What to Do When He Pulls Back : Cyber Dating Expert
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What to Do When He Pulls Back


aWhat to do when he pulls backDating issues seem to be coming in themes these days.

In the past week, three women have come to me with the same dating dilemma. They’ve met terrific guys online. One on OkCupid, another on Tinder, and one on JDate. All three men are super-successful and are very driven in their careers. They’re the guys who are too busy to be players and truly want to be in a monogamous relationship.

In all three scenarios, the men have asked the woman for exclusivity. Sounds great, right? Well, not exactly.

One woman has been dating a terrific guy, whom she met on Tinder. After six weeks they had the conversation about becoming exclusive. They both projected to the future. The problem is, she’s lower on the totem pole, as his work is a priority. The more she tried to spend time with him and fill his calendar with fun events, the more he pulled away. Eventually, he started spending weekends without her, even though there was no one else he was interested in.

The second woman met a great guy on OkCupid, whom she thinks is her soul mate. They’ve both said they’re in love with each other, but after six months of dating, he still focuses on his work and children on the weekends. The more frustrated she gets with the situation, the more distant he becomes. She sees a future with him, someday. But today, she’s walking on eggshells. What should she do?

The third woman met a fabulous guy on JDate. He told her on the second date that he thought he was falling in love with her and saw her in his future. He wanted to see her every night, until one day when he stopped returning her calls and texts. She’s devastated. She thought he was ‘the one.’

If you can relate to any of these situations, you’re not alone.

All three of these guys were building their castles and were defining their success as a man based upon their career success. While juggling children from a prior marriage, a busy career, and girlfriend, the girlfriend ended up in last place. It wasn’t that these guys weren’t crazy about the women they adored. They would do anything for them… if it was on their schedule. They were doing the pull back and these women were hurting at the sudden change of heart.

Between rebuilding from a divorce, keeping a family together, maintaining a career path to provide for financial success for the women, they couldn’t juggle it all. The more the women pushed to be with them, the more they pulled away. It’s the ever-so-common pull back and it’s gut-wrenchingly painful when it’s happens to you.

Ladies: When guys are in work mode, you’ll probably hear from them less.

There’s no need to stress and think it’s over.

My suggestion to all three of them, and to you if this is happening in your life, was to let them build their castle. Be at their side when it’s convenient for you. Don’t send text messages asking what’s wrong, or you’ll run the risk of pushing him away, period. No guy wants to feel like he’s dating his nagging ex-wife. Also, when a guy starts to fall in love with you, he gets scared. There are a lot of reasons for this. Before they make that commitment that seems to be permanent, they might want to view other profiles of singles on a dating site, even if they have no desire to go out on a date. They may fear never having sex with another woman again. A lot of thoughts go through their minds. As they’re processing all of these emotions, they often pull away.

I know it doesn’t seem right. If he’s crazy about you, he should want to be with you, right? Women are built to multitask. It’s in their DNA. Men are most often single focused, and when they’re in career mode, they’re thinking about work and closing the next deal or hoping to get a raise. When they’re with their kids, they’re in parent mode. When they’re with you, they’ll adore every moment of being with you.

Understand that you’re not playing a game. You’re just letting the man lead, which is in their DNA. If you ever feel that your needs aren’t being met at all, then by all means, have a conversation about it, but don’t beat it to death or give ultimatums.  It’s your decision to stay in any relationship. Men will come and go as rubber bands and often they’ll just need the space to be in their caves from time-to-time.  It’s really OK, if they come back to you. In time, your relationship will develop into a groove and you won’t have to worry if he forgets to send you a good morning text. Perhaps he’s just busy. It doesn’t mean you’re not on his mind. Give him his space and if you truly are ‘the one,’ he’ll return without even realizing he’s been gone.

Have you experienced the pull-back in a relationship? Your comments are welcome.

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

Julie Spira is America’s Top Online Dating Expert and the founder of CyberDatingExpert.com. She was an early adopter of online dating and has been helping singles find love online for 20 years. For more dating advice follow @JulieSpira on Twitter and sign up for the free Weekly Flirt newsletter.

Photo credit: Fotolia

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13 Responses to “What to Do When He Pulls Back”

  1. Ursula on May 8th, 2014 5:03 pm

    Yep. I just dealt with this and realized the same conclusion – men are singularly focused and need space to focus on “their mission at hand”. Once I realized that he was just juggling a lot, I wasn’t insulted by it, I just gave him space.

  2. Julie Spira on May 9th, 2014 4:39 pm

    Thanks for commenting Ursula.

    You’re certainly not alone with this issue. It can happen either way with the woman pulling back when she gets close as well. Hopefully others will take the advice and give their partner the space.

  3. Michele on November 6th, 2014 11:30 pm

    How do we differentiate this behavior of pulling back for reasons of focusing on something important in his life (and trusting that he will come back to me when he is ready), from the 12 signs that a relationship is on its way out?

  4. Harriet on February 20th, 2015 4:43 am


    I have the same issue. I have been on ten and more dates with this guy, we both agreed to see how things go. We both admitted we are into eachother and we are not dating other people, however- we are not exclusive.

    He had suddenly pulled away without warning after consistently talking for 6 weeks or so.

    I am in agony right now as everything was going so well. I know men lie, but why tell me you see a future with me when he didn’t mean it!?

  5. Julie Spira on May 6th, 2015 8:40 pm

    Hello Harriet,

    In the world of dating, it takes time to get to know someone.

    Six weeks can be a typical time for someone to decide to move a relationship forward to become exclusive.

    I’m so sorry that you’re in pain, but did he really lie? You both decided to give it a shot and for some reason he wasn’t sure. Now I haven’t spoken to your guy so I don’t know if he pulled away because he was getting too close or pulled away because he met someone else or didn’t think you had enough in common to take it to the next level.

    My best advice is to move forward with your life and start dating again. You might be surprised to find someone you even like more than the guy who did the pull-back.

    However, you should know that sometimes guys need their space, go into their caves, and need time to decide if they miss you or not. The worst thing you can do if this is the case, is to chase after him. Just live your life and be open to meeting someone else and realize that this is the typical course of dating. If he comes back, it means he took the time to think about a deeper relationship with you.

    Keep me posted and do something special for yourself. Exercise or go to a movie with a friend.

    By the time he comes back, if he comes back, you might no longer be interested in him.

  6. Laura on June 2nd, 2015 7:44 am

    I have been dating this guy for about a month & 2 weeks into our dating he lost his job suddenly. He began to be more distant and I know he needs to find a job. SO he did send me a text saying sorry he was distant, that finding a job was his #1 he appreciated that I understand & would be available when he could be. I respected that and thought I was helping by giving him leads to another position. Now he seems more distant even though he tell me he crushed job interview and has been asked to an in person interview next week. I have decided to stop texting him & wait for him to come to me, as hard as it is I feel he will come back am I crazy? Thanks for any words of wisdom!

  7. Antonio on October 24th, 2015 9:26 am

    Harriet, the parragraph where Julie says that we guys need time to go into our caves, I would suggest you copy and read as often as you can. It is very difficult to find someone you can relate to. If you have gone to 10 on more dates, this guy is into you. We men just don’t want to give up our freedom and don’t want to be tied down. Even if he is interested in meeting and going out with other people, he will time and again come back to you because you are the one he feels comfy with and can talk to. That for a man is priceless, please don’t ruin your opportunity by being anxious and making him feel that what he gets you is not enough. Best regards.

  8. Amanda on October 25th, 2015 9:03 am

    My question is what do you do when he does start to come back a bit? How do you handle it without making him feel like he needs to withdraw again? And when he does pull back, should you not contact at all, not even a “hope you have a good day?”

  9. Julie Spira on December 7th, 2015 4:25 pm

    If your guy comes back from his cave or his alone time, welcome him with open arms. Don’t start asking too many questions as to why he withdrew from you, because it’s a natural instinct for a man to pull away, even when he feels he’s falling more in love with you. Once you understand this and he feels safe, he will be back if you have a strong bond. Give him some time to miss you for a few days and know that he might be overwhelmed with a work project and can’t juggle that and you at the same time. I know it’s upsetting and you will wonder what you did wrong. You probably didn’t do anything wrong, unless he started feeling smothered by you. Men fall in love with you when they’re apart and women fall in love with men when they are together. Take a deep breath and do something fun for yourself. Grab a few girlfriends and go out and enjoy your night. If it’s meant to be, he will find his way back to you. Wishing you much love and joy in cyberspace, or wherever you may roam. xo Julie http://twitter.com/juliespira

  10. Julie Spira on December 7th, 2015 4:27 pm

    Thank you for chiming in Antonio with the man’s perspective. So very well said.


  11. Jean on December 8th, 2015 3:17 am

    Hi l met a guy a year ago we saw each other casually for 5-6 months then he took a job (mining) across state. We have stayed in contact for 6 months we would talk and text often about all sorts of things and our feelings grew which included future plans. He quite suddenly stopped with the frequent contact when l texted him (twice over two weeks light hearted stuff. l hardly ever initiated contact) he answered immediately however he wasn’t as motivated as he was before. I know it’s not me but my God it’s so hard to let go of someone who encourages you to trust that the feeling is mutual, then when you surrender to it he completely backs off? l’m getting the slow fade and I’ve given him nothing but space the hard fact is some people are unnecessarily hurtful because they either realise they don’t feel the same way. or worse never did and disappear without explanation so you have to work it out as though you were complete strangers l just don’t get it..

  12. Tina on December 8th, 2015 6:32 pm

    It’s very upsetting. I guess after a week of talking for hours, laughing, and getting along great and getting to know each other, if he pulls away, he won’t be back. It hurts. If I knew I didn’t do anything to push him away especially after the message I sent, I would have been okay. Why can’t guys just come out and say, “hey, I need some space???”

  13. Ely on December 17th, 2015 12:26 pm

    Thank you for the great advice… I am dealing with that myself. Met a guy 1 year ago and there was a deep connection between us, but we were both in relationships and so we did not talk to each other about our feelings. Also, we lived far from each other so we kept in touch by email and texting. A few weeks ago we “confessed” that we were attracted to each other and we have been talking a lot since… We saw each other for a few days last week and it was amazing, but also very stressful because we were both in the same town for work that was hard on both of us. Now I feel he is pulling away a little (we are not talking as often as before), but still texting me everyday (without me having to initiate contact) and calling me “baby” and “love”. I guess he just needs time and space to figure out how he feels about all that… so I’m definitely going to enjoy this “me” time, trying to trust my intuition and giving him the space he obviously needs. At least I’m happy to see that it’s normal for men to do so! :)

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