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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19 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! 🙂

  14. Amanda on January 27th, 2016 3:48 am

    I’ve been dating a guy for about 3 months now he is a great guy. He lives about 2 hours away. I’m struggling. He says good morning everyday and I tend to only text him when he texts me to allow him to to drive the contact. Even though we are in contact every day he doesn’t seem to be a planner. Do I leave him alone and let him plan or do I continue to do the same? He has in the most recent past said he’s missed me, thinking of me all of those wonderful things… And I’ve never asked him if things were ok or nagged him about his behavior. Lol. I think I’m just overthinking. Due to past relationships I’ve had. Afraid he’ll go away. Any advice?? And he’s got 3 kids and a job that keeps him busy also. He is very hands on. Another reason I’m interested. Thank you for your time 🙂

  15. Julie Spira on February 11th, 2016 8:29 am

    Hello Amanda,

    Three months is still a new relationship, but realize you are in a long-distance relationship if he lives 2 hours away. Traveling to see each other needs to be scheduled for a LDR to actually work. Don’t be afraid of having a conversation about your needs being met. Let him know you enjoy his company and ask if he’d like to go on an every other weekend schedule, where one of you drives to visit the other. If he can only see you on weekends where he doesn’t have his kids, then see if he can commit to spending time with you during those weekends. If he can’t commit to this, then he doesn’t have all ten toes into this relationship. It’s time to find someone who truly values spending time with you.

  16. Diwata on March 22nd, 2016 10:57 pm

    I met this guy online and started talking and flirting for a couple of months. He ‘s 8 hours behind my timezone, but were able to find time to talk whenever we can. I know he gets busy at work also and he travels a lot. I know he is interested in me and I am too with him. We are at our 5th month talking online and our usual routine suddenly changed. I tend to reach out to him first, and when I don’t send him message he won’t message me. I always see him online but never send me messages even to say hi. I just sent him good morning message last Saturday but our conversation was very short unlike what we had before. I don’t want to come out needy also as I might totally push him away. That’s why I decided to give him space. But until when? Has he lost interest in me? What should I do? Should I just move on? Or should I wait until he contacts me again? That if he ever contacts me again. But I really miss talking to him.

  17. Amanda on April 3rd, 2016 7:06 pm

    It’s now been 5 months we have been going very strong. Friday he apologized for being distant due to work and that he needed to get his thoughts together. Along with having lost a good employee. I last heard from him Friday. I called him Saturday left him a message the simple hey. How are you. Ttys. He didn’t respond. It’s Monday. No response at all. Things were good up until then. Is he taking space??? Do I just leave him alone??

  18. NARCISSE TAPLIN on April 24th, 2016 9:45 pm

    I’m glad to see this thread still going. It’s so true that men need their space and getting to know someone to find your groove in takes time. These moments should be cherished by both parties.

    Ladies, relax and be confident in who you are, first. Because if you’re not confident in yourself, you’re going to struggle with being confident in the relationship and especially when he needs space.

    Sometimes a guy needs space for no other reason but to recharge his masculine energy. And he needs that even if he’s married for 40 yrs.

    In dating, we seem to rush right past or through the “getting to know each other” phase which should be full of liberty for both parties. It is in our ability to be free to be ourselves that allows the other person to really get to know us. Not within limitations and expectations. Our expectations only set us up for a fall and unnecessary disappointments.

    I’ve been dating a guy, now, for 6 months (which for me is still getting to know). We are both finding our footing in this. When he first started spacing out, like many of you, I was like “what’s happening here?” But I had to find a way to acknowledge it that did not make him feel pressured, was not nagging and wouldn’t push him away. Eventually, what I learned, is that it simply was what he needed and had nothing to do with me. The only part of it that has to do with me is:

    1. Assessing his own feelings
    2. Wanting/needing to miss me
    3. Establishing a foundation for trust
    4. Needing to recharge his masculinity for himself, others and ME.

    What do I do while he’s gone?

    1. Occupy myself with business, family, chores, etc.
    2. Have FUN!
    3. Rest
    4. Depending on what’s going on, I may send him a text or leave a message (only if I feel a need to and it’s FOR/ABOUT “HIM” and has nothing to do with me. Or, I may just send a smiley emoji w/no expectation in return.
    5. I love him even in his absence.

    When he returns, I welcome him with love and peace as if he was never away because it’s not like we were fighting or had a disagreement. So I have no need to take it personal or start a fight. And EVERY time, he comes back in a more loving manner.

    Now, the distancing is less and less, but I give him time/space on a regular basis. For instance, if he’s watching a game, I let him watch the game without me calling or texting unless I need to. If we’re talking while he’s watching the game, I let him get back to it and just say “good night” without keeping him on the phone longer than I need to. I, also, thank him for giving me time while he did (after all, he did stop giving the game his full attention for me).

    In return, he gives me the same space. It’s healthy and I enjoy it. Because when I have his attention….I HAVE IT ALL.

    Relax and enjoy the ride, ladies.

  19. Chaun on April 26th, 2016 6:26 am

    Been dating a guy for about month and a half. We went to school together, we also live in different states. Conversation was good. I love you exchanges and talk of being in a long distance relationship. He stated he’s never been in a relationship or never felt the way he’s feeling, I asked are you sure you’re ready or even want to do this? We can just be friends. He does say he has a lot going on with his mom and work and he doesn’t want me to be last on his list. He says it’s my call on what to do. I was speechless, didn’t know what to say so didn’t say anything. His plans are to move back here, his kids and grand kids are here and me of course. Suddenly he started pulling back, no texts back sometimes and no return call when I call him. Had plans to meet one weekend to meet my family, never happened. He said he had to work but he would make something happen. Never heard from him, now a couple days have passed and he’s back to the daily morning texts….I’m so confused.

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