One of the scariest things that can happen to your relationship is when the man your dating — the one you felt such a great connection with, who you felt so close to — starts to pull away. When a man does this, it can jar us, make us feel afraid and abandoned, and it TOTALLY sucks.
Often, as strong women, we launch right into “fix it, fix it, FIX IT” strategy mode. We call our girlfriends and analyze what’s happening. We read articles, buy books and generally freak out.
And we pledge to make the awful feeling of aloneness that is blooming in our hearts go away.
Fear of loss is more motivating than the hope of gaining something. And having a man pull away from what felt like a good, treasured relationship can trigger full panic, all hands on deck, emotional alert mode. Frankly if you’re feeling distance from a man, how you handle this stage is crucial.
First, I want to talk about 3 misguided (and harmful) strategies you should definitely NOT do when you feel your man pulling away:
1. Never, EVER try to bribe him.
When you do nice things — buy him things, make romantic dinners, bend over backwards to show him how great you are — you’re taking on the masculine role in the relationship. This backfires, since he probably feels smothered, or like you’re doing “his” job. Or worse, he’ll think you’re trying to get something out of him (which, if we’re being honest, you are … even though that thing is simply honest love and connection).
He can sense that you’re reeling from his going colder and it’s likely puzzling to him why you’d invest MORE in someone who isn’t investing in you. If you keep pushing, it could lead him to feeling like you don’t value yourself as much as you should.
2. Don’t smother him with unwanted affection.
Telling a man your feelings for him is great in small doses, but NOT great in the widely sweeping, dramatic way that many of us (me included) have tried it in the past, out of fear.
Here are some GOOD things you could say (that don’t come across as overbearing):
“I really enjoyed the [thing he did]. That was great.”
“I have a really fun time with you when we [insert activity here].”
This kind of praise is wonderful. It acknowledges his contribution and makes him feel appreciated.
But saying something like, “I love you so much snookiewookums, I can’t wait to spend forever with you!!” Now THAT is a recipe for disaster.
Since being verbally demonstrative of our feelings comes more naturally, and we might enjoy hearing the latter (maybe without the snookiewookums part) because this kind of verbal declaration can make us feel safer in the relationship. When things get tough, though, we often mistakenly think that a man will want the same kind of verbal reassurance of our feelings. Unfortunately this usually backfires and pushes him even further away.
3. And NEVER use sex to try to make him FEEL something for you.
He won’t fall back in love with you, move mountains to be with you and give you the careful, loving cherishing you’re hoping for (or that you feel like you’ve lost) just because you give him sex in the hope that he’ll have such a great time that he’ll melt.