Research from University of Vienna psychologist Claus Lamm and his team discovered that men and women deal with stress quite differently.
Men go into a “fight or flight” mode, and to conserve their energy, may ignore the needs of others (including you). In other words, men who are stressed out become more self-centered, and want to get back into their own space and deal with it on their own.
Women have a very different reaction to stress. They use a “tend and befriend” approach to try to get to the bottom of why they are stressed. Women want to feel closer to the people in their lives when they’re feeling stressed out.
So you might not understand why men pull away when they’re stressed because you yourself would have a very different reaction to the same situation.
Chalk it up to the whole Mars/Venus thing.
What You Can Do
Realize that he doesn’t need you to solve the problem of whatever is stressing him out. You can’t cut down on his work hours. You can’t heal his dying grandfather. What you can do is be a good partner. Understand that he needs space right now, and don’t take it personally.
When he asks for space, I recommend you give him a gap week. If you start feeling him pulling away or trying to create space for himself, give him a week to figure it out on his own.
Of course, when you talk to him or text him, let him know that you’re there for him but don’t push him to see you or do anything for you.
After a week, you can say something like this:
Over the past week, I’ve been noticing that you’ve been a little distant. I thought we both should have some space, so I backed off. But I wanted to just make sure everything is all right. I really care about you and just want you to be happy.
This shows him that you’re not trying to make this about you and that you are there for him, however, he needs you.
If after a week he’s still distant and the problem continues to persist, it’s time to have a real conversation about what’s going on. If the stress in his life hasn’t evaporated or resolved, ask what he needs from you right now.
It may be a hug or someone to talk to.
It may be more space. Are you okay with that?
Do your best to give him what he needs during this difficult time. If a man needs space, it is not up to you to fill it. Give him that gap week so he has time to figure out how to handle his stress, and trust that he will come back once he’s worked through it.
Reason #2 Why Men Pull Away: He’s Unsure of How to Transition to Commitment
He may not know how to express his true feelings.
While the first reason had absolutely nothing to do with you, this one does, but it’s a good reason why men pull away.
He may have started dating you casually, thinking it would stay light and easy. But over time, he may have started having feelings for you. He might even be falling in love with you.
And that freaks him out.
So what does he do? What any man would do. Pull into his turtle shell while he figures out what the hell is going on.
One minute things are all casual, and now I can’t get that girl outta my head. WTF?? Are my days of being a swinging bachelor drawing to a close?
If he’s already started having real feelings for you, not to worry; he’ll come around. He just needs to work through how his perspective of your relationship has changed as his feelings have increased.
He may worry that getting serious with you will nip his independence, so he may suddenly start making plans with his boys more than usual. Certainly, he should keep spending time with them, even as you move into a long-term relationship. Let him know that you want him to always have separate interests from you so this doesn’t scare him so much.