pulling-away

Whether you’ve just been on a few dates or you’re in a long term relationship, if you have the intention of keeping things going that can require keeping tabs on how things are going. Just because someone is there, or has given you a commitment of some sort, that does not necessarily mean that they are going to keep it. People walk away when things aren’t working, and the process of keeping them working is exactly why people say that relationships are work.

What you don’t want to do is be too comfortable or complacent and ignore the warning signs that she’s pulling away. Sometimes there’s nothing that could be done, but many times there is! She liked you at the start right? Here are some ways to tell that she’s pulling away before it’s too late and what to do about it.

There’s a change in the passion department.

If you start off a relationship with a passionate sexual bond, it can naturally cool off a bit as the novelty of new love quiets down a bit. But it shouldn’t go away, and the sex shouldn’t stop. Sometimes the first sign that someone is trying to create some distance is to cut that cord because it’s such an important element of a romantic relationship, and what really separates it from a friendship.

If she’s suddenly less affectionate and less responsive to your affection in general, look around and see if you can pinpoint any particular things to work on. If you can’t, it might be a good time to address it. Of course sometimes people have their reasons for losing their sex drive, like stress, and it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with you. But if she is stressed and not telling you about it, that’s something else to consider.

She’s keeping stuff from you.

Relationships require a lot of communication to operate at a high level. That doesn’t mean that you have to tell each other everything, and you actually probably shouldn’t. But it does mean that you shouldn’t be keeping important things from each other, whether that’s future plans, stress, people who she is spending time with. It’s sort of slippery slope once you stop sharing.

At first it’s not exactly a lie to omit that the cute guy at work tagged along on her girl’s midweek happy hour, but if that fact is left out it’s easier for her to get closer to him without you knowing about it. Not to say that’s necessarily what’s happening when someone is keeping things from you, but just as an example.

She’s picking fights over nothing.

Picking fights over nothing is a classic sign that someone is either confused or trying to push you away. I can think of a situation where I was dating a guy and one day he just started laying into me about what I ordered for lunch. He seemed infuriated by my choice, which of course makes no sense. Oddly, it was the first time I really felt like he was treating me like his girlfriend. And then the following day he informed me that he wasn’t in a place in life where he could have one.  

Not all examples are as obvious and concise as that one played out, but generally irritability at you when you aren’t doing anything wrong often means that they’re pushing you away. It can come from a place of “how dare you.” How dare you show up in my life and change it. How dare you make me feel things. Or how dare you not be the person I thought you were going to be.

You don’t need to put up with that for too long, it’s not nice. Sometimes that sort of thing triggers a conversation in a good way, and it makes the person recognize that they’re just scared, and not that they’re actually over it. But it can also be an attempt to push you into reacting so that you end it with them and the breakup is easier in their mind, or push you into reacting so that they have an example of you not being as perfect as you usually are. Sometimes people need to create compelling examples of why things aren’t working, instead of acknowledging the doubts or fears that they already have sparked up inside them.

She’s spending time with new people.

If she’s suddenly spending time with a new group of people that you’ve never heard of before, it might be coming from the same place of trying to create her own life separate from yours. Of course this is not necessarily a bad thing it can be a great thing, but not if she’s keeping things from you and taking space that doesn’t feel good to you. Our intuitions are incredibly strong, and we don’t always give them enough credit.

But when we’re checking in with ourselves we almost always know what’s really going on behind the scenes. When you get that worried feeling in your gut that something is off, something is usually off. It can take some time to figure out what that something is, and you don’t want to jump to any conclusions while you do so. But you should never ever ignore the feeling, because it’s usually trying to tip you off about something.

She’s making big plans without you.

When people are starting to pull away in relationships they often literally try to create physical distance. So she might for example, not invite you a friend’s birthday party and wave it off like it’s just a little thing and say you wouldn’t enjoy it anyway. Then she starts to do it more and more, and you’d be right to wonder why it is that she doesn’t seem to want you around, or even more telling why she doesn’t seem to want you around when other people are around. It’s easier to slip out of a relationship without having to untangle other friendships all at once, so if she’s suddenly separating your lives more and more she might already working on that process.

The same thing goes if she is making decisions about jobs, trips, or obviously moves without talking to you about it. When someone starts to leave you out of what can be life-changing decisions, it’s because they aren’t quite sure they can envision you in their future life. She might not be planning to breakup with you, but the fact that she would go on a job interview without telling you means that you wasn’t looking for your input on the decision. It’s crucial to have autonomy in a relationship, but ignoring that a partnership exists in a relationship is not respecting the fact that she’s in one.

Recognizing the signs that someone is pulling back in a relationship is important for a lot of reasons. If the relationship is worth salvaging it’s a lot easier to do it now than down the line when you’ve drifted apart even more. If the window’s broken you fix the window, you don’t wait for the house to crumble before you talk about the window. It’s a moot point by then, when the house crumbles all the windows are broken.

But sometimes a relationship is not going to be salvaged, and in that case you want to know when it’s time to walk away so you don’t waste your time with someone who doesn’t want to be with you. There are a lot of reasons why people stay in relationships too long after they’re over, and those reasons can vary depending on the longevity and seriousness of the relationship.

No matter what the reasons are for drawing things out, if you aren’t getting what you want and need out of a relationship it’s usually better to rip off the proverbial Band-Aid and be on your way. Breakups are never easy, that would be bizarre. Anyone who isn’t a sociopath is going to have a wide variety of feelings to contend with at any given time. But there’s only so much you can do in a relationship if the other person isn’t willing to make it work. If you still want to be in a relationship then you’ll probably find that the only way to find the right one is to walk away from the wrong one.   

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