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October 5, 2018

What To Do When He Pulls Away and Comes Back – 7 Experts Reveal Exactly How To Handle This Situation

What To Do When He Pulls Away and Comes Back

“A busy, vibrant, goal-oriented woman is so much more attractive than a woman who waits around for a man to validate her existence.”

~ Mandy Hale

# If his pulling away has left you questioning your own feelings, it’s important to communicate with your partner how you are feeling
Jessica Colarco

Loving someone is a risk

You risk your heart and put your trust in another.  The dating scene is filled with putting yourself out there until you finally find someone that is worthy of your love and trust.  It is sometimes a journey to get to that place of commitment.  A journey filled with bumps and turns.  Sometimes the bump is a feeling of him pulling away only to find that he comes back to you.  

Being on the receiving end of a partner pulling away leaves us feeling insecure and causes us to lose trust.  

Maybe he has been busy with work, maybe he doesn’t return phone calls or texts as quickly as he used to.  I encourage you to slow things down and remind yourself that it can be natural for one partner to take time to process through his or her feelings in order to be confident that he or she wants to move forward in the relationship.  

If his pulling away has left you questioning your own feelings, it’s important to communicate with your partner how you are feeling.  

Sit down together and ascertain the “why”.  If his reasons are compelling and you find that you trust him, then I encourage you to commit to openly communicating your feelings with honesty as you to move forward together.

But, what if his reasoning for pulling away still leaves you confused and feeling insecure?  Take some time to assess your feelings.  Are you happy that he is more present in your life? Does he have the qualities that you are looking for in a long term partner?  Do you still trust him?  

If you find that you are answering “no” to these and other questions, then it is time to let him go.  

You are a wonderful woman who deserves to be with a man who respects you and fulfills your unique needs.  Allow yourself time to grieve this relationship and move on to bigger and better things. 

Jessica Colarco, LCSW, PLLC – www.jessicacolarcolcsw.com

# When he comes back, invite him into dialogue with you that feels safe for you both to explore together
Tilisha Harrison

When life is on overload, issues at work piling up, life’s transitions occurring, pulling away from a relationship may be a natural response to not knowing how to cope with pressure and stress. Your loved one may need space from the distraction of a relationship, so he/she might return to it with some perspective and clarity.

Avoiding taking someone’s distance too personally can also help you with not buying into a single story of why this is occurring.

In turn, it offers some perspective into what the other is feeling and thinking. Introspectively, it allows us to explore what is taking place in that person’s life that is causing this behavior.

It also allows us to be mindful in how these behaviors are affecting us and how to respond to it. Practicing good self-awareness into your own needs will help you understand the needs of others and how we meet them both.

When your lover comes back, invite him/her into dialogue with you that feels safe for you both to explore together.

Setting the stage through depersonalization of the situation, mindfulness, and self-awareness can create a safe environment to explore what that experience was like for your loved one and for you as well.

Tilisha Harrison, LCSW – www.pivotcollaborative.com

# Reflect, look at it all honestly
Heather Champion

When a past love steps back into our lives its generally because there was some aspect of the relationship that remains unresolved.

Before discussing what to do, first look back on how the relationship initially ended.

  • Was it a lighthearted, casual relationship that just fizzled? 
  • Was it getting serious and then the other person ghosted out?
  • Was the relationship serious when it ended, if so, what caused the relationship to end? Infidelity on either of your parts?
  • Did it just get hard and one or both of you decided to give up?
  • Or were you just not a match for one another?

When a casual partner comes back into the picture it’s likely just a booty call.

Same thing if a ghoster pops back up after a relationship started getting somewhat serious. These guys probably don’t see the relationship as something serious and are likely just looking for some fun.

Sorry ladies, that’s just the way the cookie crumbles. Even if he says he’s ready to be serious this time, its more likely he’s just saying that for attention. He’s probably bored and remembers you had a good time together, but when the fun stops and things start getting real he’ll probably disappear again. Save yourself the heartache and block his number.

If the relationship was somewhat serious, like meeting each other’s families, spending 3/7 nights together, etc., then there’s more to examine and it starts with why did it end.

There are usually a lot of reasons why a relationship comes to an end. Infidelity is likely the most painful. Whether the relationship included a legal commitment as well as an emotional commitment or not one person stepping out on that commitment is extremely painful. It feels like a betrayal of trust and leaves the cheated on feeling extremely vulnerable.

When there is this type of betrayal its not uncommon for the cheated on to wonder what they did wrong and to feel like there was more that could have been done to keep the wandering eye from straying. Unfortunately, this isn’t usually the case. Those with wandering eyes tend to have low internal self-esteem and need the attention of many to feel loved. If you’re into polygamy, or polyamorous, then that’s great, if not, this isn’t something to get involved with again. Especially if your pain is still raw.

When relationships end for other reasons such as just not getting along, look at what the barriers to getting along were.

Often little superficial arguments that turn into all out blowouts are intricate dances around a bigger issue. How did you both define your roles in the relationship? How well did you communicate? Did you really hear and see one another? Did you really feel seen and heard? Communication issues are common and tend to lead to other issues tied to feelings of rejection. Did you and your boyfriend have issues with communication and/or feeling valued in the relationship?

Communication is a two-way street and sometimes we can’t see when we are not communicating well until after the relationship is over.

When this is the case it might be a good idea to talk to the ex and review what went wrong in the relationship. This is a good way to see how you can do better if another opportunity comes up either with him or someone else. After you both have healed from the pain of the breakup it is good to take an outsider’s look at how you handled the relationship and how you went to infatuation to pain. In this way the breakup wasn’t a failure, but an opportunity to learn to be better in relationships.

Regardless of the reasons why the relationship ended, always be mindful of where you are emotionally prior to agreeing to see an ex.

Lingering feelings will come to the surface quickly when you are face-to-face and its important to see the situation clearly. Emotions cloud the picture in our heads and approaching an ex could be clouded by pain, sadness, or loneliness causing you to see things that aren’t really there. If you are feeling sad or lonely it is very likely you will look for any sign that he wants to get back together. And, if the relationship wasn’t good to begin with, you’ll miss the signs that it still isn’t good.

Finally, before meeting up make sure you are in a good place emotionally.

Go do something you enjoy that fills you up emotionally before seeing him. Take a yoga class, meditate, have a long talk with a good friend, take your dog for a walk, anything that makes you feel good from the inside out. Choose a place with no ties to the relationship, good or bad. Don’t go back to the restaurant from your first date, or the park where you first said “I love you.”

Places with strong memories attached to them will bring up emotions that will cloud your ability to see everything that’s going on (see above paragraph). Meeting an ex for a post-relationship chat requires clear heads and full hearts, avoid anything that will change that.

When you meet, be sure to remember why it ended and look for signs of change.

Be aware of gaslighting, is he filling you up with promises to make you feel better that he will never keep. Remember, you knew him well, or you thought you did. You can read his actions and words, stay aware and grounded in the reality of the situation.

Probably the most difficult conversation is when one of you has moved on into a new relationship.

Honesty is key in these situations. Be honest about your feelings and how the relationship affected you. If you are already in a new relationship, discuss the proposed meeting and conversations with your current boyfriend. Its very likely the new guy has an opinion that you’ll need to hear. And, hiding the meeting and/or conversation will give the new guy reason to question your relationship with him.

So, what to do when he comes back? Reflect, look at it all honestly. Know yourself, and mostly, listen to your heart.

Heather Champion, MA, LMHC, RYT, TSY – www.maitri-therapy.com

# It is important for you to ask yourself if you will be able to trust them again

When the person we are dating suddenly pulls away we are often struck with disbelief and sadness.

What is more confusing is when they return following our initial grief over the loss of the relationship. We may be angry with them, push them away, maybe we even accept them back immediately and then struggle with dissonance regarding our feelings over their behavior.

Developing and sustaining trust within a relationship is critical for the longevity of said relationship. Incidents such as these often challenge our trust in our partner. Re-building trust if you choose to invest in said relationship again is critical.

It is important for you to ask yourself if you will be able to trust them again.

This has to do with your feelings about this person to begin with. If you will be unable to trust them again then you shouldn’t invest any more time into it as it will likely fail. Trust is the cornerstone of any healthy relationship. That said, if you feel like you are able to establish trust with this person again then ask yourself if you want them back.

Maybe this person was your ideal partner and you accept them back immediately without question- in this case it is important to ascertain why they left or distanced themselves to begin with. Maybe you were able to realize that this relationship wasn’t what you were looking for and was unhealthy for you and taking them back is a step backward for you and likely for them as well. ​

It is important not to be caught up in the relief you have from being able to step back from your grieving process; always remember that the degree of grief you feel when a relationship ends does not equal the depth of love you had for that person.

Our feeling of grief and loss is directly related to all other unresolved grief and loss in our lives, not just this instance. This is why break ups are difficult even when we know we are doing the right thing.

Finally, why did they leave to begin with.

Are they afraid to tell you about problems they have within the relationship? Did they find someone else and it didn’t work out? Were they pre-occupied with something else causing them stress in their life? Whatever the reason, it’s answer is important for continued success of your relationship.

For example, if they were afraid to tell you what was wrong with the relationship will this continue to be a problem or is this something they plan to work on? Whatever the reason you need to decide if this person is so valuable to you that you are willing to work out the reasons for their initial departure and forgive the pain they caused you by leaving.

We often create unspoken rules and expectations within our relationships and what you accept in terms of behavior particularly if not addressed is silent affirmation that the behavior is permissible. Make sure you accept all rules you and your partner create within your relationship and as always go into this with your eyes wide open and trust your gut- the heart tells beautiful lies.

Kate Kelly, MSW, LCSW – www.willowcreekwellness.com

# When he pulls away and comes back later, you have the most control over how to receive him
Dr. Joy McNeil

When a woman in unsure or unclear of where she stands with a man of whom she has romantic interest, she may feel off balance, confused, frustrated or emotionally shut down. These emotions are not abnormal.

When a potential relationship pivots and one partner pulls away, the other partner is left holding the pieces, generally with little closure.

Entering stage left later on is the return of the partner after pulling away.

Pulling away can signify several things: lack of interest, hectic schedule, need to regroup, desire to date other people, or intentional or unintentional introduction of a space filler status.

You may be wondering most about the space filler status. Defined: When a man is unclear on what he wants, he may select a “space filler,” who is a woman friend he spends time with until he determines who and what he desires next.

This is not an unusual phenomenon that generally arises when he is unclear or his options and uninformed of your boundaries.

​When he pulls away and comes back later, the woman has the most control over how to receive him.

She may feel helpless or hopeless on the inside, but she must understand that the decision on whether or accept him into her life or not rests solely with her.

When he pulled away and decided to reenter her life the biggest question she may have is: What brought you back? Why now? How did pulling away serve you? She may or may not receive the answers she seeks to those questions.

Learning to accept answers that may come or may not come in a way that is desired is essential.

More importantly than the questions she asks him are the questions she asks herself:

What do I want? Is this genuine? What are my relationship values and standards? Are my desires for a relationship fulfilled when spending time with this person?

If there is minimal clarity, the potential for a connection to improve and/or progress decreases.

If there is clarity and strong communication, the potential for a stronger bond to form increases over time. Two people, the woman especially, has to decide how to shape the relationship effectively toward full commitment.

Therefore, before leaping into the murky waters of a resurrected potential partner who pushed you away, decide if rekindling the connection is worth your time and emotional investment. If it is worth your time, be clear on your desires and expectations. Moreover, be patient with the process of reconnection.

If the relationship is not worth the time and investment, kindly bow out and move forward blissfully.

Joy McNeil, PhD, LPC, TFCBT – www.thewellingplace.com

# Set boundaries
Jacklyn Bystritsky

If the man you are with pulled away suddenly without any explanation and then he returned to you expecting for you to take him back as if nothing happened, then it is time to set some serious boundaries regardless if you want to take him back or not.

First, it is important to familiarize yourself with attachment theory.

All relationships are based on this genius theory. There are three main attachment styles which are anxious, avoidant and secure.

If a person pulls away, disappears or is acting distant for no apparent reason despite that things in the relationship are going well, then mostly this person has an avoidant attachment style. People with an avoidant attachment style do not feel comfortable with closeness so as soon as they feel a bond is starting to develop they pull away.

If you have a secure attachment then you can find happiness with a person who has an avoidant attachment style only because you are so secure with yourself that their need for distance and occasional separation does not upset you and you do not feel abandoned.

You won’t take it personally and you will realize that this is about them and has nothing to do with you — meaning they are not rejecting you because they no longer care about you. They are just overwhelmed by the bond they have created with you and need distance to help them feel safe again.

If you are an anxious attachment style, then you will be miserable with an avoidant partner despite that when you two first met, there might have been fireworks.

The reason for all this is because an anxious and avoidant are attracted to each other like magnets. Just think of how magnets with opposite polarities attract each other and repel the like poles.

During the honeymoon stage of your anxious-avoidant partnership, your avoidant partner showed intense interest but that intensity quickly wore off because it overwhelmed him with how fast he felt so close to you. That makes an avoidant person feel very threatened and unsafe in the relationship and such a person will feel the need to distance himself from the object of their affection.

Regardless of whether you are secure or anxious, it is important to set boundaries with an avoidant partner.

If you want to give this man another chance then it is a good idea to ask him to sit down and have a conversation with you. Explain to him by using “I” statements (I feel, I need,I want) that you won’t tolerate such behavior. Using “I” statements while also refraining from using the word “you” will help to make your message clear and non-confrontational. This is important to know for being able to communicate healthily and effectively.

Jackie Krol, LCSW – www.psychotherapistjackie.wordpress.com 

# Follow the below 5 tips

Does this scenario feel familiar?

You're seeing a guy and things are going well, but then he appears to pull away, become aloof, not want to see you as often, etc. You go through all the emotions of heartbreak and depression, but then he comes back and is once again your “guy”. He acts like nothing is different and you don’t know what happened and why. Should you hang in there?

You may never know why the relationship changed, but sometimes men are scared of things moving too quickly and don't know how to handle the intimacy and connectedness that is involved in real relationships. However, that is no excuse for his behavior and especially no excuse for his absence.

You were hurt and, while the heart is saying, yes to seeing him again, your logic is saying no. Would he do it again? Can you go through the uncertainty of a repeat situation? Can you let go of the pain and start all over as if nothing happened?

This all really depends on whether you can forgive him and move past the hurt.

And of course, you need to do what is best for you. Talk to him. One of the most common deal-breakers for long-term relationships is not knowing if your partner shares the same goals and intentions as you. What does he want? You don't want to waste your time with someone whose long-term goal is out of sync with yours.

Early on, you need to stop second-guessing the relationship and find out what your partner is looking for and what he truly wants.

Follow these tips:

1. Discuss where you are going in the relationship.

2. Share your hopes and dreams and see if it meshes with his.

3. Keep the dialogue going so no one feels clueless.

4. If you're feeling insecure, broach the subject, because he may be doing things that are truly causing the insecurity.

5. Do not accept any behavior that compromises your trust or questions the integrity of the relationship. In other words, set your boundaries and stick with them.

Your relationship is meant to enhance who you already are.

You must never doubt where you stand in the relationship or how important you are in his life. If you are giving him a second chance, be sure he knows how lucky he is that you did!

Amy Sherman, M.A., LMHC – www.yourbabyboomersnetwork.com

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