... and 3 things you SHOULD.
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.
If you think about it, this is a lot like trying to bribe him. Have sex with a man IF YOU WANT TO, but you won’t get a commitment or more closeness from a man by trying to trade sex for it.
BUT, don’t think that I’m saying that you should withhold sex, or act strange when it comes to the bedroom. Sex is great and OH-so important for your bond.
So, if all of this is not effective, what ARE you supposed to do when he pulls away?
1. Take a chill pill.
Okay, I know this advice sounds glib, but it’s truly not meant in that spirit. Often what we perceive as a serious problem with distance in our relationship will shake itself out over time, particularly if we allow him space. Relationships ebb and flow, so freaking out doesn't make anyone love you more.
2. Acknowledge your fears, but don't act on them.
Just because you sense a rift forming between you and your man doesn’t mean that you're required to launch into action. I understand the fear that if you don’t act, then he’ll leave, but even though you’re feeling afraid, doing things that act out that fear isn’t the answer.
Fear is a relationship killer, because when we give into it, we spiral. When we let those monsters under our bed come out to play, we risk treating him like he’s done something wrong, making mountains out of molehills and REALLY causing a problem — even if his distance was actually minor or temporary.
And if there IS a big problem, we make it worse. Since when does being afraid equal devotion or a better relationship? Never.
All fear gets us is suspicion, fault finding and a race toward a deeper problem. Fear lies to us.
3. Take time to focus on making yourself happy.
When we are in fix-it mode we’re thinking all about him, hoping to change what’s happening and how to make the pain we’re feeling go away. We usually AREN’T thinking about making ourselves genuinely happy separately from him, or considering how we could use this time to make ourselves feel good no matter what. Focusing on ourselves might feel like the exact opposite of what we want to do.
Centering yourself and showing yourself the love you feel like you’re missing right now is the only way to get your attractive mojo back. Insecurity is not an aphrodisiac for him, but getting your center back IS.
A man is attracted to your essence, not your attempts to fix him or force the relationship in the way you want it to go in. If it’s truly coming to an end, letting your fear take the wheel won’t make it better, but getting back to who you are if you’ve lost yourself in the relationship always helps.
If you have men become distant at pull away from you, get to the bottom of it with a free copy of Elizabeth's book Why Men Lose Interest and daily email series. In the book she explains the most common reasons why guys become distant and pull away from you and what you can do to make this stop immediately.
This article was originally published at Digital Romance Inc. Reprinted with permission from the author.