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How to Handle the Dreaded Pull Back

Ask the Cyberdating Expert Radio ShowOne of our most popular dating advice blog posts, What to Do When He Pulls Back, is still getting a lot of comments.

I get it that so many of you are in such pain and don’t understand it when things are going great, why your boyfriend will disappear, call you less, stop texting, or even take the more drastic action of breaking up.

Our recent comment comes from A. As a dating expert and coach, I can tell you that she’s not alone. Read her relationship problem and feel free to comment.

Dear Julie

Wow! I’ve been researching the web for answers for about a month now and it seems like your article just answered all of my questions.

I’ve dated a guy for 3 months. It seems like he was the one and made me feel like I was the one too. He never said “I love you” but I felt like he was in love… He was texting me at least twice a day, we saw each other every 2 weeks (we had a long distance relationship and he had his son every other week).

He wrote me a beautiful birthday card, I met his son and BAM, a week later, he left just saying he was scared and that maybe, he didn’t love me enough to continue in this relationship. I asked to discuss more but he just disappeared.

Note: he is also getting through some stressful times at work + his last relationship with his son’s mom ended very badly.

A month later, I still haven’t heard from him but I still think he loves me and made a big mistake. I know it was stressful for him and he probably just was overwhelmed. It was a big deal for him to introduce me to his son as well.

Anyways. I am still hopeful. What do you think? Can he realize that it was all about stress? How long can it take? I am slowly moving on but he was “my man” and I still feel that our story is not over…

Thanks 🙂

Dear A.

I’m sorry to hear that you’re guy had to pull back and couldn’t handle a serious relationship with you. Timing is always an important factor in relationships. The trick is to meet the right person at the right time and have a relationship move forward effortlessly.

Unfortunately it’s often not the case. Either someone is in transition from a previous relationship, has work issues that are higher on the totem pole than a relationship, or needs space. You might be the right person at the wrong time. I can’t tell you that for sure, as I’ve never met nor spoken with your now ex-boyfriend.

What I can tell you is that men often need space and time to figure things out without having outside pressure. Also, three months is a critical time for all relationships. I call it the first trimester of love. This is when the honeymoon phase takes place and both  men and women reanalyze their relationship statuses at 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, and one year. Three months is probably the most frequent time that I see people breaking up, deciding they don’t want to step it up to a more serious stage, which does include agreeing to be in a committed relationship, saying “I love you,” and more of a groove.

When a man says “I love you,” outside of the bedroom and afterglow of sex, it’s really a big deal to them. They project to the future and if they aren’t ready, they’ll disappear if they think that’s what you want.

That being said, if he comes to his senses and realizes what a prize you are, he’ll come back. If he said he was scared, he was being authentic and genuine. The guy has his hands full!

The big questions is, will you still be available if and when he returns? At this point, you need to start dating and maybe you’ll even meet someone who’s a better match for you. This can’t happen if you’re pining away for the guy you adored for just three months.

Go and be confident and become available for love. The right person will find you. Your guy just isn’t ready for anything serious, or isn’t ready for anything serious with you. (sorry)

Be grateful that you could have such strong feelings for someone, but if he comes back, it will be because you aren’t needy and he is ready. For now, there’s no reason to chase him or expect your guy to magically come back. There’s no calendar date. He may even meet someone else, but if his feelings for you were stronger, he will realize that by comparison.

I know it hurts. I’ve been there and can tell you, often they do come back. It comes down to a question of timing.

Perhaps if and when he resurfaces, you’ll no longer have a relationship status of “single.” No matter what, don’t chase him. Live your fabulous life and surround yourself with friends and activities. If it’s meant to be, it will be, but he will need to be the one to realize that.

Wishing you much love and joy in cyberspace, or wherever you may roam.


Follow dating expert @JulieSpira on Twitter and sign up for the Free Weekly Flirt newsletter for relationship advice.


Julie Spira is America's Top Online Dating Expert. She's an award-winning dating coach who's been helping singles find love online for 25+ years. Follow @JulieSpira on IG.

2 thoughts on “How to Handle the Dreaded Pull Back”

  1. Hi Julie,

    I met an amazing man online. We match in every way possible and very quickly we progressed to boyfriend/girlfriend status (per his request) I get attached quickly and to my surprise he seems to attach the same way or maybe faster if that’s possible. Anyway we have amazing chemistry in person and talk for hours about everything and anything major and important. He wants to go on a cruise with me next month for his birthday, he wants me to move in with him at the end of this year when my lease is up. We haven’t met each others kids yet but we have discussed it several times. We have said how we finally found the partner we have waited 40 years to meet. ( we are the same age)
    Anyway 5 weeks ago he found out that his high school sweetheart’s 7 year old son might actually be his son. Unfortunately also 2 days before this he decided to quit his job due to some major issues going on there. He didn’t have another job lined up but wasn’t concerned as he makes 6 figures as an electrical engineer and felt confident he could find another job quickly. Back to the other part, He has been in contact with her intermittently over the years saying he thought she just needed emotional support because this boy has leukemia. Well the child is not doing well and is end of life now so she told him a couple things making him believe he is the boy’s father. She refused to come out and just tell him but would say “I need to tell you in person “ On father’s day he flew out of state to go see the boy. He told me all about his thoughts, fears and confused feelings. It was from this moment everything began to change with him and therefore with us. He started distancing himself. Telling me he was sorry his head is in another place and it wasn’t my fault etc. He stayed there for a week. When he came back he was a mess. Not himself at all super quiet and withdrawn. Not joking or happy or talking. He didn’t tell me when he got home but did reply when I checked in with him. We text briefly which was unusual and then he said he really wants to see me but many things have changed in his life and right now he doesn’t know what he will do. Just go day by day. I checked in on him the next morning and he was a mess. Told me he was so sorry I didn’t deserve someone like him and when I tried to talk he said he needed to be alone and would let me know when he was ready. I was in a panic about what happened when he went to Pennsylvania to see his ex and the ill child. I was thinking the worst like he cheated on me. Anyway later the same night he text me that he wanted me there with him and he was at home and drunk. It was the first time I went to his house. I wasn’t sure what to expect but he didn’t really seem drunk a couple hours later when I drove there. We went out to eat he told me about the trip and how she was playing games with him. She refused to tell him whether or not he is the boy’s father (she was married at the time they had an affair- he was single and she was not) He said she would tell him things like “you should have come here immediately when I told you to come here” “you don’t care about me or the boy” all that. The boy is on isolation since he has no immunity due to the chemo and currently has pneumonia. His mom was staying with him in the hospital so she also was isolated. I didn’t have to ask if he cheated on me and for that I was relieved. Anyway he was clearly distracted and distressed and distant but still talking to me about moving in with him and our cruise next month and how I am the only one he trusts and how he needs me all of that. We went back to his house a few hours. We spent a lot of quiet time holding each other. I didn’t press him with questions or try to make him talk at all. I just wanted to be there for him and with him. We talked about seeing each other again a few days later. He said he was due to come see me since I drove to him the last 2 times. He told me to text when I got home and he was supper worried because I had to work early in the morning. I told him when I got home but he didn’t answer but I wasn’t worried because he was exhausted hadn’t been sleeping or eating and told me he had nightmares the night before etc. He said his life fell apart overnight. I text him noon the next day just checking in because he never read my I got home text. He responded saying he went to his daughter’s autism therapy meeting and now he was looking for a therapist for himself. That was the last thing he said to me. I have text and called a few times in the past 4 weeks and my texts are only delivered and not read. Phone rings and then goes to voicemail. I drove past his house a couple times once he was home and once he wasn’t. His dad lives with him so he is not alone thankfully. I am so worried about him and of course I miss him like crazy. I am scared he just left me even though that doesn’t seem like something he would do. He seems very ok with breaking up or voicing his feelings good or bad. I am trying to just keeping going with my life take care of my kids and my needs. I just wonder assuming he is ignoring me because he is deeply depressed does that mean he will come back whenever he gets things back together?

  2. Hi Nicole,

    I’m sorry for the pain you’re going through, and it’s not fun when someone puts the brakes on your relationship.

    It sounds like he’s got a lot to process, and this you cannot control.

    While this is going on, he’s unable to have a relationship, or one with you.

    Since both you, or I have no idea what he’s thinking, you shouldn’t put your life on hold. It appears he has blocked you (unread texts and one ring then going straight to voicemail) are indicators of being blocked.

    My best advice is to start dating, and to take it slow. Your relationship sped quickly on a fast track, but did you really know each other? Take the time to build a foundation when you meet someone new. Often relationships that progress very quickly crash and burn.

    Start dating again, and be careful before defining the relationship.


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