a relationship is a serious investment for him. And he won’t fully “invest” in you unless you give him a sense of meaning and purpose and make him feel essential.

How to fix it or help him: How do you trigger this instinct in him? How do you give him a sense of meaning and purpose?

You don’t need to pretend to be anyone you’re not or play the “damsel in distress”. You don’t have to dilute your strength or independence in any way, shape or form.

In an authentic way, you simply have to show your man what you need and allow him to step up to fulfill it.

In his new video, James Bauer outlines several things you can do. He reveals phrases, texts and little requests that you can use right now to make him feel more essential to you.

You can watch his unique video here.

By triggering this very natural male instinct, you’ll not only give him greater satisfaction but it will also help to rocket your relationship to the next level.

3. He’s prioritizing his identity

How you feel about it: You’re constantly doing things together and you’re excited about sharing your interests with him.

You invited him to activities you used to do before he came into your life, and even tried to find new things to do together as a couple.

You also invite yourself to things that are close to him because you want him to know that you support his hobbies and are open to new experiences.

As his girlfriend, you attend games and even spend nights with his guy friends, basically making your presence felt in creating an open, supportive relationship.

How he feels about it: It’s not that he doesn’t like spending time with you, it’s just that your boyfriend might be feeling like he’s losing a part of himself in the relationship.

Males are primarily territorial and they will guard their mental and physical spaces with their lives.

Think of it from his point of view, before you came into his life, he had a schedule that he stuck with.

He had hobbies he did and enjoyed on his own, and friends to catch up and hang out with. If he’s pulling away, it’s because he’s worried that he’ll lose what makes him him.

Pulling away to preserve his identity isn’t about not liking what you’re bringing into his life.

He just values who he is as a person and wants to set up healthy boundaries moving forward into the relationship.

How to fix it or help him: Give him the space to invite you. If your partner is an introvert, there’s a high chance he simply prefers to enjoy things in solitude so don’t take it personally.

Otherwise, take comfort in knowing that he’s just adjusting to having you in his life, and having someone to share his life to.

You can reassure him that spending more time together or engaging in new activities isn’t going to change who you are.

He needs to know that his partner not only respects who he is, but that you also have a strong sense of self and are mindful in preserving your identities in the relationship.

Also, try and determine if the withdrawal is temporary or permanent.

Is it a reaction to something you did or a slow burn culminating into something more serious? Some guys only withdraw temporarily to recharge themselves.

If you see that he just pulls away as a way of staying in touch with himself, then there’s no reason to worry.

4. It went too fast for him

How you feel about it: One day you’re texting, the next you’re sleeping over four weekdays in a row.

Your relationship went from zero to sixty in just a couple of weeks. It’s exciting because you feel like you finally found a guy that checks all of your boxes.

Despite everything going well, you’re finding your man pulling away from you. It feels a little like the rug has been pulled from under your feet, and now you’re not entirely sure where this relationship is headed.

How he feels about it: This isn’t about you at all. It’s more likely about the speed and intensity at which this relationship progressed.

As a guy, he’s hyper-aware of the relationship’s pace since women tend to develop certain expectations in a relationship, and maybe he’s not ready or willing to meet those expectations yet.

Your partner just wants to make sure they are met or that certain lines aren’t crossed prematurely.

Pulling away from you doesn’t mean he wants to break up. If he genuinely enjoys his time, he might be worried that moving at this pace before either of you are ready will create problems in the future.

Pulling away is his way of saying, “hey, maybe we should take things slow.”

Alternatively, he may also be pulling away because he’s just not ready to commit too fast, too soon.

This doesn’t mean that it’s game over and that the relationship is doomed to fail. He just wants to step back and reevaluate the relationship.

How to fix it or help him: Let him know that you’re aware of what he’s feeling. Talk about setting boundaries and what you’re expecting moving forward.

Chances are you haven’t had a clear discussion on where this relationship is headed, and he’s not sure how to navigate your feelings.

By putting your cards on the table, both of you can understand what the other person is really feeling about the relationship, and can decide on whether or not this is something you mutually want.

5. He’s emotionally unavailable

Emotionally unavailable men pull away all the time.

The key is to understand why and then know what to do about it.

The truth is most women don’t know what men are thinking, what they want in life, and what they really crave from a relationship.

And the reason is simple.

Male and female brains are biologically different. For instance, the limbic system is the emotional processing center of the brain and it’s much larger in the female brain than in a man’s.

That’s why women are more in touch with their emotions. And why guys can struggle to process and understand their feelings.

Have you ever been let down by an emotionally unavailable man before? Blame his biology rather than him.

To stimulate the emotional part of a man’s brain, you have to communicate with him in a way that he’ll actually understand.

Because there are certain things you can say to him that will stop him pulling away from you.

I learned this from relationship guru Michael Fiore. He’s one of the world’s leading experts on male psychology and what men want from relationships.

Watch this excellent free video to learn about Michael’s life-changing solution for dealing with men who pull away.

Michael Fiore reveals what you need to do to make your man commit to a passionate relationship. His techniques work surprisingly well on even the coldest and most commitment-phobic men.

If you want science-based techniques to make a man fall in love with you and STAY in love with you, check out this free video here.

6. He just really isn’t into you

How you feel about it: The relationship started along perfectly. Butterflies were aflutter and it felt like every minute was a scene out of a movie.

But now that the honeymoon phase is over, you’re realizing that your boyfriend is spending less and less time with you.

Less dates, infrequent chatting, and unprecedented aloofness makes you second guess your position in the relationship.

You’re starting to feel like there’s something you could have done differently at some point to prevent this from happening.

How he feels about it: Men are not the best in communicating their emotions, which can unfortunately come at your expense.

This is one of the most common reasons why new relationships fail: because guys simply realize they’re not as interested in you as they thought they were.

Rather than telling you what they feel, most guys simply back away hoping you’ll get the message.

Rather than risking hurting your feelings and making you feel insignificant, they might decide that slowly backing away until you call it quits is the better decision.

How to fix it or help him: Ask him to give it to you straight, and if he’s still beating around the bush, consider breaking up with him yourself.

If he’s uninterested in you now and is taking the steps to disappear from the relationship, it’s clear that he’s already made up his mind. At this point, you’re better off finding someone who respects your time and your feelings.

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Other reasons he may be pulling away

7. He doesn’t feel a deep emotional connection

Have you ever been with a guy who seemed to really like you, only to begin distancing himself and saying he really wasn’t ready for a commitment?

I know I have. Too many times.

What I’ve recently learned though is that for a guy to actually want to be in a committed relationship, something very significant must occur first.

He must experience a deep emotional attraction that causes him to feel less alive when he is not in your presence.

In other words, he has to feel better about himself with you in his life than when he is single—or chasing another woman.

The truth is, the number 1 mistake women make is that they assume men only fall for women with certain attributes.

It could be women with a killer body, a beautiful smile, or maybe ones who are firecrackers in bed. Whatever it is, you may feel that these women simply have something you don’t (and perhaps never will).

However, I can tell you straight up that this way of thinking is dead wrong.

None of those things actually matter when it comes to men falling for a woman. In fact, it’s not the attributes of the woman that matter at all.

What matters most is NOT what he sees when he looks at her… But how he feels about himself when he’s around her.

If your man is pulling away, then something is not right about how he feels about himself when he is with you.

What’s the solution?

Read on because below I’ll reveal a foolproof way (backed by science) for making your guy feel deep satisfaction and pride whenever he’s with you.

8. The relationship is too easy

I hate to say it, but sometimes a relationship is just too easy for a guy. Seems weird, right? You should want a relationship to be fun, laidback, and easy. But deep down, there is something that makes things “too easy” seem sketchy.

It’s like if someone were to just hand you a $100 bill. You’re going to question it.

Same thing with your relationship. If everything is just given to him, it’s too good to be true. While relationships shouldn’t be impossible, they are often challenging.

9. He can feel himself changing

On the flip side, men might feel like they’re getting in too deep and can feel themselves changing for you. No one wants to feel like they’re not good enough, and if they feel like they’re changing, it’s not a good sign.

To stop this feeling, they may just retreat and pull away. Though this hurts, there isn’t much you can do because it’s their own decision.

10. There’s stress you don’t know about

Many times, it has nothing to do with you. People get stressed out. There’s more in his life than you, and because of this, he may need to tend to those things.

It doesn’t mean that you’re wrong or you should’ve done something different. Often, they just have to get through the stress. Adding a new relationship on top of things will only make it worse, which is why they distance themselves.

11. He wants his independence

Do you remember what it was like to be by yourself?

Don’t you love your independence? A lot of people think that to be in a relationship means you must sacrifice your independence.

That’s obviously not true. But sometimes, it does feel like that. When there is a new relationship, it can be stifling.

He might feel like he’s losing his grip on his independence. This is threatening to his masculinity, and to handle things, he heads out of the relationship completely.

It doesn’t mean that how he’s doing it is right, but he’s doing it in hopes things will get better for him.

12. He’s scared of commitment

Ah, the old adage.

Men are scared of commitment until they’re not. They may go through a hundred girls before they settle down and find they’re not too scared.

It’s not necessarily that they are scared of commitment, but rather, they’re scared of commitment with you.

When you meet someone you’re supposed to be with, they’re not going to be scared of commitment.

So, when he gets scared of commitment, he wants to leave without hurting you. Unfortunately, a lot of people think that ghosting or fading away is the best way to break up with someone.

RELATED: 3 ways to make a man addicted to you

13. He’s overwhelmed with his feelings

Look, all reasons that men pull away aren’t totally rational. Maybe he does like you—a lot! 

Because of this, he could be completely overwhelmed with his feelings. Feelings are stressful, and mixed with everything else life demands, it can be a little crazy.

His feelings may scare him, and they might be too much too fast. Sometimes, fading away isn’t actually fading away, but just slowing down. There’s nothing wrong with taking a step back from a relationship and pressing pause.

Sometimes, that’s exactly what needs to happen for someone to feel better about the situation. If you pressure them when they step back, they’re going to take it as a sign to truly fade away.

14. He leaves before he gets hurt

Sometimes, you’re putting out signals that things aren’t going so well. And when that happens, men often jump ship before they get hurt. 

No one wants another person breaking their heart, so if they think it’s going to happen, it’s better just to leave.

15. There’s too much going on

Remember that month in your life where everything was complete and total crap? Where your work was busy, there was family drama, maybe someone got sick, or your finances weren’t where they needed to be.

The last thing on your mind was the people you have gone on a few dates with. Things are hectic. Life gets crazy!

So maybe, it’s not about you at all. Maybe he just doesn’t know what he wants

Or maybe, they’re deep in some crap that they wish they weren’t in. And it’s altogether possible that they’re pulling away because they aren’t thinking about dating at all.

They’re just trying to survive.

16. He’s got other options

It could be that he’s into you, but he thinks his other options are better. Nowadays, with all the dating apps, a lot of people are dating around. People date multiple people at once.

Maybe you’re just not on the top of his list. As much as that sucks, you deserve someone who’s going to put you first. If this guy isn’t doing it, then finding someone else can be a dream come true.

What to do about it? Here are 5 steps to take

So, a man is pulling away from you. You’re not sure what to do.

Should you save the relationship? Try to chase after him?

It all depends on why he’s pulling away in the first place. You can chase after a man for as long as you live, but again, if he’s not that into you you’re not going to see results.

On the flip side, if he does like you but he’s afraid to commit because of a certain reason and you ignore him? The relationship will definitely end.

Before you react either way, try these 5 steps:

1. Trigger this one instinct in him

If a man is pulling away from you, then you need to make him feel that being with you is better than the alternative.

And the most effective way to do this is to trigger something deep inside him. Something he craves more than love or sex.

What is it?

For a guy to really want to be in a committed relationship, he needs to feel like your provider and protector. Someone who is essential to you.

In other words, he needs to feel like your hero.

There’s a psychological term for what I’m talking about here. It’s called the hero instinct. I mentioned this concept earlier in the article.

I know it sounds kind of 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 their DNA to seek out relationships that allow them to feel like a protector.

Men have a thirst for your admiration. They want to step up to the plate for the woman in their lives and provide for and protect her.

This is deeply rooted in male biology.

If you can make your guy feel like a hero, it unleashes his protective instincts and the most noble aspect of his masculinity. Most importantly, it will unleash his deepest feelings of attraction towards you.

If your guy is pulling away from you, perhaps you treat him more as an accessory, ‘best friend’, or ‘partner in crime’.

For a long time Hack Spirit writer Pearl Nash made this mistake too. You can read her story here.

Now, you can’t trigger his hero instinct just giving him admiration next time you see him. Men don’t like receiving participation awards for showing up. Trust me.

A man wants to feel like he has earned your admiration and respect.

But there are phrases you can say, texts you can send, and little requests you can use to trigger his hero instinct.

To learn how to trigger the hero instinct in your guy, check out this free video by James Bauer. He’s the relationship psychologist who discovered this instinct in men.

Some ideas are life changing. And when it comes to relationships, I think this is one of them.

Here’s a link to his video again.

2. Retrace your steps

In new relationships, we tend to overanalyze and overreact a lot. It’s totally normal and due to us not knowing the person as well as we do later on in a relationship.

The first question you should ask yourself is whether or not the guy is really pulling away. Retrace your steps and think about the last time you saw them or had a conversation with them.

Was it completely normal?

If so, he’s probably just busy.

But if the conversation just felt different, why did it feel weird?

You should try to figure out why you think he’s pulling away. Were his messages short and to the point? Did he not respond?

Did it only happen once? Or is this something that has happened multiple times?

Finding out how big of an issue this really is will help you decide how to react.

3. Just ask him

Many of us hate confrontation. That’s probably why you’re reading this right now. But here’s the thing…

You need to ask him. Pretending like everything is fine isn’t going to end well. Blowing up at him and accusing him of not talking to you is also not going to end well.

Most people “ghost” or fade away because they don’t want to hurt you. They don’t realize that doing this is actually more hurtful.

There’s nothing stopping you from asking him what’s going on. Approach him in a civil and calm manner. Keep it simple without pressure.

You don’t want them to get frustrated or defensive. A lot of times, if you ask the person what’s going on, they’ll tell you.

Plus, keeping it casual helps to open the conversation as to why he’s pulling away. Is it because he likes you too much or not at all?

But, be prepared for a hard conversation. More often than not, someone is pulling away because they’re no longer interested in the relationship. So, you need to go into the convo knowing that things may end completely between you and them.

RELATED: Is your man pulling away? Don’t make this one BIG mistake

4. Reassure him

If the truth is he’s scared of commitment or feel things are going too fast, reassure him. It’s okay to take a step back from the relationship.

Let him know that you like him and understand why he feels the way he does. If he’s scared of commitment, talk to him about it. You never know where it can lead!

5. Accept it

This is, arguably, the hardest part of watching someone pull away. It means that they aren’t interested, the relationship isn’t going to work out, and you’ve been hurt.

There’s only one thing you can do: Accept it.

Sometimes, you’ll talk to them about why they’re pulling away and you’ll get the answer that they’re not interested.

Other times, you’ll talk to them and get no answer. You’re once again ghosted.

Either way, you have to accept it. There’s nothing you can do to change the outcome, and it’s something that you’ll have to deal with.

Before you go out and rebound with someone else, take a few moments to reflect on the relationship. Then, try one of these:

  • Eat your favorite snacks
  • Watch some good movies
  • Meditate and reflect
  • Take the time you need
  • Go through all of your emotions
  • Talk about it with someone else.

How to stop men from pull away: 7 action steps

  1. Talk to him. Don’t assume that you know what he’s thinking. Consider the signs but don’t make the mistake of thinking that they’re the message itself.
  2. Try to understand even if it doesn’t make sense to you. Remember your brain and his brain are wired differently.
  3. If you feel that you are making too many adjustments for him, then speak up. You also need to prioritize your own happiness.
  4. Evaluate your own feelings about pulling away. Some men use pulling away as a means of self-preservation or reflection. It’s not always a bad thing.
  5. Don’t put so much pressure on him. Give him the time to understand what he’s feeling without making him responsible for your happiness.
  6. Let him know you’re there to talk. Some guys are unsure of how to communicate with their partners because they worry you might take something poorly, so they just stop talking altogether.
  7. Guide him. If he’s new to commitments, help him out by driving the conversations forward and initiating discussions yourself.

Key takeaway – What will you do?

It’s never fun to have a relationship end. Sometimes, it can hurt even more when you don’t know what happened.

Remember that just because someone is distant doesn’t mean the relationship is completely over. Don’t assume that the relationship is ruined.

Try to get inside his head and understand what he’s thinking. How does he feel when he’s around you? Are you triggering the types of feelings men need to be in a committed, long term relationship?

Let’s face it: Men see the world differently to you and we want different things from a relationship.

And this can make a passionate and long lasting relationship — something that men actually want deep down as well — really difficult to achieve.

I know that getting a guy to open up and tell you what he’s thinking can feel like an impossible task. But I’ve recently come across a new way to help you understand what’s driving him in your relationship…

Men need this one thing

James Bauer is one of the world’s leading relationship experts.

In his new video, he reveals a new concept which brilliantly explains what really drives men romantically. He calls it the hero instinct. I talked about this concept above.

Simply put, men want to be your hero. Not necessarily an action hero like Thor, but he does want to step up to the plate for the woman in his life and be appreciated for his efforts.

The hero instinct is probably the best kept secret in relationship psychology. And I think it holds the key to a man’s love and devotion for life.

You can watch the video here.

My friend and Hack Spirit writer Pearl Nash was the person who first introduced the hero instinct to me. Since then I’ve written extensively about the concept on Hack Spirit.

For many women, learning about the hero instinct was their “aha moment”. It was for Pearl Nash. You can read her personal story here about how triggering the hero instinct helped her turn around a lifetime of relationship failure.

Here’s a link to James Bauer’s free video again.

New Free eBook: Attraction Triggers

Want to learn how to make a man fall in love with you and commit over the long-haul?

Then check out our free eBook Attraction Triggers.

This eBook has everything you need to know about the predictable patterns that make a man fall in love.

Most importantly, it will teach you practical techniques to activate those triggers in your man so you can build a successful long-lasting relationship.

Check it out here.

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Jess Carpenter

Written by Jess Carpenter

I studied at The University of Utah where I earned both my B.S. and M.S. and am a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES certified). My favorite spot to write is wherever I can see my toddlers to ensure they aren’t jumping from the second story or coloring on the walls.

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