Why do we sometimes hold on so tightly to something that isn’t working for us? To someone that isn’t treating us the way we deserve to be treated? Isn’t loving us the way we were meant to be loved? You know the scenario – it starts off with fireworks, an amazing connection, you just can’t get enough of each other. Then suddenly, he’s not calling as much, he’s out with his buddies more than he’s out with you, or you just have some gut feeling that something has changed for him; he seems distant.
Any time a relationship I was in started taking this kind of turn for the worse – I started hanging on tighter. Yep. Break out the stranglehold. I would get scared, and instead of taking a step back and reassessing the relationship, I just held on tighter. I’d feel like I had to do something – anything - quickly to turn it around because he had so much potential; because WE had so much potential. After all, it had started off so well – it had to be worth saving, no matter what it took. So I’d decide to show him that much more just what I had to offer. I’d try sexier. Prettier. Funnier. More hip. Whatever he clearly wasn’t seeing, I was going to show him. You get the picture.
It was, of course, the worst thing I could have done in this situation. This type of behavior is not healthy, not honoring of ourselves, our own worth. And unfortunately, this type of reaction is all too common. Because when he starts pulling away from us, it brings out every abandonment issue we’ve ever had, and leaves us desperately trying to turn things around by pulling out all the stops and becoming everything we think he wants us to be. Everything, that is, except ourselves.
So why do we continue to do this to ourselves? Why do we hang in there, remaining silent on what we’re observing, while we’re pretzeling ourselves around to be whatever we think we need to be to get him, and the relationship, back the way it was? And the worst part is, in reality, it only has the opposite effect – it brings the relationship crashing down even faster than before.
The good news is that we can look at this as a gift. It’s the gift of a clear message that things aren’t quite right. It’s like getting sick – when our bodies are telling us that something’s wrong; we’re working too much, we’re too stressed, or maybe we’re not eating well. And we can then take steps to correct the imbalance. The message here is similar – you’re both on different pages, and there’s an imbalance that needs to be corrected. And whether we like it or not, what we’re seeing is who he is and where he’s at right now. And that’s the point. The present. Right now. That ideal we have in our mind, those dreams we’ve got – they’re all ours, not his. And whether he’d be the perfect guy for us if he’d just be more attentive isn’t the point. He’s showing us what he’s capable of right now. And that is the point.
So what do we do in this situation? Well, there are basically three avenues we can take.
Be direct and ask him.
If you’re feeling like he’s distancing himself and the two of you are losing the connection you once had, well, you’re most likely right. Our instincts are usually spot-on in this regard. So we know he’s not where we are, not on that same page as us right now, and he’s not quite sure how to let us know except by putting some distance between us. The reason for this is because he’s insecure too! He afraid to tell us how he’s feeling directly; he’s not a guy who’s in touch with his feelings and can say what’s going on. So go ahead and tell him how you’re feeling, and ask him why things have changed. If you take this route, be prepared and open to hear the truth. He may say that he’s having second thoughts about the relationship. He may be feeling like the relationship is moving too quickly, and he wants to slow things down a little. He may be afraid he’s losing his freedom. Maybe an ex has re-entered the picture. If the answer is any of these, just know that knowing the truth earlier is always better, and it will save you a lot of anxiety and even more heartbreak down the road.
He may also say that he feels that nothing has changed. This may be because he’s not in touch with his feelings or aware of his own changes in behavior, or it may be that he’s now being his true self and he’s just not capable of giving you more than you’re getting from him right now. If this is the case, this gives you a chance to re-evaluate the relationship while it’s still early and recognize that you may be looking for something from him that he just won’t be able to give you. It may also be that he’s not comfortable with this type of direct communication. If you’re the type of person that wants to be able to communicate freely and openly, then this is a sure sign that the relationship will be on a rocky road.
On the other hand, you may find out that the answer’s more benign, and you were worried for nothing. Maybe he’s had some stressful situations at work that have had him preoccupied. Or maybe he’s had some personal or family health issues that he hasn’t felt comfortable discussing yet. Finding out now will help to relieve your anxiety and may even wind up bringing the two of you closer than ever. Again, knowing the truth is always better than second guessing or attempting mind-reading, which we all know never works!
If you’re not ready to tackle things head-on just yet, there’s another good option.
Focus on yourself.
The second choice is to let it ride while making up the difference with your own life. Enjoy yourself, pursue your own interests, follow your own passions, expand your world. Take a break from thinking about the relationship and go to that art gallery you’ve been wanting to check out or take that dance class you’ve been thinking about. In this way you’ll be discovering your true self while at the same time giving him the space he seems to be asking for. And then take some time to reassess what you’re really getting out of this relationship. After getting a little space and distance from the relationship yourself, you may find that you’ve gained more clarity and realize that it’s not all that after all.
On the other hand, you may find that this bit of distance between you actually brings you closer together when the two of you are together. One thing that men love is a woman who has her own life. And having your own life will make you more confident about who you are and what you want out of life, which men also find very attractive.
And if all else fails, there is a third thing you can do.
Let it go.
If he’s gotten so distant that the writing’s clearly on the wall, just let him go. Even if he shows so much potential. And do it without hard feelings, since it truly is a gift. Because as hard as it is to admit it to ourselves sometimes, some relationships are just not meant to be. As hard as it can be to give up the dream of what the relationship could have been, at least in our minds, sometimes we find ourselves falling for guys that are just not the ones for us. And you deserve better than that. Better than settling for something that’s less than the real thing. Better than settling for someone who doesn’t treat you the way you deserve to be treated. Because there really is someone out there who will treat you better than that. Someone who’s waiting for you to come along as much as you’re waiting for him.
The irony is that it’s only when we refuse to settle for anything less than we deserve that we find out we don’t have to.