Why He “Pulled Away” — And How to Bring Him Back

why he pulled away

We’ve all been there. To hell and back that is.

We’ve all found ourselves caught in the throes of a new romantic connection that seemed so perfect in the beginning and then died out so suddenly that we were left reeling in the aftershocks and wondering what happened?

It usually goes something like this: We meet a man who seems so promising and full of potential in the beginning that we allow ourselves to get caught up in a whirlwind romance, one that has all the markings of a long term relationship.

He comes on like gangbusters, ardently pursuing and letting us know in a multitude of ways that he’s into us.

He calls, texts, drops by unexpectedly and makes no secret of the fact that he just can’t get enough of us.

In the early stages of a relationship like this it’s easy to get caught up in the moment. We start thinking ahead, looking at what a future with this person might be like and allowing ourselves to dive in head first.

And then suddenly he pulls away.

When this happens it can throw us into a tailspin, wondering what we did or said or didn’t do or didn’t say. Wondering how things that seemed so right turned out to be so wrong. We rack our brains trying to understand exactly what the problem is and more importantly how to fix it.

We can feel this man pulling away — even if he doesn’t come out and say it. All the signs are there. The calls slow down, the conversations get shorter, he seems distant or preoccupied, etc. — until he finally just goes AWOL. So what happened? Why did this man who started out pursuing so openly and ardently suddenly just disappear?

First let’s look at the reasons he did NOT pull away (so we can stop kidding ourselves and get back to the business of salvaging our relationships):

“He’s afraid:” This is one of the biggest misconceptions about why men pull away and one of the most dangerous. Why? Because it throws you into convincing behaviors that inevitably backfire. They backfire because you’re operating under the premise that he’s afraid of his feelings, afraid of being hurt. They backfire because in truth it’s not his own feelings he’s afraid of, it’s yours. If anything has him backpedaling at this juncture you can bet you’ve not only misread his signals but have responded to important cues by pushing harder (in that subtle, indirect way we women do — nudging, as I call it), thus pushing him further away. There is such a thing as too much too soon and if there’s anything he’s afraid of, that’s it.

“He’s been hurt:” This falls into the “he’s afraid” category in terms of defending someone’s reason for pulling away. And it makes sense doesn’t it? He’s been jerked around so badly in his past relationship/s that he’s understandably afraid to let it happen again. Right? So why aren’t you doing the same? Haven’t you been hurt too? Badly? But you’re not only not pulling away, you’re scrambling to figure out how to reel him back in. We convince ourselves that someone pulls away because he’s “afraid,” but this logic doesn’t hold up under scrutiny. That’s because it isn’t based on logic in the first place. Love is not logical. It’s not something we choose to take part in or not take part in at will. If we did, wouldn’t you just choose right here and now to stop loving him? The man whose own inaction is telling you he’s willing to risk losing you?

“No one’s ever shown him love like I have:” This is categorically untrue. While there may be something to the “no one has ever loved him like I do” part, it’s not the reason he’s pulled away. Unless you’re willing to look at the shadow side of that statement, in which case you better hope it’s untrue. If you’ve never been on the receiving end of one of those kinds of connections — where someone moved too fast, came on too strong, or tried too hard — consider yourself lucky. And if you have, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s awkward and uncomfortable. It’s usually a giant turn-off. And it replaces feelings of love with feelings of pity, which is one thing you do not want to happen. The minute you start trying to win someone over who’s already pulling away, you’re in danger of pushing them past the point of no return. This kind of behavior isn’t flattering. It’s smothering.

“He’s confused:” This one is probably true. But chances are good that it’s not his feelings of love and adoration that have him so perplexed. He’s probably wondering how such a fun, playful, lighthearted and carefree connection turned so quickly into a minefield of drama and expectation. If this is the case with you, your best course of action is to A: knock it off, and B: lighten up.

“He’s busy:” There’s probably a grain of truth in this one too. He may very well be busy. But people do what they want to do. They make time for what’s important to them. And they offer reassurances — pre-emptively — when time constraints interfere with connections they value. Ask yourself, “would he be too busy for (insert the name of some Hollywood starlet or Victoria Secret model he secretly lusts after)?” The answer — and you know it — is no.

“He found someone else:” This one is probably the hardest to stomach and yet if it’s true, the sad reality is that it didn’t cause him to pull away. His being open to that in the first place is the result of him already having pulled away. This one may also be the hardest one to recover from, but it is doable.

“He’s just not into you:” While this may be true now, it wasn’t always. He couldn’t “pull away” if he wasn’t into you in the first place, right? So the question there is what happened? And more importantly, what can you do to turn it around?

First of all chances are good that you were doing way more “pursuing” than you’re aware of. And because relationships follow the same laws of physics that everything else does, the only way to restore the equilibrium is through balancing it back out. You have to know what you’re doing wrong in order to right those behaviors and hopefully get things back on track.

Women are lot more indirect than men and a lot more in denial about what exactly constitutes “pursuit.” But that doesn’t mean we’re not doing it. And it doesn’t mean the men in our lives can’t see right through it.

We tend to think that anything short of throwing ourselves at someone is ok, especially in this day and age when it’s so easy to do Facebook drivebys, send random texts and pick up the phone just to say hello. And in a perfect world those are all fine. That’s how so many of us communicate these days. But if your love interest is already pulling away, the last thing you want to do is increase the behavior that caused him to withdraw in the first place.

By the way, “initiating contact” is just one form of pursuit. It seems to be the most popular, as well as the current buzz phrase with online psychics. The minute a client tells me that she’s stopped initiating contact (and using those very words), I know she’s been to too many psychics.

So what are other forms of pursuit that you want to be mindful of, so you can pull your own energy back in and balance out a connection that’s gone awry? My definition of pursuit in this context would be anything that’s designed to win your love interest over — no matter how casual, subtle or indirect.

And yes that’s often initiating contact. But it’s also posting social networking status updates in the hopes that he’ll see them (and thus you) in a positive light. It’s expressing feelings — not just love and affection but also anger, indignation, disappointment,etc. — anything that can translate as being so invested in him that his actions evoke an emotional response. It’s explaining, convincing, reassuring, apologizing, etc. — anything that’s designed to paint yourself in a certain light. Ever hear of the phrase “trying too hard?” That’s how this comes across. Asking for definition (“Where do I stand?”) If the answer to that one were favorable, I can promise you you wouldn’t need to ask.

And then there are the more damaging forms of pursuit, which invariably occur after he’s already shown clear signs of withdrawal. Delivering an ultimatum, which always fails. Withholding intimacy. This one also always fails because it registers as extortion and translates as pursuit. Unfriending him on the various social networking sites. Blocking his number. Hanging up on him or storming out and slamming the door behind you. Being “cold” or making a point of showing displeasure in him, even if you don’t say a word.

It may be hard to see these as pursuit as you’re in effect doing just the opposite. But who are we kidding here? This is really about showing him you mean business, that he’s going to have to step up if he wants another chance with you, or that he’s really gone and blown it this time. These are major pursuing gestures because they’re all designed to throw him into a panic and get him scrambling to win you back. And he knows it.

Men have had to learn to navigate around all of our subtle cues and hints and innuendos because we are so indirect. And all those little gestures get magnified and distorted until they turn into giant red flags and send your loved one running for cover. We get angry and are mystified when they don’t work, but let’s face it: they don’t work because they’re duplicitous.

Only one person ever pursues at a time in any relationship. So if he’s not, you can bet you are. The trick to turning it around is to not only trust that this is what’s happening, but to gather your own internal resources and pull them together rather than scattering them out into the Universe.

So with that in mind, what can you do to stop the merry-go-round, change this dynamic and get your man pulling back toward you?

Women always feel the need to “do something.” While men may be hard-wired to problem solve and fix things in the tangible outer world, women want to dive in and fix their relationships — long before they even are relationships. We’re so busy tweaking and fine-tuning our romantic connections that we end up short-circuiting them before we even get a chance to take them for a test drive.

The single most important (and effective) thing you can do when your man pulls away is this: nothing. That means not calling, texting, emailing etc. Not explaining yourself one last time. Not blocking or unfriending him. Not posting videos of you whooping it up in Cabo with all of your fabulous friends. Not trying to scare him into thinking he’s lost you. Not parading your hot new (male) friend in front of him. Not plopping his stuff unceremoniously on his doorstep in the dead of night. Not finding ways to bump into him unexpectedly. Not giving him the cold-shoulder when you really do bump into him unexpectedly. And so on. In other words: really and truly nothing. Nothing.

Before you say (as many clients before you have said): “But I don’t want to play games!” Consider this: This isn’t about playing games. This is the absence of games. All of the above — all of the nudging and hinting and explaining and reassuring and reacting and trying to elicit reactions in someone who’s already showing signs of withdrawal — those are games.

This is more about getting centered and reminding yourself that you are valuable and that your value extends to far beyond this man’s interest. It extends beyond whether he’s misinterpreted your intentions or returned your affections. It extends to fully understanding the concept of personal empowerment, which turns out to be the best aphrodisiac in the world.

It’s about trusting that he will circle back (and this is the beauty of doing nothing — he really will) as long as you pull your own energy in rather than letting it frantically dissipate into the ethers, which is what happens when you stop listening to your instincts and start allowing anxiety to govern your actions.

The reason this works is because pulling your energy back in (which does not by the way mean over-correcting, i.e., becoming  cold and indifferent) concentrates it into a magnetic force that will energetically pull him back toward you. He doesn’t have to know you’re pulling it in. He’ll respond to it energetically, just as you did when he pulled away in the first place.

Remember: if a man wants you, nothing will keep him away. And if he doesn’t want you, nothing will make him stay.

As long as you’ve not waited until it’s “too late” to pull things back into sync, meaning as long as you’re not guilty of completely chasing him away, pulling you own energy in will trigger a corresponding reaction in him and he will at the very least poke his head in in the not too distant future. How you handle that then will determine your chances for getting things back on track. But at that point it’s almost entirely in your hands.

 Melodie Sheppard


Why He Pulled Away



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13 comments on “Why He “Pulled Away” — And How to Bring Him Back

  1. Avatar

    This was great wisdom. I did exactly this and it worked as you said.

    1. Melodie

      Thank you for your kind words Carmela! I’m glad it was helpful for you!

  2. Avatar

    Thank you so much for responding. I just read the article and it makes perfect sense. I’ve been telling myself to focus on positive energy lately but my anxiety would take over. I have saved this article and will use it as a reference when the anxiety hits. I will work on only sending positive energy into the Universe now (as I try to do everynight before going to sleep) but will now do it all day, everyday. Thanks again!

  3. Avatar

    I met a wonderful guy about 6 weeks ago. We have gone out about 5 times now. The thing is, I haven’t heard from him for a week now. He was always the one to say how amazing I was, how happy and content he was and I mirrored him. I never said any of those things first. About 2 weeks ago, our communication slowed. I did bring it up and he said that things have been really stressful and things are fine and that if something was wrong he would tell me. We had tentative plans to meet last week, he then told me that day that he was exhausted and a lot of things to do ( which he specifically told me) and what my plans were for the weekend. I told him that I was kind of disappointed that he was rescheduling ( this was the second time it had happened the first time was work related) and that I had plans for the weekend. I basically asked him if we were on the same page and if not that’s ok and to let me know and if we were that would is great. (I know now I shouldn’t have said that) He responded later saying he was having a difficult time with the text and that he would talk to me soon. This was a week ago. I did send one more text apologizing for not being more supportive and that I probably added to his stress and that I do enjoy spending time with him. This was 5 days ago. Is he gone for good? I have been an emotional wreck wondering if I pushed him too far and am now angry for his lack of response but I have not tried to make any more contact. But how long do I wait until it’s “too late”?

    1. Melodie

      Hi Ashley, try not to see it as “waiting.” You don’t want to offer your sense of powerlessness up to the Universe no matter how anxious you’re feeling right now. See it as taking time and space for yourself rather than giving him time and space. It’s more involved than that but this point is so critical I can’t stress enough how important it is to shift things back into sync energetically. If you want more information on this concept, check out my article “The Waiting Game.” In the meantime see what you can do to get centered and not allow your anxiety to take over.. you may be able to speed things up if you can pull that off.

        1. Melodie

          wow thank you so much Malia… that means a lot to me coming from you xox

  4. Avatar

    Thankyou Melodie for this great advice! I really wish I had found this a few days ago, Im sure it would have stopped me reaching out to a guy I had started dating who seemed to be backing off. Unfortunately I think Ive messed things up further now by sending a text apologising for coming on too strong too soon. I guess i might have to mark this one down to experience and remember your words next time!

    1. Melodie

      You’re so welcome! Best thing you can do now is focus on you and move your energy in the opposite direction. It’s win-win in the end because it either brings him back or gets you one step closer to your next great romance. All the best!

  5. Avatar

    Thanks for this article. I am engaged; all of a sudden he has pulled away. I have practically thrown myself at him, shamelessly atalked him on social media (which angered him) to no avail. So I will stop and just do nothing. I feel better already. Here’s to hoping I didn’t chase him away for good.

    1. Melodie

      Hi Rose, you definitely want to pull your energy back in, especially if he’s pulled away. And you might consider reading my article “The Waiting Game” as I think that can help too… All the best to you Rose.

  6. Avatar

    Thank you very much of the very wise piece of writing. I´ve beeing a guy and everything seen to be so cool and perfect but just all of a sudden, he decides to pull away. I was more concerned about my dignity. However, ever since he stopped calling i´ve been wanting to send him an echo of my ‘”i;M so doing NOTHING about it” but on the other hand i.ve been also wanting to know if i was doing right.
    I’m so happy to read this article and find out that i am on the right track.

    I do care about him but , to me, my dignity comes first.

    1. Melodie

      Thank you so much for your kind words. I really appreciate your having taken the time to comment. It means a lot to me. You’re on the right track as far as holding back and if you get a chance, read my article “The Waiting Game” as it can help to speed things up. All the best Melodie

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