Why Men Pull Away.

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pull away

Men aren’t the only ones who pull away—women also do it.

I am focusing on the reason behind men’s withdrawal from relationships.

One of the main reasons men and women fight so much is because we do not understand each other as a species.

We think that because we are both human, we must think the same way as one another. Not true. The male and female brains are wired differently and this is what causes the most confusion.

This leads to hurt, anger and ultimately disagreements and separation.

The relationship can be in the very first throes, a committed partnership, or even marriage; regardless, men will still feel the need to pull away from time to time.

As soon as the shift happens, we feel it instantly. It can be something as simple as a change in behaviour, or they may stop communicating altogether. It as at this stage that us women feel hurt slightly and feel the need to move closer toward the male. We may even chase them determined to find out what the problem is.

The more we worry and fuss over him, the more likely he is to withdraw further.

At this stage, the best thing to do is to stay neutral, not moving too close and neither too far from him. This period is often described as a the male needing to retreat to his cave, somewhere where he feels safe to filter through everything that’s on his mind.

Basically, he just needs a time out from everything.

This doesn’t mean that he’s stopped thinking of you, loving you or that he wants to break up. Generally, he just wants his alone time to figure where he’s at in life.

The biggest mistake women make here wanting to follow their man and reassure themselves that all is well.

Sometimes, we may want to continue the disagreement or conversation thinking we can huddle in the cave next to him.

Bad, bad move.

When a guy has retreated the most important thing he craves is a little space. By not allowing him that time alone he will very quickly feel suffocated and will crawl even further into his cave. Now the danger is that he will start to feel overwhelmed, unable to think straight and the chance of resolve is now much lower.

Here, is where the secret lies.

Quite simply, allow him to retreat, safely.

There should be no forcing him out by drama, blackmail, or game playing. The most loving thing you can do is to simply allow.

We all deal with things differently and although it can hurt to leave him there, he is most likely going through the same internal conflicts, just in a slightly different way.

If the relationship is in the very early stages, after one or two dates, it may be better to do nothing at this stage.

Constantly calling and texting might only push him further away. If it is a more serious relationship, then simply letting him know that you are there waiting when he is ready to talk again can be enough for him. Some men may even allow you in, but very gently.

The process is likened to a rubber band.

“A rubber band is the perfect metaphor to understand the male intimacy cycle. Men instinctively feel this urge to pull away. It is not a decision or choice. It just happens. It is a natural cycle. As men experience this instinctive urge to fulfill their need for independence or autonomy, they pull away much like a rubber band that is stretched to its limit. Like the rubber band, a man has nowhere else to go but back. When he has done so, like the rubber band, he will return with a lot of power and spring. If a woman expects her partner to be close and intimate all of the time, the rubber band will turn limp and flaccid. His power and strength, like the rubber band, is gone. Simply put, if a woman quietly accepts her partner’s instinctive urge to pull away, she will be rewarded by his eventual return.” ~ John Gray

This theory is not for men alone, women also retreat regularly.

However, when a female retreats it is likely because she is hurt, angry, or feels betrayed.

Women often pull away because there is something wrong within their relationship, whereas men will pull away just because they need to constantly adjust to the direction they are heading. Because women pull away when there is a problem, they automatically think the same must be said for men, when it is likely just the male’s need for a little space.

There is scientific evidence to back up this theory, as we couple we release a hormone called Oxytocin.

Oxytocin decreases females stress levels but it lowers testosterone in males which causes them to experience higher stress levels.

Due to this imbalance, too much bonding too soon can cause a man to feel slightly uncomfortable, as he constantly adjusts to his new setting. As the male withdraws, his testosterone raises and so he feels more balanced and is then likely to return happier than before.

Simply, men are more likely to need a little more space and freedom than females within their relationship.

Freedom is something that both men and women need, and it is not something that we should fear.

When we allow our partners to enjoy being themselves and understand they need a safe space to do this, we have a far greater chance of a balanced, successful relationship.

Ideally, there should be no control, jealousy, or insecurity on either part. As soon as any of these things come into play, resentment can build up and this will cause one or both partners to start to withdraw.

We all need to feel secure that we can be who we want to be, without being forced to behave in a manner that doesn’t feel natural.

Appreciate ourselves, know that we are worthy, enjoy our own company and that of others and know that if the relationship is healthy and feels good for both parties, we will both naturally distance ourselves and pull back together regularly in order to provide the right balance to grow together.

If the other partner fails to bounce back, sadly this is just part of life, we just have to accept their decision and know that we deserve happiness. Maybe this particular relationship was just not right for us at this time, for whatever reason.

Chasing after something that just wasn’t meant to be is one of the most soul-destroying things we can to do ourselves. Instead of focusing on the negative, we must instead try to love—love ourselves a little more than before.

“Happiness is like a butterfly; the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.” ~ Henry David Thoreau



Relephant Reads: 

The One thing that Women are Afraid of in Men (it’s not Aggression) 

Ravishing Ishtar: Reclaiming Masculine & Feminine Fierceness. 

A Call to the Sacred Masculine: Ten Daring Invitations from the Divine Feminine.



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About Alex Myles

Alex Sandra Myles is qualified as a Yoga teacher, Reiki Master, Teacher of Tibetan Meditation, Dragon Magic and a Spiritual coach to name just a few. Alex has no intention to teach others on a formal basis for many years to come. Instead she is collecting qualifications along with life’s lessons. One day, when the time is right, Alex will set up a quaint studio, in a quirky crooked building where she will breathe and appreciate the slowness of those days as life is just way too busy right now! Reading and writing has always been one of Alex’ passions. With one book already published, she intends to have  a collection out there, each book different, yet with the same intention of helping others along the more difficult paths in life. Alex likes to consider herself as a free spirit rather than a commitment-phoebe. Trying to live as aligned to a Buddhist lifestyle as is possible in this day and age, she just does not believe in ‘owning’ anything or anyone. Based on the theory that we ‘cannot lose someone that was not ours to lose’ she flails through life finding joy and magic in the most unexpected places. Mother to one 20 year old daughter and three adorable pups appreciates that some of the best moments in life are the 6am forest walks watching the dogs run, play and interact with one another and with nature.


24 Responses to “Why Men Pull Away.”

  1. Aisling says:

    Is this not just a summary of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus?

    • pumpkinsworld13 says:

      The quote that is inserted is by the author of that book, John Gray, and this is the main theme of the article. Other than that basic theory, which is one that is believed by many, not just John Gray, the rest is all my own thoughts and beliefs on the subject.

  2. Lorna says:

    Thank you for this Alex….it really made me think about the way I react to male behaviour and to understand my own needs as well. I will be retreating, when necessary, to my own cave which is walking in the woods at 6am with my dog…and have faith that Time will rebalance those Oxytocin levels. 🙂

    • Why is it that men get to retreat when the tuff gets going? Sure I want to run away from my problems in life too but I don’t.ever! I don’t need to find an excuse or make one because I get scared, then retreat like I’m some little baby. No one has that right, put ur big boy/girl pants on and be a responsible, and dedicated person to the choices you made with ur life. I am so sick of people retreating because they get scared. Get over yourselves.

      • Regan says:

        You clearly didn't read the article, as you mention it isn't right that "men get to retreat when the tuff gets going", while the author of the article clearly states, "Women often pull away because there is something wrong within their relationship, whereas men will pull away just because they need to constantly adjust to the direction they are heading. Because women pull away when there is a problem, they automatically think the same must be said for men, when it is likely just the male’s need for a little space."

        Meaning, men do not retreat because there is a problem, it is because of their nature/wiring and at times need to readjust.

  3. Falco says:

    "However, when a female retreats it is likely because she is hurt, angry or feels betrayed."

    It's not different in regards to these emotional reasons for men…because they are human. Men don't retreat simply because they inherently need space….that's a shallow summation of deeper involved issues.
    While it's true that men have more of a drive to engage adventure, test themselves in the world, and find a meaningful purpose and cause than women…it's a superficial summation to pigeon hole the reason a man pulls away…instead of being open and present, and exploring the deeper unique reasons that each of us as humans evades intimacy.

  4. Claire says:

    although I appreciate the advice, I’m also resentful that these articles are always about what the woman should do. What about the man also being conscious that his decision to pull back may not result in the woman closing in. In my case, it drives me away.

    THE WRONG thing for a guy to do with me is pull back without at least communicating that something is going on. Yes I know that we are from different planets and all of that but why is it always left to the woman to react or not react.

    How about a little advice to men that they’re pulling back on a good relationship may result in the woman feeling neglected and pulling away herself and retreating altogether.

    I’m going through this now we’ve been dating for one month and I’m feeling a slight pull back. Nothing major at the point but I’m noticing he’s not texting or calling like he used to.

    I haven’t said anything because I don’t think it warrants it. We usually text each night and yesterday he didn’t text so I reached out to say hello and that I hadn’t heard from him just checking in. He then replied time got away from him and I said okay.

    I accept that and again won’t make it an issue. I’m supposed to go over there tonight but am thinking about finding an excuse to cancel if this space thing is what’s going on with him them I don’t want to be chasing him or appear to be.

    I don’t like feeling confused about a man and when I, i retreat you got any advice for men about that?

  5. pumpkinsworld13 says:

    Hi Claire, Thank you for reading and I appreciate the comments you have made. There are many reasons why a man may pull back slightly. It may be that he is just very busy with other commitments, he may just not be the kind of guy that constantly texts/calls a lot, there are so many variables it is impossible to be entirely sure.

    Only he knows how he is feeling and it is impossible to second guess the reasons. The advise here that I would give (and this is my own personal opinion, everyone should do what feels right for them) is to ease the focus away from him and put it back onto yourself. Appreciate your own worth, keep yourself busy doing things that you enjoy, try to refrain from thinking about it all too much and remember that if he is the right guy for you, he will be in touch. No amount of texting or calling will change anything. If he does pull back too much, then do the same.

    Trust in your instinct. If something doesn't feel right, try not to force it. If you text or call him and he doesn't return your message, then resist the urge to contact him again. I know it can be very frustrating when this happens, but never see it as a reflection of who you are. It just means this person has not seen the true value in you and you deserve far better than that. We all do.

    While constant texting and calling without receiving very much back can gain their attention, it may not last for long. When a guy recognises he has found a woman that he wants to spend more time with and possibly commit to, generally speaking, he will keep regular contact.

    Appreciate that some guys just don't communicate a lot, the same as some women don't. Think about the qualities that you want from a man and question whether this person matches up to what you are looking for. Do not settle for less and do not ever let it make you feel that you are not good enough. If he has asked you to go over, then it may be that he has just been busy and there is nothing more to it. Trust how you feel about it and make your decision from there.

    Spend time doing the things you enjoy, catch up with friends, read a good book, go for a good long walk, watch your favourite movie, take up a new hobby, do whatever it takes to distract your mind temporarily. He may just need a little space and really, there is nothing wrong with that, as long as that is all that it is. If you feel this guy has lost interest or does not value you for who you are, then trust your gut feeling and be grateful for whatever good you have received from the meeting, say a silent thank you for the time spent and the lessons and turn all of your attentions to yourself. Realise that you never need someone else to validate you, make you happy, or make you feel worthwhile. You can do all of that for yourself.

    Thank you for your comments and look out for my next article inspired by your comments – how guys make us feel when they retreat 🙂

    All of this goes both ways as women too can do all of the above. This article was just focusing on one aspect of it.

  6. ALS says:

    I dated a textbook example of this article for many years, beating myself up everytime he retreated. He *did* have childhood & other traumas adding to his skittishness. Finely, I learned to let him be as needed, our relationship grew to better than ever. He even began putting in immense effort to not only do what he wanted/needed, but to fulfill MY wishes, too. This went through years, apart & together again, becoming very serious. The one thing I asked for? Honest ‘heads up’s’, rather than excuses & apologies AFTER he bolted unexpectedly for days at a time, leaving me angry, sad, worried…

    Sadly, even as a full-grown, responsible man-that was the only thing he could NEVER do. Why? I just needed to know he/WE were & he just needed time. I had no issue as long as it was honest. But, no. Never. I allowed him his game, over & over, excusing inexcusable behavior due to his ‘past’. That was until recently. At the height of our relationship, I finally felt confident, because he was showing true EFFORT. WITH his sweet talking. Everything was about as good as possible-I’m not being delusional, I spent literally, over a decade, grew from immature young adults, reconnecting as true adults, with this man & knew/know him inside out (so I thought)..I got to the point of just sensing when he was bothered, ready to go. After all this effort & time, finally getting *it*…with him exhibiting behaviors & saying things I’d never seen from him…at the point of clearly seeing what joy our relationship could evolve into..my world shattered. He ‘left me’ with a 3 sentence, nonsensical text msg, ignoring me since. What? ! I don’t get the refusal to be honest & communicate as adults?! *Especially* as that was the only adamant request asked of him, knowing that, regardless of his words-I’d respect them if they were honestly shared. But to ignore fundamental, human to human, basic kindness after such history? Leave me with a million questions, a need to close things out somehow, immense self-doubt, desire…hate & love-so many conflicting, devastating ideas & feelings to go over & over, in bed every night. Constantly wondering how I possibly broke this, yet hearing his last words to me..a very sincere ‘I love you’ , ringing in my ears.

    This cannot be considered acceptable due to one person’s higher testosterone levels. . Even with his extenuating circumstances, this departure went far beyond any excusable or understandable behavior, and it devastated me, causing me to question many things I thought were firm, honest beliefs. Nothing I had done or we had weathered warranted an abrupt-almost deliberately cruel departure. I get what so many people are saying here. We ‘get’ men need more space, but, many learn to use this as license to avoid painful conflicts or act horridly. It’s as much give & take as everything in love & some men take their fill, with no responsibility felt to give the most basic of human actions. Great article. Cut close.

    • Will says:

      @ ALS
      That's a really rough story… I'm sorry. In future, just because you 'get' that a man wants space doesn't mean you have to accept his behavior. Some men will do all kinds of ridiculous flip-flopping if their women will allow it. However, while nobody would agree with this guy's actions, the concept of 'excusable' doesn't really exist in the universe. A woman just broke my heart last weekend, in a way that to me is absolutely ridiculous and closed minded. But for some of the same reasons I was crazy about her, I'm not totally surprised how it played out. I get how bad it feels, but acceptance is the only way out.

      • Ana Shepard says:

        @Will-thanks for the kind words. I’m sorry to hear that you, too, have been through the wringer with something similiar. You’re right, there should *not* be any level of behavior that we’re uncomfortable with…not only that but behavior that is seriously disturbing & broken, not even remotely within the bounds of normality-that we should allow or give the ‘excusable ‘ pass to, because of whatever. Unfortunately, the heart wants what it wants & will twist things around in order to make behavior ‘acceptable’ enough to continue dealing with. In my case, even making him the sad, ‘victim’ of life’s lots, that I should nurse along until I ‘healed him’ (hahahaha). He still choses to ignore me rather than allowing me a say or rather, *the* say that I need in order to close this never-ending story out. That infuriates me. But, c’est la vie, and I have no choice, after being thrown abruptly into the freezing cold, deep end of the pool, but to swim out. That, I’m doing. If I know him…he’ll be back, all sweet words & hearts. This disgusts me to admit-but, I don’t know that I won’t accept him with open arms when he does, as sick as that is and *I KNOW* it is! Urrrgh!!! Why is it, that, there are those few ppl you’d follow straight to Hell just to get a 5 second fix of the ‘high’ they give you, rather than leave them be, and continue living in (relatively) Heavenly states?

  7. Will says:

    This is a great article; really clearly illustrated how women pull away for different reasons. I can think of times when I just wanted some space, and I couldn't understand why my partner couldn't sense this and give it to me. I didn't appreciate that she probably thought there was something wrong and that she could help me feel better. I can also remember times when my partner pulled away and I assumed she just wanted space herself, only to realize later that she was hurt and I should have addressed it.

  8. diane lewer says:

    thank you Alex I enjoyed your video And I love my own company But sometimes I would like a part time friend who is male to just share a movie or something more personal. But im happy to just be sometimes. as my home can get busy and noisy. I love my quiet time to mediation. or just in nature. thank you

  9. Deb says:

    I had a strong feeling for someone that I met on a dating site. He was witty and sharp. He came to meet me and it went well…he was a 2-hr. drive from me. It wasn’t so much an issue, we both felt….we kept calls and texts going. Soon, when I wouldn’t go to him on the lake (it was late and quite a drive at night), he began small, almost veiled pot-shots at me. It continued for one more text the next day, and I lowered the boom. Said that I was prob. falling in love with him and he was being hurtful…he immed. called and told me he “couldn’t do love with anyone.” “Could we just continue as we were?” I said not, that it would hurt too much. He turned on me and would never communicate again. Any thoughts?

    • Caveman says:

      He sounds like a toolbag. Some guys resort to using women they meet online in order to avoid intimacy. Stop looking for love online. Look for lifelong friends, and let life happen. It's not your fault, it's no ones fault. Blame is easy and makes sense of a very irrational thing. Love is madness, it's okay to be scared.

      I'm sorry for his behavior Deb. Good luck.

  10. Makan says:


  11. Divinehuntress says:

    If you need space, then say so. Tell me that you need time and space to think things through. If you pull away without saying anything, you may not see me when you come back. I have every right to think you lost interest if you just withdrew without explanation. Just a simple "I need to be alone right now" will do. That way I will go do my own things and later we can meet half way.

  12. candy says:

    if your man stood you up on your birthday because he wanted to retreat, can you still call that a healthy kind of retreat?

  13. Brandon says:

    Really interesting theory and scientific backup. I actually agree that human behaviors and emotions are largely influenced by hormones and chemicals. I am a biolochemistry student, and I have been taught this kind of things in class. It's quite interesting in my opinion how men and women differ emotionally just because we don't have the same hormones in our bodies. Just something to think about 🙂

  14. Jo Goddard says:

    “Women often pull away because there is something wrong within their relationship, whereas men will pull away just because they need to constantly adjust to the direction they are heading.”

    Oh please! I spent 15yrs tiptoeing around an uncommunicative man playing the same game I played with a sulky parent. It’s really just people not being able to ask respectfully for what they need. And to typify women’s response as drama, blackmail and game playing is really really unhelpful.

    I’m not buying this Mars and Venus thing. There’s no reliable science on different brain wiring whatsoever. It’s 20 years old and it’s been de-bunked by a lot of substantial new work too.

  15. lisalooeeli says:

    This is the best thing I have read today. I really needed to read this thank you.

  16. Give him some space and he’ll appreciate you for it. If you attempt to smother him when he pulls away, he’ll only pull further away and possibly disappear.

    It seems somewhat strange that men would want space at the exact time when a woman wants to get closer. But understanding how this works will drastically improve your ability to create the authentic, co-created relationship you want.

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