When He Pulls Away, Do Nothing: 13 Reasons Why He’ll Come Back

Relationships can be complex, and sometimes, you may find that the person you’re dating or in a relationship with starts pulling away. While the instinct may be to chase or try to fix things immediately, there are moments when doing nothing can be the wisest course of action. Here are some reasons why allowing him the space he needs might actually bring him back closer to you.

1. Independence breeds attraction.

You know that feeling when you’re so immersed in something, and then you take a step back and suddenly see its value? The same principle applies in relationships. When you’re independent and not constantly seeking validation or attention, it allows the other person to actually miss you and realize your value in their life.

It’s kind of like how we sometimes only truly appreciate something when it’s not readily available. Staying busy, focusing on yourself, and not letting someone else become the sole focus of your existence isn’t about playing games. It’s about preserving your self-worth. By being your own person and not rushing to fill any perceived gap, you inadvertently amplify your appeal. Plus, a relationship built on mutual respect and space is way healthier than one where partners are constantly glued to each other.

2. It gives him time for reflection.

Just as we occasionally need our space, men do too. If he’s pulled back a bit, it could be for a myriad of reasons. Maybe he’s dealing with personal issues or just trying to figure things out. By giving him some breathing room, you’re allowing him the space to evaluate his feelings and thoughts without external pressure.

Everyone needs solitude to introspect and grow. When he does this on his own, without prompt or coercion, any conclusion he reaches about the relationship will be genuine. Trust that, given time, he’ll sort through whatever’s on his mind and come back with a clearer perspective.

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4. It keeps things from becoming unnecessarily dramatic.

Let’s be real; overreacting or pressing someone for answers can make small issues balloon into big ones. Sometimes, he might just need a break, and by respecting that and not making a scene, you’re maintaining a sense of calm in the relationship. Continuously seeking closure or pressing for answers can lead to heated arguments, misunderstandings, and heightened emotions.

Instead, by adopting a more laid-back approach, you’re ensuring that if he comes back, it’s into a drama-free environment. And let’s face it, who doesn’t appreciate a relationship where issues are dealt with with maturity and understanding?

5. It avoids putting pressure on him.

You’ve heard the saying, “Pressure creates diamonds, but it can also burst pipes.” This is especially true in relationships. If a guy senses that he’s being pushed into a corner or feels like he’s under a microscope, it can create unnecessary tension. Pressure can come from many angles, whether it’s the need to define the relationship, rush commitment, or just an expectation to always be available.

By holding back and not adding more pressure, you’re allowing the relationship to breathe. It lets him move at his own pace and in his own time. Remember, a relationship should be a safe space for both partners. No one wants to feel like they’re walking on eggshells, so giving him some room can ease any inadvertent strain you might be putting on the relationship.

6. It makes him actually want you again.

It’s a basic human instinct—when something becomes scarce or hard to get, we tend to desire it even more. By pulling back and not chasing after him, you’re playing into this inherent nature. Not in a manipulative way, but in a manner that reminds him of your value.

Think about it: If he feels like he can have your attention any time he wants, where’s the chase? Where’s the thrill? By staying composed and centered, you’re not only preserving your dignity but also reigniting that initial spark. He’ll remember what drew him to you in the first place and will more likely feel compelled to gravitate back toward you.

7. It gives him time to rediscover himself if he needs to.

Sometimes people pull away because they’ve lost touch with themselves. Maybe work is stressful, personal issues are weighing heavy, or he’s just feeling a little lost. It’s not always about the relationship. By giving him space, you’re providing an opportunity for him to reconnect with himself, his desires, and his goals.

We all go through phases where we need to recalibrate and refocus on our own needs and ambitions. If you keep pulling him back in during this phase, it can prevent him from this essential self-reflection. By understanding and allowing this process, you’re demonstrating that you respect his individual journey, which can only deepen the bond when he does come back around.

8. It creates a sense of mystery and intrigue.

Think about the start of your relationship or any new relationship for that matter. Part of the excitement is the unknown, the little surprises, and getting to know someone layer by layer. Now, when he pulls away and you opt to remain poised, not overly reactive, it reintroduces a layer of that mystery. You’re not an open book, and he’s left wondering what you’re thinking, feeling, or doing in his absence.

This isn’t about playing games or being deceptive. It’s about holding onto that element of individuality, which is both healthy and enticing. It prompts him to be more curious, and that curiosity often leads him back to wanting to discover more about you and the relationship.

9. It builds trust between you.

Trust isn’t just about honesty or faithfulness; it’s also about granting each other the freedom to be individuals within the relationship. When he pulls away, and you give him that space without panic or excessive questioning, you’re silently building trust.

You’re letting him know that you believe in your bond enough to let it withstand moments of distance. By doing so, you’re establishing a deeper level of trust, one that says, “I respect your need for space, and I trust that we’re strong enough to come back together after.” In return, this can foster a more open, transparent, and resilient relationship.

10. It resets your dynamic.

Every relationship has its ebb and flow, its ups and downs. Sometimes, when we get too wrapped up in routines or patterns, the dynamic can feel stagnant. By allowing space when he pulls away, you’re essentially pressing a soft reset on your relationship dynamic. It gives both of you a chance to evaluate how you feel, what you want, and how you want to proceed.

When he returns, it’s with a fresh perspective, and this can often lead to healthier, more open communication. It’s an opportunity to reassess, grow, and come back together with a clearer understanding of each other and what you both desire from the relationship.

11. It leaves space for him to communicate when he’s ready.

When someone pulls away, it’s often a sign they need a moment to process their feelings, thoughts, or experiences. By not immediately rushing to fill that gap or seeking answers, you’re providing him the chance to approach the topic in his own time.

Pressuring someone to communicate before they’re ready can lead to forced, inauthentic, or even defensive conversations. Instead, when you patiently wait, the eventual conversation is more likely to be genuine, open, and productive. He’ll feel that he’s being heard on his terms, which can lead to more transparent and effective communication in the long run.

12. It encourages emotional independence on both sides.

A healthy relationship consists of two whole individuals sharing their lives, not two halves trying to make a whole. Emotional dependence can lead to a host of relationship problems, including resentment, neediness, and imbalance of power. By allowing him space when he pulls away, you’re cultivating emotional independence, both for him and yourself.

It sends a message that while the relationship is valuable, both partners are capable of handling their emotions separately. This creates a more balanced dynamic where both parties can seek comfort and understanding from each other without feeling overwhelmed or overly responsible for the other’s emotional well-being.

13. It shows how confident you are in yourself.

Confidence is attractive, and it’s also empowering. When he pulls away and you remain self-assured, continuing with your life and your priorities, it radiates self-confidence. It demonstrates that while you value the relationship, your self-worth isn’t solely tied to it. This not only makes you more appealing in his eyes but also reinforces a healthier relationship model.

Instead of acting out of fear or insecurity, you’re navigating the relationship from a place of strength and self-assurance, which can inspire a deeper level of respect and attraction from him.

14. It forces you to be patient.

Life these days is all about instant gratification, which is why practicing patience when he pulls away is both challenging and enlightening. By resisting the urge to act immediately, you allow the relationship room to breathe, offering both clarity and understanding. This pause in action not only gives him space but also helps you build resilience and emotional strength.

Over time, this patience can lead to clearer decisions, reduced anxiety, and a trust in the natural progression of relationships, reinforcing the idea that sometimes, waiting yields the best outcomes.

Why did he pull away in the first place?

1. He’s desperate for independence and space.

Even in the closest relationships, everyone needs a bit of personal space now and then. If he’s pulling away, it might be a sign he’s craving some solo time to reconnect with himself or pursue individual interests. This doesn’t necessarily reflect negatively on the relationship or on you.  It’s human nature to desire personal autonomy, and sometimes, it’s healthy for couples to take a step back to appreciate the bigger picture. Remember, a little distance can offer a fresh perspective and make the heart grow fonder.

2. He feels emotionally overwhelmed.

It’s not uncommon for men to retreat when their emotions become too intense, especially if they’re not used to expressing or handling them. Whether it’s stress from outside the relationship, insecurities from past experiences, or an avalanche of feelings he wasn’t expecting, retreating can be his way of processing. This isn’t a rejection of you, but rather an internal coping mechanism. It’s his way of trying to understand and navigate his emotions before he can effectively communicate them.

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4. He’s terrified of commitment.

The deeper a relationship gets, the scarier it can become for some. Commitment means vulnerability, letting someone in fully, and for some guys, this can be a daunting reality check. They might start questioning if they’re ready for long-term commitment or if they’re truly prepared for the responsibilities that come with it. Pulling away can be a defense mechanism, a way to gain time to grapple with these feelings and uncertainties.

5. There are communication issues in your relationship.

Sometimes, when there’s a lack of clarity or frequent misunderstandings, a guy might choose to pull away rather than confront the issue directly. It’s a bit of an avoidance strategy. Maybe past attempts to communicate led to arguments, or perhaps he’s unsure how to articulate his feelings.

This isn’t to say that he doesn’t value the relationship, but he might be trying to prevent more misunderstandings or avoid feeling vulnerable. The absence of effective communication can cause feelings of frustration, leading one to retreat instead of seeking resolution. Remember, good communication is a two-way street; it’s about listening as much as it’s about expressing.

6. He’s got other stuff going on in life.

Life’s challenges don’t always revolve around relationships. He could be dealing with work pressure, financial worries, family issues, or personal dilemmas that have nothing to do with your relationship. When overwhelmed, some people’s instinct is to hunker down and focus on resolving that one stressor, often at the expense of their close relationships.

It might seem like he’s distancing himself from you, but in reality, he’s trying to handle his problems without burdening you. In such cases, understanding and patience are vital. Being a pillar of support, without pressing him, can mean the world to him.

Sinead Cafferty is a writer who has authored four collections of poetry: "Dust Settling" (2012); "The Space Between" (2014); "Under, Under, Over" (2016); and "What You Can't Have" (2020). She's currently working on her first novel, a dystopian romance set in the 22nd Century, that's due out in 2024.

Sinead has an MFA in creative writing from NYU and has had residencies with the Vermont Studio Center and the National Center for Writing.