Why Do Men Pull Away From Relationships?

I’m still sifting through the hundreds of responses that you gave me on yesterday’s survey:

In case you didn’t know, all I asked was this: What is the most important question you have about relationships that you’d like me to address in my new eBook? Next thing I knew, I was flooded with questions like this:

Why can dating be so difficult for educated, career oriented women in their 40’s?

What makes a man want to commit and stay committed to a relationship?

Why do men act like they like you and then when you express how you feel about them, they disappear?

What makes men run away from a relationship when you start asking where things are going??

Why do YOU think men pull away from women and committed relationships?

I don’t understand the guys that come on super strong over the course of a couple weeks, and then, all of a sudden, say that they are “not ready for a relationship.” If my behavior hasn’t changed (e.g. they are the one pursuing me), what has changed in their heads?

Why is it that men have follow-through issues? The first date goes well and then there is nothing.

Why do they pull away when things get serious?

I would like to know what to do to get a man really interested and how to continue to hold his interest so he doesn’t pull a disappearing act.

Why don’t men seem as interested in long term relationships as women are?

I’m not kidding when I tell you that I’ve got SCORES of these questions – slight variations on the same exact theme. So, my brilliant readers, since you have strong opinions on all things pertaining to dating and relationships, I’d love to hear from you:

Why do YOU think men pull away from women and committed relationships?

I know it’s a broad question, but I really want to hear what you have to say! Both women AND men, please…

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Comments:

  1. 31
    starthrower68

    @ Karl #24,

    Karl, you are wise but must respectfully disagree with you about being hurt when a guy vanishes. We are human beings and rejection hurts. Now, some people may be hurt less by it than others, but it still stings, nonetheless. I have found, at least for myself, that it’s ok to go ahead and fact the hurt, work through it, and move on. Trying to deny it or bury it only lets it fester.

    After that initial sting of rejection subsides, I figure that person’s disappearance is probably a blessing in disguise and though I may not understand it now, somewhere down the road I will see why I was better off not having that person in my life.

  2. 32
    Karl R

    starthrower68 said: (#31)
    “but must respectfully disagree with you about being hurt when a guy vanishes. [...] I have found, at least for myself, that it’s ok to go ahead and fact the hurt, work through it, and move on.”

    As far as I can tell, we agree completely on this. My 2nd post (#24) refers back to my first post (#17) where I essentially said what you said.

    You will be hurt by rejection (or possibly rudeness, as JuJu claimed (#22)) in relationships. You have to accept the inevitable, face the hurt, and date anyway. If someone is incapable of facing the hurt or moving on, they shouldn’t date.

  3. 33
    Selena

    Singlet #30

    That’s a very good point. I think many of us have stayed in relationships past their expiration date because we were getting something out of it even if it wasn’t great. We might have wanted to continue hoping it would get better, but the other person just felt “Nah, this isn’t working.”

  4. 34
    JuJu

    I never claimed the women are only hurt by the rudeness of such behavior, Karl – that’s just adding insult to injury. Not only did he dump her, he also did it in the most inconsiderate way possible.

    Clear now?

  5. 35
    Ruby

    As far as men over 40 are concerned, I find that many older men don’t seem too interested in getting into a serious relationship any more, sometimes including not even having a steady girlfriend. They seem happy with casual relationships. Generally, they’re divorced, are dealing with kids and ex-wives, have finished raising kids and now want some “me time”. Or they’ve never been married or lived with anyone and probably never will. I didn’t see this too much whan I was younger and men were thinking more about marriage and/or starting families.

  6. 36
    JerseyGirl

    I think men aren’t as loyal to women as women can be to men. I also think men are less willing to make self sacrifices for a relationship when women are willing to sacrifice so much more. Men really have it easy. At the end of the day, on top of it all, they can blame it on biology about how many women they want to bed. It’s a reminder that no matter what you do as a woman, for him, the quantity is always more important. Whatever is newer is better to men and you just can’t compete with it.
    I’d love a good relationship. I just don’t think men today want the same and are willing to put in the effort that will equal my effort. And I think me nwant female adoration all the while telling women how unimportant we are as indivdual people but how much we matter as far as variety goes.

  7. 37
    Karl R

    JerseyGirl said: (#36)
    “I think men aren’t as loyal to women as women can be to men.”

    According to therapist Judy Kuriansky, PhD, “I believe that 60 percent of women will at some point in their marriage embark on an extramarital affair.”
    Click here

    JerseyGirl, how are you defining “loyal”? I would say many men AND women fall short in that regard.

    Furthermore, it seems that many women are attracted to men who are disloyal. It seems that most women (initially) choose men based on whether they are exciting or boring, not based on whether they are loyal or disloyal.

    How many single women have affairs with married men, with the expectation that these men will leave their wives and marry them? These are men who have a proven track record of disloyalty.

    JerseyGirl said: (#36)
    “I just don’t think men today want the same and are willing to put in the effort that will equal my effort.”

    Think about your last three relationships. What percentage of the dates did you plan? What percentage of the dates did you pay for?

    If you discount the effort that the man puts in, then you’re going to skew the perspective about who is putting in what amount of effort.

    My girlfriend says that our relationship is the best relationship that she has ever been in. The reason: our relationship takes less effort from her than any of the previous ones.

    Perhaps your expectations about a “good relationship” are getting in the way of having one.

    JerseyGirl said: (#36)
    “I also think men are less willing to make self sacrifices for a relationship”
    “Men really have it easy.”
    “they can blame it on biology about how many women they want to bed.”
    “no matter what you do as a woman, for him, the quantity is always more important. Whatever is newer is better to men and you just can’t compete with it.”
    “I think me nwant female adoration all the while telling women how unimportant we are as indivdual people but how much we matter as far as variety goes.”

    What decent man would want to date someone with that attitude?

    I’m not about to waste months of my life with a woman who assumes I’m scum, trying to convince her that I’m a decent guy. Any decent guy is going to find this attitude so offensive that he will vanish as soon as he gets a whiff of it.

    The guy who is that lousy might stick with that kind of a woman … provided he thinks he can still get what he wants out of the relationship.

  8. 38
    sayanta

    I know this blog is about debate and discussion- and although the decent guys here have always made excellent points, I have to say this: if a woman is absolutely intent on hating men and the state of dating, no amount of logic and argument, no matter how civil and reasonable, is going to change her mind. For example, say you’re calmly walking down the street and someone just randomly comes up to you and starts screaming, “Why do you have green hair, you moron?” even though you’re blond. Do you stand there and calmly say, “Wait a minute, crazy lady (or dude). You are mistaken. My hair is not green, but a lovely shade of strawberry blonde. Can’t you see?” No…you just ignore him and get the eff out of there.

    Now- I don’t want to sound like I’m making fun of the guys who post with reasonable arguments about why women shouldn’t be fed-up, jaded, etc. Sometimes, they’ve done wonders to boost my morale. But the pattern is- the SAME female posters come on here hatin’ and the same men put forth arguments that you shouldn’t hate because of xyz. Boys, I think you’re beating your head against a wall here….

    But if you’re just posting for the hell of it, because you love it, go right ahead, I guess….

  9. 39
    Evan Marc Katz

    Thanks, Sayanta. So, from now on, would you please be the woman who backs me up and makes my reasonable arguments for me?

    Like the female Karl? Because I’m exhausted at defending myself in my own house!

    The way I see it, if you don’t like the cooking, find somewhere else to eat. Don’t keep coming to the restaurant and complaining to the management that the chef sucks. :-)

    XO

    The Management

  10. 40
    sayanta

    EMK-

    LOL- you already have A-L for that though…I’m afraid I can’t compete with her.

  11. 41
    Selena

    Speaking of A-L…where’s she been lately?

    Love to hear her thoughts on being the female Karl. :)

  12. 42
    Valerie

    Daisy- You hit the nail on the head. It’s all about timing.
    It seems like women are interchangeable to men.
    I know a lot of men like that. And it’s hard to believe that they “love” their wives when they only “love” someone when it’s convenient for them.
    That just makes them fair weathered friends in my opinion.

  13. 43
    sayanta

    #42, Valerie-

    “They love themselves when it’s convenient for them.”

    Are you talking about specific men, or are you getting this from your girlfriends and Cosmo? If you are talking about specific men who’ve done this, you’re not actually inside a man’s head. Therefore, it’s arrogant (for you and other women)- to assume that they chose to “love someone when it’s convenient for them.” I’m not a man, but I think I can pretty much assume that they run from arrogance.

    A lot of posters have said this- that they see men settling at some point, and they can’t possibly imagine why. Reading this, it just screams “I’m a bitter ex.” How do you know personally the intricacies of the relationship with the woman that they chose to settle with? Are you the family housecat?

  14. 44
    Karl R

    Valerie (#42),
    I think you managed to completely misconstrue what diana meant (#8).

    Women aren’t interchangeable, but we don’t assume that there is “The One” we must marry. I don’t have to marry the first woman I meet who would be a wonderful spouse. Eventually, I will meet another.

    Men do love women when it’s inconvenient. But we don’t marry them when it’s that inconvenient … even when we love them.

    Men aren’t fair-weather friends. Our behavior follows Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Our ability to provide for a spouse/family takes precedence over our desire to have the benefits that come from that relationship.

    You’ll find plenty of men who don’t follow the behaviors I just described. They’re the kind of men who are fathers by the time they’re 20 and divorced by the time they’re 25.

  15. 45
    Chai

    To recap Juju wrote at # 22

    None of these women asked why the man broke up with them. They asked why he pulled the disappearing act. Which I personally find to be the height of disrespect….does the ability to disappear like that have anything to do with one’s ethics? To me it seems, putting it mildly, inconsiderate. I would think after an actual relationship where sex and exclusivity were involved, one partner owes another a bit more than that

    Karl R #24
    “Let me get this straight. You’re saying that the women aren’t hurt by the rejection? They’re hurt because the men are rude about it?I agree that it’s rude……..l. If you’re that hurt by discourteous behavior (which is inevitable when dating), then you aren’t mature enough to handle a relationship.”

    Let me dare to make the claim that the ‘pain’ of ‘rejection’ is minimal compared to the dishonour and violation that results from disrespect. What is ‘rejection’ anyway? all it is are two people making choices about what they want in life and what they dont – to even term it as ‘rejection’ is immature, adolescent -ish language. Sometimes choices clash, not everyone gets what they want but as long as there is mutual understanding and respectful treatment the pain is minor (and a good pain not a bad pain) and can in fact quite a liberating evolutionary experience for both parties.

    In life its not what you do, but how you do it that matters.

    In terms of actions, Respect stands supreme, even above love, and its violation is the ultimate violation. Juju is absolutely right in her point, and it is rare to see this issue (of disrespect) brought up in the context of relationships today, even though it has become appalingly common and dismissible, just as you have done with your comment.

    Get over ‘rejection’, in adult relationships respect/disrespect is THE ISSUE, and it is far, far worse in its devastating effects than ‘rejection’ or a breakup

    No one can control their feelings, whether you ‘love’ someone or not, you cannot change the way you feel. Every ‘adult’ knows that. But how you behave and act is something that we are in control of and 100% accountable for. Respect is something that (if the person you do not ‘love’ has not done anything wrongful to you) you owe the person even if you do not ‘love’ them. And if due respect is not given, it should be condemned unequivocally by all.

    When a relationship of significance to either party ends, it is the duty of both parties to communicate, negotiate and reach a clear understanding for themselves and their partner. To treat each other with care, respect and honour is paramount whether you are in a relationship or breaking up, getting married, within the marriage or even getting divorced.

    Most relationships are temporary, hence one of the most important areas to focus on is how a ‘break up’ should be conducted. I have been apalled at the disgusting garbage I have seen all over the internet, in magazines, media and even books. the ‘cutting off all contact’ with an ex has been abused as a tool for revenge via humiliation that can be gotten away with, with impunity and even support, just as you have given.

    To pull a ‘dissapearing act’ is with no explanation is unnaceptable, and should be condemned, not excused as you have done, Karl. We all need to question our acceptance of this kind of behaviour as being inevitable or acceptable in any way.

  16. 46
    shonda

    I think its no one reason why men pull away from women . Some men are just sexually attracted to women and the way they express it can be mistaken as he is really interested and wants a relationship. Also, men(women as well) do not take the time to really get to knowa person sometimes. The way you feel about them on the first date may be absolutely different by the second date. I ‘ve been on a first date or talk to a guy a few times and thought he was the one, but as you get to know them you find out differently. They may start to notice things about you that they don’t like, such as, personality. The best thing to do is not get your hopes up too soon. No mattter how interested a man may act in the beginning, you still need to wait and see if the feelings will remain the same.

  17. 47
    Selena

    Shonda #46
    “The best thing to do is not get your hopes up too soon. No matter how interested a man may act in the beginning, you still need to wait and see if the feelings will remain the same.”

    Excellent advice.

  18. 48
    Karl R

    Chai said: (#45)
    “None of these women asked why the man broke up with them. They asked why he pulled the disappearing act.”

    One of the original questions:
    “I don’t understand the guys that come on super strong over the course of a couple weeks, and then, all of a sudden, say that they are ‘not ready for a relationship.’ ”

    If the guy is still around to say he’s not ready for a relationship, then he hasn’t pulled the disappearing act.

    Of the nine original questions, four involved disappearing acts, one clearly did not, and the remaining four were indeterminate. Therefore, the common thread between all of them has to be something else.

    Chai said: (#45)
    “In terms of actions, Respect stands supreme, even above love, and its violation is the ultimate violation.”

    Everyone agrees that pulling the disappearing act is disrespectful (regardless of whether the man or woman does it). Everyone agrees that both people should be respectful.

    But your perspective puts you in a spot where you’re a powerless victim.

    When one of my girlfriends pulled a vanishing act on me, her actions were a reflection on her. My response was a reflection on me. Her actions could not violate me, any more than the rain can when it falls on my head.

    My response could dishonor me; such as, allowing her back into an intimate relationship with me after treating me with disrespect.

    Chai said: (#45)
    “No one can control their feelings, whether you love someone or not, you cannot change the way you feel.”

    I can’t completely control the way I feel, but I can certainly influence my feelings.

    When that woman pulled the vanishing act on me, I didn’t feel devastated or violated or dishonored. I felt annoyed. And in a few weeks I got over my annoyance and moved on.

    If you’re a slave to your feelings, unwilling or unable to influence them, then you are at the complete mercy of every person who wants to hurt you. All they have to do is treat you with disrespect, and they can tear your world apart.

    Chai said: (#45)
    “To pull a dissapearing act is with no explanation is unnaceptable, and should be condemned, not excused as you have done, Karl. We all need to question our acceptance of this kind of behaviour as being inevitable or acceptable in any way.”

    I don’t excuse it. I just claim that other people’s behavior is outside of our control, which makes it inevitable that you and I will encounter disrespect in the future.

    But you go ahead and have a crusade to condemn disrespect and make it more unacceptable than it already is. Let me know if that prevents people from treating you with disrespect.

    In the meantime, I’ll tell people that it’s not a reflection on them if someone treats them with disrespect. I’ll show them how not to let that kind of behavior disrupt their lives.

    My method might not be as flashy as your crusade, but it’s a whole lot more effective.

  19. 49
    Adelle

    Karl – “If you’re a slave to your feelings, unwilling or unable to influence them, then you are at the complete mercy of every person who wants to hurt you. All they have to do is treat you with disrespect, and they can tear your world apart.”

    …Ne’r a truer word was spoken :)

  20. 50
    Michelle

    Hi all and thanks so much for all this. I recently lost contact with an encouraging guy I hadn't met (but had been texting and Facebooking for 8 months) who suddenly removed me from his FB. Why? Who knows! I refuse to lower myself to his level and ask. It was hurtful due to the fact that he asked me out (I was going on holiday and was unable to go) but I said I would have gone otherwise and asked him a few questions, for e.g. about the names of his cats (how dare I be so personal lol).  He didn't reply to me regularly or answer simple questions (red flags…) and when I asked why he didn't reply he removed me from FB. 
    So I had expectations because he showed that he was interested. My ego was bruised to be honest!  However he was disrespectful (there were signs of this early on too) and I don't understand his behaviour. Timing? Well he was off to Australia on his own for a month, so possibly. 
    The important thing is that firstly I texted him that to encourage someone and then ignore them was hurtful and not OK.  I then said that although I wasn't wanting to talk to him particularly I was wishing him a good holiday because it was my natural personality (making the point that I am courteous and proud of it!) I then also achieved closure with a message that said "bygones" and thanked him for introducing me to certain music.  No reply from him through all of this by the way!
    The Result… point made, self-respect maintained, moved on, have a new boyfriend!
    Karl… your thoughtful practicality is a gem of an attribute :-) and I thank you. Time and support are great healers and I see now that it was never right and it is near perfect with my new guy. Early days though. Lol.

  21. 51
    Renitta

    Perfect generalization # 7.

  22. 52
    starthrower68

    This thread might make me better able to illustrate my point than on the other thread I posted it on.  I get it that a woman should not get her hopes up too soon, have a busy full life, etc.  So what should a woman do?  Because if an attraction develops with someone, and she plays it cool or is non-chalant, then that's playing games.  This is what I have trouble with.  I'm sure it sounds like I'm overthinking it, but it seem that a woman has to be and not be all at the same time. 

  23. 53
    Selena

    @ Starthrower #52
    Well I've always pretty much done the mirroring thing – showing the level of interest, enthusiasm the guy showed to me.  Never even knew it was a "thing" lol. Or as Evan puts it another way, a woman doesn't have to do anything – she lets the man reveal himself to her – she observes. Maybe I'm odd, but I don't find that difficult.
     
    What I think can be difficult is when a woman finds herself highly attracted, physically and perhaps mentally and emotionally as well, to a man who is only semi-interested in her. This can be difficult to accept, even to recognize. But repeatedly calling, asking a man over, or out, isn't going to make someone who is only semi-interested more interested.  Sooo…eventually you have to decide if the casualness of the relationship is not enough, you have to move on.  And that can be difficult too if you are still infatuated.
     
    I really don't understand Star what you mean by "a woman has to be and not be all at the same time". Could you elaborate on that?

  24. 54
    Karl R

    starthrower68 said: (#52)
    "… it seem that a woman has to be and not be all at the same time."
     
    Are you familiar with Buddhist philosophy? The concept of The Middle Path is relevant here. Simplified, it says that you can't reach your goal by going to one extreme or the other, but you need to follow a path between the two extremes.
     
    If your first date goes well, you should be open about your interest in having another date. You're not concerning yourself with anything long-term, but you're genuinely expressing your desire to see him again in the short-term. And that's just one example of how this applies to dating.

  25. 55
    sayanta

    man, if everyone applied Buddhist concepts to dating, there wouldn't BE any gender wars. LOL

  26. 56
    Helen

    Sayanta, if everyone applied Buddhist concepts to dating, we'd all be celibate and have shaved heads, wouldn't we? :)

  27. 57
    sayanta

    helen-
    Asceticism and being a 'householder' are two paths to enlightenment in Hinduism- although I'm not as well-versed in Buddhism- I imagine that the Middle Path is similar to 'householder.' Every religion has two main divisions- the ascetics and the 'marrieds'. Obviously- asceticism means no gender ward. LOL- but I was thinking along the lines of what Karl described as the Middle Path.

  28. 58
    Joe

    Selena wote in #53:
    What I think can be difficult is when a woman finds herself highly attracted, physically and perhaps mentally and emotionally as well, to a man who is only semi-interested in her. This can be difficult to accept, even to recognize. But repeatedly calling, asking a man over, or out, isn't going to make someone who is only semi-interested more interested.  Sooo…eventually you have to decide if the casualness of the relationship is not enough, you have to move on.  And that can be difficult too if you are still infatuated.
    This happens all the time to guys too you know…

  29. 59
    Selena

    Yeah Joe, I know. 
     
    I don't see many gender differences despite  the "hardwiring" stuff some women who've written here seem to believe in.

  30. 60
    Eight at Eight Dinner Club

    There are a number of reasons why men pull away from relationships. Men don't respond well to pressure. When men naturally need some space, their girl begins to panic and push trying to get his attention.
    I think a man values his independence greatly, and if his girlfriend is not happy with herself and seems needy, this pushes him away.

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