Women usually process things by getting on the phone with friends and family and talking out their feelings. Men usually process things by pulling back. When a man pulls back in a relationship, it could be a good thing or it could mean that he is a commitment-phobe.
In his book Men Are From Mars & Women Are From Venus, Dr. John Gray goes into detail about how men are like rubberbands. They pull back and then snap forward. He explains how it’s important to respect a man’s need to pull back and that men usually pull back when they feel emotionally closer to you.
The problem with all of this is that some men DON’T snap back. Some men pull back and the stay back, or some pull back and snap forward too often and too severely. This sometimes has to do with how you handle them while they pull back, but it also can be about his ability to tolerate intimacy.
Some men who pull back and then stay back (or pull back and come close constantly—i.e. hot then cold), are commitment-phobes. If he is a commitment-phobe, I suggest that you stop respecting his need to pull back and start listening to and respecting your own need for a constant and close emotional connection.
Too many women use the excuse of the “rubberband thingy men do” to stick around with a limited man. They bottle their insecure feelings about his behavior and slap on their best plastic smiles, while hoping that he will come back and offer up a long-term commitment.
And lots of times a commitment-phobe does come back. But not for long. In fact, once they pull back the first time, their periods of staying close become shorter and shorter. Why? Because the level of closeness is too intolerable and they have to constantly break free to recoup.
Where It Leaves You As The Woman When A Man Pulls Back
If you think that your “hot then cold then hot then freezing” guy is just going to stop this behavior without any outside, professional help to guide him toward healthy relationship patterns, you’d be fooling yourself. Most times, this is impossible—a commitment-phobe’s need to get away from feeling trapped is too powerful. (There’s a great book called Men Who Can’t Love: How to Recognize a Commitmentphobic Man Before He Breaks Your Heart by Steven Carter & Julia Sokol that will help you understand the severity of commitment-phobia and what to look for.)
If he is capable of intimacy and togetherness but has pulled back because the relationship seems to be getting very close to a long-term commitment, then that’s one thing. That is normal and is a strong sign of his serious feelings for you.
In this case, it’s important to handle things a certain way and I’ll get into that in my next article. However, if you have that gut feeling that this guy isn’t safe (you’ve never felt truly safe and secure in the relationship), then it’s time for you to do YOUR rubberband thing and pull back for good.
Hot Then Cold Then Hot Then Cold… Can Ruin Your Self-Esteem
When a man treats you like a filling station, coming by only to refuel on love, attention and affection, it can make you doubt yourself. It can make you question your lovability. It can make you work really hard to keep him around, feeling like you are only worth something when he actually decides to stay put.
It can also leave you with really unhealthy relationship patterns. When a person whom you rely on for support and emotional security constantly vanishes, anxiety builds inside you. You feel like the rug can be ripped from under your feet at any moment, and soon you start to live on edge, waiting for a man to temporarily abandon you. Then, once that precarious relationship is over, you are still left with those anxious feelings.
The next guy who comes around gets the brunt of things. You become anxious with him, expecting him to pull back. You even push him away before he has a chance to pull back by being too demanding or stand-offish. Then, when HE leaves, having felt you were just too much to take, your self-esteem and hope for love plummet!
Don’t let a man ruin your self-esteem or throw you into a pit of anxiety and fears of abandonment. Find a guy who can be there for you. Find a guy who, even when he pulls back, can communicate his feelings and still be there to help you through your feelings. A good man will always care about how he affects you and won’t just do as he pleases without an ounce of concern for how it makes you feel.
Check out my Love Advice Newsletter to learn more about the unhealthy rubber band thing that happens when a man pulls back too often. I call it the anti-love dance, where one person moves forward and the other pulls back. I go into detail about how this dance can deplete your energy, optimism and ability to love in a proper way. In my FREE newsletters, I also talk about how stop pushing healthy men away (maybe you are the rubberband and you don’t even know it) and how to keep a man coming closer and closer.