Q. About three months ago I started dating this really neat guy. He’s very sensitive and caring. Things were going really well up until about two weeks ago when he started pulling away from me. I asked him if I had done something to offend him and he said he still really likes me but that our relationship had been very intense for him and he needed to reconnect with other parts of himself that he ignored. Is this the big bump off, or what?
A. If he is truly being honest with you, then you may be experiencing what is known in the Mars and Venus world as the rubber band effect. This is when a man begins to pull away from a woman after a period of very active emotional and intimate connection.
It is as if he’s temporarily given all he’s got to give in the intimacy department and feels the need to regain some person in order to re-experience his male sovereignty.
It is important to know that he is not doing this because you have done anything wrong. This is sometimes hard for a woman to understand because when she pulls away it is usually because she feels hurt or angry about something that has occured in the relationship. But not so for a man. He will pull away just because he needs to in order to regain his balance.
Just like when a man goes into his cave, it is important that the woman not make the man wrong for this behavior. In fact, it is her loving support and acceptance of him in these times which allows him to stretch like a rubber band to his fullest extension of autonomy.
At this point if he doesn’t feel her blame, anger or hurt feelings, he will being the process of returning back towards her just like a retracting rubber band. This is because once he has fully experience his autonomy, he will actually being to miss the good feelings of love and connection he had with her and will want to spring back into the relationship again.
During their separation, a woman can further assist a man in springing back with something like a simple or friendly gesture that gives him a clear message that he is not in trouble and he will feel free to begin pursuing her again.
However, unlike a woman who may need a little time in order to get back into the flow of intimacy, a man will come back and want to start up right where the relationship left off before he pulled away.
In this situation, the man needs to realize that the woman may need a short period of time to reacquaint herself with the feelings she had before he pulled away. Therefore, he needs to give her the same non-blaming and accepting behaviors that she gave him.
Steve Mandell is a therapist at our Apex Westland office (734-729-3133).