Do you notice that he starts to pull away just when everything is going well and steady? Could it be that intimacy makes some men feel uncomfortable?
“Was it something I did?” “Am I not good enough?” Do these questions seem too familiar to you?
Here are reasons why men distance themselves after intimacy and what to do about it:
Lack of chemistry or sexual incompatibility
One adage goes: “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” It’s hard to avoid coming back for seconds when a person has had a mind-blowing sexual experience.
Great sexual chemistry has made some people ignore “red flags” and other shortcomings. Sexual dissatisfaction is hard to overlook, especially when discovered early on.
Not emotionally invested
This is one of the reasons why many people believe it is better to hold off having sex for several days, weeks, or months.
Generally speaking, if someone is emotionally invested in a person, they are more willing to make an effort to work on or improve any issues. Whereas if two people have sex right away and it isn’t good for one of them, odds are that person will not feel obligated to put in more effort.
Last but not least, some men will have sex with women simply because they showed interest in them. They are consuming low-hanging fruit.
One of the reasons many women are reluctant to initiate dating efforts with men is their fear of being taken advantage of.
Observed a change in behavior
Some people have more expectations or make more demands of those they’ve had sex with, even if they are not in an official relationship. Others confuse sex with love, or they have sex with the hidden agenda of hoping to seal a commitment.
A man who starts to feel smothered may distance himself.
For many men, having sex is just another aspect of their mate selection screening process. Albeit, this should be one of their last assessments in determining whether or not someone meets their exclusive relationship criteria.
Nevertheless, if some men see possessiveness, clinginess, jealousy, or demands for commitment when they are not ready, they may distance themselves.
Engaging in a player mentality
Timing can be a major factor when it comes to dating and relationships. Just as some women go through a “bad boy” phase, there are some men who go through a “player” phase.
In some instances, these men may have just gotten out of a long-term relationship or marriage. Essentially:
- They are not looking for anything serious.
- They’re out to have fun by hooking up with several women with no attachment.
There is someone else
Sometimes men avoid having a deeper connection with one woman when they have given their heart to another woman. They may not have gotten over their ex and are secretly hoping for a reconciliation. Any dating at this time is considered being on a break activity.
You also have men who are married or cheating on a partner. They distance themselves from their lovers to reduce their odds of getting caught.
Certified Relationship Coach
They may think that being vulnerable is a risk
If you had an abusive parent, you might have intimacy issues mainly because you are supposed to trust your parent and find them as a safe haven when you feel down or vulnerable.
Sharing vulnerable experiences with your parent is a natural process of maturing and creating a strong identity as a child. However, when a parent negatively responds to you by telling you to “suck it up,” “be strong,” and so on, intimacy with anyone else in your adulthood will bring on those same feelings of inadequacy and shame.
Of course, this creates a need to distance yourself from the person you have shown any intimacy towards because, in your mind, they will think of you as weak and inadequate.
It becomes a habit to get distant from someone that has the power to hurt you and bring back those awful feelings that you have about yourself.
This is a fear of being hurt, mainly because a pattern has been formed:
- being vulnerable,
- followed by fear of being hurt which expresses for you as being distant,
- followed by you being confused as to why you’d do that (if you haven’t figured out your pattern or even have this pattern and, of course, confusion from the person you have been vulnerable with).
Bottom line, it is our childhood trauma that drives decisions and for men, being vulnerable is a risk, especially if someone hurt them in the past.
PTSD from a horrible relationship
You can leave an abusive and horrible relationship, but the damage from it stays with you unless you get help and take care of the psychological wounds that weren’t your fault.
Men are often subject to this pain silently because we as a society tend to not value a man’s well-being after leaving an abusive partner.
One way that PTSD expresses itself is when a man starts distancing himself from the person that could hurt him.
Related: How to Help Someone with PTSD
This is similar to having an abusive and emotionally unavailable parent; however, a relationship where you trusted someone so deeply as an adolescent or an adult cuts more profoundly than a parent relationship because it can set up a pattern of “dating the wrong person.”
You now think that is all you deserve, and if you find someone that is awesome, you may start to self-sabotage. The past experiences may include you being vulnerable and sharing your soul with a partner who later threw your vulnerability in your face.
While this may have happened several times, it really doesn’t take long to create a defense mechanism of not sharing your vulnerabilities since you never know when the horrible partner will attack you.
And, since men are not given proper space to articulate the damage inflicted on them, they internalize the anguish in private. This solitude creates a need for your self-protection, and usually when a man realizes he has been vulnerable, he will distance himself from the other person to avoid the potential of pain.
Men process differently – Intimacy is not a natural state for men like it is for women. Because women and men are wired differently, being vulnerable for some men may bring on feelings of weakness, shame, or other unpleasant emotions.
Everyone has an ideal image of who they are, and for men, that includes the level of intimacy that they are comfortable with and with whom. Now, this ideal image is part biological wiring, part past experiences, part social upbringing, and of course, personal views on vulnerability and intimacy.
Therefore it’s a different combination for every man out there; however, the expression of the variety of factors that determine their comfort level with intimacy is almost universal: distancing themselves from what they are not or don’t want to be.
Some men have never been taught or see value in intimacy— simply put, men just don’t see intimacy as a vital part of their relationship.
Not seeing the value of vulnerability doesn’t mean that something horrible may have happened in a man’s life; they could simply have seen their parents not having intimacy but having a great marriage.
Another option is that they may have never been asked to be intimate, so they have never even paid attention to that aspect of a relationship.
Nancy Landrum, MA
Author | Creator, The Millionaire Marriage Club
One of the other is not emotionally intimate
Sexual intimacy is one kind of intimacy. But when sexual intimacy is not supported by the ability to be emotionally intimate, then a man, or a woman, will distance themselves emotionally.
Fear of emotional intimacy: My story
Many of us were raised in homes where it was not safe to be emotionally intimate. The first year I was married to Jim, he occasionally said, “Whenever I feel especially close to you, you crack a joke or say something to hurt my feelings. It pushes me away.”
I decided to observe myself after he’d said that for the 3rd or 4th time. Sure enough, that’s exactly what I did.
I realized that behavior came from my belief (adopted in childhood): that I was not lovable. Therefore, if he got too close to me, he’d see that I was essentially unlovable and leave me.
I wanted to change that behavior and the belief, so I asked him to call it to my attention whenever I pushed him away.
New skills that sustain emotional intimacy
Several years later, we sought help to resolve a “hot” issue subject to many fights. Our coach taught us how to speak using respectful language and share our feelings.
Communicating with feeling words rather than arguing over opinions took our relationship to a whole new level of intimacy and safety. She even gave us a list of a few hundred feeling words to help us expand our feeling vocabulary.
These new skills with expanded feeling vocabulary helped us resolve our differences and permanently become very comfortable sharing anything with each other safely.
In summary, someone who withdraws emotionally after sex:
- May only want sex and not be committed to building a deep emotional connection, or
- May deeply desire the emotional intimacy that rightfully belongs side by side with sexual intimacy but does not have the skills to create it.
Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin
Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor | Co-founder, The Marriage Restoration Project
There may be some shame on an emotional level
During and leading up to intimacy, there is often excitement. Oxytocin increases, and testosterone decreases. After intimacy is over, a man may pull away and show less interest because his testosterone has gone down.
On an emotional level, there may be some shame. If he feels he did not perform adequately, he may withdraw because he feels bad about himself. To deal with this issue, it would be helpful to have a safe conversation about this.
He should share his feelings and what is going on for him after intimacy, and she should share her concerns about him distancing himself. Once they can understand each other, they can both stretch to deal with the situation better.
Mark E. Sharp, Ph.D.
Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Aiki Relationship Institute
They feel that the openness carries a great deal of vulnerability
First, I assume that by intimacy, you are talking about sex or physical intimacy.
Intimacy is actually much more significant than that, though physical intimacy and general intimacy are strongly related. That is also central to why some men distance themselves after sex.
Intimacy is about feeling open and close to someone, and feeling that openness carries a great deal of vulnerability.
Sex, or orgasm, also creates a sense of vulnerability because of how open one is. There is a reason the French call orgasm the “little death,” (la petite mort). It is connected to the incredibly vulnerable state one has while having an orgasm.
Orgasms also create hormonal shifts which enhance closeness. One of the main reasons someone, often a man, may distance themselves after sex is that the feeling of vulnerability is difficult for them to tolerate, and pulling away is the best way to feel safe.
Related: What to Do When He Pulls Away?
Dr. Steve Hruby
Doctor of Chiropractic | Kaizen Progressive Wellness
It’s not unusual for men to need some space after intimacy. In fact, it’s perfectly normal. After all, intimacy is an emotionally intimate act. And for some men, it can be overwhelming.
Here are some reasons why men might need some space after intimacy:
They’re feeling overwhelmed
For some men, intimacy can be overwhelming. It can trigger all sorts of emotions and feelings—including anxiety, insecurity, and even sadness. They might need some time to process all of these emotions.
They’re not used to being so emotionally intimate
Some men might not be used to being so emotionally intimate. Intimacy can be daunting for them. They might need some time to adjust and figure out how to cope with these feelings. Usually, they’ll come back when they’re ready.
They need time to recharge
Some men might need some time to recharge after intimacy. It can be a very physical act, leaving them feeling depleted. They might need some time to relax and rejuvenate before they’re ready for more intimacy.
Because of a past experience
Men avoid post intimate conversations because they are simply not ready for a serious relationship. In some cases, the man may have been hurt in the past and is now reluctant to get too close to anyone for fear of being hurt again.
If a man has experienced a lot of heartache in previous relationships, he may start to pull away after becoming intimate because he doesn’t want to get too attached and get hurt again.
He is insecure
Another possibility is that the man is feeling insecure in the relationship. He may feel like he’s not good enough for the woman or that she could do better than him.
If a man is insecure, he may start to distance himself after becoming intimate because he doesn’t want to put himself in a position where he could be rejected.
He fears commitment
It’s also possible that the man is afraid of commitment. He may be enjoying the relationship, but he may not be ready to take things to the next level.
If a man is afraid of commitment, he may start to pull away after becoming intimate because he doesn’t want to get too attached and eventually have to make a commitment.
Both have different needs
Another possibility is that men and women have different needs. The man may be looking for a casual relationship while the woman wants something more serious.
If the man and woman have different needs, the man may start to pull away after becoming intimate because he doesn’t want to get too attached to someone who is looking for something he’s not.
The post intimacy blues might set in because the man knows that he can’t give the woman what she wants.
CEO, Yosun UV Printer
The flame is fading
A relationship’s early stages are like a fairy tale. Everything appears to be in order.
However, once the honeymoon period expires and both of you begin to embrace the ordinary, the facade starts to crumble. It’s no longer only about emotional bonding but also about taking on the added responsibility of navigating the tides.
There is a lack of fulfillment
A fulfilling relationship is when both partners contribute to the enjoyment, growth, and well-being of the other without expecting anything in return.
Suppose your man senses loose ends in the relationship, and you are fundamentally self-centered, antagonistic to him, or envious of him. In that case, he may prefer to withdraw rather than pout or tackle the problem.
Some men may see a relationship as a way to satisfy their insatiable urges, which can be overwhelming and difficult to manage. Your partner won’t take ‘no‘ for an answer, possibly. He may become wounded and withdraw when these wishes are not fulfilled.
Benjamin Knowles, MSc
Marketing Manager, Tinder Pixel
If your partner started pulling away after sex, do not always assume it is because of you. It’s not. There are several reasons why:
All they need is sex
The thrill of chasing after you is done because they have slept with you already. They’re just men being men. That does not make it true, but it is.
You’re moving too fast
Since you slept together, you started making breakfast in bed and planning your day together, which can be a lot for him. You need to slow it down and go with the flow.
Women sleep with men because they like them, and when they like a person, they tend to be clingy and can easily scare men.
Founder and Hiring Manager, GreatPeopleSearch
In love and intimacy matters, it is usually said that women are complicated, but the fact is that some men are complicated too.
Generally, men experience a power-down in masculine chemicals that fuel intimacy after intimacy. This means that, apart from just needing some time to recover after an orgasm, some men will experience negativity and want to be away from the partner they just had sex with.
This can be confusing to women. Below are some other reasons why some men behave this way with their sexual partners.
Running away from the commitments of a relationship
Some men fear responsibilities and making investments that come with commitment, yet they still need sexual release.
These will immediately distance themselves from the person they have used to sexually gratify themselves but with whom they do not want to commit.
Related: Signs He’s Not into You
Lack of physical attraction
Men and women are usually intimate with people they are physically attracted to if the intimacy happened when the man had a clouded judgment, for example, while drunk. After they become sober, they end up distancing themselves.
It’s just a one night stand
A man who made love to a woman once with no intention of sleeping with her again will distance themselves away after intimacy.
You are overly attached to him
While a level of dependency comes with intimacy, excessive emotional attachment to a man may scare him away.
Remodeler and Landlord | Founder, Easy Cash Offer Florida
Chemical power has been reduced
After orgasm, men often experience a chemical power-down, more akin to a refractory or recovery period. According to research, some people can have negative thoughts about their sexual partners and may seek to separate themselves from them.
Related: How to Get Rid of Negative Thoughts?
A probable reason is gamophobia, or fear of commitment, in which your boyfriend has an uncontrollable and unreasonable dread of being answerable to you. He may be nervous at the prospect of reporting to you.
A sense of enslavement
Some guys prefer to live their lives on their own terms and despise being in a domineering relationship. They become defensive and try to keep intruders out of their domain.
He doesn’t want to be in a relationship
The chase is done, he doesn’t want a relationship, or things were simply moving too fast for him and he got cold feet are some of the most typical reasons guys remove themselves.
When they get to pursue after a woman who is completely out of their league, it is the only thing that makes them feel validated enough. This offers them a sense of purpose as well as a sense of chivalry. But that feeling only lasts as long as the pursuit continues.
The chasing (or, as we may say, the illusion of chasing) is over once they get physically acquainted. As a result, he withdraws and loses interest quickly. Second, he doesn’t want to be in a relationship, and the intimacy drove him away.
I agree that it’s unfair, but we can’t control other people’s decisions. We have no choice except to accept the circumstance and go on, hoping for a better tomorrow.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can therapy help with distant behavior after an intimate relationship?
Yes, therapy can help treat distancing behavior after intimacy. A therapist can help both partners communicate more effectively, identify and work through underlying emotional issues, and develop strategies to strengthen the relationship.
Therapy can provide a safe and supportive space for couples to explore their emotions and work through any conflicts or challenges that may be contributing to the distancing behavior. It is vital to find a therapist with experience working with couples and with whom you both feel comfortable.
What can I do if my partner refuses to discuss their distancing behavior after intimacy?
If your partner refuses to talk about their distancing behavior after intimacy, it can be frustrating and hurtful. However, it’s essential to respect their boundaries and avoid pushing them to talk if they’re not ready. Here are some things you can do:
– Take care of your own emotional well-being and seek support from friends, relatives, or a therapist if needed.
– Try to communicate your feelings and needs in a non-threatening way, using “I” statements, such as “I feel hurt when you distance yourself after intimacy.“
– Avoid blaming or accusing your partner, and instead, try to approach the situation with empathy and understanding.
– Be patient and give your partner space and time to process their emotions.
– Consider seeing a therapist or counselor who can help both partners communicate more effectively and work through underlying emotional issues.
It’s important to remember that communication is a two-way street, and both partners must be willing to work together to find a solution that works for both of them.
If your partner continues to refuse to talk, you should reevaluate the relationship and consider whether it’s healthy and sustainable in the long term.
How can I cope with the emotional fallout after my partner distances themselves after intimacy?
Dealing with the emotional fallout after your partner distances can be challenging. Here are some strategies that can help:
Practice self-care: Take care of your emotional and physical needs by pursuing activities you enjoy, such as exercising, meditating, or spending time with friends and family.
Seek support: Reach out to trusted friends or family members for emotional support, or consider talking to a therapist or counselor.
Reflect on your values: Think about your personal values and goals to gain perspective and direction.
Protect yourself: If you feel that the distance is due to problematic behavior on the part of your partner, you may need to prioritize your own needs and boundaries.
Remember that everyone experiences emotional fallout differently and that there is no one “right” way to cope. Be patient and compassionate with yourself.
Can women also distance themselves after intimacy?
Yes, women can also distance themselves after intimacy. Like men, women have different emotional and physical needs and preferences and may need space or time to process their feelings after intimacy.
Many factors may contribute to distant behavior in women after intimacy, such as stress, unresolved emotional issues, fear of vulnerability or attachment, and different emotional or physical intimacy needs.
It’s important to talk openly and respectfully with your partner about your needs and boundaries and work together to find a solution that works for both partners. Support from a therapist or counselor can also help address underlying issues in the relationship.
How do you know if a guy has trouble with intimacy?
It can be difficult to determine if a guy has difficulty with intimacy because everyone experiences and expresses their feelings differently. However, here are some signs to look out for:
– Avoiding physical affection or intimacy, such as cuddling or holding hands
– Difficulty expressing feelings or being vulnerable with a partner
– Fear of commitment or unwillingness to define the relationship
– Pushing their partner away after moments of emotional or physical closeness
– Difficulty maintaining long-term relationships or constantly seeking new partners
– Self-sabotaging behaviors such as cheating or substance abuse that are harmful to the relationship
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