Men: Why do you pull back?

Gentlemen — First off, I swear I haven’t forgotten you. For the past couple of years, I’ve been compiling notes for a rewrite of The Tao of Dating for Men, and it’s going to be dyn-o-mite once it’s done. I’ll be sharing bits and pieces of the new material with you to get your take on it before doing anything drastic like unleashing it upon the public, so stay posted.

What I have been doing for a little while is listening to women, their stories and their questions. And this is the question they’ve been asking me a lot recently: 

“Why do men pull back? Why do they disappear? Why do they stop calling me?”

Well, I wrote a post about it recently, but apparently the ladies want to know more. So I want to hear it from you. You’ve had relationships that you ended (or let fade away). Why did you let it fizzle? Why did you stop calling? I know exactly why my friends stop calling a woman, but I want to hear your version. Leave your story in a comment below, or write to me directly.

22 Comments on “Men: Why do you pull back?”

  1. david

    Ooohh — well, I went on 120 dates in about 2 years, so I have a big reserve…. One of the main reasons I pulled back was I FELT THEM PULLING BACK (maybe they were unaware of their own pulling back). Or tapping out. Or I got the impression they were on the fence or apathetic / ‘shruggy’ about me. Perhaps they couldn’t show (or were afraid to show) interest. Another factor was perhaps they were too busy — it was too hard to make a date or they canceled or rescheduled one too many times (they didn’t have a work / life balance). Basically, we weren’t clicking / connecting on one or more levels (they didn’t seem vulnerable enough, weren’t available, or we weren’t mixing chemistry-wise).

    1. Ali Binazir MD MPhil Post author

      David — Thanks for sharing! Judging by how familiar these sentiments sound to yours truly, I’m going to guess a lot of other guys have had similar experiences.

    2. david

      I’ve been thinking about the question and it seems it needs to be placed in a context — are talking about ‘disappearing’ after 1 date, 2 dates, 1 month, 3 month? — i.e. are we talking a relationship context or a dating context? If someone disappears in a relationship context, it might be they are terrible at communicating (or an awful person). There were women I was dating / in an early stages of a relationship (say 5+ dates), we were having sex and all of sudden, they VANISH OF THE FACE OF EARTH, leaving me to call a few times, actually worried, but in reality they had “fired” me from their lives — without telling me. Occasionally they make up some horrible, obvious lie (“I started dating someone exclusively” — within the last 24 hours — We had sex one day ago”) I imagine this happens to women (and the basis of the question). When I have “disappeared” after 1 or 2 dates (maybe even a phone call), I wasn’t interested / attracted enough to continue — which is fair for both sexes.

    3. Dr. LaVigne

      Just wanted to respond to the apathetic/shruggy thing that can happen very early (first three dates; for me it is usually the first date) from a female perspective. Not suggesting these are your problem, but I am usually very disinterested when:
      – a man talks about himself the whole time…zzzzzzz.
      – he does the above and doesn’t have a very interesting life, or an intriguing way of speaking about his life.
      – he has no fire or passion: I want a man who is ambitious and altruistic and believes in something greater than himself and his own personal happiness.
      A guy can be incredibly good looking, successful, and seemingly interested in getting to know me, but if any of the things mentioned above happen…it’s a definite “no”.

  2. Mark

    At first I have had a recent thing with this girl – way younger then me, but I got the hunch she dated other guys, also she seamed like she was playing with me, that is one reason.
    Another reason because they get to clingy, and needy that is definitively a bye bye, which makes me pull back!
    yet another example is when she gets too damn bossy, trying to run the train, well let her – just not with me!
    The last one is when they play too hard to get, maybe I am better off with someone else then her! So let it fizzle no need to bring in the big guns!

  3. Kal

    I’d say for me- it’s been a couple of reasons:

    1. It stopped being fun; could sense some contempt; it was harder to make it work & get excited about us. In other words it just didn’t have the flow factor & more importantly it was not contributing to my growth & peace of mind

    2. Lack of chemistry- the polarity of yin & yang had altered with both of us operating at the same pole

  4. Jane

    I realized about 6 months into this relationship, that I was doing about 90% of the work and this engineer was just doing about 10% and riding along…..He was a few years younger than me, which is usually the case with me as I look younger than my
    age and may have been intimidated by where I lived, the way I went to Paris on my own…..I had a FF ticket I had to use(not my choice for my bday—but my sister was pregnant with triplets and my best friend’s mom had health issues) He took
    me to the airport and I said join me, as he had an office in Europe, but as usual he
    “sat on the curb”. I learn something in every relationship and that was I really need
    a man who has a plan!, treats me like a lady and wants to commit to a long term
    relationship……I am still single, but I know my boundaries now, and was fortunate
    to have parents who were married 56 years and dated three years so I had a GREAT
    example……it’s just too bad things are so different in 2013!

  5. Jane

    Sorry I didn’t realize this is for men to reply to…..ah well, a female comment thrown in
    never hurts!

  6. gabriel

    if I didn’t call her more before sex:
    – she seemed not interested in me
    – she was too occupied/too much work to do to have an appointment
    – she didn’t treat me well (making feel bad)
    – she didn’t want sex after a couple of appointments
    – she was always complaining about something
    – she was virgin and I wanted just sex from her, so it’s better to leave before taking her “virginity”
    – I found out, after the first appointment or kiss, that she was ugly

    after sex:
    – she was very bad in sex
    – she seemed to be a very bad person for a long relationship OR for a just sex friendship
    – she hurt me or she made me feel very bad in some way
    – she left me after making me feeling very bad
    – I found another person better to have sex

    after a long relationship where she or me broke up:
    – she left me in a very bad way
    – she cheated on me
    – I felt very bad in the relationship so I didn’t want to see her anymore
    – I found a better person

    1. Ali Binazir MD MPhil Post author

      Signore – mille grazie per questo. E se vuoi, puoi rispondere in italiano la prossima volta. A presto, AB

  7. Mel

    In addition to what was previously mentioned, other reasons I have pulled back were:
    1. When there’s already an interest in her part, mine fizzles out. There is no more challenge to chase and catch the elusive wild beast.
    2. Simply, she does “small” things that seem “funny” and signals an unhealthy psyche.

  8. Marc

    For me, pulling back usually means one of two things. Either it’s a lack of interest in continuing a relationship, or a lack of trust in an existing relationship. Since I tend to focus on high-potential women, for me, disappearing / pulling back is almost always the former case. On the other hand, I never lie and tell someone I’ll call them again if I have no intention of ever doing so.

    Lack of interest can stem from several things:

    * If it’s a date set up by someone else, I may not be physically attracted to the woman. Of course, it would be tacky to come right out and say this, but the lack of follow up often means that. When the sparks aren’t there, they just aren’t there.

    * If I asked her out (or she asked me out), then there may be a lack of “common culture” between us. Relationships can be hard enough as it is, and if I don’t sense that we will both have shared values, similar world views, or evenly remotely similar personality types, I will generally pass on continuing a relationship which has little chance of surviving the rough spots in life, which I know will come. It just makes all communication harder than it needs to be, when it has to go through several layers of translation in order to be received by the other person (and vice versa). Similar life goals and agreement on major topics (money, sex, and kids) are also good.

    * If I asked her out (or she asked me out), there may be no common interests (hobbies, taste in music / film / art, and so on). This is not as important as sharing a common culture with someone, but there have to be at least a *few* things outside of the bedroom to keep my interest piqued. If I don’t find any of these fairly quickly, I tend to lose interest.

    * If I see obvious warning signs (regardless of how we first met), I tend to be more cautious, and less interested in pursuing a relationship. Things like low self-esteem (someone who smokes, has tattoos, has too many piercings, uses illegal drugs and/or alcohol excessively), or someone who just doesn’t have their life together (can’t be employed, is involved in criminal activity beyond the promptly paid or resolved occasional speeding / parking ticket) are not good. These things aren’t inherently indications of pure evil, but they show a lack of good judgement and an inability to plan wisely for the future, which is not as appealing. They may also be foreshadowing of other problems in the person’s life (and an inability to handle these well).

    * I do look for someone who can act like an adult, but who at the same time is fun and a cool person to be around.

    Lack of trust can result from numerous causes:

    * Lying

    * Cheating

    * An unwillingness to communicate and resolve differences

    * Betraying confidences for no good reason

    * Mindless drama

    * Idle gossip

    * Criminal activities (see above)

    * Lack of respect for the other person

    * Refusing to reasonably support the other person

    * Clearly hostile acts, particularly those which are escalating in severity

    * Passive aggressive behavior

    * Blatant mismatches between agreed-upon goals and steps needed to achieve them

    * Psychological game playing

    * Addictions, especially the concealment of these

    * Unwillingness to forgive past mistakes, and move past these

    * Complaining with no effort made to find solution(s)

    * Criticizing others repeatedly, for trivial matters

    * Assuming you have all the answers to life’s problems

    * Punishing others for the mistakes someone else made

    * Keeping company with questionable characters (those involved in illegal or unethical activities)

    Clearly, there could be a much longer list of other things which also damage trust, but if a man senses that honesty is risky, he may just depart from the scene with little or no explanation.

  9. Abrha

    Thank you gentlemen, for sharing the truths behind what makes you decide to move on with a different woman. It is concerning for me, as a woman, that so many women are heartbroken and confused by a mans behavior, when they come at the situation without feeling happy with themselves and their own lives and then wonder what happened with a man they were seeing.
    Energy is everywhere and in everything we do. We are created from energy and exist as energetic beings in the cosmos. As a woman, if I come to a new dating situation with fear and doubt or negativity, wondering ‘Does he like me?’ ‘Where is this going?’ ‘What did it mean when he took 2 hours to respond to my text?’, I can almost guarantee its failure, due to my own inability to be at ease with myself and the situation.
    I had an incredibly eye opening experience a few nights ago that truly made me appreciate men and what you are going through so much more than I ever had before and I will share it now briefly.
    I met someone on an online dating site, who stated immediately that he wanted to pursue me for a LTR with the possibility of marriage within a year. I thanked him and asked that we take it slow and meet first, before we make any declarations of love. We met the next evening and right off the bat he was trying to kiss me and asking if I was still liking him (he proceeded to do this many times within the couple of hours we spent together), which as a woman is slightly flattering, but still felt odd due to his continuing to ask how i felt about him, which felt to me like he was strangling the life out of what we had just begun. He then proceeded to sit me down at a bench while we were walking and tell me how good of a partner he would be to me and how much he would cherish me and if we had children he would be a good family man and protector, which after listening to him, I actually wouldnt have doubted his sincerity, however we had literally met 24 hours ago. He made it known that he had never felt this kind of a connection with a woman and that when you know you know and that the best marriages come not from friends growing in to lovers, but from acting on that first spark and jumping in with both feet, moving in together and marrying within 6 months. I sincerely wondered if he was speaking his truth, but what turned me off completely to the situation was not only how strong he came on, but also how he behaved when I said that was too fast for me. He proceeded to text me at least 30 times, beginning as I was driving away, saying all these awful things, questioning my character and that I led him on and lied to him because I knew before meeting him what he wanted. I was kind to him and responded with a note stating that I was not interested in being treated this way and would he please leave me alone.
    When I woke up the next day, I felt awful about it and actually briefly questioned my ethics and whether or not he was right about the whole ‘when you know you know’ issue. I always thought the best relationships took time to develop and cultivate and how could you know on day 1 that this was your life partner, when you havent experienced being around them sad, hungry, angry, irritable, tired, sick, etc etc. over the course of the seasons.
    It was very eye opening to me and I wondered if this was how men felt all the time. You meet a woman and she just falls in love with you on day one, before knowing anything about you and then gets very upset or angry when you pull back and either slow down or disappear.
    I have a deepened sense of respect for men after this experience. It changed me a little and allowed me to understand a bit more what you men must go through on a regular basis. My only advice: be honest with the women, even if its difficult. Tell her that you aren’t interested, then tell her what happened, please dont just disappear. It was difficult to tell him I wasnt interested because he came on too strong and I felt fearful, but I did it. If there was more truth in our communication these days instead of just assuming they will get the hint, I feel like more women would make an effort to grow and change since they would be receiving feedback on what went through your mind and what went in to your decision to move on with someone else, even if it wasnt directly related to her behavior. I could be wrong, but as the old adage states, ‘The truth will set you free’. :)

    1. Ali Binazir MD MPhil Post author

      Abrha – Thanks for sharing your story! Good on you for keeping your head and behaving graciously. The man’s behavior is a bit anomalous, to say the least, so all ladies beware when a man professes his undying devotion to you 24 microseconds after meeting you. That said, men do tend to get attached and fall in love sooner than women, so it’s good to keep that in mind. It’s also a very good idea to maintain good communication hygiene. Signal your interest or lack thereof clearly and unambiguously instead of relying on hints and non-response to do your communicating for you. The worse thing you can do is disappear and become nonresponsive. I’ve been on the receiving end of that, and it can feel quite invalidating.

    2. Lina


      I guess you made a right decission to leave him..
      I have read some blogs too that if a man become interested to you in a short period of time,mostly they are Psychopath and Narcissist.
      I have that experience that guy even texting ” I love you” even you have not meet him..kind a weird..

    3. Keeper

      What i would like to know, is if you do come on a bit too strong, can you save it if you realize this mistake as someone is fading out. Would you give them a second chance to rewind and take things slow.
      I am in a position where I myself have been a bit too keen and in the time that we have spoken a bit less, I have realized that I MYSELF want to take a few steps back.
      I feel like i cant say this because ill be seen as apologizing and being needy yet again.

  10. Abrha

    Thank you for responding! Im watching your Tedx talk as I type this. :)
    You are appreciated and respected by me, sir!

  11. Roxy

    I’ve had it happen once to me where a guy just left. Though I am only 22, I do think and behave beyond my years. Reason why I find myself attracted to guys in their late 20’s early 30’s, you expect them to be more mature.

    On this specific occasion, I met this really handsome guy at the bar. I wasn’t paying much attention to him because I had just gotten out of work, lived right down the street and just wanted to grab a drink and go home.
    Interestingly enough, I found myself sitting just a few feet from him, and somehow I caught his attention.

    He is the guy I call my type. Blonde, blue eyes, athletic, tall. I am Hispanic, 5’5, fit, black hair. Anyways, we ended up talking having a good time. I decided to let him crash at my place. First time ever, and crazy enough we slept together.

    I decided the next morning to forgive myself for that boo boo I made the night before of sleeping with him. Obviously, I wasn’t drunk neither was he and apparently it was something out of habit for both of us. So we went with it. He ended up checking out of the hotel he was staying, stayed with me the whole entire weekend since he lived 2 hours in the next town. 3 weeks down and we’re still seein each other, things are still new, but nonetheless we are having a good time everytime we hang out. Something told me he wasn’t quite a grown man yet, I mean, he was insecured and told me this via text. He shared a lot of himself with me, I didn’t think anything of it. It made me like him more for being open with me. Until the weekend he had to cancel our hang out because of family issues. He’s grandma was diagnosed with cancer and I knowing his mom new about us told him to go be with his family. First time ever him telling me this.

    I knew he wasn’t married or anything because of how open he was. But that Monday he got back I text him and asked why he had not touch base with me since Saturday. Just wanted to know what was going on and he took it as me accusing him And that’s when he said we were done..

    That my friend, confused me so much. I knew it wasn’t me, he really had issues. And to top it off, I see him at the bar again sitting by himself. I mean, why not be a man and tell me in my face that it’s over instead of in a text!

  12. Johnna

    I wanted to respond to this post. I have had 1 guy pull back on me just recently. That is why I have purchased the Dao of Dating. I have not received my book yet but feel compelled to say, I would pull back from me too. I have been so wrapped up in negativity and low self esteem. I would not date me. This is why I am here. I want to grow into a positive and beautiful women, every since my very bad breakup of which apparently I am not over my life has been plagued by negative thoughts and patterns. I vowed 2014 would be different a work in progress, I told me girlfriend on New Years Eve day during our walk my life will change in 2014. I refuse to continue to live like I did in 2013. I mean this is my year for learning and growing. I can see all of my mistakes. I am fixing everyone of them.

    Thanks so much!!!