5 Reasons Men (Gradually) Pull Away
I don’t usually do these blogs in a Q&A format, but I saw that a question that garnered a lot of likes on Matt’s Facebook page this week and thought I would take a stab at responding:
“Why do some men show so much interest; taking you out, texting regularly, even calling at times! Then it’s down to texting maybe once a week, then a text every month if that! Haven’t slept with them and haven’t done or said anything crazy to scare them away.”
First off, let me at least reassure you that this isn’t a women-only problem. Most guys have experienced the gradual pain of the “fade out” from a woman before in their lives, so I feel your frustration.
It’s interesting that the questioner clarifies “Haven’t slept with them and haven’t done or said anything crazy to scare them away.”
A guy who pulled away completely after having sex for the first time would either be a guy who was ONLY looking for sex with you in the first place, or a guy who is oddly judgmental about women having sex too early.
Though these guys do exist, there are other more fundamental reasons why a guy gradually loses interest and fades away.
Here are 5 of the most common:
1. He never saw himself getting “serious” with anyone right now
The truth is – many men just don’t know what they want.
I can’t tell you the number of guys I’ve spoken to in the past year (age mid-20’s to late-30’s) who have the following dilemma: “I want connection, and love being with someone, but I don’t see myself in a serious relationship right now.”
Maybe it’s because of their career, maybe because they don’t want marriage yet, or maybe just because they want to enjoy the single life of no-strings attached bachelordom before they settle down.
The reason doesn’t matter. All that matters is that he just isn’t ready.
So he tells himself, “I’m going to just be single now”, then in the course of his normal dating life he meets an incredible woman he really likes and…now what??! Now he feels totally confused.
So he decides to date this woman for a while, gets closer and closer to her, but in the back of his mind he still hold himself back from serious commitment.
I know all of this doesn’t help you much. It seems like a guy wanting to have his cake and eat it. He wants the comfort of dating one person yet doesn’t want see it moving somewhere serious in the future.
So what happens?
Typically he’ll get to a point where either (a) you have THE “DEFINE THE RELATIONSHIP” CONVERSATION and both realise you’re on totally different pages, after which he pulls away, or (b) he just quietly starts “fading” out, realizing that he’s in too deep and hoping that he can tiptoe out of your life without causing too much fuss.
Needless to say, option (b) is pretty cowardly on the guy’s part. It leaves you wondering what the hell happened, especially if you were excited about this guy given how much connection and great sex you had together.
Ideally, what would happen is you would have had THE “DEFINE THE RELATIONSHIP” CONVERSATION earlier.
Many people mistakenly put this off for far too long when they’re afraid they may not get an answer they want to hear (and many guys will also put it off because they fear losing you when they say they don’t want a relationship).
So what’s the solution?
There is no 100% foolproof solution. You can’t read someone’s mind, no matter how helpful that would be. What you can do though is listen to his actions AND his words. BOTH matter.
Notice when he talks about wanting to be “free” or “unattached”. Ask him what kind of life he sees himself doing in the next couple of years. Talk casually about your views on relationships and marriage. Observe how much of an interest he shows in planning a future with you. Or if he wants to meet your friends (or introduce you to his). Does he bring up the question of whether you are both exclusive or not?
The less fear we have surrounding these topics, the more we can be honest and open and not live in ignorance of whether someone’s intentions are reflected in their behavior and words.
If he constantly dodges questions about whether he sees himself in a relationship and gets really uncomfortable about it, it’s probably because his head just isn’t there right now.
LISTEN. PAY ATTENTION. If it’s impossible to tell from his actions, start the conversation. If he’s evasive or cagey, tell him you’re looking for someone who knows what they want and aren’t willing to continue with a “maybe” right now.
2. He likes you, but he doesn’t see a future with you
The terrible truth is, some guys will pursue women they have about 70-80% interest in.
They like her, think she’s fun, but for whatever reason they don’t see a real future with this particular woman.
Maybe he doesn’t feel attracted enough, maybe he just thinks you’re too different to actually work together, maybe he thinks the sex is good but not amazing. He could also just think you have conflicting values.
Some guys in this situation often end up dating women as a “placeholder” until he meets someone he’s attracted to enough to invest in seriously (yes, it’s awful, but remember, guys fall on all different parts of the spectrum, good and bad).
A man may do this for a whole host of reasons: he’s insecure, he’s lonely, he’s not getting any and wants to have someone he can hook up with regularly until he meets “The One”.
The best-case scenario is that this guy has the balls at LEAST tell you that he’s not looking for anything long-term and be honest that he doesn’t see it going anywhere.
I personally don’t think there’s anything wrong with casual dating if both parties are (a) completely honest about what they want and (b) are both having fun and enjoying themselves. If you’re both on totally different pages though (whether due to one person purposely deceiving the other or because you simply haven’t braved that conversation yet), that’s when people get hurt and all kinds of chaos ensues.
3. He’s scared you’re trying to fill a relationship-shaped hole in your life
For men or women, neediness will kill any budding relationship.
In my experience, women tend to freak out earlier about this and men tend to freak out later, but either way, neediness and generally being too emotionally dependent is a killer for any budding relationship.
If a guy gets the sense that you just REALLY REALLY want a relationship and are willing to compromise all kinds of standards to do so, he’ll fade away in mortal terror that he now has to bear the entire responsibility for your happiness and self-esteem.
This is why self-respect and valuing what YOU bring to the table independently of a man is so important (and is the focus of our whole retreat program). So that you don’t feel the need to chase a guy for validation and seek out relationships at the cost of your own needs.
4. He has a series of “uh-oh” moments
This happens for both women and men, and is responsible for lots of people “fading” away mysteriously after weeks or months of dating. Maybe one person begins open-minded and tries to see how things go, only to discover that the other person is too needy, too jealous, too lacking in curiosity or fun, too high-maintenance, too expensive, too addicted to bad habits…basically any difference that makes them realise the long-term compatibility of the relationship is doomed.
This can often be a gradual realization or it may be a series of “uh-oh” moments that make him question whether he sees himself being with you long-term.
Usually the equation looks like this = Sexual attraction + Connection – Compatible values/behavior.
As we progress through dating someone, we start to see how they behave in a plethora of situations. We see what they’re like to travel with, to introduce to friends, how often they get moody, or how they deal with conflicts and problems.
Once we see certain behaviors that turn us off, the fire of our attraction fades until it burns out entirely and we’ve emotionally checked out of the relationship.
A guy may also just think he won’t get his needs met in a relationship with this particular woman. For example, in Matt’s How To Talk To Men program he talks about the importance of the male needs for appreciation, respect, and feeling desired. If a guy doesn’t feel fulfilled in these needs he’ll often lose his impetus to keep chasing and eventually give up, looking to get them fulfilled elsewhere.
5. Other reasons that have NOTHING To Do With You
He got back with an ex, he’s a sociopath, he has a secret wife and kids he hasn’t told you about, he’s an MI5 spy (unlikely), he’s has unresolved issues with his parents (more likely), who knows? Who cares?
It’s not your job to sit pondering the reason guys fade away. The fact is, we can’t control and predict every single person’s change in behaviors.
Some of the points I’ve mentioned on the list are controllable i.e. having strong values and self-worth, being an amazing partner in a relationship, and understanding attraction are all ways to make it easier to attract the right guy long-term, and other times we may just have the bad luck of choosing the wrong person for the stage of life we’re in (which is why we should have the bigger conversations early so we don’t get surprised later on).
The best thing you can do is come out of these situations more self-aware, more sure of what you want, and with your sense of optimism and confidence in tact. Losing a guy who doesn’t want you isn’t a disaster, losing yourself along the way is.