Everything is so exciting when you start to make a connection with someone. The more you learn about each other, the more excited you get. You share your stories, hopes, and dreams with one another. You share laughs, create private jokes, and you become a source of comfort for one another. You begin to notice how deeply you’ve been wounded in the past, and yet somehow this person seems to heal your wounds. You feel safe, knowing that you can trust them with your heart. Everything in life starts to feel like rainbows and butterflies, and then it happens. It hits you like a ton of bricks. You start falling. Maybe too fast. You feel like it’s out of your control, and it’s scary, I know. Your only hope at this point is that he’ll catch you. And then it happens. He runs. Gone. Vanished like a fart in the wind. Just kidding, men aren’t like farts, but they sure can disappear just as fast. Or sometimes they can linger… But, that’s another topic for another day.
So why do they disappear just when it’s getting good? As soon as they catch a hint that you’re becoming emotionally attached?
There are several reasons why men withdraw when we are at our most vulnerable time in relationship development. Maybe he ran right after sex.
It probably has less to do with you than you might think. It’s not about whether or not you’re the right one, or how much they like you. They might even think you’re perfect, and realize that they’ve developed strong feelings for you too and panic! Their withdrawal likely has more to do with their ideas around relationships and their readiness.
He doesn’t want a relationship.
And he probably warned you.
Most stand up guys will tell you in the beginning that they’re not looking for a relationship if they’re not ready. What in the hell does that even mean? Not ready? Well it means exactly that. And if you chose to proceed after having received that information, well then I’m sorry to tell you, but you chose this.
A) You shouldn’t be feeling down. Not because your feelings aren’t valid, but because he clearly communicated his intentions. You need to pick yourself up and carry on. Just remember the happy times you shared, appreciate it for all the beauty that it was, and go on about your life focused on your priorities and things that make you happy.
B) You shouldn’t be feeling down, because if there was ever a chance he might return, it’s because he realizes that you’re not dependent on him for happiness. Again, if he told you he wasn’t ready, don’t hold your breath waiting for him to come back. So feel the sadness and disappointment, and then let that sh!$ go.
So what does it mean when a guy says they’re not ready?
This is a concept that many women struggle to understand, and trust me… it took me a while to figure this out.
12 Reasons why a man isn’t ready for a relationship:
1) He’s not confident in his ability to relate to you in the long term.
Relationships are hard! Especially if you can’t understand each other. And we can’t rely on what our parents taught us, or even what we learned from watching them. Who wants a relationship like their parents had? No really, comment below please. I’m only speculating, but I think that the vast majority of us are going to answer that question with an emphatic no.
Modern relationships have different requirements and expectations today than they did 30, 40, 50 years ago. Men were still expected to be the providers, and not much else. Today women are more independent than ever. We’re in the workforce and providing for ourselves. Our needs from men are different now. We aren’t looking for the man with the nicest car or the biggest bank account. I can’t speak for all women, but all the women I know are looking for a best friend (with monogamous benefits). We’re looking for companionship. This is something that the sexes do differently, so the very idea comes with many challenges.
When guys spend time together, they talk about cars, sports, technology, etc… maybe they geek out on hops and craft brews, or they’re getting together for a jam session. But they generally remain in the safe zone. Conversations don’t delve too deep, because they’ve been taught from their peers, fathers, and grandfathers that talking about feelings let alone having feelings is a show of weakness. They tease, mock and ridicule each other as a sign of affection. Hanging out with each other comes naturally, because they have an inner knowing of just “getting” each other.
Women have that sense of understanding with each other too. We can get together over a bottle of wine and spend hours and hours talking. We talk about different things than men do though. We can keep it surface level talking about clothes and makeup, but usually we dive deep. We laugh, and cry as we talk about our relationships with men, our children, and how we relate to our coworkers and friends. We talk for hours about how our parents played a role in our development and how we can work through our issues. We hug each other without inhibition or fear of judgement. People usually don’t call us gay or lesbian because we show each other affection and openly say, “I love you,” to one another.
We tend to think that men should be as skilled at emotions as our female counterparts. And while they absolutely can be at varying degrees, very few men have the capacity to talk as deeply about emotions like we do. Because they’ve become conditioned to be “fixers,” they often offer a solution before we’re done expressing ourselves. And offers for solutions often feel dismissive and invalidating. This is a common issue that couples argue about, and it can take years for couples to work through understanding one another on this front.
Ladies if you’re expecting your man to be your primary emotional support, you’re likely putting too much pressure on him. This is why it’s imperative that you don’t forget about your girlfriends!
2) They’re not ready in terms of career progression and financial stability.
If he doesn’t feel financially stable and has enough career development, he’s not ready for a commitment. Even if you’re financially independent and have your own career, he doesn’t want to be in a position where you are the primary breadwinner. There may be moments in any relationship where that is the case, but he needs to feel secure in his financial stability before even considering a relationship. He doesn’t want to have to rely on you for support, because the very thought emasculates him. If he’s worked on his ego, he’ll be okay with it for a bit later on in a committed relationship but certainly not in the beginning. Men are hardwired to be the provider. He feels like he’s at his best when he’s got his sh!$ together so to speak. When they are in financial ruin or instability, they just don’t feel like they’re on top of their game and can’t risk distraction (which is what we are to their primary drive to success) until they are financially stable.
3) They feel like they don’t deserve you.
What?! I chose him! He has to know that I think he’s amazing!
It doesn’t work like that though. Many men suffer from imposter syndrome. They secretly lack complete confidence and wonder if they’re good enough for you. Especially when they think very highly of you. They fear that they won’t be able to meet your standards consistently, and if a relationship is going to work, they need to feel like they’re winning. Not like competition, but they need to feel like they’re getting it right with you most of the time. They may fear that you’re seeing them for something they’re not. They may not feel as amazing as you seem to think they are, and so they dismiss your adoration for them as though you’re lost in lala land. If he thinks you’re putting him on a pedestal, he’s bound to let you down as soon as you find out he’s an imperfect human, just like everyone else. He wants to be your hero, but he needs to feel like a hero in his own eyes before he can let you in.
4) They take relationships seriously.
Many men see it as a personal failure when they can’t make a relationship work. See, they’re natural fixers. They want to solve problems and ESPECIALLY if they’ve had failed relationships or have been divorced, they may feel less confident in their ability to make a relationship work. He might still be licking his wounds from the last relationship, trying to figure out where he went wrong. Because even though it makes no logical sense, they tend to take full responsibility even though it takes two to tango.
They understand the sacrifices it would take to eventually merge your lives together. They realize that it will affect other people too. And I haven’t even mentioned the responsibility of kids. Whether you’re childless, both single parents, one of you is a single parent… all of this further complicates things, and they realize that.
5) He’s worried he might not be able to keep you happy.
There’s still this idea that it’s the man’s responsibility to keep us happy. And I’m here to help women and men out of that line of thinking. Yes, they have a responsibility to show up as their best selves, but we all do.
Happy wife happy life… ugh. No. Well yes, sort of...
No one can make you happy ladies. If you’re not genuinely happy on your own, no man ( I don’t care if he’s just like Jesus) can make you happy. You have got to be emotionally stable and not reliant on him for your happiness. It’s not his job to make you happy, it’s yours. His job is to be the best man he can be and it’s your job to support him in that. It’s his job to be supportive of you in being the best woman you can be. That’s it. Your jobs are to support each other in growth, career, family and your dreams.
6) He’s afraid of letting you down.
Something happens when a guy realizes that you have romantic feelings for him. He realizes that he is now in a position where he could hurt you. He knows that when we are vulnerable and showing our emotions, we are susceptible to getting hurt (and sometimes a little irrationally sensitive when we’re falling in love). And ladies, they don’t want to hurt us! They don’t want to disappoint us. They really don’t. Unless they have sociopathic tendencies… But I’ll save that for another article. They love us! And they want nothing more than to see us happy. The last thing a man wants is a woman who is disappointed in him. And ladies, that equates to fear. So the easier you are to be let down, and the less emotional stability you have on your own, the bigger responsibility he feels.
7) He doesn’t understand your language, and you freaked him out with your sensitivity.
When you say things like, “I miss you.” He hears, “I’m emotionally dependent on you for my happiness so please don’t choose to spend your time and attention on anything or anyone else but me. I’m desperate and need you to fulfill my every emotional need. Also, I’m super needy.” I know, *face palm*, this is completely irrational. To us. But to them, this is what they’ve learned to interpret.
I’m not saying that you should never tell him you miss him, but you need to show him what missing him means. It doesn’t mean that you’re going to sit around in misery eating bonbons until he returns. It simply means that we enjoy your company and we’re really looking forward to connecting again when we are both willing and ready to give each other more time and attention.
8) He’s afraid of losing his freedom.
Being in a relationship comes with responsibility and has its challenges. They no longer can make big life decisions without first consulting you. They can’t apply for a job and move to another city or another country on a whim. They can’t just decide to buy a motorcycle and ride through the America’s stopping wherever they like along the way. Being in a modern day relationship means stability, and some men equate that to boredom and a loss of freedom. Maybe you would be fine with him taking off on a motorcycle for a month, in fact, you probably should be. You should want to support his dreams… because you want the same in return don’t you? Maybe it’s not your dream to take off on a motorcycle to Peru, but maybe you can imagine how exciting it would be to hop on a flight to Lima, and meet some mysterious man for an exotic beach weekend rendezvous. 😉
9) He‘s afraid he won’t get enough sex, or that it will get boring.
Men need sex to feel intimately connected to us. But they also need it to be exciting. It’s no secret that keeping that excitement alive in a long term relationship is difficult. When the daily humdrum of life gets you in a rut, work stress, kids etc… couples can find themselves in a dry spell, or falling into habits of the same old thing that gets the job done if you know what I mean. Well, sex is not only intended to be connecting, but also should be creative, fun and exciting. It’s good for our health, it’s necessary to keep hormones in balance, and good for our relationships. I don’t think I really need to sell anyone on this concept though right?
So if he thinks that he’s going to end up in another sexless (or one where sex turns boring) relationship, he’s probably not going to be thrilled at the idea of commitment. Because this may sound surprising to some, but most men don’t want to cheat. Life is a whole lot easier when you’re not trying to lead a double life. Most men dream of having a relationship where ALL their desires and needs will be met. Is it realistic to think this is possible? Maybe not 100% of the time. But when two people value something enough they’ll communicate openly and frequently about it, and put in the work.
10) Maybe something happened.
When their world falls apart, they retreat to their cave to weather the storm and lick their wounds. The last thing they want is to expose their vulnerability, because they’ve been taught since day one that feelings are not okay. Feelings=weakness. They’re afraid that you’ll think less of them, or lose respect for them for having problems. They’re supposed to be fixers right? They’re supposed to be strong always right? Can you imagine how much pressure they feel to keep this facade up? It’s incredibly difficult for men to ask for help and sometimes there’s nothing you can do to help. They usually don’t really want help anyway because they need to figure out how to win this fight, all on their own.
Women tend to blame this behavior on “Toxic Masculinity”. Maybe it is, but maybe it’s an evolutionary process that is necessary for men on a physiological level. I’m talking about testosterone.
So if he’s going through hell, he’s probably not going to feel super keen on chatting with you about it until he comes out on the other side standing taller than before. So just chill and have a little patience. Be supportive and ready to celebrate his success/solution to the problem when he emerges from his cave. He needs you to feel proud of him, not feel bad for him. And you want to feel proud of him too right?
So don’t try to change him or force him to talk because that’s what would make you feel better. It doesn’t make him feel better. And if you care about him, you want him to feel like the warrior that he is.
11) He’s playing games.
Yes there are plenty of players out there, but come on ladies… you should be able to figure those guys out long before feelings get involved. And if you did sleep with or develop feelings for a player, be kind to yourself and learn from that experience. Notice where you ignored the red flags, and move on. No need to be embarrassed, they are charming aren’t they? But don’t let one bad apple let you become jaded. Pay attention and listen to your intuition.
Most men aren’t playing games, and if you’re encountering a lot of them, then you’re likely spending too much time in clubs and bars. I’m not saying that good guys don’t go to clubs or bars… But there certainly seems to be a higher percentage of players in those types of places. So let’s stop with all the man bashing and accusations that they’re all just immature, and thirsty. There are a lot of guys who get falsely accused of these bad behaviors. Generally speaking, good men aren’t getting enough credit where credit is due…
12) And lastly, the one thing that probably gives us all the most anxiety…
There’s someone else (or more than one). Honestly this should not be anxiety inducing though, because wouldn’t you rather he explore his options before making a commitment to you? Don’t you want him to make a solid decision without having residual thoughts about someone else? Every time you two get into an argument, inside his head he’ll be regretting not exploring his other option(s). He’ll constantly be wondering if the grass is greener on the other side. You will feel this in your subconscious and it will erode your confidence and feelings of security in your relationship. This leads to jealousy, and mistrust (even if he never acts on his wonderment), because you’ll just know. Tell me I’m wrong. And there is nothing either person can do to get over this.
But I refuse to be someone’s second choice…
You absolutely deserve to be someone’s first choice! But when you go to a restaurant, do you order the same thing every single time? No, you try something different each time you go back, and then if you’re like me you narrow it down to a favorite. Or how about shoes? Do you ever go in to a store, try on the first pair of shoes you see, and buy them without even looking at anything else because they fit, and look nice? That’s what love is. Carefully selecting the best option for you, and consciously choosing them over and over again.
Plus, we really ought to be comfortable and secure enough in ourselves to not take it personally if a guy chooses someone else over us. Does it suck? Yup! So hard. But we all reserve the right to choose the person we’re most attracted to and see the most potential with. We pick and choose from our options don’t we? Most of us ladies have a lot of options. A good man will have options too. They should be given the opportunity to choose…without judgment.
But I’m not a backup plan!
Of course you’re not! That’s why you don’t stick around. You don’t hang on and linger. You don’t do a thing to convince them why you’re the better choice, because they need to come to that conclusion on their own. If they feel compelled to try something else on the menu, even if they’ve tried it before you give them the space to try it. If they make the realization that they made a horrible choice and they come back with an explanation, then you know that they’ve made a conscious choice. And only then, can you really trust their decision.
This is why it’s important not to work too hard. Don’t give any more than he’s giving you. Because once he knows you’ve chosen him, then it’s his turn to decide whether or not he chooses you too. And there’s no reason to be angry.
So, wait are you telling me that it’s okay for a guy to go ghost without explanation?
Well without a commitment he owes you no explanation…unless he wants you back.
Is it nice?
I mean, he’s acting with integrity right?
Should you feel angry?
Well, it can be a natural reaction, but maybe it’s better to just let it go. Anger hurts no one but you. And plus being angry with him for being authentic will pretty much close the door for good.
It never feels good when someone doesn’t see your value. But you have no choice other than to accept the situation for what it is. Hopefully you’ll be lucky enough to be dealing with a man who has learned enough about women that he’ll do his best to communicate with you. Nevertheless, you can’t control what other people do, so accepting it is all you really can do. I’m not at all diminishing how painful or anxiety inducing this can be, whether it’s the first time, or the 100th time that you’ve opened yourself up to loving someone.
I know you want him back, because if you didn’t care, you wouldn’t be reading this. But calling and texting and begging and pleading for someone to love you and choose you and be ready will never work. So just breathe, straighten your crown, and remind yourself that you’re going to be just fine regardless of the outcome.
And what if he does get involved with someone else?
If you truly love someone… you want them to be happy, even if that means they find happiness with someone else.
But what if you don’t think that other person deserves them? Well, everyone is in charge of their own life. You can’t decide what someone else wants or needs any better than I can tell you what you want or need.
Just breathe, straighten your crown, and remind yourself that you’re going to be just fine regardless of the outcome.
Give him the space and time he wants. How much time do you give him before closing the window of opportunity to win you back? It’s hard to say… that depends on you. You just carry on with your life. But he needs to be the one to reach out, not you.
If and when he contacts you, just say, “Hello. It’s nice to hear from you. How have you been?” If he tells you that he’s not ready to get involved with anyone right now and reminds you that he warned you in the beginning, just say okay. Consider it a courtesy call, and let that be the end of it. Because you don’t want someone who doesn’t want you. You cannot convince anyone to love you or be ready for you. There is nothing romantic about unrequited love. And whatever you had before doesn’t really matter anymore no matter how beautiful, because what you had is in the past. And what you have now is broken.
So what if we did have a commitment?
So he made a commitment and panicked and dipped out, but now he wants you back… I want to be very clear that understanding and empathizing doesn’t mean that you condone it. Even if he has a good reason, it doesn’t negate the fact that you were abandoned at a vulnerable time. You have a right to state your needs and expectations.
You have all the love inside you that you’ve ever needed. You do not need anyone else to validate your worth.
And guys, coming back to a woman who is understanding, kind and willing to talk, does not imply that all is forgiven or that she’s a pushover. It means that she doesn’t like to fight, and she might still be interested. It means you’ve been placed into another category in her life. –The, “I’m uncertain about your level of interest,” category. This means you’re going to have to put in some work before I can put you back into the, “I’m all in because I can see you’re all in,” category. So, when you disappear, and you decide to come back… expect that it’s on you to rebuild trust after the damage has been done. You’ll have to prove your trustworthiness, before an emotionally strong and self respecting woman will allow you back into her life.