Navigating a relationship sometimes feels like it should come with training and license for all the rough waters we face.
One of the hardest challenges is when smooth sailing suddenly turns into rough water, and you’re left alone at the wheel.
The scariest rough water is when you feel your guy pulling away.
As panic sets in, you may wonder things like, “What went wrong?”, “Are we breaking up?” and “How can I fix this?”
When the tables turn in a relationship, and you feel the other person pulling away, the outcome largely depends on how well you maneuver through the problem.
What Are the Best Things to Do When a Guy Pulls Away?
Before you post one (or another) passive-aggressive meme on Instagram, listen up! Whether your partner intentionally pulled away from you or was pulled toward something (or someone) else, your behavior and actions will be the saving grace or the final nail in the relationship coffin.
- Calm Down: Did those words trigger you? Yeah, then you really need this advice. Take a few deep breaths before you do anything. Calm your nervous system with regulated breaths. Stop the chemical rush of fight-or-flight to “get your head right” as you plot.
- Examine, Don’t Overthink: Guys pull away for many reasons; you can only examine the facts instead of always rushing to DEFCON 1. Consider the length of time you’ve been dating, how much time you’ve spent together (every night and weekend?), and if there were any warning signs you missed.
- Do Nothing Before You Do Something: In our rush to fix things, we can overreact or emotionally escalate an already tough situation. When in doubt, don’t text, call, email, or show up with a box of his stuff while tearfully saying, “I deserve better than this!”
How to Turn the Tables When He Pulls Away: 11 Smart Ways to Win Him Back
Without manipulation or sensationalism, how do you turn the tables and let him pursue you again?
Playing your cards right at this table could mean a better relationship and a stronger personal sense of self-awareness and self-worth.
1. Understand the Conflicting Mindsets of Men and Women
The philosophy of dating and relationships hasn’t changed too much since the caveman days. Men are hunters – they live for the pursuit.
Women are gatherers, picking up items, ideas, and emotions fueled by a much stronger intuition than the hunters.
Once a man has “hunted” you, he might start chasing other hunts, like his career or hobbies.
While you won’t share your mindset research, you will be able to make more strategic steps as you move forward.
2. Understand He Needs Space
Whether your guy is pulling away after an argument or the best sex of your life, respect the space that a guy needs to process things. The male brain can compartmentalize, a feat women cannot fathom.
When they’re with you, they’re thinking of you. When they go to work, they’re thinking about work—different compartments for different things.
One of the most decisive tactical moves you can make is to give him space. No man ever returns to a woman just because she finally texted 500 times or showed up at his door in tears. He’s working through something in his head or heart. Let that process simmer.
3. Understand Your Needs During This Time
You might not want to admit it, but all this free time will help you see the things you haven’t been doing that were once part of your routine.
That morning yoga class that left you so centered gave way to morning cuddles. You love seafood, but your beau is allergic, so you might not realize how much you’re craving those crabcakes.
The worst thing you can do when your guy pulls away is pity party solo. Use the “Kate Middleton” strategy. When William broke up with her in 2007, she tactically decided to go out and have fun (with paparazzi documenting it all).
Lo and behold, William wondered how she could be so happy without him, and happily ever after followed.
4. Understand You Aren’t a Revolving Door
As desperate as you are for answers, don’t let him come and go as he pleases. Pulling away and coming back is a push-pull strategy that is emotionally wrecking for a woman and could also be part of the narcissistic method of love bombing and then discarding.
If he texts, wait for an hour or two (even longer if you’d like) to respond. He needs to know that he’s still hunting you. This tactic will reignite his instincts, opening the one-way door to an open conversation about boundaries.
5. Understand Making Him Jealous Will Push Him Farther Away
The key word is tactical – grinding with a guy on the dance floor after plotting with your bestie to tag you in a social media post will only make things worse in the short and long term.
Don’t change your appearance to “show him what he’s missing.”
If he’s considering something big, like if he wants to commit to you or even propose, this behavior will certainly sway him the wrong way. You don’t have to change your behavior simply because he changed his.
6. Understand His Triggers
Women need to accept their role that could have inadvertently led to a man being MIA. A man’s poker face and fear of emotional outbursts can fuel it.
While it’s not your fault, something you said or did could’ve been relationship shrapnel, and he’s not sure how he feels about it.
- Has your relationship grown melancholy and boring?
- Do you habitually get upset when he doesn’t text right back?
- Do you give him grief for working too much?
- Have you criticized his friends – or him?
If you can identify what might have triggered him, then you’ll stop intrusive thoughts and be able to strategize keeping him when (if) he comes back.
P.S. Also, use this time to explore his annoying habits or indifference to emotions and see if that’s something you want to deal with long-term.
7. Understand He Might Not Be Into You
Pulling away can also be a slow ghosting process, with a higher risk near the beginning of the relationship.
As much as dating has changed over the years, the concept of If he’s not calling/texting/making time for you… he’s just not that into you.
Another difference between men and women is that females fall faster, so play it cool. He might catch up, or he might not.
Either way, the sexiest thing you can do to attract him (or any man) is to exude confidence. Play it cool and focus on yourself.
Ask any happily married woman, and she’ll tell you about the frogs that “pulled away” to get her prince.
8. Understand He Needs Support
If your guy pulled away because work is stressful or he’s dealing with a family issue, let him know – from a distance – you are there to support him.
This delicate balance requires you to acknowledge the importance of his task (aka “pulling away”) while not appearing to be waiting with bated breath for him to return. You must always be a happy part of his life, not another stressor.
Example: “Keep kicking a$$ at work. You’re destined for a promotion.” That’s it. That’s the text. No, “…and when you’re caught up, we can….”
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9. Understand He Might Not Realize He’s Pulling Away
Here’s a scenario. You went on a three-day weekend retreat to a cabin in the woods. You feel so connected, and he kept saying how much fun he had. Now, three days later, you haven’t heard a peep, and you’re paranoid.
In your mind, you want to ride the happy wave at this new, epic level of closeness. In his mind, you just spend three days together, and he has a lot to get caught up on. Be patient, and let him miss you.
10. Understand When You Are A Doormat
Let’s be honest; women have some of that hunting instinct, too – especially when you tell us we can’t have something.
The less attainable something appears to be, the more we want it. When that “something” is the emotions attached to our guy, we’ll do about anything to regain the balance.
If you have sacrificed yourself to impress him, he will not see you as an equal. If you’ve established a routine of one batch of flowers or one text wins you back, he will continue this pattern.
We aren’t trying to win him back once here. We’re trying to win him back for good.
11. Understand Why We Pull Away
A great way to avoid overdramatizing a pull-away is to think of a time you’ve done it. (Yes, you have). Maybe it was the guy who spoke poorly to restaurant workers or the one who adored you, but you wrote off as “too nice.”
In those situations, you’ll have all the justifications in the world and rarely see it from the perspective of the person left feeling how you’re feeling now.
Once you see that pulling away can be a normal part of the partner selection process, you’ll be less inclined to make some emotional, desperate, and attention-seeking steps running through your mind right now.
If you hear nothing else in this article, hear this – your tactical plan isn’t to win him back. It also isn’t to get closure or understand why he pulled away.
Even the phrase “turning the tables” makes a relationship more of a game and leads to more drama.
Your goal is to create a happy space for yourself and those you allow into your circle with healthy boundaries and open communication.
If he does show up again, greet him with reserved enthusiasm and your normal, wonderful unique self he fell for in the first place. You’ve learned a lot about approaching your next relationship if he doesn’t.