Why Do Men Pull Away and What Can You Do About It?

Woman putting head down after argument in park

Back in 1992, a book by renowned author and relationship counselor John Gray hit the shelves. It was called Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus.

This guide to opposite genders was the first book of its kind and has since helped many couples better understand each other.

However, it's still challenging at times for us to understand what's going on inside our man's head, especially when they react in ways that are entirely different than how we'd respond as women.

In fact, one of the most troubling things men do in relationships is pull away or distance themselves from us emotionally.

We spend hours worrying over what we did wrong or if they're seeing someone else.

But are those thoughts really warranted, or are we merely worrying ourselves to death? Let's find out.

What are the main reasons why guys pull away before they commit?

According to professional counselor Suzanne Jeffries, there are six reasons why men often pull away instead of choosing to commit to a relationship. These reasons include:

  1. Fear Of The Past
  2. Fear Of The Future
  3. Desire To Keep Options Open
  4. Desire To Remain Uncommitted
  5. Immaturity
  6. Questioning The Relationship

Obviously, you can potentially help him work through some of these issues, like fears about his past or concerns about the future.


However, some of these problems are more deeply rooted and will require serious time and professional help for him to overcome.

While the reasoning behind your man’s lack of commitment is important, your happiness and overall well being are just as important.


Don’t just “ride it out” with him for an indefinite amount of time because, honestly, he may never commit!

Instead, you should determine your expectations in the relationship and clearly express them to your partner.


Set boundaries with not only him, but yourself as well. It’s essential that you identify what you will and will not tolerate and that you hold yourself accountable.

Is he pulling away because he likes me or is there is someone else?

While it can be hard to distinguish a man’s actions to figure out what’s really going on inside his head, you will notice some drastic differences in how he pulls away and acts in these two scenarios:

When he likes you versus if he’s distancing himself because there’s someone else in his life.

Believe it or not, there are actually some clear signs you can look for if you suspect there’s someone else in his life.

According to professional counselor
David Bennett of Double Trust Dating, "It's normal for someone to find others attractive, but the intensity of the attraction is what matters.” 

If he’s falling for someone else, you’ll likely notice that your partner:

  1. Has started talking about someone else a lot
  2. Seems distant and cold or avoids any intimate conversations
  3. Starts a new hobby or makes significant changes in their routine
  4. Has started spending lots of time on social media or messaging apps
  5. Seems less physical with you
  6. Appears jealous of someone else like a mutual friend
  7. Shares less with you about both the trivial and important things

If you see signs that your partner may be attracted to someone else, it’s time to sit down and have an open conversation without throwing accusations at him or threatening him.

While your emotions may feel high, it’s important to remain calm if you want to work through this issue.

When things start to get serious why does he withdraw all of a sudden?

According to a recent Reddit thread started by user "xoxolexy", men have numerous reasons for pulling away when a relationship starts moving in a serious direction.

Most of the time, though, men pull away when things get serious for one of three reasons.

Sometimes they fear the commitment of a serious relationship and don’t feel ready to give you what you’re asking for (or what they think you want).

Other times they withdraw because they see some sort of serious flaw that could prevent the relationship from lasting.

Finally, men sometimes pull away when things get serious because they ultimately fear vulnerability and rejection and find it easier to remove themselves before you break their heart.

woman crying after relationship ended

What to do when he pulls away?


It’s impossible to know how to handle every situation you encounter when dating someone.

However, when it comes to figuring out what to do when our partner starts to pull away, the experts at eHarmony say that we can all follow three basic steps to stop our lover from pulling away and help get the relationship back on track.

Step 1: Stop Overthinking!

When we feel our partner pulling away, our first inclination is to panic and start over-analyzing every little thing. However, that’s the exact opposite of what we should do in this case. 

When we spend all of our waking hours worrying over our relationship and questioning why our man is pulling away, we actually cause more damage.

In fact, when we obsess over someone, we often end up feeling even more distant from them.

What’s more, we close people out when we become consumed by our thoughts, and this ultimately makes it harder for our lover to connect with us.

So instead of questioning every text message and cue you receive from your boyfriend, remind yourself that it’s normal for men to distance themselves at times.

If the relationship is meant to be, then he will ultimately work through whatever is causing the distance and come back to you in time.

Step 2: Allow Distance To Work Its Magic


When we feel our boyfriend pulling away, most of us automatically lean in and try to pull them back to us.

Just like over-analyzing the situation, though, pushing yourself into the front and center doesn’t actually help pull your man back to you. It may cause him to feel trapped.

Instead of pushing in, stop trying close that space and just let the distance work its magic.

Resist the temptation to ask him what’s wrong or badger him. Just let him make a choice to come to you. This will allow him to work through things and also help you feel more desired.

Step 3: Choose Your Words Wisely


Although he may need some time, eventually, you both will need to sit down and talk through why he pulled away and what you can do to help. When this happens, you must choose your words wisely and communicate effectively.

One trick here is to demonstrate to your man that you can handle emotional moments with poise and communicate in a way that is warm and genuine.

If you place blame or appear aggressive, that's a surefire way to push your man even further away. 

Instead, use "I Statements," validate his feelings, and share how much you appreciate his honesty.

This may seem straight forward, but there's a science and art to communicating with men when they start to pull away. If you really want a guy to commit, you may want more in-depth expert training on what do to and say. 

The Devotion System, by Amy North, is a relationship program that helps women understand male psychology and how to use that knowledge to get a man to commit to you, and only you.

Thousands of women have found success with this program, making it one of the world's most successful and popular women's relationship programs. You can watch the introductory video below. 


Important Note: If you decide to watch the video below, make sure you watch it all the way until the end, because Amy shares some mind blowing tips. Many of which I had never heard from anyone else. 

After he said he loves me...

While it may seem odd to you that a man would pull away after he says he loves you, relationship expert Susan Winter stresses that this is a pretty typical response for any guy.

According to Winter, men often need more time to process than women when they commit to someone.

When they move forward or take any significant steps in a relationship, they need time to find their balance and fully process their emotions.

In the following video, Winter offers advice for any woman who feels her partner pull away after they first say, "I love you."

After we've had sex...

Often times we assume that men only care about sex. Because of this, women typically believe that men pull away after sex because they got what they wanted.

However, author and relationship expert Adam Shaw says that men rarely pull away after sex because they lose interest.

When we engage in sexual intercourse, our body releases oxytocin. This causes women to feel more connected, but men to feel intense pleasure.

Because of this, men may seem more distant in part because women crave connection after sex, and men don't always require that same bond.

If you feel like he's distant after sex, Shaw recommends that you "Just leave it be." If you push too hard, you'll seem desperate and turn him off.

Should I take a step back when he pulls away?

If you've read this far, you've likely noticed some common advice regardless of when your man withdraws or distances himself.

But, if you haven't figured it out yet,
the best thing you can do when a man pulls away is giving him some space.

In fact, stepping back from the situation served several purposes.

First and foremost, it allows your guy the space he needs to process his feelings. This will ultimately allow him to identify his emotions and convey them to you.

Furthermore, this time apart gives you an opportunity to really assess your own feelings.

You may find that your feelings are just as complicated as his. You may also discover that you needed some time apart to recenter yourself.

Finally, taking a step back allows you to calm down and not attack or overwhelm him during this time. This, in turn, can strengthen your relationship in the long run.

Final Thoughts

How men handle emotional moments is just further proof that John Gray was right: Men really are from Mars.

Although men sometimes pull away because they lose interest, more often than not they actually pull away because they simply don't know how to process their feelings.

While giving him space may sound like a terrible idea that you can't possibly handle, I promise it's the best way to let him work through his feelings.

If your man suddenly seems distant, just remind him that you care and let him know that it's okay if he needs some time to process things.

By showing him empathy and understanding where he's at, you'll not only earn some cool points, but you'll likely help him see that you really are the right woman for him.

While giving him space is excellent to do, once he's ready to reconnect with you, you want to be equipped with the knowledge in truly understanding him and what he wants. 

The Devotion System by Amy North, is a program where you can turn into an expert regarding what men want.

You can learn how to get your man back, make him totally engaged with you, and how to make him commit. Watch the introductory video on the Devotion System here. 

Breakup Shop Team

The Breakup Shop team is a group of dating and relationship experts who share their in-depth knowledge with our community of 20,000 people strong! We are people just like you, with a desire to share our personal experiences and advice regarding breakups, heartbreak, dating, and relationships. Welcome to the community!