Intimacy is one of the most important aspects in a romantic relationship and makes things like communication and empathy a lot easier. But relationships can be hard for a lot of men, and one of the most common responses for men who are struggling in a relationship is to pull away emotionally and physically.
This can be confusing for a lot of women. You may not understand why men pull away, and you may take it personally when you really shouldn’t.
These reasons may not all be preventable. They may not even all be fixable. But they will all help you understand what might be going on.
Below are those ten reasons why men pull away — and many of them aren’t your fault:
1. He’s Not Interested Anymore
One of the big reasons why men pull away, especially at the beginning of a relationship, is because they’re not interested in you anymore.
If you been on a few dates, or have been going out for a few months, he may want out, but doesn’t want to be the one to break up with you.
Instead of just doing the right thing and telling you he doesn’t want to be with you anymore, he becomes distant, so you’ll break up with him.
Men use this high school tactic for various reasons, but usually it’s because he’s a coward and doesn’t want to be “the bad guy.”
There’s not much you can do to prevent this, as it’s still early in the relationship. Just break up with him and move on.
He’s not worth your time and energy anyway if he can’t tell you how he really feels.
2. He’s Too Busy
When people get stressed, it’s natural for them to withdraw into themselves and ignore people around them.
If your man is particularly busy with work or other stressors (taking care of an aging parent, for example), he may be pulling away just to conserve some energy.
This can happen at any stage in the relationship, but is probably more likely early on.
Hopefully by the time you’re married or in a committed long-term relationship, you’ve worked out how to deal with this issue, because its practically unavoidable in every relationship at some point.
If it’s still early, or if you haven’t worked it out yet, give him some space and see if it gets better.
You also need to talk with him and let him know you’re there for him, even if he doesn’t want to or can’t express the burden he feels. Let him know it will get better.
Try to keep up your end of the communication with him and try to take care of some of his responsibilities if you can.
It will pass; don’t take it personally. You’d want him to do the same thing for you.
3. He’s Angry At You
Another big reason why men pull away (and women too) is because they’re angry with you.
That’s really not a good excuse to pull away, but it’s understandable. Luckily, if you’re both mature, it’s a relatively easy fix!
If you don’t know what you did to make him angry, you’ll need to figure it out.
Maybe you can ask him, and maybe it’s something trivial that he’s over-reacting to, but you can’t apologize if you don’t know what you did.
He probably just needs some time to process before he can talk to you about it, so even if you ask him and he tells you, you may have to wait a bit before you can discuss it.
It’s also possible that he just doesn’t know how to communicate when he’s angry, which is something you’ll need to work with him on.
When you figure out why he’s angry, tell him you want to talk about it, non-judgmentally, once he’s ready.
Make this a pattern, and eventually he’ll be able to talk about his anger in a healthy way, even if it takes some time before he’s ready.
4. He’s Dealing With Something
Often when people have some internal emotional or mental struggle, they might pull away. This can happen at any stage of relationship. But it will be more noticeable if you’ve been with him for a while.
On the more minor side, he might be dealing with feelings of inadequacy, having a mid-life crisis, or trying to find or redefine his identity.
These are relatively minor things in the grand scheme of things, but can take a lot of emotional energy. He might be “around,” but not “present.”
Talk to him and let him know that you’re there if he wants to talk. You can also keep talking to him about what’s going on in your life.
If he’s interested, but just a bit emotionally distant, your relationship will be fine with time. Just give it time.
On the more severe side of things, your man might be going throw some mental health issues like depression, severe anxiety, or even addiction.
If you’ve known him for a long time and you’ve noticed a radical shift in how distant he is, as well as other signs like sleep patterns, anger issues, etc., this may be what’s going on.
You can try to talk with him yourself, but you should also suggest he go see a psychologist.
He may feel like he’s protecting you by withdrawing, but you need to make him realize you’re there for him.
If it’s early in your relationship, now’s the time to decide if you’re committing to something that’s going to be difficult, or if you’re going to get out while you can.
5. He Wants More Intimacy
One reason why men pull away is because they don’t feel they’re getting the emotional or physical intimacy they crave.
While this is often about sex, that’s not always the case. This is more common in later stages of a relationship when both parties get complacent and life tends to distract from being romantic with each other.
When people aren’t feeling loved or supported, their first reaction is to withdraw.
They don’t want to risk the emotional energy of putting themselves out there when they might not get anything in return, or they might make take the lack of intimacy personally and wonder if you still love them.
Both men and women do this, and it’s the opposite of what you should do. You can fix this and prevent it in the same way — show him love.
You may not be able to do it constantly, especially if you’re stressed or busy. But especially in the times when he really needs that intimacy, figure out a way to give it to him.
You should also get him in the practice of him reaching out to you when he feels neglected.
You should both read the Five Love Languages and know what each other’s are.
Be deliberate about showing love to the other person and be honest when you’re not getting what you need. You need to do this every day.
If the issue is mostly about not having enough sex, you can help him to understand how your body works and that even if your sex drive is low or you’re going through a low sex phase, it doesn’t mean you’re not attracted to him or don’t love him.
Encourage him to find intimacy in other ways. Having more sex isn’t necessarily the answer, though it does tend to greatly improve the relationship if you can make that happen.
6. He’s Found Someone Else
Sometimes when people distance themselves it’s because they’re intimately involved with someone else.
No matter what stage of the relationship, if he’s cheating on you, he’s almost certain to become emotionally distant, and is probably “staying late at work.”
It’s hard to fake being interested when you’re not.
This doesn’t mean that if he’s distant that he’s cheating, however, so don’t panic until you get more evidence.
There’s nothing you can do to prevent this, there’s nothing you should do to fix it. Dump him and move on.
7. He Doesn’t Trust You
One reason why men pull away is that he doesn’t trust you with his feelings or opinions. It’s possible you’ve hurt him, emotionally abused him, or made fun of him one too many times.
You may not intend to do this, and he should talk to you about how he’s feeling — but would you confide in someone you don’t trust?
Do you nag a lot? Criticize his every act? Call him names or joke too much? Make fun of him for being sensitive or having certain hobbies or interests?
If you have any of these habits, especially if you’ve slipped into them after being together for a while, recognize them, apologize for them, and change them.
I guarantee he’ll start to open up again.
If he’s still with you even through all of this, he must really love you, and thinks you have some redeeming qualities that overshadow all the abuse he’s taken from you.
Fix it, and you’ll have a happy relationship.
8. He Doesn’t Know How To Communicate
A lot of men were raised without learning how to communicate. They were taught to bottle up their emotions and that feelings are weak.
They were taught that being silent is being strong. It’s not your fault, and there’s nothing you could’ve done to prevent it, but you can fix it by helping establish a habit of talking with your partner.
Reward him for expressing his feelings. Help him find words to express what he’s feeling.
When he shuts down you can ask: are you feeling sad about something? Are you mad at me for something I did? Are you feeling scared or anxious about something?
Help him to realize you will not judge him no matter what he’s feeling.
You probably won’t be in a place to do this until later in the relationship. But it’s likely something you’ll notice from the beginning.
Don’t expect to be able to change him. If you love him for other reasons, stay with him despite this challenge. If this is a deal breaker, move on.
Him growing as a person will be a perk, not a given.
9. He’s Afraid
One reason why men pull away is they’re feeling insecure about the relationship.
This is particularly common in the earlier stages of relationship when he may be worried that he is more invested in the relationship, or more attached to you than you are him.
Later in the relationship, he may really love you, but has a fear of commitment and doesn’t know how to reconcile his love and his fear.
Maybe he has a fear of commitment, and he may not know how to talk about it. If he’s worried you’re not as invested as he is, he’s probably too scared to talk about.
If he’s worried you might leave him, or if he’s worried you don’t like him as much, he might pull away to protect himself or sabotage to relationship to prove to himself he was right.
You can reassure him, first, by talking to him about it. Ask him to be candid about what he’s feeling.
You can also just make sure to frequently express your feelings about him, or if he’s scared of commitment, take the relationship at a slower pace.
Some men are just insecure, and that can be OK. But it takes a lot of patience on your part to deal with it.
If you think he’s worth it, you can get through it, but you should help him build up his confidence if you can.
10. He Feels Smothered
If he’s feeling smothered by you always being around, always wanting to talk, or not having the alone time he needs to recharge himself, he might pull away.
It’s not that he’s trying to break up or anything, he just needs more space. Even if it’s only “mental or emotional space,” withdrawing from you is one way he can do that.
Ask him if he needs more space, and what that looks like for him. It doesn’t have to mean a break from the relationship. Try not to take it personally that he needs more time to himself.
We’re all wired differently, after all.
This is more common during the early stages of a relationship. But it can develop as people change and grow during a relationship, or when other life challenges come up.
Pulling away emotionally and physically is something that comes with the ebb and flow of any relationship. Men and women are bound to do it at various points in the relationship.
But if you know the reason why, and can talk about it, you’re sure to make it through those tough times.