I'm not a professional, but my friends call me the advice queen for a reason.
I've been branded the "advice queen" by most of my girlfriends and have been faced with this question a few times. I'm no professional, but I do give the best advice I can and have had no complaints—as of yet, anyhow!
A friend of mine had some problems with her boyfriend wanting space and time. Her boyfriend wasn't all over her as usual; he preferred being on his own. He was only sending her between one and three phone calls, texts, emails, and Facebook pokes, combined. She felt like he was ignoring her, and she didn't know what to do. When she came over, all she could say was "He's so distant lately—what am I doing wrong? Should I do something? How can I fix it?"
I said what I always say: "How would I know? I'm the one that repels men." But they have been together for four years, and this was really bothering her. So, I thought about it for a second, gathered my thoughts, and gave it my best shot. I say this as if I am all-knowing—full disclosure: I am not!
Nonetheless, I compiled these tips for dealing with a distant boyfriend, listed below. It doesn't matter how long you've been with him—you may not have been with your guy that long, or you might even be married. If you're in the same boat, it just may help you, too.
There are a number of reasons that can cause a guy to act distant. You may know many of these already:
- He's stressed out: It could be work, the pressures of family life, being in a relationship, or university deadlines. If he's stressed, his thoughts might be focused on finding a solution to (or distraction from) his problem.
- Avoidance: He may be acting distant as a form of avoiding a situation that has nothing to do with you. Although you are not the cause, he may believe he must avoid you to avoid his problem because you would force him to face it.
- Fear: Perhaps he has noticed how needy he is becoming and believes this might cause him to lose his independence. In this case, he probably likes you so much that it has just dawned on him how much needs you, and this might be too much for him. He may also fear the level of your commitment or expectations.
- He's cheating on you: Yes, it is quite possible that he may be cheating. However, being distant wouldn't be the only sign of infidelity. So fret not, ladies.
- You’re needy: Men want to feel desired, not needed. Therefore, if you’re spending a lot of time acting like you are relying on him to fulfill your needs, it might make him pull away.
- He’s worried about the relationship: This may or may not have anything to do with you. He might just not be ready for a commitment and pulling away because he has doubts, even though he loves you.
- He’s craving time alone: Again, this might not have anything to do with you. He might just not be getting enough time to himself while trying to balance his friends, work life, home life, and relationship.
What to Do When Your Boyfriend Is Cold and Distant
- Give him all the space he needs: If he's fearful of loss of freedom or independence, he'll snap right back to normal with time. Cramping his style will only make him withdraw further, and that’s the last thing you want to do.
- Love the hell out of your man: He needs you now more than ever before. Make sure to abide by the point listed above and love him while giving him his space.
- Stay happy: In other words, don't worry or play games to try to get him to talk. Act like everything is normal, and don't let on that you're concerned about his behavior.
- Reassure him that you trust and believe in him: Give him confidence by letting him know he can handle it.
- Stay breezy/chilled out/calm when you're together: If he retires to another room, keep things happy and smiley. After a while, he'll come out to feel the love. Positive energy is like a yawn—contagious!
- Set up some quiet time between the two of you: Remove all distractions, so that he feels like he can talk—and he just might! Be casual, though, and don't let him think that the sole purpose of this exercise is to make him talk. Reassure him that you're there for him, but also help him to understand why his behavior is upsetting you. Remind him through I statements that you feel left out when you don't know what's going on in his head.
What You Should Avoid
There are a number of things you should and should not do if he's acting cold:
- Wasting time worrying: Worrying will do neither of you any favors. What's more, he will sense that you're worrying, which will make him even more nervy and cold.
- Smothering him: He needs your reassurance that he can handle this situation like a man. He is not a baby, nor is he your child.
- Taking it personally: More often than not, it has nothing to do with you. As stated before, it could be work-, friend-, or family-related. Even if he's cheating, it doesn't mean that it's your fault. People cheat because they are insecure, and that's not a reflection on you.
- Trying solving it for him: This could put an end to your relationship. If he wanted you to solve it, he would have said so. You're his girlfriend, not his mommy. Most guys feel smothered when their girlfriends try too hard to "fix" their problems for them.
- Playing mind games to get what's going on out of him: He will not enjoy it, and may even begin to feel he cannot trust you. This may even make him start acting even more distant, or contribute to the stress that is causing his behavior and make him even less likely to turn to you for help in the future.
- Making a big deal out of it when he does open up and talk: Again, this is a vulnerable time for him. He needs you to be supportive, not demanding.
What If He Says He Loves Me, But He's Still Distant?
He says he loves you—but maybe his actions speak louder than his words, and they're telling you something different. He's still acting distant, even though he claims to love you. No matter how good it sounds to hear him say those three magic words, there's no way you can make him really mean them.
He might be pulling away because he's afraid of losing his freedom even though he does love you. He might just be talking the talk but not walking the walk—maybe he says he loves you, but he's not really sure whether he really does or not.
Saying he loves you but acting to the contrary can be a red flag indicating that your boyfriend is a bad communicator. This is a complex issue about which many other articles could be written.
Ladies, most of the potential causes listed in this article are fixable. Still, you should acknowledge that it could be the worst-case scenario—he may be ready to end it and is detaching himself so that he won't feel hurt when he's leaving.
But if you're willing to work through it, use the tips above to handle your guy's distance as soon as you spot it. Be brave—all relationships go through cold spots, and it's usually not the worst-case scenario.