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Why Do I Withdraw from My Partner?

April 22, 2021
3 min read

Are you a distancer in your relationship? You know—are you someone who pulls away or withdraws when things get emotionally intense? 

If that very question made you want to retreat, don’t panic. Being a distancer doesn’t mean you’re a bad person or anything like that. But whether you’re the person who pulls away or you’ve been with someone who has, this is something important to recognize, and acknowledging it will help your current and future relationships.  

Most likely, you’re not pulling away from your partner in an effort to hurt that person. In fact, you probably aren’t even thinking about the effect your withdrawal has on them. 

So, then, why do I withdraw from my partner? 

Reasons Distancers Pull Away

You might be a distancer because withdrawing has worked for you in the past. For some, the easiest thing to do in a situation where you’re unsure is nothing. You may not be trying to run away, but you’re not putting out the effort to stay where you usually are, either. 

Maybe you became a distancer because no one else was around to help you when things got tough in your relationship. You encountered a situation, felt paralyzed, and had nowhere to turn, so you got used to dealing with things on your own. This type of behavior stems from the way your caregivers treated you when you were a child and usually indicates the avoidant attachment style. You probably feel that you’re a pretty self-reliant person because you got used to being on your own. 

Another reason you might pull away in a relationship is that being alone and figuring things out for yourself feels like the right thing to do. Maybe you feel instinctively that you need to “think through things” and not communicate with anyone else until you have. 

How Withdrawing Affects Your Relationship

Going back to where your focus is when you withdraw…it’s probably not on your partner, is it? Most likely, it’s on your feelings or the problem itself. Or maybe you’re someone who tends to immerse themselves in some type of escape to avoid focusing on the issue. 

The truth is, your withdrawal may be causing your partner stress or anxiety, especially if you end up pulling away for long periods of time or on a regular basis. If you look at the situation from your partner’s perspective, they may not understand what’s going on or even know the reason you’ve distanced yourself. They might feel really scared or angry or alone.

Withdrawal can affect you, too—both emotionally and physically. If you’re avoiding dealing with issues, that means they’re stuffed down inside you somewhere, and that can get unhealthy for you as well. Besides, you now have a double issue—the original plus the ones withdrawing has caused.

Here’s a video with some advice for distancers:

People Are Meant for Relationships

If we’re meant for relationships, what do you do? On some level, you want to be in a relationship—you see value in it—and yet you have this desire to withdraw at times. So what’s your best option moving forward? 

Well, you don’t have to try to revamp your entire persona. In fact, you can take some pressure off yourself right now and work with small changes. 

Even just a little bit of communication, a small effort, will make a big difference. Try talking to your partner, telling them how you feel, and if you need some space, let them know! You’ll have a much better chance of them respecting your need if you approach it up front and honestly. But like everything, you have to put in a little work in order to get the benefits. 

So next time you feel like pulling away in your relationship, no matter the reason, stay aware of your feelings—and your partner’s. It’ll improve both sides now and in the long run.

For three tips on getting a man’s heart back after he’s pulled away, check out this free training.  

Photo Credit: Andrew Neel Unsplash

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