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 lawr1126
Joined: 1/25/2012
Msg: 1
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For the past 10 months my boyfriend and I have had a great relationship. We have taken trips together, he used to call twice a day, and always send sweet texts in the morning and throughout the day. We have spent time with both family's and he has always been eager for me to meet his friends. During the past month he began to distance himself. I asked if I had said or done something and he replied that he was under a lot of stress and had to handle it his own way, but he wasn't shutting me out. He is under a lot of pressure at work, his ex is taking him to court, he is facing college expenses for his son so he is truthful about the stress. Since our conversation, he no longer sends sweet texts ( I am lucky to get one text a day and it is usually about how bad work is.) He calls every couple of days but he no longer says "I love you" in texts, calls, or in person. We were together last weekend because plans had previously been made. Things seemed fine. When we talked a few months ago about a friend in a bad relationship, I asked him to tell me straightforward and not drag things out if anything changed or he lost interest and he agreed he would. I really don't think he's met someone else and I don't think he is the type to cheat. He is still very affectionate in all areas and things are great in the bedroom. How could he go from being so close to so far away so suddenly? I know I have been clingy the past two weeks out of fear of losing him but I have stopped making contact unless I hear from him. When we do talk I act as if nothing is wrong and try to just have fun so as to not put anymore pressure on him. I have made it clear in the past that I am not looking for marriage and neither is he. Did I scare him away when we talked by reassuring him that I'm here for him while he goes through these personal issues and telling him what a great guy he is? Does stress really cause guys to pull away? Is this normal behavior for a 44 year old man? If so, how long should I expect this to last? What can I do to save this relationship?
 IgorFrankensteen
Joined: 6/29/2009
Msg: 2
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Why do men suddenly withdraw
Posted: 5/30/2014 4:58:31 PM

Did I scare him away when we talked by reassuring him that I'm here for him while he goes through these personal issues and telling him what a great guy he is?


Extremely doubtful, depending on exactly how you expressed yourself. Some supportive statements sound like put downs, or demands. I don't get that from what else you've posted, so I doubt it.


Does stress really cause guys to pull away?


YEEEEEEEEESSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!! In fact, I would think it's extremely UNLIKELY that a guy under a lot of stress would ever do anything else. It's the emotional equivalent of dropping everything else from your grasp, so that you can hold weapons in them.


Is this normal behavior for a 44 year old man?


I would say that it is normal for any male over the age of, oh, say ten.


If so, how long should I expect this to last?


Until the sources of the stress are reduced, and/or he feels that he is again on an even keel about it all. Imagine he is the Captain of a ship, and the ship is heeled over at an angle as he tries to steer it through a raging hurricane. You try to tell the captain that you are there for him, and he ignores you, or even shouts at you to get the hell off the bridge, because you are taking his time, energy, and attention away from what he's struggling to fight against. Once the ship is out of immediate danger, the captain might turn and smile and ask for coffee. He might not even remember that he DID drive you away.


What can I do to save this relationship?


Wait patiently. Remain supportive, without adding more stress (i.e. don't call for tests and checkups on how he's doing). If he is pulling away because of the stress alone, that's the best way to help. Just having you there and steady will help. If there's more to it than that, nothing will "fix" it.
 kcycrs
Joined: 11/23/2006
Msg: 3
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Why do men suddenly withdraw
Posted: 5/30/2014 6:12:03 PM
I tend to agree with Igor. I can only speak for myself, but on the rare times when I'm stressed (usually job related) I have a tendency to detach emotionally. I'll still maintain my relationships and carrying on as expected. But most of my actions will come across as being performed in a perfunctory manner. Once the stressor has passed I can then become fully involved on an emotional level. The same would hold true if my stress was coming from a relationship and not my job. But seeing as I have very little emotional attachment to my job, little, if any change, would be noticed by my co-workers.

It looks as if you just have to ride it out, stick with him, and hope he's back to his old self soon. On the plus side, working through this together should do wonders for strengthening your bonds. Provided he's wise enough to realise what a great partner he has.
 63T
Joined: 5/28/2006
Msg: 4
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Why do men suddenly withdraw
Posted: 5/30/2014 6:26:20 PM
Lawr1126;

People handle stress in different ways and this is due, in part, to attachment style and a capability of emotional/behavioural self regulation.
There exists several attachment styles but two principle dimensions of attachment style are anxious and avoidant.

The anxious dimension refers to the degree of concern or worry about the relationship and the amount of approval required from the partner to feel good about oneself.

The avoidant dimension refers to the degree of comfort derived from the relationship.

One element to the dimensions of attachment style is an ability (or lack thereof) to self regulate emotion/behaviour.
During the stresses of separation, self identity and self concept can be threatened because identity and self concept have been largely defined by the relationship.

Integrated attachment style and emotional self regulation influence, affect the outcome of self concept.

Why is this important?
Well, since you had asked, "How could he go from being so close to so far away so suddenly?"
This distancing or avoidant behaviour, brought on by stress is indicative of a person who is relatively high on attachment aviodance (preferring to remain distant). If this style of attachment combines with a low ability to self regulate emotion then, this person's self identity can remain in disarray with a less than desirable self concept outcome.

If, on the other hand the same avoidant attachment style combines with a high degree of emotional self regulation then, this person will be able to reorganize his sense of self over time.

The success of your relationship with him will depend greatly on how well he is able to self regulate emotion/behaviour.
Unless he is able to move his thoughts of his ex out of conscious awareness, he will remain distressed. Especially, if his past relationship has consumed a significant part of his sense of self (self identity).

Generally, those who possess high attachment avoidance do not make great partners.
 bucsgirl
Joined: 5/13/2006
Msg: 5
Why do men suddenly withdraw
Posted: 5/30/2014 6:30:27 PM
OP, I'll answer your question, but with your indulgence, I'd rather answer it for both genders. I understand you only date men, but I know plenty of my lady friends who also suddenly withdraw. I truly don't believe it's gender or even age specific.

"Did I scare him away when we talked by reassuring him that I'm here for him while he goes through these personal issues and telling him what a great guy he is?" Agree with Igor on this, it's very unlikely that it was anything you did OR said. When people (men AND women) go through difficult times, each person reacts to different types of stressors, well...differently. Some may get stressed over losing a job while someone else would be as stressed over a loved one's illness.

Now my best (uneducated....but informed by being observant) guess is that how anyone handles stress has more to do with their personal history and the level of their coping skills. A person who's been raised in a mostly loving and nurturing environment has generally maintained supportive relationships and is better able to cope with stressors. That doesn't mean they're immune or stress doesn't affect them, but they have avenues to deal with it.

"Does stress really cause guys to pull away? " I semi-agree with Igor, just to the extent that, very generally speaking, men aren't as adept at handling situations where their emotions become involved as women do. I know women that have a tizzy if they break a nail and I know men who are unflappable (is that the word?) in the face of a major life event. As I said, it IS a generalization.

When someone pulls away, it's out of fear, the fear of what people will think of them or how they will react to how that person reacts or handles the situation, whatever it is. I won't share my own story, but I've dealt with some major life crises and at times I have pulled away from loved ones, because I had to figure things out for myself and having to deal with what everyone else was thinking...it was just too much at the time. I never pulled away for long, there are just times when a person really needs to be alone to try to start to process the whole scenario.

"Is this normal behavior for a 44 year old man? " I understand why you would ask this, but since there was no details about the crisis, pulling away can be a "normal" reaction for any person (male or female) at any age. As a side note, I've learned that taking the concept of what's "normal" out of my mindset as best as I can has made it easier to deal with other people. Normal sets up some artificial expectation, IMO and everyone is an individual so no two people's normal of anything will be exactly the same.

"If so, how long should I expect this to last?" I doubt if a trained counselor/therapist or even your guy could answer that question. "It" whatever "it" is will last until he's worked through whatever the event or situation has presented to him and he's back to that point to where he's feeling like himself again. I'm saying this as kindly but specifically as I know how to, having an expectation of some kind of "how long" for you and him will be another stressor for both of you. If you're not sure how long you're prepared to wait, then when it becomes a matter of making a choice, then go on about your life and do what's best for you. You've told him you are there for him, it's enough to say that once and that he's a great guy.,,,that's a given since you're with him, but it IS always good to verbalize. Don't feel like you are obligated to put your life on hold, since he's the one who's pulled away and you've communicated this to him then decide you'll wait it out for as long as it takes or feel free to move on with your life in whatever way you need to. You can be supportive without having to be "with him".

"What can I do to save this relationship?" It depends on how committed you are to him and the relationship. If you're willing to save the relationship, then you'll trash all your expectations. Again, trying to be sensitive, but when you asked how long you can expect it to last...it does beg the question, in MY mind as to how badly you DO want to save the relationship. Just being honest, not trying to be harsh. I would think that someone who wanted to save a relationship wouldn't be asking the questions you've posed in this thread. I think you need to ask yourself those questions first, do you think it's "normal" for what you'd EXPECT from a 44 year old man and how long can you EXPECT this withdrawal from you to last?

I only posed it that way to give you something to think about. How invested are you or him in this relationship or do you know. Consider that rhetorical.

My last comment in this. Don't feel bad about yourself, it's difficult for the person who's going through something challenging. It's also difficult for those who care about that person. There are no pat answers, not everyone knows what to do or say in all situations at all times. If his withdrawal was "sudden" and it was because of some stressor, then either you're prepared to accept that and give him the time he needs to work through it and get back to who he was before it happened and deal with the fallout from him withdrawing from you...or....make the choice that you can't wait or it's taking too long and go on with your life, and don't drag a sack of guilt along with it. You made contact, you offered support and encouragement. It's up to him to break out of the withdrawal and reach out to you.

I hope what I said makes sense. I know when I post it makes sense to ME, but not always sure it comes across as I'm thinking it through. I wish for the absolute best for the both of you.
 Bebedeleau
Joined: 2/25/2013
Msg: 6
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Why do men suddenly withdraw
Posted: 5/30/2014 6:58:04 PM
I never understand when anyone wants to "save" a relationship. Why? A relationship gone bad is a relationship gone bad. Begging, being desperate, or thinking that you want something you have to try to "save" can't be a good thing.

Having said that, I don't see at all where anything needs 'saved'. This all sounds perfectly normal UNLESS you he knows you are feeling desperate and is pulling away more. In that case, I would say it's a power issue or a detachment from you being clingy.

I pull away, I'm a pro at it. I have an avoidance personality in general. It's not a power play or anything like that, it's how I step back to work through something or avoid dealing with conflicts/making decisions in general (because I never learned correctly to deal with conflicts and I'm one of those people who has a hard time getting past the possible detrimental outcomes of decisions). I don't even think of how it's affecting other people when I'm like that until they give me a little poke and I explain. During those times I can only see what's in front of me, which is the problem/issue. Every thing else is on the side, so unless something is going to happen to get me to notice that, I'm not likely to. I tend to be very focused on one thing at a time anyways, so that might be part of it.

When someone does that, I don't think it's a good idea to play a "tit for tat" game. The mind, left to it's own, can turn the wrong way. If you only text him when he texts you then what is he going to think about how you feel about the relationship? I'd give him a little bit more than he gives you right now without pressuring or clinging ... nothing wrong with a heartfelt "I love you" or just some quiet comfort time.

If this is a rebound relationship be very aware that he may be hashing things out with his X that could include some very emotional things. He could be the kind of person that can't split emotional issues between two people, and whatever emotions he is feeling about this court case are taking precedence.

I don't think people should be pushed aside or it taken advantage that they will always be there, but I think of one friend who I love dearly who occasionally 'goes to the side' with whatever is going on it life. He will poke me now and then, and sometimes I'll turn and smile and 'say' "oh, it's you" in my mind with a smile and just love him more for being there.
 bucsgirl
Joined: 5/13/2006
Msg: 7
Why do men suddenly withdraw
Posted: 5/30/2014 7:51:46 PM
"I pull away, I'm a pro at it. I have an avoidance personality in general. It's not a power play or anything like that, it's how I step back to work through something or avoid dealing with conflicts/making decisions in general (because I never learned correctly to deal with conflicts and I'm one of those people who has a hard time getting past the possible detrimental outcomes of decisions). I don't even think of how it's affecting other people when I'm like that until they give me a little poke and I explain. During those times I can only see what's in front of me, which is the problem/issue. Every thing else is on the side, so unless something is going to happen to get me to notice that, I'm not likely to. I tend to be very focused on one thing at a time anyways, so that might be part of it."

Thanks so much for sharing that. To ME it proves that participating in the forums and reading the threads is an opportunity for learning and personal growth. You made so many great points, I can relate. I will say that we're different (big surprise) my experience when I do pull away is that it has the opposite effect. My family and friends tned to sometimes intrude on my personal space, and that's on me that I don't always clearly communicate that....and I withdraw when I'm overwhelmed. As outgoing and extrovertedly social as I am, there are times, when I want to be the "turtle" and pull my shell up and BE ALONE WITH NO CONTACT. During stressful times, the person going through that has less energy and needs to focus all they can must to deal with the issue at hand. I know it's a self protective thing, and those that are in my life tend to come to me, which I foster and want them to but get overly concerned when I need that down/me time. I realize it may appear to be contradictory, because most people are reaching out, looking for support, but for me, that's when no one hears from me. I've always been independent, and the times when I have reached out the "help" I've been given....hasn't helped at all, it's most often another layer of stress. I've had to be self sufficient and maybe that's a bad pattern I need to break, but when I rely on myself...I've never been disappointed. In the end, it's always been me figuring it out, going through it, not that others haven't tried to help, or wanted to, it's just when they ask...I haven't figured it out so I don't know what to tell them to DO. Once I've figured that out, it's always been something only I can do, for the most part.

Thanks for your post, you've given me a LOT to think about. I've always learned so much from the forums and other people's experience, input and perspective.
 9Pluto
Joined: 10/15/2007
Msg: 8
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Why do men suddenly withdraw
Posted: 5/30/2014 10:09:32 PM

What can I do to save this relationship?

Take him out for a pizza and then go to an amusement park with a Ferris wheel. If there is any talking about it, make sure you are the good guy. You are his escape. Facilitate where you can (without any pressures or forcing) that he:

Gets enough sleep.
Follows a healthy, nutritious diet.
Exercises regularly.
Avoids alcohol, marijuana, and other recreational drugs.
Gets involved in activities that make him happy.
Spends time with you, family and friends.
If religious or spiritual, talks to a clergy member or spiritual advisor.
Considers meditation, tai chi, gardening, relaxing music, or other relaxation methods.
Adds omega-3 fatty acids to your diet. You can get them from over-the-counter supplements or by eating fish such as tuna, salmon, or mackerel.
 lawr1126
Joined: 1/25/2012
Msg: 9
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Why do men suddenly withdraw
Posted: 5/31/2014 4:38:42 AM
I think he also feels that I am a threat to his freedom. We were spending every weekend together (when he wasn't working) and seeing each other at least one night during the week. He always initiated this so I thought this was what he wanted. He recently spent a weekend with friends at a concert and has been even more distant since. The few times he has wanted to do other things, I have encouraged him to go have fun. The one time I tried to communicate honestly and reassure him is when he pulled away the most. Maybe I shouldn't have told him I love him and I'm here for him. I am trying to leave him alone but this has been going on for two weeks now and it's killing me inside. How could he go from being so into me for nine months, talking and texting sweet things every day to barely speaking to me? We have not argued at all during our time together and when we talked it was calmly so I don't think I've done anything wrong. I could understand if there had been problems in the relationship. I hope stress is the only factor. I certainly appreciate your opinion and feedback.
 lawr1126
Joined: 1/25/2012
Msg: 10
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Why do men suddenly withdraw
Posted: 5/31/2014 4:57:05 AM
Thank you for your reply. If I was absolutely certain he pulled away because of his stressors (this is the reason he gave me), I would be much more comfortable in waiting for things to improve. The situations he is stressing over cannot be resolved quickly. My fear is that he has simply pulled away in fear because I may have overwhelmed him by giving off my insecure vibes. I am 100% invested in the relationship....he is the best thing to happen to me in a long time and I love him dearly.
 IgorFrankensteen
Joined: 6/29/2009
Msg: 11
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Why do men suddenly withdraw
Posted: 5/31/2014 5:32:36 AM

I think he also feels that I am a threat to his freedom. We were spending every weekend together (when he wasn't working) and seeing each other at least one night during the week. He always initiated this so I thought this was what he wanted. He recently spent a weekend with friends at a concert and has been even more distant since. The few times he has wanted to do other things, I have encouraged him to go have fun. The one time I tried to communicate honestly and reassure him is when he pulled away the most. Maybe I shouldn't have told him I love him and I'm here for him. I am trying to leave him alone but this has been going on for two weeks now and it's killing me inside. How could he go from being so into me for nine months, talking and texting sweet things every day to barely speaking to me? We have not argued at all during our time together and when we talked it was calmly so I don't think I've done anything wrong. I could understand if there had been problems in the relationship. I hope stress is the only factor. I certainly appreciate your opinion and feedback.


Hmm. Some of this I have some positive suggestions about, some of it not so much.

Pulling away more in reaction to your effort to "communicate honestly and reassure him," is something I've witnessed from both sides a number of times. One person thinks they are reassuring the other that their change in behavior is 'okay' with them. What it comes across as instead, and often actually is, is an attempt by the one person, to declare that what the one person considers to be the others' misbehavior, is going to be tolerated, and declared 'okay,' in order to retain the idea that everything the other is doing is still part of an official relationship arrangement. It's a power-play, and the person being given 'permission to stray,' justifiably feels insulted by it. It is indeed a 'threat to their freedom,' because it sounds like a declaration that no matter what he does, he can't escape his status as an 'affection possession.' The phenomenon is what makes tolerance VERY tricky to carry off.

"Maybe I shouldn't have told him I love him and I'm here for him." Sometimes, a declaration like that, to the person under stress, sounds more like a Mom telling a child that it's okay to just be a weak child. In order to say something like that out loud, you have to admit that you are aware that he is failing you. Sometimes I wonder if perhaps the best way to show real faith in someone, is not to say or do anything at all, as though I'm not even aware that there is a problem.

As for appearing to be all-in for nine months and then head away, that can happen for all kinds of reasons. The most common I've witnessed and experienced, which I'm afraid isn't encouraging, is that the reason for the nine months was that they were caught up in a self-delusion. They thought they were In Love, and did everything they thought made sense for that belief. Then SOMETHING caused them to "wake up," and realize that they were in a fog of brain chemicals only, not really looking closely at practical realities. Suddenly, instead of seeing every twitch and bump as endearing, they see them as warning signs of impending captivity by a flawed mate.

Sometimes people get through such a period of adjustment, and come back around to discover a much more reality-based affection and desire to have the other person in their lives INCLUDING all the 'flaws,' and sometimes they don't. Nothing that you do or say will prevent the outcome you least desire. In my experience, the more I try to push for the outcome I want, the more I will frighten the other person into thinking that I will fake anything to keep them, and thus undermine their ability to believe in me.

In the end, it can be a bit like times of trial for a religious person. They discover that they can't get their god to perform magic for them by arranging ceremonies and prayer sessions. The best they can do, is to discover that by being as true to themselves as possible, that they can find comfort in the idea that whatever DOES happen, will be the best that CAN happen.
 Walts
Joined: 5/7/2005
Msg: 12
Why do men suddenly withdraw
Posted: 5/31/2014 6:46:26 AM
Avoids alcohol, marijuana, and other recreational drugs.



Well, that seems a little extreme, doesn't it?????

In all seriousness, good comments have been made, including what I quoted. There are good ways, and there are bad ways to cope in these situations. And yes, experience, does help. I'm much better at it now, then I was back then. I try not "wallow" as much and instead, do a quick withdraw, and then try to quickly "deal" with ideas that I have come up with.

If that doesn't work, I go fish.

Or get into the backyard with the weeding and playing in the dirt.

If that all fails, there is always whiskey..........
 63T
Joined: 5/28/2006
Msg: 13
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Why do men suddenly withdraw
Posted: 5/31/2014 9:22:25 AM
Lawr1126;

Fear is associated with a type of avoidant behaviour.
The fearful avoidant person is not attempting to avoid intimacy but, fears being dependent on their partner and acts avoidant as a defence mechanism. This is fueled by an underlying anxiety surrounding intimacy. An apprehension or conflicted mind state towards emotional commitment (emotional intimacy).

Often, the fearful avoidant may possess a belief that their partner is clingy when in actuality, their partner is trying to restore security to the relationship.

Unfortunately, the fearful avoidant (fear of being dependent) enters relationships with an unconscious intention of having intense, deeply rooted (neglected or abused) childhood needs met.

The fearful avoidant seeks constant validation (accept them as they are), constant meeting of their needs and for their partner to remain calm.
They can't deal with being fussed over or dwelt upon their personal issues.
Participants in this type of insecure attachment experience a high degree of dissatisfaction over the longer term as it resembles more of a parent-child bond rather than a secure attachment involving trust, emotional support, healthy self esteem and an ability to readily share true feelings.
 lawr1126
Joined: 1/25/2012
Msg: 14
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Why do men suddenly withdraw
Posted: 5/31/2014 10:05:08 AM
I appreciate the insight. I have wondered if he may also be depressed because of his high levels of stress. The distance first began when he found out his ex was taking him to court. Since adding the job stress and financial worries, he became more irritable (not necessarily to me, drinking more, but certainly not excessively, and wanting more time alone. My biggest concern is why he stopped using terms of affection. This suggests that it is about me and not just the stress. He has not officially ended it but things have been on a downhill slide the past two weeks. As to the suggestion of pizza and fun, I purchased hima massage (which he loved) and then surprised him by taking him to a corvette show, which he also loved. I have tried to keep things light and fun so as not to add anymore stress. What is your opinion as to why the terms of endearment have suddenly stopped? By the way, we did not rush into anything and didn't say I love you until after 6 months.
 IgorFrankensteen
Joined: 6/29/2009
Msg: 15
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Why do men suddenly withdraw
Posted: 5/31/2014 1:58:47 PM

What is your opinion as to why the terms of endearment have suddenly stopped?


We can only guess.

Positive-leaning guess: as he IS dealing with an ex, to which he probably also said a lot of endearing things, he may be unconsciously avoiding a repeat of anything he associates with the pain and stress of that mess.
 Sweet_Danimal
Joined: 6/22/2012
Msg: 16
Why do men suddenly withdraw
Posted: 5/31/2014 5:26:30 PM
I think the best thing you can do is relax a bit yourself.

I find it puzzling why people over-react like a sudden change in behavior is a change that will happen forever. People have to change to endure stressors all the time, and even if they don't think they're changed a thing, other people can see it. It's doesn't mean they've damaged or altered their lives permanently, they just have a distraction that's there. If he's got something rocky in his life right now, the obvious answer is to be smooth with it, not upset.

If you want to be together with him, keep in mind the WORST thing you can do right now is act like a 'helicopter' parent hovering constantly looking for danger signs. Having a welcome presence that doesn't require any extra thought or pressure to deal with is what you SHOULD be right now. You've been together long enough to know that NOT being together doesn't change anything, right? If you're still constantly worried about where he'll be on any given evening or weekend, you've got some of your own insecurity issues to deal with.
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