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Have you ever wondered why men pull away and how to deal with a man who pulls away? In this column, the top relationship experts and love coaches reveal powerful, proven secrets on how to deal with a man who pulls away...
One of the most heartbreaking and frustrating situations is when a relationship seems to be going really well and then, almost all of a sudden, he pulls away and disappears. Sometimes he might do this gradually over a period of time while acting mysteriously different. Or he might just drop off the radar without so much as a word.
Heartbreaking and extremely frustrating. What's a woman supposed to do without knowing what's happening on his end?
Since this is something that's going on with him, and not you, there are only a few things within your power to do. The focus being that you can only do what's in your control.
#1. Give him space and let him be.
Take this time to observe what he does, how he handles this, and how he communicates with you (or not). This is important because even if he does come back into the picture this is a major clue as to how he handles conflict and difficult times. If he doesn't handle it well and leaves you in a lurch, you might re-consider whether this is the man for you.
#2. Gently reach out.
Don't hound or stalk him. Just phone or text something along the lines of, “Hey, haven't heard from you. Is everything alright? Call me when you get the chance. Hope all is well.” You are opening the door for him to be open and honest about whatever is going on. You might not look forward to his response if he wants to break up but at least you wouldn't be left hanging and you can move on. And if he doesn't respond to you, then you absolutely know this man isn't for you.
#3. Re-connect with you.
This is the most important thing you can do before dating, entering a relationship, or getting back together with someone if that's the case. You must connect with your soul and align with what you need in a partnership and what love is to you at the soul level. Are you going to be fulfilled in a relationship with someone who disappears on you? Are you going to be happy waking up next to someone who isn't quite as sure about you as you are him? Are you only worthy of “less-than” love or are you worth someone who would never, ever think of pulling away from you? Think about it.
Following these three tips and focusing on only what's within your power to do will help you stay grounded when a man pulls away from you.
Dina Robison, Love Coach - www.dinarobison.com
If you’re feeling sad and heartbroken because your man’s withdrawing and pulling away, I know how painful it feel because I’ve been there myself!
Maybe he’s stopped making plans in advance, or he’s telling you he’s confused, or he’s stopped initiating affection and now he’s telling you how busy and stressed out he is with work…
When we can feel a shift in his energy it instinctively makes us feel worried, anxious and insecure – no matter how much we want to appear cool and confident.
It feels so frustrating and devastating when the love and energy we once felt from him feels like it’s just fading away…
You’re spending all of your precious time and energy trying to figure out, “How could this be happening??” He’s the one who came on super strong and started talking about the future.
All you can think about is getting the passion and connection back to the way they felt in the beginning, when you KNEW he was so into you! He was doing and saying all the right things – everything that led you to believe he was more into the relationship than you were.
We believe if we can just talk to him and let him know how we’re feeling and specifically how we feel about HIM, he will instinctively want to “fix” things to reassure us and make us feel better.
This is exactly what doesn’t work to inspire a man to want to get close again.
In fact, it has the opposite effect on him!
It makes him feel pressure and the ONLY thing he wants to do is run as far away as possible – as fast as possible!
Sad but true!!
What you instinctively want to do to “fix” your relationship actually pushes your man further away.
When you learn how men and relationships really work and use the Tools I can teach you, you can have all the time, love, attention, affection, fun, passion and romance you’ve been longing for. You’ll get amazing results with your man.
If you don’t learn how men and relationships really work and you keep doing what you’ve been doing, you’ll keep finding yourself in the same painful situations over and over again – wondering what went wrong, analyzing everything your man does and spending your precious time trying to figure out what he’s thinking and if there’s even any hope for the two of you.
3 Action Steps To Restore Your Relationship To One Of Love And Connection
1. Imagine your man’s right in front of you
What do you want to do? If you’re anything like me, you want to reach out and touch him and talk to him – move closer.
When you move closer, what does he do?
Now imagine leaning away so you create more space between the two of you.
Notice how that feels? Does it feel better? Scary?
2. Stop yourself from moving towards him in ANY way – no matter how uncertain things feels right now.
Imagine making eye contact and smiling softly at him. Let him move towards you FIRST and close the gap.
This looks like him physically moving towards you, calling you, texting you, making plans, and initiating affection.
When you allow there to be space between the two of you, if he is the man for you, he WILL instinctively and automatically come close. I’ve seen it happen over and over and over again!!
He’ll sense you’re a woman who values herself enough to not chase any man and that you simply require a man to pursue you (without saying a word) – it creates a magnetic pull on him he can’t resist!
When you stop moving towards your man, you’ll instinctively start to worry he’ll think you’re not interested, you don’t care or you don’t love him, this is the #1 reason you won’t follow this advice. You’re too scared to lose him and it’s this exact vibe that pushes him away.
You can’t lose the right man for you by not moving towards him.
You can eliminate these fears by being soft, warm and inviting when he comes close.
3. When he comes close again – it’s critical to build good feeling moments
When he starts coming close again, instead of being angry and closed down (which is normally what we do) first respond with something soft, warm and inviting.
If you lash out at him and let him know his behavior is unacceptable as soon as he comes close again – he’ll shut down and pull away. There’s a much better way to navigate this situation.
Building good feeling moments looks like saying, “It feels good to hear from you.” “I feel happy to see you.” or “Your soft kisses make me feel warm and melty… “ He’ll start to feel a connection with you he’s never felt with another woman. All it takes is practice talking in this new love language.
Here’s the truth – even though you’re mad at him – there’s a part of you that DOES feel happy to see him, hear from him and receive his kisses.
Once you’re feeling more connected THEN there’s a SPECIFIC way to share what’s bothering you, in a way that brings him closer, rather than pushes him away.
Here’s What You Can Do Right Now To Activate Your Inner Magnetism And Bring Him Closer:
Right Now – imagine you’re a Queen.
A Queen doesn’t chase, pursue or try to get a man to see how great she is. She ALREADY knows she’s an amazing partner to be with.
A Queen doesn’t invite just anybody into her castle. She REQUIRES a man to show her that he’s capable of running her kingdom WITH her.
Commit to seeing yourself as the Queen you really are, who effortlessly inspires her man to want to get as close as he possibly can – not by doing anything or working hard to make it happen – simply by allowing him to pursue her and show her how much HE loves her.
Leigha Lake, Love Coach - www.leighalake.com
It feels like rejection doesn't it, when a man pulls away from you.
What if you change your perception of the situation and look at it from a different point of view.
When you go straight to rejection when a man is pulling away from you it becomes all about your failures and stored memories of past rejections. You begin to lower your vibration into failures, and mentally run old tapes of "what is wrong with me, why does this always happen to me, what did I do wrong this time".
It's all about your inner work and growing into the best version of yourself and even though he is pulling away from you, it is a perfect time to ask yourself some empowering questions:
1. Is this really about me?
Is he pulling away because of me or something that rose up in him that needs addressing and I just mirrored that for him.
2. Am I engaged in repeating old patterns that caused men to pull away in the past?
It is an inside out world and even though he is pulling away from you, it is a perfect time to look within and see if you are repeating patterns that do not serve you. He might just be a mirror to an old pattern that is ready to be released from you.
3. Is this the best thing that could happen to me right now?
This man who is pulling away may not be the best choice for you anyway. You may even know that, deep down inside. What a great time to look within and really know if you are hanging on because of fear of being alone or thinking this is your last chance for love.
4. Is it time for the big conversation with him?
Communication is key to every relationship and you may just have to have the sweaty palm conversation about what is going on with him and how you feel. It is not about pointing fingers at him for doing something wrong, but rather stating how you feel and what you feel is going on with you. It is his responsibility to be truthful with you. You have an inner guidance system and it will tell you if what he is saying is the truth or just words to keep you hanging on. Trust in your intuition and what your heart is really saying. DO NOT ACT OUT OF FEAR, you will just end up here again.
Every thing that happens in our life, is an opportunity for our growth....even when it is painful.
I suggest being courageous enough to know that the Universe is supporting you and guiding you and this man pulling away may quite possibly be the best thing for your personal growth and empowerment.
Nada Hogan L.Ac, Dipl.Om, M.Om - www.nadahogan.com
This is a question many of us have been left asking ourselves when a male we are interested in stops texting or requesting to hang out.
This can cause a variety of emotions such as sadness, anger, self-doubt and/ or decreased self-esteem.
When there is distance or strain in a relationship, this is a perfect opportunity to take time and reflect on your actions and expectations of the male.
When a difficult situation comes along, it is easy to find the blame in others, but often we need to reflect on our own actions. I believe there is a lesson and opportunity for growth in every situation. It is often we place expectations on others that we have not clearly communicated or made clear to them. The foundation of any healthy relationship is communication. Identify your thoughts and feelings towards the male/ situation and then find ways to assertively communicate your concerns.
For example, using “I statements”. “I feel sad or unwanted when you don’t respond to my calls or texts," versus, “why don’t you call or text me?"
When a person feels “talked at” or attacked this can cause them to become defensive, distant or angry.
You can say whatever you want but DELIVERY IS KEY.
A major part of communicating is actively listening. At times when we are in an emotionally vulnerable position or sad, it can be difficult to actually listen and process what the other person is saying. Many people do not listen to hear, they listen to respond. Take time out to actually hear what the other person's concerns are. If no resolution is made after communicating your concerns, it might be TIME TO LET GO!
For many the bigger question is, how do I cope with these emotions and how can I move past them?
Here are 3
1. Distract yourself (find a new hobby , hang out with friends)
2. Journaling: an outlet to express your feelings and emotions in private
3. Seek a non bias confidant such as a licensed professional counselor
Know your worth ladies.
This would be a perfect time to dust OFF YOUR CROWN and begin bettering yourself physically, emotional, mentally, financially and career. Set some short term goals, go on vacation, enjoy a spa day, have girls' night, or attend a conference in your field or interest. Work towards finding your own happiness and peace.
Alelia Watson Counselor, MA, LPC, NBCC - www.liasoncounselingservice.com
So you've been dating someone for some time now and you're noticing that he is starting to distance himself.
You start to feel anxious, worried and frantic. You start to wonder did you do anything wrong? And how can you fix this? Here are some reasons why you are in this situation and how to cope with it.
Possibly he possesses an avoidant attachment style.
What this means is that he is incapable of being in a serious relationship or allowing himself to develop a strong emotional bond with anyone. Yes, anyone. This means that he may have a hard time expressing his emotions to his family and friends as well.
How to cope: Unfortunately, avoidant people most likely won't change their ways. They are the most 'set in their ways' people as compared to the other two attachment styles which include anxious and secure. On rare occasions, you may come across an avoidant man who has enough insight and willingness to change his self-sabotaging ways.
The best thing you can do is to communicate to him how his avoidant behaviors are hurting you.
If he is able to sympathize with your feelings and makes a true effort to change his behavior, then he may have a chance at becoming a healthy partner for you. Otherwise, I would say accept his avoidant nature as a constant in his life that won't change. And with that acceptance, you can either learn to live with how he treats you or you can leave him and find someone who is able to easily show you how much he cares for you.
Do you want a man who will ignore your calls, texts and other attempts on your part to connect with him? Or would you want to be with a man who is affectionate, caring, gentle towards your feelings and takes into consideration your best interests?
Another reason why he might be pulling away is that he isn't serious about being in a serious relationship.
How to cope:
You can not convince anyone why they should be in a relationship at any given time. If this is the case, then he should have let you know that he wasn't looking for anything serious. Discuss with him what his intentions are and then think about what would be the healthiest decision for you. Healthiest in terms of your mental health. If you're constantly anxious with him, then that is something to pay attention to. And remember, mental health has an effect on physical health. Don't take your mental well- being for granted.
Communication is always key. But even if you are the most effective communicator in the whole world, that does not mean that the other person is willing to truly listen and hear you out or change their ways. Consider if you can be happy with this person long-term.
Jacklyn Bystritsky, LCSW – www.psychotherapistjackie.wordpress.com
Venturing into a new relationship can be difficult to navigate, at times, as you are brimming with a host of emotions ranging from excitement and interest to being skeptical and confused.
Many women can relate to starting a new relationship that appears to be running a steady course towards promise and possibility of a happy future, only to be left perplexed when the relationship begins to lose steam and the man that held such possibility begins to pull away.
The calls, texts, and dates become significantly reduced or nonexistent. This could lead you down a path of questioning yourself, wondering if it was something you’ve done, or if there was something you could have done differently. This is where your thinking patterns can take over and bring about negative feelings and responses.
If you find yourself in this situation, I would encourage you to:
1. Communicate your feeling assertively.
There are some that may talk against this, but I feel that lack of communication is one of the biggest downfalls in not only romantic relationships but all relationships. Communicating assertively doesn’t involve venting, blaming, or what some may call “nagging”. It simply means you are seeking to understand the situation and person’s point of view more clearly for your clarity and insight.
Try using I-statements such as, “I feel a little confused because we haven’t talked or seen each other in while and was wondering if you could help me understand why”. Communicating this way allows you to get what you need in a manner where the other person still feels respected and not being blamed for your feelings.
2. Listen with all your senses.
Now that you have assertively asked for clarity related to his withdrawal, listen and hear beyond the words. The actions, or lack there of, that follows will speak louder than any words spoken. A man that values you and wants to be connected to you is going to let it be known and put forth the work to ensure that you know his true intentions. If you are not seeing the work, count this as a blessing that it happened early on in the relationship and move on.
3. Accept it for what it is.
The amount of stress brought on by focusing on things we have no control over can be insurmountable. Instead, recognize that his withdrawal is out of your control and take the stance of, “It is what it is”.
4. Invest time in your other relationships and interests.
Often times, when we start new ventures, rather it be relationships or a new job, we can tend to neglect things that are important to us such as our interests, hobbies and other close relationships with family and friends.
Take this time to hang out with a girlfriend, go shopping with your mom or sister, or try that new fitness class at the gym. Engage with people and in healthy things that bring you pleasure and highlight the good in you. This also helps to distract your thoughts from focusing on the relationship.
5. Be kind and loving to yourself.
Stay away from dissecting your actions and questioning what you could have possibly done differently. If you find yourself doing this, challenge that though by asking yourself, “Is this helpful” or “Will things be different in this situation by my doing this”?
The truth is we have no control over someone’s feelings, choices, or actions. They have to own their feelings, choices and behaviors just as you are responsible for owning yours. Choose to feed positive affirmations into your spirit because loving yourself is the best way to attract the love you desire.
Tremisha Thomas, M.A., LPC - www.renewyoucounselingfs.com
As women all over the world can tell you, men are known to be less communicative and demonstrative in voicing their emotional needs than women.
Thus, withdrawing from emotional connections could mean a number of things.
Additionally, there’s the possibility that it might mean nothing at all. While you decipher their intentions, and assess their emotional health, it’s important to allow men the space they need to withdraw, gather their thoughts, and nurture their own mental and emotional health.
In my work with men, I've seen many emotionally mature men who are afraid of losing the woman they’ve come to care for, too soon. This often leads them to gather their courage, admit to feeling vulnerable, and acknowledge these feelings as their reasons for pulling away.
In fairness, women, bear in mind that we are also known to have our own need to retreat and withdraw from the men in our lives at times.
If you're a woman who tends to have racing thoughts, feelings of anxiety, and tendencies to act out when a man pulls away – DON'T!
In such cases, it's very important to maintain your sense of dignity and peace.
Make it a priority to learn how to master your emotions by becoming comfortable with challenging some of your old beliefs and previous conditionings as it relates to male vulnerability.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy can be helpful in assisting one with mindfulness and emotional regulation, whereas Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is beneficial for assisting one in reframing their thoughts around the false perceptions and distorted thought patterns one may exhibit.
Should the man in your life fail to consider the impact of his words and actions by becoming verbally abusive, blaming and finding fault, displaying emotional immaturity, or creating emotional drama in frequently pulling away, don't be afraid to set boundaries and possibly seek help from a professional.
Pamela Williams, LCSW – www.pamelawilliamssw.com
What can you do when the man you are seeing starts pulling away? Know that relationships take a lot of work, time and effort and that it if your partner is showing signs of pulling away, somewhere, something shifted and you weren't aware of it.
But the fact is you are noticing it now and if you feel the relationship is worth the effort, there are a few things you can do to shift things back to the way they were.
Here are some suggestions:
1. Don't let any part of your relationship be unappreciated or lost and that will keep the excitement and interest going for a long, long time. In other words, make your partner feel special, important and respected and in turn, he will respond more lovingly and committed.
2. Be an interesting person, following your own pursuits and own goals. Also, show an interest in what he enjoys or at least show tolerance, since his individuality is as important, as yours is.
3. Communicate well. Now may be the time to let him know your concerns about where the relationship is going so you can both make changes. If the relationship is savable, both of you need to make some concessions to please each other.
Of course, couples counseling, individual therapy, improving conflict skills and some compromise are always good strategies to help in understanding why a relationship shifts from loving and caring to aloof and stand off-ish. Sometimes the best and healthiest thing to do, however, is to move on and start anew.
Amy Sherman, M.A., LMHC – www.yourbabyboomersnetwork.com
Is there anything more distressing than a man pulling away after you feel you’ve gotten close and things are going well?
This appears to be a common phenomenon, especially in the early stages of a relationship. While your first thoughts may be of doom and disaster, this is not necessarily the case.
Men process their feelings and emotions differently than women. In general, it can take them longer to know what they think and feel about a new situation, especially one in which there are strong emotions involved. They may need time and space alone to adjust to what is happening and to determine what they want and need.
How do you deal with this when it happens?
1. Don’t panic
If you push a man to connect when he is pulling away, it will most likely drive him further away. You may come across as needy, insecure and smothering. This is not exactly the kind of energy that will bring him closer and enhance the situation.
Focus on the feelings and stories you are creating about his pulling away and don’t project your fears onto him. Look at your negative stories and know that within them lies the key to your unhealed wounds and take some time to address your own pain. We all fear abandonment, but we must learn to be able to self-soothe and reach out to stable relationships for support when needed. Call a girlfriend or trusted support person and share your feelings.
Stay present and be mindful that as you calm yourself, you create an energy of attraction that invites him to reconnect should he chose.
2. Give him space
Respect his need for space and let him take the lead. The pacing and development of a relationship is very individual. While you may be ready to dive in, he may approach things more slowly and need a different level of contact. If he feels that his taking space is a problem, he may cut things off simply to avoid hurting and disappointing you.
Don’t make him wrong for doing what he feels is best for him. Approach the situation from a place of curiosity and see it as an opportunity to get to know him better.
3. Focus on your own pleasure
This reminds me of the story of how Kate Middleton and Prince William ultimately became engaged. Kate and Prince William reportedly dated for several years in college, but later broke up. I believe the story was Prince William was not ready to commit and Kate felt she needed to move on. While Kate was heartbroken about the break-up, she did not go into hiding and disappear. Instead she got dressed up, looked gorgeous and hit the town dancing and flirting with other men. Photos of her looking happy and enjoying herself were splashed all over the newspapers. Of course Prince William was watching and he recontacted her. The rest is history.
Focus on your own life and the life you had before meeting this man. Do what you love, spend time with friends and create your own happiness. Know that if this man pulls away permanently, he is not the one for you. Consider yourself lucky to find this out now and move on to find someone who can sustain the connection you want and deserve.
Nancy Harris, LCSW, LICSW - www.nancyharriscoaching.com
It is not an uncommon experience to be in a relationship with a man and to feel him pull away abruptly or over a period of time.
This experience is painful for many women who feel confused and rejected by the often sudden turnaround in their romance. Men often have difficulty expressing their feelings or even understanding what they are feeling and why. This leaves many women with the inevitable mystery of not understanding why their guy has taken flight.
The first three to six months of a relationship is the honeymoon period where you are enjoying the fantasy of each other and focused on the idealization of your partner and the romance.
At around three months the reality of and imperfections of your partner become more evident, as does the question about committing to not just dating but having a relationship with your guy or gal. This is a tricky time for both men and women. Although men have more of a reputation of pulling away suddenly, women do it to.
Fear makes humans behave in different ways. It can as in fight or flight make them run or it can make them aggressive. Shutting down is often a defense against fear. Fear of commitment, fear of intimacy or fear of growing up.
Relationships have to continue to develop and move forward and are in fact like sharks.
If they don’t continue to develop and move forward they die. An about face may be the realization in your fellow that if the relationship moves forward he will have to give up all of the other options out there. I believe 80% of a relationship working out is the acknowledgement by both parties that they want and are ready to be in a committed and intimate relationship. You may have caught your fellow off guard. He may have been very attracted to you without actually being ready to engage fully in a committed relationship and when he realizes the path he is on he panics and flees.
The critical thing to remember is that all relationships are about match.
Rejection comes from the concept of unrequited love rather than reciprocal love. We all want to be loved reciprocally but sometimes we forget this fact when we are infatuated with a guy.
Groucho Marx said “ I only want to be a member of a club that doesn’t want me as a member”.
A healthy and mature adult who is ready for a committed and intimate relationship in fact only wants to be with someone who wants them in return.
So it is critical to remember that whether your guy is turning away from you or from the relationship the answer is the same, you don’t need him and should question wanting him. But before you let him go there are a few things you can try to see if the relationship is viable.
#1. First, be very honest with him.
Don’t play cat and mouse games, rather call him on his behavior and tell him what you observe. Do this in person rather than on the phone or by email or text. It is harder for him to avoid you or evade your questions if you are face to face.
#2. Second, don’t take no for an answer and if he seems completely dumbfounded as to his motivations help him out by using your imagination and insight to get to the bottom of his concerns or fears.
For instance, “you haven’t been returning my calls or email since our last weekend together, I wonder if you are feeling frightened of how close we are becoming or are feeling some reservations about going forward in a committed relationship. You have nothing to lose here so be truthful and direct without being aggressive. And if possible take the judgment and defensiveness out of your questions.
#3. Third, make sure you have emotional support and backup after you have this conversation since the outcome may be painful but necessary.
Have a good friend or family member accessible by phone so you can process what you hear. It is painful to hear the truth but necessary to move forward either with the relationship or without it. The avoidance of conflict always causes more pain in the end then dealing with it directly.
#4. Finally, remember that you only want to be with a man who is both ready to engage in a mature and loving relationship, and is willing and able to handle the imperfections of you and of the reality of a relationship.
If your guy seems the type to not be able to finish what he starts you definitely don’t need him.
Not everyone can engage in reciprocal, loving and committed relationships so try not to take it personally when a fellow you may have set your sights on can’t engage in a committed relationship. If romantic, reciprocal love was easy it wouldn’t be magical when it happens. It is worth waiting for the fellow who is as emotionally developed and interested in pursuing a relationship as you are, hang in there.
Erica Komisar, LCSW - www.komisar.com
Why is he pulling away? We often ask ourselves is it us or is it something else?
When a man pulls away it hurts and often leaves us feeling very confused, which often will lead us to pull away, guard ourselves or call it quits. None of these are helpful reactions to this hurtful situation.
First, we need to use healthy communication to find out what is going on with the man in our life.
We need to find out if some situation is affecting them emotionally. Are they struggling at work, have some family issue that we do not know about, or are they dealing with some medical condition perhaps? We need to tap into our communication skills and have an open honest conversation about the changes we have noticed and what may be the cause of these changes.
If we find out that some factor has been the catalyst and is involved in the pulling away we have opened the communication up to be able to address this change an origination of issues. Now if we have a very open, honest conversation and we are still completely in the dark we need to take a different route.
We need to ask some very clear questions:
Are you unhappy in this relationship?
Are you wanting space and possible dissolving of this relationship?
When we ask these questions, we need to be ready for the answers and to confront the truth behind the actions. We also need to think ahead and decide if our partner is unhappy and wanting out, why and do we want someone to stay in a relationship they really do not want to be in, no not really. So, if they are unhappy or questioning and their pulling away was our indicator this was happening we need to let it be what it is and begin processing where this relationship is going even if it means it is ending. We want someone that truly wants to be in this relationship not someone staying because they think they need to.
More than anything we need to clarify what is going on and then decide what we want to do in the situation.
This may just be a small bump in the relationship or it may need to be the end. Either way finding out and dealing with it is much better for us then operating in the dark.
Neesha Lenzini, MS - www.relationshipsinneed.com
This is something that happens to everyone.
Not everyone you date will be the one and even when they are, sometimes we all have times we pull away. I think something important to remember is that we all have times like that. Each situation is different, so try to discover what type you have.
For instance, have they just had a huge change in their lives happen, a death, loss of job, car accident, loss of a pet, a house change, family change, anything that maybe very important to them? If so, ask them if you can help or just listen. If they initially say “no” then let them know you care and available when they are ready. Sometimes feelings can be very confusing to the point of not being able to understand the words to explain it. What am I saying sometimes……a lot of the time?
The point is that when wanting someone to talk to you, they need to feel safe.
If you feel someone will see you in a bad light, judge you, be disappointed, mad or anything that makes you not want to tell someone, then you probably won’t. So feeling safe has more to do with that then thinking they may be physically harmed. Although that would play a role as well. Let them know that you feel they are pulling away and you are available to talk when they are ready. If you get mad they are not talking, then you are creating a situation that is not safe and they won’t talk.
If they do talk, and it has to do with you, don’t say a word.
Allow them to get out everything they need to get out. Once they are done, let them know you never meant to hurt them in whatever way they are hurt. Focus on their feeling, do you want them to feel that way? Because if you get mad, then it generally come across as you don’t care they are hurt. Which again makes a non-safe place to talk and they will pull away even more.
Generally, the hurt feelings are misunderstandings and can be worked out. But if you jump the gun to angry, it only makes it worse.
Even if they are pulling away due to not wanting to be together any longer, to know this you need to remain calm. To discuss whys and hows, again a calm discussion will provide more answers. You don’t want to be with someone that does not want to be with you. It does not make either of you bad or good people, just not right together.
If they do talk and it has to do with other things, not about you, then listen.
Be on their side and support their feelings, let them know it will be ok and they don’t have to deal with it alone. Most people do pull away when they have something complex but don’t intend to pull away from the relationship. This may appear they are but when you ask them about it, you realize they are just caught up in thought.
So don’t fret, just talk, calming, supportive and empathetically.
Katherine Woodworth, LPC, CRC – www.fairwaycounseling.com
Rather than telling you exactly what to do if you’re in a relationship and your significant other is pulling away, I’m going to pose some questions in order to get you thinking and processing.
There is no sorcery involved in relationships that allows me to give you a list of things to do in order to change your partner. In fact, I believe it’s more important to think about and specifically name your own needs in a relationship. If your partner is unwilling to make the effort to meet those needs, then it may be time to move on.
Things to consider if your partner is pulling away:
1. How open is the communication? Are you able to express your concern over a change in behavior, such as pulling away? If communication lines are open, I encourage a dialogue regarding your feelings and concerns.
2. Is this a new relationship or a more established one? Do you have a baseline for whether or not this is normal behavior for him/her? It can be difficult to decipher in the beginning of a relationship if pulling away is a pattern (or a long standing behavior) or if it’s a sign that something has shifted.
3. Does this seem to “fit” for him? Is it more so a pattern than anomaly? If it’s a pattern, what’s keeping you tied to him? Is this what you want for your relationship with your significant other? I ask most of my single clients to make a list of what they’re looking for/not looking for in a relationship, ranking the “deal breakers” at the top, these are things that will cause you to not continue in a relationship if present. Is a repeated pattern of withdrawing from the relationship a deal breaker for you in a significant other?
4. Is he pulling away emotionally or physically? It’s not uncommon for relationships to see a cool off, physically, once the beginning stages have passed. However, if there is a perceived emotional pull away, this aspect can be more telling for the long term. It is important to most that their partner is emotionally connected to them and if this is shifting it definitely requires some attention.
5. Finally, are the expectations you both have for the relationship aligned? Is it possible it just “feels” as though he’s pulling away when really he’s simply carrying on with his individual life as well as couplehood with you? It’s important for each partner to maintain their own individuality within a relationship. Focus on your own hobbies and interests. If he is, in fact, just engaging in his own interests, you’ll be less likely to dwell on his absence.
It all comes back to communication.
If he is open to having a productive dialogue about your concerns, great! If not, you may have to make a choice here – is the behavior a deal breaker for you personally or not? Do you envision being able to tolerate the behavior for the long term?
Laura Jordan, MA, LPC, LMFT – www.jordantherapyservices.com
One of the most confusing, stomach-churning feelings is when your love interest seems to be pulling away.
What started as a passionate romance has now inexplicably turned cold, leaving you with too many questions.
First, take a breath…it’s going to be okay.
Know that it’s completely natural for humans to be hyper-alert for perceived threats, especially if you have something precious to lose. You will survive this uncomfortable feeling, no matter what the outcome is.
Here are some ways to not go crazy when you feel left in the dark, and keep your self-respect in the process. You can’t control how someone else behaves, but you can control your response.
1. Check the context
If you are in a long-term relationship, it will be easier to notice if his behavior is different than usual. Does he have any new stressors in his life? Examples of this could be increased work pressure, school, kids, health, or personal loss. How is his mental health these days? There is no need to take this personally if there is something else going on. Give him the benefit of the doubt if he has earned it, and talk to him about it.
If you are in a new love affair, it could be trickier. If his affections are already erratic, it may be wise to take a step back and reassess if this is working for you. If he has dropped the initial charm and attentiveness he offered while pursuing you, this could be a warning sign. If you are still unsure, ask yourself if your ideal mate would keep you guessing about what you mean to him.
There are a couple of other possible explanations. First-and I say this with love-some of this could be in your head. Our minds can play tricks on us, particularly if we’ve been burned before. Consider if feelings from past heartbreaks are resurfacing, creating unnecessary insecurities in this relationship. Also, take an honest look at your own behavior-is there something you are doing that could be exacerbating the situation? Have you made him feel safe expressing his feelings?
Alternatively, he could simply be unskilled at communicating or inexperienced in relationships. Many wonderful guys will still need a little coaching to be the perfect partner. Use your intuition to determine if he is one of those men that is worth the extra effort.
2. Just ask!
Whether you’ve been with someone 2 years or 2 weeks, it is always good to get clarification. There is no reason to come to all sorts of wacky conclusions when you can go straight to the source. You have every right to know what is really going on. There are, however, effective vs. ineffective ways to go about this.
It is important to understand the age-old dynamic of the pursuer-distancer. Essentially, one partner moves towards the other when feeling anxious in the relationship, grasping for affection and validation, while the other responds with distance and coldness. The real kicker here is that the more the pursuer clings or demands attention, the more the distancer pulls away, perpetuating the vicious cycle. Keeping this common relationship trap in mind will help you resist the urge to come at him with emotional guns blazing.
Instead, center yourself first, remembering your worth and what you deserve. If you are having trouble with this, imagine what you would tell a cherished friend she deserves. Keeping an open mind, calmly express what your experience is and how it feels. Approaching this with a cool head is the most effective way to get answers, and it will help you feel proud of yourself in the process.
How he responds will tell you a lot. A man that really cares will hate that you have been feeling that way, and he will want to do what it takes to change it. Defensiveness might come up, but if the relationship is worth saving, you will find the common ground of care and respect for each other. If he reacts with indifference, anger, or your feelings are dismissed, there is indeed a larger problem.
3. Love yourself
Practicing self-compassion is the key ingredient to making all painful situations more bearable. So often we look to others to make us feel better, when we already have the most nurturing friend within ourselves. Ask the part of you that’s hurting right now what it really needs. Then gently offer yourself those kind words or the extra pampering your body craves.
Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh tells himself during hard times, “Darling, I care about your suffering”. Try placing a hand on your heart while saying comforting words and notice how your whole being relaxes. Simply turning towards yourself in a loving manner can shift your whole outlook.
In addition to self-compassion, connection to others is crucial for weathering life’s ups and downs. Reach out to a trusted friend, family member, or a therapist for unconditional support. We all share the desire to be loved, and there are many people who feel something similar right in this moment. Talking through your emotions and getting an outside perspective can be a clarifying mirror, and it will give you the comfort that you’re not alone.
Caring for yourself also means taking a break from the painful, incessant loop of thoughts in your head. You won’t be able to figure this out solely by obsessing over it. Take a walk outside, see a funny movie, dance, paint, heck, break plates if you have to--anything to help you get in the present moment, discharge your emotions, and give your brain much-needed happy chemicals. You’ll be surprised how much clearer you can see things after a brief hiatus from thinking.
Most importantly, remember this:
You are beautiful, brilliant, and uniquely radiant, and you deserve nothing less than someone who is 100% clear about how they feel about you. You can trust yourself. At the end of the day, you will know someone is right for you when you feel happy, safe, and supported.
Sarah Bauer Hernandez, MA, LPC Intern – www.sarahbauerhernandez.com
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