Are They Pulling Away or Are You Just Anxious?

If you’ve ever wondered, “Is it me or is it them?” you can’t miss today’s video, in which I share five ways to tell if it’s a major concern or your anxiety talking. 

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Last week I did a live event called, Dating with Results. We had 13,000 people show up live to this event, that is a small arena. It was crazy and amazing, and so many people gave such beautiful feedback. And there was one particular point that I made that really struck a chord with people.

Here’s a simple way of looking at this. I need to value this person on their ability to make me happy. Which means not evaluating them based on how I feel about them, but evaluating their importance based on how they make me feel.

I was talking about how we can get too invested in a person that we’re attracted to, a person that we’ve had a few great dates with too quickly. Especially when that person isn’t investing in us on the same level. And what I said was we have to start ranking this person’s importance in our life differently to the way we are. Which means not ranking their importance based on how we feel about them, but instead on how they make us feel.

In other words, if we think that they’re hot and charismatic, and we just feel that they’re so fun to be around, and they’re so attractive, they’re so interesting. That’s all about how we feel about them. But that has nothing to do with how they make us feel. How they make us feel is how we feel by having that person in our life or our consciousness on a Tuesday at 2:00 PM. Does this person make me feel anxious? Does this person make me feel unsure of myself? Does this person make me feel like I don’t know what their intentions are? Does this person make me feel unloved? How do I feel by having this person in my life? Not how do I feel about them?

Now, a lot of people found this point to be incredibly helpful, almost this pressure valve of, “Oh my God, I’ve been way overvaluing this person.” But there was one member of mine, we have a membership called, The Love Life Club, and thousands of people every month I go through coaching with. And this one member of mine said, “Matt, I love that point. But I’m getting caught on it because I’m not sure if I don’t feel good because this person is doing something wrong or because I’m just anxious?” This is such a beautiful question.

I know I’ve felt this in my life. I’ve had moments where I’ve been with people and I’ve gone, “I don’t know if what they just did is wrong and I’m right to be angry? Or whether this is just my stuff that is coming up.” Now, a lot of women especially struggle with this because there has been someone in their life that invalidated their feelings at some point or maybe called them crazy or hysterical or just too much.

So a lot of women have got this gaslighting that’s happened in their past that means that they’ve lost trust in their own emotions today. “I don’t know whether what I’m feeling is valid anymore.” This creates this huge confusion for us in our present day lives. So today I want to give you five ways that you can end your confusion if you’re stuck wondering, “Did they do something actually wrong, or am I just being anxious?”

Number one. If it’s too early to have a deeper, more vulnerable conversation with them about how you feel or how you’re being made to feel, just shift focus. Lose yourself in a workout, spend quality time with your friends where you actually become very interested in them and their lives and how you can support them. Lose yourself in a project. Do something that genuinely makes you present in your life again.

When someone monopolizes our attention, we’ve made them too important. We’ve made them too much of a focus, and that anxiety begins to feed on itself. The more we think about them, the more important they become and the more important they become, the more anxious we become. And remember, if this situation isn’t at the point where you feel it’s appropriate to be vulnerable with them, then why do you feel that you’re close enough to them to make them this important in the first place? We’re obsessing over something before it’s even become a big thing in our lives.

Number two. Ask yourself, “How do I feel about the way they are when I’m on my best day?” So when you’re feeling confident, connected to your life, you feel that you’re connected to your worth and you feel like you are just in a flow in your life, you are killing it, how do you feel about what they’re doing at that point? Because if at that point all your insecurities go away, what you are feeling is more to do with your anxiety than it is to do with anything they’re doing.

If, on your best day you still don’t like something you see, then it probably conflicts with your values and the kind of relationship you are interested in having. And that’s something that’s worth talking about. But don’t assess their behavior when you are coming from the most insecure place. Assess their behavior when you feel great.

Number three. Remember Cousin Billy. Cousin Billy is my cousin, and he’s been in a relationship for a long time, since he was in his early twenties. And he’s always had a very secure relationship absent of the drama that happens in so many other people’s relationships, without the petty jealousies and arguments. Billy is the sort of person that goes through life not being bothered by stuff that doesn’t matter.

I, on the other hand, have been a handful in certain moments in my life. It’s important to me in those moments to have people around me who are reference points for what a normal, well-adjusted reaction to something would be. So I have often asked myself the question, “Would this bother cousin Billy?” And if it wouldn’t, or I could even ask him that question, which is why it’s great to do this with people that you actually know, not just some person on the TV. When I ask him, does he confirm, “Oh, that wouldn’t really upset me. I don’t feel like that’s a big deal.” And in the meantime, I’m inside going, “It’s huge. This is very important. I should be so angry.” If he says that. I go, “Ah, okay.”

There’s something going on with me. When we are not sure which way is up, we can use trusted people that we respect to help us find the coordinates for what an appropriate reaction might be. This doesn’t mean friends who will tell you what you want to hear. It means people who will give it to you straight and tell you when your reaction is reasonable and when it’s not.

Number four. When you do share your vulnerability with a person, observe your feelings with them. Don’t inflict your feelings on them. You may have a day where someone doesn’t reach out to you all day, and if you are anxiously attached, it really inflames that part of you. It makes you afraid, it makes you upset, makes you scared. Now, if you were to act on those feelings in the moment and inflict them on a person, it might look like you calling them up in a jealous rage with accusations, with anger, because we’re like, “What are you doing today? Who are you with?”

And we start inflicting that on them or we go very cold on them. That is inflicting your feelings on someone. Observing your feelings with someone is saying, “I sometimes can get a little anxious. It’s something that I’ve had to work on in my life, and when I didn’t hear from you yesterday, I noticed those feelings coming up for me and I actually got a little afraid.” That’s a way of sharing that with someone in a way that you can observe it together.

I also like the note that it’s something I’ve had to work on in my life because that shows you’re the kind of person that actually wants to do the work on those things, not just inflict them on someone that shows ownership. But when you are able to talk about those things in an observational way, then you really learn what it is you have with someone. Because the truth is, no one is perfect. We all bring our stuff to the table when we have a relationship, if we’re actually being vulnerable.

And the key question is not whose right or wrong, but what happens in our particular relationship when we bring something to the table? There is a really clarifying question that you can ask if you are confused about whether your anxiety is the problem or their behavior is the problem. Are they good at handling me? Now, I love this question because it gets us out of what I think can be a bit of a misnomer, which is, “Whose right, whose wrong?”

A lot of the time it’s a little of both. And the truth is, we’re all going to have our turn at being right and we’re all going to have our turn at being wrong. But how well does this person handle me and my stuff? I’m not suggesting, by the way, that our stuff is someone else’s responsibility, and I’m not excusing our worst behaviors. What I’m saying is if we share, openly, our vulnerabilities, our insecurities, our anxieties, does that person help us in healing those things? Does the way they react, or the way that they behave with that knowledge in mind now, soothe us? Or does it inflame? Does it aggravate those parts of us?

I believe the right relationship is one that helps us heal our wounds. If we’re anxiously attached, the right relationship actually brings us closer to a secure attachment style. The wrong relationship pushes us more to the extreme of that anxious attachment. So ask yourself that question because at some point in life, as we work on ourselves, we’re also going to have to find someone who is good at handling who we are. And that, to me, is as good of a definition of, The One, as any I’ve heard. Is this person good at handling me?

Because if I find someone I’m super attracted to, but they’re really bad at handling all of the parts of me that make me me, then we have a compatibility issue that’s not going to go away. Are they good at handling me? And what could be more romantic, by the way, than someone who, when we show our vulnerability, when we show our weakness, when we show our flaws, is good at handling those things in us?

Now, if you don’t understand dog, what Boogie just said is, “If you really want to do the work on yourself to not feel anxious in relationships anymore, and to not constantly doubt yourself, come to Matthew’s Virtual Retreat in June from the 2nd to the 4th, because that’s where we do the deep work to get you psychologically and emotionally fit so that you come to every relationship you have from a place of internal power and worth. Which is like suddenly being able to see in the light what is really going on.”

No Boogie. It doesn’t start until June 2nd. She’s excited and there’s good reason. We have a self-care special ticket available that’s $100 off right now until March the 12th, and it comes with some really great bonuses. So go grab your ticket now. Put it in your diary for June, and we’ll see you on the Virtual Retreat. And of course, in the next video.

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6 Replies to “Are They Pulling Away or Are You Just Anxious?”

  • Hi Matthew, thank you so much for this video, it struck a chord with me. My best friend and I have strong and deep feelings for each other. I want to progress to a relationship but he is hesitant because he is worried about loosing the friendship coupled with the fact that his life is a bit chaotic and he can’t bring his best into a relationship. I get all of that, he is the best man I know and treats me amazingly well. Should I sort of wait for him or should I move on. I get very anxious when I don’t hear from him in a few hours or a day. I don’t know what to do!

  • This just happened to me 2 weeks ago and this video changed my mind about the guy I was just dating. I was just trying to communicate my feelings about what he said that brought back horrible memories of my ex husband. But before all this happened I was very nervous around him but it was a great nervousness but I couldn’t figure out why he made me feel this way. The minute he showed this flag I thought omg that’s my ex and got very anxious about us. I spoke up and said something to him and he thought I didn’t want to be with him because that reminded me of my ex and now he will not talk to me. I’m pretty upset about it. Should I send him this video? Or move on?

  • He makes me feel more anxious bc when I try to be more open with him and share my feelings with him, it somehow is such a problem. He says I shouldn’t be asking him questions or saying the things I say bc he is so good and I should just trust him. Even though I have told him that I have trouble with trusting people due to my past experiences and asked for help with it- which he had said he would give. But it doesn’t help when he gets upset whenever I ask for clarity on something or ask a question to gain understanding of something. He just starts cussing and saying I shouldn’t be saying certain things or asking him certain questions. He says I should know that there’s questions not to ask him. For example: who someone is. Especially if it’s a girl. He gets so angry and says: “why the f.. you asking who she is”. And how I don’t need to be asking bc it’s not something I should be asking and I should just trust him. He really stresses me out a lot. He doesn’t seem to care much about my trying to fix myself and work on myself from what all trauma I went through before. That he is not them so I should just trust him. And when I told him that trust should be earned and not given … he doesn’t think he needs to work for it. Any question I ask, especially if it has to do with a girl, he flips out over. As if I’m not supposed to ask any questions other than how his days is. Then when he said that we’re both open with each other I told him we aren’t. When I ask about his work or something of that nature he won’t say. And, like I said, when I try to be open about my feelings about something, he gets angry quickly. Not to mention he keeps thinking I should give him $200 for a passport. He didn’t ask, just expects that I should give it to him since we’re together. (He’s from a different country). No matter what I do I have a bad gut feeling about him. Just it all seems wrong or off. And for him to even say anything about me giving him money, it just seems this whole thing is just for that. Like he’s trying to use me to get money for a passport bc he wants to come to the US. Kinda a red flag? Only been with him for 3 months; which he keeps repeatedly telling me saying I should trust him by now. After his sketchy behavior quite often. I think I should just let him go after how he is at times but what if it’s all just in my head? He talks about wanting me to go to where he is and then for us to get married and that way he can come here. He said his brother did that: married some girl from the US. She went there and made it so he could come to the US easier. I’ve been told by a friend that he is most likely just using me to get here. (A guy friend told me that). So why can’t I just let him go? I don’t feel he respects me. Nor cares much about how I feel. Like my feelings don’t matter. He keeps saying I can talk with him about things but gets upset when I do. It wouldn’t make any difference to him whether I stay or go. I’m only a pawn in his plan.

    1. Dump him. Have some self respect- you obviously stated his crystal clear intentions. Using you for a passport. Stop wasting your time and energy on someone that’s hot and cold, completely disrespectful, and isn’t prioritizing you.

  • Totally what lead to the end of a 3 year relationship. His ability to handle me was just absent. I thought I was too needy for talking about needs, emotions, or even the support I would have appreciated during those moments instead of him disappearing when my smile was not perfect.

    I healed many wounds but not from him helping make this relationship secure and safe but by working to understand what was going on and why I felt this way. And through this relationship I asked myself how a secure attachment would look like from me and if that would change or impacts his reactions. Him being avoidant and me anxious I thought I could have an impact in the relationship where I have control over my own emotional response. Nothing changed…. it just made me realize how bad he made me feel and that was not going to change.

    We broke up and I know I stayed too long. The way I saw him at the start was better than how I saw myself. I thought he was confident, had a long relationship before me and thus having a secure attachment style. I thought i was the one needing to adapt being anxious. I thought something was wrong with me, not him…

    I have learned so much now on attachment styles and have I known that 3 years ago I would have run, but I was not aware of that. I thought having the best intents were enough. I learned to express my emotions so much better over 3 years because I tried to improve our communication. He had never have a relationship before me where they talked about emotions!! (Big red flag)

    But avoidant styles attracts avoidants… and his previous relationship lasted years because they avoided all conflicts. He just found out his ex cheated on him for years with his best friend!! For Years… when i first met the guy I had a bad feeling about him but could not say anything. trust your guts!!

    Im glad of the work I did and what I have learned. I did the live retreat in May and since then have dealt with so much from him- learning he had cheated (sexting) (he became a better lover after we communicated about this but my insecurities came back 4 months later as he made less efforts) and only last December I realized he was avoidant because another workshop I did to try again to become a better lover! I know I worked hard to save this relationship. The problem is that I was alone doing so! A secure person dont cheat or seek validation outside! That was mind blowing to me because I was certain I was wrong and he was secure until that time. I took him off his pedestal and then saw him for who he really was. A guy not wanting to evolve or have a real relationship because for him its too much work!!

  • I meet this guy in the park and we’ve been talking to each other for the past month now. He works as a sous chef and he’s off Tuesdays so I only see him then. Lately his work reduced his off times so I haven’t seen him on our usual dates in two ish weeks. We used to talk everyday but now it’s maybe once or twice. He’s told me he’s incredibly tired and his mental health isn’t great so I understand why, it’s just the anxious thoughts getting to me. He’s been straight forward and kind to me, and he said himself he was an open book. Nothing about him screams dirtbag. Should I ask him if he’s really ok or leave him be? I don’t want to come across as clingy and anxious but if there’s something I can do to help I would love to.

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