6 Real (And Super Frustrating) Reasons Why Men Pull Away Emotionally

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why men pull away in relationships
Heartbreak, Love

This stuff isn't easy for men.

When you're in a relationship, there needs to be a certain level of emotional connection. But, when your man starts emotionally withdrawing from you, you probably feel confused, hurt, and frustrated.

Pretty much every woman has experienced a man doing this at some point. 

We're left totally bewildered and typically look at ourselves and wonder: What did I do? (To put your mind at ease, here is the answer — nothing, most likely.) 

It has more to do with the confusion of emotional intensity a man's feeling than with you as an individual. And in many situations and scenarios, that intensity causes men to withdraw.

It's very important to note that just because a man withdraws, it does not mean that he's withdrawing from you.

It takes men more time to integrate and understand emotions — for men, it's not something that happens spontaneously in the midst of a heated discussion. Men require space and time to figure out what is happening, both within themselves and with their partner.

From the time they're small boys, men have been discouraged NOT to feel things emotionally. They are mocked, belittled, even physically attacked for showing an emotional side.

In an article for Elephant Journal, writer Keith Artisan explains: "The biggest harm that is not recognized or appreciated for the depth of damage that it causes at the emotional level to a man is that men are expected to be tough, to protect, and kill to defend their family. Violence, and the expectation of violence, mandates an absence of emotional sensitivity."

With that in mind, here are the 6 real reasons why your man emotionally withdraws from your relationship:

1. There is a double-standard for men who show emotions


A man faces a conundrum when they're emotionally vulnerable, and it's rare enough to find a man who wants to delve within and unleash his emotions. However, even when he does, it doesn't mean he's a master at it.

Though men are slowly starting to feel comfortable in their own skin and accept their emotions, they're still on a huge growth curve. Show them compassion and understanding. Men are raised to 'step up, protect, and watch out for their own.' It's hard to do that and wear their heart on their sleeve at the same time.

2. They lack experience leaning INTO emotions.


Women have had a lifetime of experience navigating the highs and lows of their emotions. They grew up with emotional states and are accepted as sensitive, feeling beings. Thus, they're better at observing, feeling, recognizing, and communicating feelings better than men. 

Women are also adept at observing and recognizing the emotional states in other people. And when a woman finds a man who loves her, at some level, she feels a great deal of hope because she has found an emotional match, somebody who understands her.

Due to this experience, women tend to share all their heart and feelings, but don't understand how this impacts their men.

When their men do not respond in the way that they need, women's feelings are hurt and misunderstanding arises. How those feelings are expressed matter a great deal.

The best men want an intimate connection with women, but don't know how.

Men do not fall short in the emotional realm because they are emotionally immature and inexperienced. They face expectations and pressure about emotions — emotions that are confusing and contradictory. And when they find a partner where there's mutual love, it brings to life a living fire that has been suppressed for a lifetime.

It's like a baby learning to walk — they fall down, make mistakes, and are blind as to how to best listen and communicate emotions.

3. They're still learning (and you can't force them along that path). 


Men experience a learning curve when connecting to their sensitive side, and just like any beginner, they will make mistakes. Sometimes the mistakes are colossal, and sometimes laughable. They need an emotional example on how to operate with emotions in a healthy way. So, accept them as they are — beginners with a sincere intention.

Remember, up until now, for most men, mastery over emotions means suppressing them, hiding feelings behind a mask, or just turning off emotions entirely. It takes them some time to even identify their subtle emotions. 

Any teacher knows that mocking a beginner or putting them down, criticizing them and their approach, stunts the learning curve. When a woman gets angry, puts down her man, belittles or mocks him, a man feels attacked (as anyone would). When she demands that he be sensitive, a man feels not good enough.

When a man faces a women's wrath, he responds in the ways he has been taught to feel emotions since early childhood — with anger.

Anger is one of the few emotions men are allowed to express openly because it is a necessary emotion to be a solider. Anger is a natural defensive response for men. And one they become angry with their partner, there is a host of problems that arise afterwards — guilt, shame, inadequacy, failure and fear.

These emotions are attached to anger, and they are inevitable when fury shows its face, especially when he knows that his loved one has been hurt as a result of his anger.

4. A "man cave" is more than just a place.


It takes time for a man to feel comfortable feeling and expressing his emotions. After all, such a man is challenging social norms. Their natural response when hurt or confused is to withdraw. And whether that withdraw occurs in a physical space, mental space, or even silence, the "man cave" is an essential healing tool for the manly mind.

The cave allows integration of the experience, introspection to see what is happening within, and understanding to know how to better respond in the future.

5. They need an example.


Women set the example and emotional tone that allows their partner to feel safe.

When a man faces a woman who is emotionally stable, it allows him to understand his own emotions. The depth of understanding that a woman has of herself and her own emotional nature gives him the security to express and unveil his own emotional strengths. The emotionally secure woman brings a presence of emotional security to the relationship.

A well-meaning man will appreciate this and do his best, and grow faster and reveal the depths of his spirit with increasing strength and confidence.

Granted, the ideal is that a man can figure out his emotional state and come into his own emotional maturity through his own self-generated willpower. Yet, the reality is that teachers, guides, mentors and coaches accelerate this process and help a person navigate the confusing and mysterious world of emotions.

As the man learns his emotional state with the woman he loves, he is also facing the additional challenges from his friends, family, etc.

An emotionally insecure woman sees a withdrawn man as a threat and attacks by denigrating them. This is the antithesis of supportive behavior.

She may not realize that he is a man who was brave enough to bare his spirit with vulnerable trust. When a man does not respond as she needs and demands at the emotional level, lashing out only causes harm.

Gentle understanding and compassionate acceptance brings healing and deepens the relationship. One of the best qualities women have is the ability to nurture.

Nurturing is not aggressive, and directing aggression towards a man generates a similar response — he will either fight or take flight. The flight or fight response is deeply ingrained into every human being. In essence, attacking a man who is opening his heart triggers a survival level instinct. Once that level awakens in the relationship, they dynamics change and may never come to back to equilibrium.

6. Men's emotions really do need nurturing.


Nurturing is not forceful. Instead it is accepting and allows for a natural growth curve. So, be patient with a man, who is learning to embrace his deeper truths. He needs time to fully develop into his potential.

Appreciate men who take the time to stand up against society to discover, feel, live and bring out their sensitive side.

It takes a strong heart to face down societal expectations and programmed beliefs. Give him gratitude and thank him for being available.

This article was originally published at life-matters-coaching.com. Reprinted with permission from the author.