6 Reasons Why Guys Pull Away In Their Relationship

Whether you’re in a long-term, committed relationship or talking to a guy you met recently, male behavior can be nothing short of a mystery. One day things are going smoothly between you and your SO, and the next day you’re left with a broken heart. In an effort to gain further insight into the male mind, we’ve talked to college guys and love experts on why so many guys change their mind.


1. They feel like their SO has become too clingy/dependent

Of course, nobody sets out to become the clingy one in their relationship. However, when you start dating someone, it can become easy to get caught up in your newfound love. While it’s important to be involved and supportive in your SO’s life, it shouldn’t come at the cost of your own.

“The main reason a guy pulls away is that the girl becomes too clingy and dependent upon him. This is a real turnoff,” says Dr. Carole Lieberman, M.D. “Not only is the thrill of the chase gone, but now the guy feels like he’s trapped.” As you ease into a new relationship, remember to take time for yourself and your friends, hobbies and interests. By giving your guy the flexibility to make his own plans and go out with his friends, you’re helping to build a healthy foundation of trust within the relationship.

2. They fear commitment

As college students, it’s not uncommon to find guys still stuck in the “commitment-free” mindset. For many guys, the idea of settling down in a relationship at this point in their life is a total turn-off. While there’s nothing wrong with wanting to fly solo, this fear of commitment can become an issue if the guy you’re talking to hasn’t clearly communicated his feelings to you.

“There are guys who are simply commitment-phobes, based upon having had a dysfunctional relationship in the past,” says Dr. Lieberman. “[The guy] may feel resentful that [his current significant other] is trying to trap him into a commitment.” While you can’t control whether or not a guy wants to pursue a relationship long-term, you can look for warning signs early on. Does he consistently make time for you, or are your “dates” limited to just hook-ups? Does he talk about your relationship in terms of the future, or is it impossible to get him to make plans? If you find him unwilling to put in effort early on, then you can assume that he probably doesn’t have any intention for the relationship to be long-term.

Related: 5 Reasons You May Be Feeling Unsettled In Your Relationship

3. They’re only about the chase

For some guys, there’s nothing more exciting than pursuing a girl they’re interested in—the initial attempts to impress her, the awkward first dates and the idea of getting to know someone completely new. However, as soon as the chase ends and they begin settling into a committed relationship, they quickly find themselves bored and wanting to move on.

“When a guy is first attracted to a girl, he wonders how he can ever get her to like him,” says Dr. Lieberman. “But, after they are in a relationship, if the girl lets go of her interesting life to make her world revolve around him, she loses her appeal.” Unfortunately, it can be hard to recognize whether a guy is in it for the long term or just for the chase. If he’s making dramatic attempts to impress you, but yourrelationship isn’t progressinginto anything serious, then it’s definitely a red flag.

4. They have trouble connecting with you

Even if two people are really into each other, it can be hard to make things last if one of the people in the relationship isn’t comfortable being themselves around the other person. Although a little awkwardness is expected at first, it’s important to pursue a relationship with someone you know you can be yourself around.

“[My ex-girlfriend] was a great person and friend, but once we started dating she just became really timid around me,” says Vincent Edwards, a sophomore at the University of South Carolina. “When we all hung out with friends she came out of her shell, but when we were alone she had a shy nervousness about her. I really liked her, but I felt like that put a wedge in between our relationship.” While it’s always important to communicate issues in the relationship early on, having serious trouble connecting with the other person can be a sign that things may not be meant to be between you two--or that you should at least stick to being friends first.

“I tried talking to her about it so that we could work through it, but it wasn’t very successful,” says Vincent. “She was so shy around me so we never really had a chance to open up or develop a better relationship, and it damaged our friendship as well.” When in doubt, it's always better to slow things down and stick to the friend zone before progressing into a serious relationship. Having a solid friendship and foundation will help you and your SO stick it out in the long run if you do decide to date later on.

Related: When They Won't Commit: How to Survive a 'Not-Relationship'

5. They feel like the relationship has an expiration date or "shelf life"

When a guy pulls away in a relationship, it doesn't necessarily mean that he's not into you. Sometimes, outside factors like time and distance can play a big role in bringing couples apart.

"Some guys pull away because they feel like the relationship has a shelf life, such as an upcoming summer break or graduation," says Dr. Lieberman. "These guys may be afraid that you'll find someone else while you're apart from each other, and they want to avoid the rejection." However, Dr. Lieberman warns that many guys will use this as an excuse. "Many times, [the guy] is just biding his time with you, knowing that they will soon have a natural excuse to break up," she says. "After a certain time, some guys will pull away if they don't see a future with you, because they get too bored to hang in there or feel guilty for using you."

If you feel like things between you and your SO are shaky leading up to summer or graduation, take time to discuss your options and where you see your relationship going in the future. If your guy isn't willing to make an extra effort or go long-distance, that's a red flag that he may not be planning to stick around.

6. They feel stressed and overwhelmed with other aspects of their life

It's no secret that stress is something that affects everyone, especially during the college years. Sometimes, the thought of maintaining a relationship along with a GPA and a social life is too much for anyone to handle.

"Often times guys will pull away if they feel stressed or overwhelmed with other parts of their life," says Dr. Lieberman. "They're afraid that they'll start letting you down and that you'll get angry or break up with them, so they find it easier to pull away from you before this happens." Putting pressure on a guy who's already stressed out can lead to further conflicts in the relationship. If you feel your SO pulling away from the relationship because of stress, talk through the ways that you can be more flexible and understanding of each other's time. If that means taking a break or spending more time apart, that's okay too.

While we may never be able to fully understand how guys think, there are certain signs that you can recognize early in the relationship that may help you predict whether or not your guy is here to stay. Stick to your guts, and don't be afraid to slow things down if you start to have doubts. A solid friendship and foundation can be the key to a lasting, long-term relationship.