5 Reasons Men (Gradually) Pull Away

Stephen Hussey

I don’t usually do these blogs in a Q&A format, but I saw that a question that garnered a lot of likes on Matt’s Facebook page this week and thought I would take a stab at responding:

“Why do some men show so much interest; taking you out, texting regularly, even calling at times! Then it’s down to texting maybe once a week, then a text every month if that! Haven’t slept with them and haven’t done or said anything crazy to scare them away.”


First off, let me at least reassure you that this isn’t a women-only problem. Most guys have experienced the gradual pain of the “fade out” from a woman before in their lives, so I feel your frustration.

It’s interesting that the questioner clarifies “Haven’t slept with them and haven’t done or said anything crazy to scare them away.”

A guy who pulled away completely after having sex for the first time would either be a guy who was ONLY looking for sex with you in the first place, or a guy who is oddly judgmental about women having sex too early.

Though these guys do exist, there are other more fundamental reasons why a guy gradually loses interest and fades away.

Here are 5 of the most common:

1. He never saw himself getting “serious” with anyone right now

The truth is – many men just don’t know what they want.

I can’t tell you the number of guys I’ve spoken to in the past year (age mid-20’s to late-30’s) who have the following dilemma: “I want connection, and love being with someone, but I don’t see myself in a serious relationship right now.”

Maybe it’s because of their career, maybe because they don’t want marriage yet, or maybe just because they want to enjoy the single life of no-strings attached bachelordom before they settle down.

The reason doesn’t matter. All that matters is that he just isn’t ready.

So he tells himself, “I’m going to just be single now”, then in the course of his normal dating life he meets an incredible woman he really likes and…now what??! Now he feels totally confused.

So he decides to date this woman for a while, gets closer and closer to her, but in the back of his mind he still hold himself back from serious commitment.

Annoying, right?

I know all of this doesn’t help you much. It seems like a guy wanting to have his cake and eat it. He wants the comfort of dating one person yet doesn’t want see it moving somewhere serious in the future.

So what happens?

Typically he’ll get to a point where either (a) you have THE “DEFINE THE RELATIONSHIP” CONVERSATION and both realise you’re on totally different pages, after which he pulls away, or (b) he just quietly starts “fading” out, realizing that he’s in too deep and hoping that he can tiptoe out of your life without causing too much fuss.

Needless to say, option (b) is pretty cowardly on the guy’s part. It leaves you wondering what the hell happened, especially if you were excited about this guy given how much connection and great sex you had together.

Ideally, what would happen is you would have had THE “DEFINE THE RELATIONSHIP” CONVERSATION earlier.

Many people mistakenly put this off for far too long when they’re afraid they may not get an answer they want to hear (and many guys will also put it off because they fear losing you when they say they don’t want a relationship).

So what’s the solution?

There is no 100% foolproof solution. You can’t read someone’s mind, no matter how helpful that would be. What you can do though is listen to his actions AND his words. BOTH matter.

Notice when he talks about wanting to be “free” or “unattached”. Ask him what kind of life he sees himself doing in the next couple of years. Talk casually about your views on relationships and marriage. Observe how much of an interest he shows in planning a future with you. Or if he wants to meet your friends (or introduce you to his). Does he bring up the question of whether you are both exclusive or not?

The less fear we have surrounding these topics, the more we can be honest and open and not live in ignorance of whether someone’s intentions are reflected in their behavior and words.

If he constantly dodges questions about whether he sees himself in a relationship and gets really uncomfortable about it, it’s probably because his head just isn’t there right now.

LISTEN. PAY ATTENTION. If it’s impossible to tell from his actions, start the conversation. If he’s evasive or cagey, tell him you’re looking for someone who knows what they want and aren’t willing to continue with a “maybe” right now.

2. He likes you, but he doesn’t see a future with you

The terrible truth is, some guys will pursue women they have about 70-80% interest in.

They like her, think she’s fun, but for whatever reason they don’t see a real future with this particular woman.

Maybe he doesn’t feel attracted enough, maybe he just thinks you’re too different to actually work together, maybe he thinks the sex is good but not amazing. He could also just think you have conflicting values.

Some guys in this situation often end up dating women as a “placeholder” until he meets someone he’s attracted to enough to invest in seriously (yes, it’s awful, but remember, guys fall on all different parts of the spectrum, good and bad).

A man may do this for a whole host of reasons: he’s insecure, he’s lonely, he’s not getting any and wants to have someone he can hook up with regularly until he meets “The One”.

The best-case scenario is that this guy  has the balls at LEAST tell you that he’s not looking for anything long-term and be honest that he doesn’t see it going anywhere.

I personally don’t think there’s anything wrong with casual dating if both parties are (a) completely honest about what they want and (b) are both having fun and enjoying themselves. If you’re both on totally different pages though (whether due to one person purposely deceiving the other or because you simply haven’t braved that conversation yet), that’s when people get hurt and all kinds of chaos ensues.

3. He’s scared you’re trying to fill a relationship-shaped hole in your life

For men or women, neediness will kill any budding relationship.

In my experience, women tend to freak out earlier about this and men tend to freak out later, but either way, neediness and generally being too emotionally dependent is a killer for any budding relationship.

If a guy gets the sense that you just REALLY REALLY want a relationship and are willing to compromise all kinds of standards to do so, he’ll fade away in mortal terror that he now has to bear the entire responsibility for your happiness and self-esteem.

This is why self-respect and valuing what YOU bring to the table independently of a man is so important (and is the focus of our whole retreat program). So that you don’t feel the need to chase a guy for validation and seek out relationships at the cost of your own needs.

4. He has a series of “uh-oh” moments

This happens for both women and men, and is responsible for lots of people “fading” away mysteriously after weeks or months of dating. Maybe one person begins open-minded and tries to see how things go, only to discover that the other person is too needy, too jealous, too lacking in curiosity or fun, too high-maintenance, too expensive, too addicted to bad habits…basically any difference that makes them realise the long-term compatibility of the relationship is doomed.

This can often be a gradual realization or it may be a series of “uh-oh” moments that make him question whether he sees himself being with you long-term.

Usually the equation looks like this = Sexual attraction + Connection – Compatible values/behavior.

As we progress through dating someone, we start to see how they behave in a plethora of situations. We see what they’re like to travel with, to introduce to friends, how often they get moody, or how they deal with conflicts and problems.

Once we see certain behaviors that turn us off, the fire of our attraction fades until it burns out entirely and we’ve emotionally checked out of the relationship.

A guy may also just think he won’t get his needs met in a relationship with this particular woman. For example, in Matt’s How To Talk To Men program he talks about the importance of the male needs for appreciation, respect, and feeling desired. If a guy doesn’t feel fulfilled in these needs he’ll often lose his impetus to keep chasing and eventually give up, looking to get them fulfilled elsewhere.

5. Other reasons that have NOTHING To Do With You 

He got back with an ex, he’s a sociopath, he has a secret wife and kids he hasn’t told you about, he’s an MI5 spy (unlikely), he’s has unresolved issues with his parents (more likely), who knows? Who cares?

It’s not your job to sit pondering the reason guys fade away. The fact is, we can’t control and predict every single person’s change in behaviors.

Some of the points I’ve mentioned on the list are controllable i.e. having strong values and self-worth, being an amazing partner in a relationship, and understanding attraction are all ways to make it easier to attract the right guy long-term, and other times we may just have the bad luck of choosing the wrong person for the stage of life we’re in (which is why we should have the bigger conversations early so we don’t get surprised later on).

The best thing you can do is come out of these situations more self-aware, more sure of what you want, and with your sense of optimism and confidence in tact. Losing a guy who doesn’t want you isn’t a disaster, losing yourself along the way is.

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21 Replies to “5 Reasons Men (Gradually) Pull Away”

  • Reading this – not being ready – I see myself. I am not ready for marriage yet, but would like to be married in the future. So should I actually date any guy at this point of my life and make any relationships now? Are relationships only when you are looking for your life partner?

    I am really curious on Steve’s and Matthew’s view on ladies, who are not ready for marriage yet.
    Thank you very much!
    Best regards!

  • Great blog post. After attending the retreat I feel like I’ve got the confidence, standard thing going well for me. But I’m still finding things like when a guy says ” I really don’t have any friends” to be a dimmer of my attraction for them. I find it out… Any thoughts on this one, Stephen? Btw, thanks for this list.

  • Such a good post. I’m dating a guy that I really like but both of us are career oriented. I’m going to move to another city now for a new job that’s really important for me. I think we’re a good match but the timing is just not right… What should we do in such situations? The timing thing definitely applies for both guys and girls.

  • Thanks for this post. The hard part, is that I still think that we are good for each other, but I think he has moved on, and I know I must too, but I don’t feel that. I feel that I have been driving in a car and suddenly the car is missing, but I am still moving forward. It is hard to let go of something that I thought was fun, cool, intriguing, and good. I think he moved on, because he is not ready for a serious relationship; which seems silly, to move on because things are going too well. Hmmmmmm

  • Some men pull away because all they want is sex or sexy pictures. Many lie about commitment just to get laid. Just ask pretty women what they go through. Pretty is a curse not a blessing.

  • I would love to challenge Matt to a female verse male radio show and I can prove some of his therory are right but some are very wrong. Women most of the time it isn’t you. It’s marketing to make you think your the problem. Most men lie, only 25% don’t cheat and can commit. The rest are a mixed bag of cheaters, playboys, non-comittal, mamas boys, perverts or perpetrators, forks, slobs, and chovenists. I say date try women, there is more of us on the earth and we are nicer. You can try to date but you shouldn’t have to change too much how you are and don’t tolerate pigs and don’t be easy. Pussy has power. Use it!

  • Hi, I met a great guy 4 months ago, but I had to return to my home country, before returning we spend the most amazing month together, after that we decided that we were going to try the long distance relationship (his previous girlfriend was a long distance relationship for 2 years). He came to see me a month ago and we had the most amazing time together, he ask me to be his girlfriend and since then he was always telling me, how much he liked me.
    Yesterday he sent me an email to end our relationship because, he said that he was feeling constricted because he doesn’t like to talk to a person everyday, that he’s not like that, that he can spend a lot of days without talking to a person even if is someone he cares a lot about, he told me that we had very different ideas about how a relationship works, that I’m very close to my family and that he doesn’t relate to that (he’s never met my family) he speaks to his mom every 2 or 3 weeks, and when I was there I called my mom everyday, so, its logical that he thinks I’m different.
    He ask me not to write or call because it was to painful and sad for him and that after a few weeks or months we could be friends, that I was amazing and that I would find someone who really appreciates me and more close to me personality and geographically.
    I like him a lot, we made plans to spend Christmas together, because he doesn’t know anyone there, im in so much pain, I really was very surprised to receive his email, he never told me he was feeling bad, he would call me every day and be nice and happy, I’m shocked about his decision, I don’t know what to do, he was having some troubles at work too, but he was always sweet and worried about me, less than a week before he still sent me msgs telling how much he liked me.
    Do you think I still have a chance to get him back? What should I do? Do you think I should go to see him on Christmas? Maybe when he sees me, he feels a connection again? We never had any fights or discussions and I know he cares a lot about me.

    He’s a lonely person, he doesn’t go out much.
    I’m from Honduras, he’s from Czech Republic. We met in Houston.

    Help me.

    1. Hi, Carolina.

      As much as I understand that you’re still yearning for him, he has already pushed you away.

      If your Christmas get-together isn’t definite yet, wait for him to ask you about it or you can ask him if he still wants that to happen because you are about to make other plans (even if there’s none at the moment). That’s not exactly a mind-game, but please consider this:

      You worry and care about him not having friends or anyone to spend Christmas with in that place, but does he worry and are about you and your feelings? The mere fact that he just emailed you a break-up message and justifying his decision while being nice and thoughtful towards you weeks or months prior to that speaks insincerity, if not duplicity. It seems like he was merely stringing you along – and you don’t deserve that kind of treatment.

      If he wants to spend Christmas with you, he should be the one to go to YOU, and NOT you to him.

      Choose to value and love yourself, Carolina. A man who values and loves you is someone who values and loves himself in a good way as well, enough to be concerned and not play with your feelings. He will not treat you the way your ex-bf did.

  • Thank you for your reasons Matt!

    One of my gfs is trying to set me up with a close family friend of hers, which I am all for it, as she knows both our personalities. Last year we were introduced to each other and planned meets when we were both free due to our busy schedules. Before his depature from AUS to the states, he replied with “Ive enjoyed the times when we’ve caught up but I want to make sure we are on the same page and to be honest and upfront with you, I think your a nice girl and I wish you all the best but I am only looking to be friends.” We bumped into each other at a friends birthday and had a great conversation but I still have no idea about what he wants. I do show those 4 traits to him but I get little in response and he does act distant.

    I find it annoying when guys you feel there may be a future or you like and they friendzone you.

  • I have reconnected with a guy I dated years ago. I have seperated out of a 30 year marriage and we are in the process of a divorce. He is 8 days away from getting full custody of his 8 and 11 year old children. We live across the state’s from each other.We talk and laugh everyday. Sometimes up to 4 hours. We have a great connection. I have always loved the idea of marriage although I am not j umping from 1 to another I have no problems with the thought. He is 63 and I am 58. We have shared I love you already but more of a I love the relationship. He makes me very happy. We laugh togetheralot. We started to talk last night about where the relationship is going and he said it can go no where because he has so much on his plate with his children and X wife. It kind of stunned me. I love children. I work with them and have great relationships with kids. He was very adamant that it is not in the cards. I said I have to back off then because I feel to much for him. He agreed and said, good night sweetie. I Would be more than willing to move. Get my own place and see how that would go. He frowned on that. What do you think? Should I keep this excellent person in my life and keep my heart out of it, or step away and move on?

  • Thank you Stephen!
    Thanks to Matt and you I have put myself together after my last “break up” (not even sure if we were together). That was the problem. It was my shortest relationship(5months) but for the first time I totally lost myself and ended with a heartbroken. I realized so many things I did to pull him away without even realizing it.
    He is a very intelligent and successful guy and the last time I saw him or talked to him was when we broke up.
    It’s been 3 months I don’t know anything about him, but he started dating another girl 3weeks after me (I erased him from FB when I realized it).
    And yet, I would love to see him again… At the same time I feel really afraid to cross him somewhere.
    I would love to text him and have dinner with him to not have that part of me beeing afraid to see him. What do you think?

  • First time listening to you & fall in love with all your advise I been right!!! Except that I have not said anything to this particular guy it had been a year no action taken only greeting me every morning.

  • Hi Carolina, really sorry to hear that it has been so hard for you with the break-up. There are many reasons why men pull away. And yes, we do a lot to push them away ourselves. Do you still feel like you want to meet him again?

  • I’ve been with the same guy on and off since high school. We got back together at the end of 2016 and ended up having a baby 2017. He was great throughout all 2017. Soon as the new year hit, he began to pull away. I caught him sending pics to randoms on the kik app. He keeps everything from me secretly. He tells me he loves me,but the only interaction we have is at night. Just a kiss. He never wants to go out or do anything with us. Yet he wants a family vacay. He tells everyone that I’m a bitch and all this other stuff. I work 2 jobs and take care of our son full time. I pay my bills,half of rent, babysitter, everything baby related, and all he has to pay is half of rent, water and gas… I feel like hes cheating. And has lost complete interest. He bought a ring a year ago and was going to ask me… never did. I dont know what to do or how to act. I dont want him to be away from our child but at the same time, I feel like I deserve to be happy too.

  • Hi i have been in a relationship with a guy for 4months now.At the beggining everything was so excited that we introduced ourselves to his family and some few friends around.But as it is everything has changed as we both are christains and we both accepted that we shouldn’t have sex.But two times i got carried away and gave ad he has always wanted us to have sex before and i will resist.After the two.times of sex am regretinv why i gave in and I want.to maitain a no sex relationship that we both agreed from the.beggining cause its agins my believe as a christain.Now he complains of me not caring about what he eats and his house chores and am someone i have always been in a long distance relationship and this is my only relationship inwhich am in thesame area with my boyfriend.I dont want to.loose him but i don’t want to.compromise my christainitu for a relationship what can i do.

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