4 Mistakes To Avoid When a Man Pulls Away & What To Do InsteadFFOL Editor 1
“We don’t develop courage by being happy every day. We develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.” – Barbara De Angelis
If you’re in a relationship your man is going to pull away from you at some point and if you make certain mistakes you’re going to push him away further. So, how are you going to deal with it when it happens?
The other day I found myself on the end of a four day no contact session and I was about to lose my mind. Although he’s deployed he isn’t in a combat zone and until he moved to another location just recently our communication was fairly consistent.
I couldn’t understand it. I had just been out to see him for two weeks and everything was great. Did I say something? Did he change his mind? Was he on the fence about our relationship or sick of talking to me? Why the need for space?
I had a low grade, gnawing anxiety that sat in the pit of my stomach waiting for the truth to be revealed. By close to the fifth day I received a text. Everything was fine. He’d had no cell service. Seriously? I had done all this worrying for nothing?
Yes, most of the time when a guy pulls away or disappears for a bit it has NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU.
The Rubber Band Theory
If you’ve read any John Gray you are probably familiar with The Rubber Band Theory which basically states a man will pull away to recharge his testosterone (which lowers his stress) and then he will come back. The woman has to be able to give him enough space to let the rubber band stretch.
If the man pulls too far back the rubber band can break and then you face a much harder time rekindling the relationship. Men do not see their success in terms of their relationships like women do. They just don’t. A man can only handle so much intimacy before he goes into oxytocin overload and has to pull away.
While we are glowing in the after effects of emotional bonding a man is feeling stressed and in need of some independence
What NOT To Do
This is by far the hardest part for us women. We like to make up all kinds of stories in our heads and try to explain why he is doing what he is doing or how we can fix it or what it all means. I know this part is not easy. Most will tell you to get out and go have fun with friends, or pick up a hobby or do something to get your mind off it. Although this is great advice, to be honest it doesn’t really work for me.
Some of us, especially those with anxious attachments are going to obsess so telling me not to obsess is like telling me not to breathe. Not going to happen. So, instead I try to minimize my obsessions and thoughts and replace them with more positive thoughts.
This time, instead of thinking (even though I did think it at times) everything was over, he was going to disappear and I’d never hear from him again I told myself, “He would never do that” or “I’m sure everything is fine”.
Compared to how I used to obsess in the past I am way better. Changing your thoughts takes time and you can’t just magically turn everything you think into a happy, positive, non-worrying thought overnight.
Although I did obsess a bit, I was proud of myself for not totally freaking out and I was proud of the fact that the anxiety was not as bad as it used to be. Life is about the journey and the progress we make along the way. Recognize this.
Imagine the worst
This is similar to worrying and can not only destroy your peace of mind but can also destroy your relationship if you let it.
A word of caution here: if you are dating a man who exhibits avoidant characteristics be prepared because the worst probably will happen. Men who are avoidant are not secure and they cannot reassure you or be there for you or waylay your fears.
I dated an avoidant man for two and a half years and it was absolute torture. He would disappear, then show up, then disappear again. Everything was about his timeline and his comfort zone. It was utterly exhausting. But, being with him taught me to sit with my fears and quell them little by little.
Take a look at your guy’s behaviors and consider reading this book or one of my prior blog posts if you think he may be an avoidant type: Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment or Why Attachment Styles Can Make or Break Your Success In Love
If the guy you are dating is avoidant then you will be in a constantly abnormal rubber band cycle and I suggest you do some soul searching and figure out why you would want someone like that in the first place.
If you are with a normal, secure guy then he will ebb and flow out of the relationship and imagining the worst is not going to help you feel good about things and can eat away at the relationship from the inside out.
Imagining the worst really means that you don’t value yourself or what you have to offer or that if he leaves you then you won’t be okay. Realize that if he disappears and doesn’t come back then he isn’t someone you want to be with and he isn’t someone who cares about your feelings.
I have had my heart broken more times than I can count and although it may seem like it, for the most part you don’t actually die from a broken heart. The worst that can happen is that he doesn’t come back and if that happens know that you will be okay. Actually, you will probably be better off in the long run.
Nag him when he comes back
To be honest, when he did show back up I was a little pissed. Certainly he KNEW he was going somewhere that he might not have cell service or wi-fi and certainly he could have taken like 30 seconds to tell me this, right?
However, before saying anything I realized communicating these types of (what to him are unimportant) details is not his strong suit and never has been. Do I really want to say something about his inability to think about me and my needs? Nope. Bad idea. So, I didn’t say a word about the fact that it had been nearly five days since we spoke and that he didn’t even bring up the fact that he could have told me ahead of time (because this part may or may not be true since I don’t know his job 100%).
What I did say when he said there was no cell service was, “Okay, then I’ll stop worrying, but I won’t stop missing you!” No drama. No attacks. No nagging. I was happy to hear from him and in fact, I was. In the scheme of things you need to determine what are deal breakers and what are not and what are specific boundaries you have and what you can let slide.
The next thing he did was send me a picture of him out in nature in some amazingly beautiful scenario. I thought to myself, “Seriously dude-doesn’t look like you’re working too hard” but did I say that? Nope! I said, “I love it when you send me pictures, makes me feel all happy”.
Bam….I got two more pictures over the next few hours and a happy boyfriend (or so I assume) that wasn’t made to feel stressed over his need to take some space, do his job and not be accountable to me 100% of the time. Nagging will get more withdrawal. Praise and admiration will get you more attention (as long as it’s authentic and you don’t go overboard).
Take It Personally
When your guy disappears for a day or two don’t take it personally. Now, this can be a fine line you have to walk because there is giving him space and him just being a jerk. The amount of time and space they are allowed to take also differs depending on the stage of your relationship.
If you have just starting dating (and I’m talking only a couple of dates) I would give him NO MORE than five days unless he has been very clear about his situation, where he is and what he is looking for. If a guy starts going a week without talking to you then, in my opinion, he isn’t all that interested so why do you want to keep after him anyway?
After our first date my (now) boyfriend texted me on the way home and made plans to see me the following day. Guys do what they want. Remember this.
If you are in the “not yet committed” but moving towards something stage you need to play this one very carefully. If you are pushy you will turn him off but if you put up no boundaries then you may lose his respect and he may not see you as something valuable.
I have to admit I did terribly during this stage. My guy would often disappear for a few days and pop back up and for the most part I would see him when he asked because I knew his time was extremely limited and if I didn’t spend as much with him as I could it would be difficult to bond. Assess his situation. Be willing to be flexible, but not walked all over.
If he is busy with work and doesn’t text you as much don’t bombard him with texts, ask him if everything is okay, sulk or assume he doesn’t want to talk to you. When guys are focused on something they have laser sharp focus and it isn’t about you. Don’t take it personally.
If you are in a committed relationship then you can discuss these things more openly and easily. By this time you should know him, his communication patterns and his quirks a little better. If he has never given you a reason to doubt him then don’t doubt him. Never assume everything is over the minute he goes two days without contacting you. Most of those fears are probably based on prior experiences, prior relationships and your own insecurities.
What TO Do
Be yourself. Acknowledge your fears and insecurities. Learn to sit with your anxieties and learn some skills so they don’t control your life. For the first time in my life I am sharing my fears with my partner but I’m careful not to dump everything on him every time I feel scared.
If going out with friends helps, then do that. If you need to journal or talk or run or get away for a few days then do that. No one can tell you what’s right for you or what works best and I’m certainly not going to try. I can only tell you what works for me and hope that my experiences shed some light on your struggles so you know you aren’t alone.
For me, being with a securely attached individual has made all the difference. Every time he shows back up and everything is fine I become a little more reassured and realize that I can’t keep putting all my old baggage onto him or the relationship.
Try to recognize what issues are yours and what are his. Take responsibility for your own, for dealing with them and fixing them. Share your fears and insecurities, but don’t lay them on him every ten minutes or expect him to fix them.
Accept yourself and decide that you deserve love and try your very hardest to imagine the best outcome. Continue doing this and over time things will change for you my friend. I promise.