Distance isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Nor can too much of it be a good thing. When is distance an issue? But ultimately, why he is being distant in the relationship.
Being distant can have far too many meanings and reasons when it comes to relationships. A lot of times, distance can be something created out of normalcy. Sometimes it is unintentional, or intentional. And there is also healthy distance, such as respecting each other’s personal space. As in any relationship, or marriage, distance happens more often than you know. Key word: know. A lot of times you may just not notice it, until there’s an overabundance of it or a certain action, routine or behavior that becomes out of the ordinary.
I felt this distance when my husband started back up working night shift as a police officer for the first time since moving into his house and getting married. So now, at 6pm he leaves for work, comes home at 7am. As I’m getting up in the morning, he’s going to bed. Then he gets up at 5pm to go back to work. Meals are off, being that breakfast for him is at 5pm when he wakes up. And I get a quick hello and goodbye basically every day.
Granted, he’s technically home in the morning and works five days then has off five. But for the time he gets to sleep when he comes home, I feel obligated to make sure he gets the best sleep he can – without disruption. And for five days straight, that took a toll on me his first tour (his first five days on nights). We hardly had a full on conversation those days, while loneliness and the change of a normal routine hit me hard by day three. I could feel himself distancing from me – as a newlywed wife, this was all new, and it scared the living crap out of me. He wouldn’t even call me to check in randomly, or just to talk when he could on duty. I was not sure how to handle myself or talk about it with him. But then I understood it all: it was his way of preparing his body for a complete life changing phase – sleeping during the day and being awake all night – without trying to change mine.
I consider myself lucky in this situation. But certain behaviors and reasons for your spouse being distant don’t always turn out that way. And a lot of times it brings out the pure frustration and insecurities in ourselves. There are a few clues that may help teeter your assumptions as to why he is being distant in your relationship.
Why He Is Being Distant
He just needs some breathing room
This is fairly common. Just like my husband needed as he flip flopped his schedule for work. He needed my understanding and moral support. Changes in his life, or your lives together can cause a subtle reasoning for distance. Think of it more as emotional and psychological self-preparation.
If you’re spending every waking minute together, and he has finally worked up the nerve to tell you he wants to be alone tonight, that’s his kindest way of saying ‘I need MY time’. That definition of distance is more along the lines of personal space – whereas every human being needs personal time and space to themselves in life. So basically, if you’re constantly not allowing him to have it – he’s probably being brutally honest about it when he needs it.
Solution: Give him his breathing room, and in the mean time, take time to yourself. If you’re constantly calling, texting or begging to be with him – he will distance himself more by possibly jumping out of the relationship. Telling you he needs his space is as gentle as it gets when it comes to distance. Not to say some guys don’t require almost too much space. A guy who needs two weeks away from you surpasses an extreme. If you can’t handle the amount of space he requires, don’t be in that relationship.
He has family issues/his own issues (that don’t need to involve you)
Everyone has family drama at some point. And if you’re not his wife or fiance, he may just be thinking you don’t need to be exposed to the stress, or be an additive to it. This type of distance is unintentional – if family problems are clearly evident. If anything, he’s allowing himself to feel vulnerable around you, without you judging him or making him feel he is lacking in the relationship.
Solution: Sometimes guys are not looking for a resolution to a problem, and they’re also not like most women who freely want to discuss their feelings, either. Help him by letting him know you are there for him in his time of need and that you understand why he is being distant. Give him a little time and I guarantee you he will thank you for it.
Now, let’s talk about someone with their own issues – whether they’re openly willing to admit it or not to the general public. I’m talking about signs of jealousy, controlling, abusive or other unfit behavior. Whether you know these issues he has is out of his will to tell you or not, it’s important to first decide right from wrong.
This gray area may require a test of your personal judgement. If you know he has a jealous, controlling or abusive past – it’s clear that he’s warning you of it for a reason (that he has the chance to rekindle that behavior, whether he’s seeking help or not). If you’re solely noticing these issues rising from within the relationship, it’s clear that he has his own issues that he’s far too ashamed of to tell you, or has psychologically normalized this behavior in relationships.
Solution: There are going to be those that tell you to run, and those that say ‘Love conquers hate’ (when it comes to this particular situation). I’m all about the ‘running’ – because if ‘Love conquers hate’, then why should you submit yourself to someone who clearly has no belief in that? Abuse, jealousy and control – that’s not Love. Far too many will say, ‘You can help him, he needs help, he needs you…’ I call bullsh**. I have witnessed far too many in abusive, controlling and jealous relationships due to believing that. The help that person needs is the help they want for themselves, from a professional. The best thing you can do for yourself in that situation is once you start witnessing it – leave it before it gets far worse.
He is stressing at work or school
Another common misconstrued reason for being distant. He’s looking to better his career, and to make a life for himself. And sometimes that takes more work than what he may be putting into his relationship. Granted, he shouldn’t give up completely on one thing and not the other. And you should never make him pick sides. But realize that if he’s stressed out about work or school, it’s only because he is trying his hardest to optimize his life for a future.
Solution: Discuss how the matter makes you feel. That is fine, but you have to strive to understand his dedication for work and school. He is not giving up on the relationship – he wouldn’t be with you if he was. If you’re beginning to feel less of a priority, try to discuss forming more of a balance – sometimes this may take you making the initiative. But in the meantime, be more understanding and be there for him during this time of struggle – you’ll face it more times than you know in marriage, and honestly it only makes your relationship stronger if you get through it together.
He’s just genuinely busy
Work, school, a mixture of all of the above listed so far, and then some. If you’re not living together, the expectation of time spent together can be quick to blame for distance in relationships. If you’re so used to getting together three times a week, or being together all weekend – that first time he says he’s busy can raise a red flag in your head. It doesn’t mean the distance is intentional, but if there’s no communication to back it up, it could cause you to think otherwise.
Solution: Simply talk about it. If he’s rejected multiple times in a row on getting together and it’s been weeks since you last saw each other, you have the right to know if you should be managing your time elsewhere and not wasting it on the waiting game. Same thing for those in long term relationships, or in marriage: talk it through, and let him know how you feel. You are deserving of his time, and the time will be made if he balances you as a part of his life priorities.
He may be second guessing the relationship or a particular situation
Whether you’ve had a fight recently and haven’t been on speaking terms, or have had a rocky period in the relationship, it could be what is creating him to be distant. Now, a little time a part in a rocky place can do some good. But too much of a good thing can always turn south.
If you’re in a rough patch, it’s always good to take some time to collect your own thoughts, think about what you really want out of the relationship and to relieve your abrasive emotions to a calm state in order to maturely discuss the situation. Whether this takes five minutes, or five days – each person differs. If he takes the time to think, he is allowing himself not to act out irrationally, which is a good thing. The negative side is that he can be taking too much time to decide if the relationship is worth the fuss. Or, depending on the situation, he may be taking in what needs to be done to avoid destroying the relationship further.
When you need to worry is if that distance has been taken more into a ‘single-style‘ approach. If you haven’t spoken at all, you can’t seem to reach him or he appears ‘busy’ via friends, social media or lack there of interaction towards you on his part, it is likely he is now taking advantage of the situation. The time to decide whether to be in the relationship doesn’t take avoidance or ignoring you and the situation completely – no matter what excuses he tries to pile on.
I experienced this before. And I even gave him the time he needed. But he worked late evenings into the night. So while I was asleep at night, he was out taking advantage of the time to think over the relationship by sneakily partying and meeting ‘new people’, as he put it. But what broke us in the end was knowing what the time I gave him truly meant to him.
Solution: When you’re in a rough patch, it’s always important to understand that it takes two – every time. And it takes willing to understand each other’s feelings in every situation, coming to terms, listening, speaking your peace, and ultimately the accepting of moving forward. If he needs more ‘time apart’ than you, depending on the situation, there comes a time when you should actually be the one questioning his motives.
His friends are part of the reason
Just because he has friends doesn’t mean this is a bad thing. Everyone has friends, should have them and utilize them outside of the relationship. The only difference is when it becomes disruptive, and interfering. As we like to call it today, ‘his bros before hoes‘. But let’s think of it in terms of actual relationships, because if you aren’t aware by now but that phrase only refers to side hustles.
If you’re young, in or fresh out of High School, and are in the ‘My boyfriend never makes time for me – he’s always with his friends – he puts them before me…” situation, allow me to solidify what this means in his head. He is young – younger maturity-wise than you. He holds no future, he lives in the moment, he will do what he wants, how he wants, when he wants, and doesn’t want any girl to disrupt that. As harsh as it sounds, I was there once – I felt the same way at a young age – and never understood it. But just know before you throw your arms up to say, ‘But I love him, and he loves me!’, behavior at that age means no girl is worth giving up their friends and lifestyle for.
Now, not everyone is like that. I had a great love for over 2 years from High School and into the early years of college. He gave up a lot for me; he was genuine, kind-hearted, and never treated me with disrespect. He would have married me right out of High School if given the opportunity – he even gave me a promise ring before college. But those guys are hard to come by. If you’re twiddling with the guys that show no respect, treat you like property and wouldn’t even bat an eye if you ended things, you will have a harder time finding him because you continue to settle for lower expectations. But you are young – stay young, keep it light, make this time about figuring out you because your entire life is ahead of you.
As far as for in serious relationships – whether you live together, have been together long-term, engaged to be married or are married – the friends ordeal is a sensitive topic. By sensitive, I mean that friendships can be used as a way to make you look like the scapegoat. And believe me, I’ve been burdened the words of, ‘I can’t believe you would make me give up my friends for you – I’m allowed to have friends, you know – what, I can’t just go out with the guys and have a good time?‘ And, you know, this is coming from a grown late twenty-something year old “man”, who still doesn’t have his life figured out.
Those words go without saying that he consciously made the choice to go out drinking with friends every weekend after work – without me, and without me knowing – overlapping our plans with other plans with friends, cancelling our plans for friends, not inviting me to group outings and me never once saying he had to give up his friends for me. Those words came from the simple discussion of needing more of a balance of time together in our relationship.
And lastly, whether we like it or not, friends have their own opinions – good and bad. It’s a matter of if your partner takes those friends’ opinions lightly or to heart. If he’s going to his friends about your relationship problems (and same goes for you), think about the kinds of friends he has and you have that could be a ’cause’ for distance. Not every friend is going to see the matter both ways – they’re going to say things to please you as a friend, no matter who is in the wrong.
Solution: If he is going out of his way to spend more time with friends than he is you, it may be time to bring it up how it makes you feel, and discussing a matter of balance and priority. If you have the tendency to judge or control his friendships, you are walking that fine line of resentment – because that’s a no-no. If you’re feeling less a priority, it’s crucial to never play it off by controlling when he can and can’t see his friends. Yes, that includes those friends you don’t care for.
You’re the reason
There, I said it. And hear me out: I don’t condone any reason for intentionally being distant, especially without communication. If you’re nagging him, whining all the time, or getting too comfortable too soon he could be drawing back. This goes for new relationships, all the way to marriage. Because people change, people get comfortable in their relationships – and it’s hard not to exude some of the things we don’t mean to. Life happens (a baby, stress at work, wedding planning, etc.), and we tend to let ourselves take a nose dive when we can’t help it.
Unfortunately, that sudden and persistent change can raise a red flag in his mind. Many men become setback by women who are too far off the deep end of extremes: too dependent, too independent, too needy, too clingy, high expectations, low expectations, you party too much, you’re not very fun at all, you talk too much, you don’t talk at all, you flirt too much, you curse too much, you’re too obsessed with ___, you’re lazy, you’re too rambunctious, you don’t have any friends, you have too many guy friends, you’re too affectionate, you’re not affectionate enough, you’re on him all the time about things, you act like his mom, you have stopped giving him sex, you’re paranoid of him all the time, you don’t care about anything in life, you’re rude to others, you have no manners, you’re insecure, you’re arrogant, you’re too serious, you joke too much, you’ve changed or you’re constantly trying to change him.
Solution: As scary as that all sounds, some of it is unavoidable. Because what woman isn’t too serious, too insecure or too independent sometimes? I know periodically I can be many of those things. The fact of the matter is allowing those ‘periodic changes’ to affect my relationship. And it is what it is – there are things women do that bother men, and there are obviously things men do that bother women.
Communication is key. The right guy will have already spoke to you about what bothers him, but many times guys have the most difficult time bringing up our flaws as an issue. Sure, the whole ‘he should accept my flaws as is’ is true – but not if you’re suddenly and unexpectedly rude to strangers and have become too needy when everyone knows you as the kindest and self-proclaimed strongest woman in town.
Like I said, we can naturally go through short-lived periods of change, and if your spouse is coming to you about it – take it as a way to bounce back. So, for lack of better words, sometimes you may need to consider yourself as a reason for distance.
He’s ‘won’ you
Though this is quite the saddest reason, it is a fairly common reason, especially in young relationships or in spurts throughout the relationship. This could mean if you’re in a new relationship that the ‘dating game’ is over, the ‘chase’ is over, you have out-lived the honeymoon phase, and it is now at a point where guys don’t feel obligated to putting in as much effort into courting you anymore. Or, they have just passed the threshold of comfort in the relationship – no need for fancy dinner reservations on Saturday night – he can just order a pizza, a Redbox movie and call it a night – with the demand of sex, of course.
I’m speaking outside of moderation. Because, who doesn’t like a good ole’ pizza and Redbox night? But if he just doesn’t seem to be pushing the ends of spontaneity anymore, or dwindling his courtship like he used to – this could be the reason for distance. As awful as that sounds, this happens more often than not.
Solution: I know every now and then my husband needs a little reminder. And I give it to him, ‘Hey! Step up the romance, my dearest, loving, providing husband…’ And it usually works every time. As everything in life, we all need little reminders. We’re not perfect, and we can’t read everyone’s mind all the time, especially when life’s struggles are constantly being thrown your way.
So, remind him of what you deserve. There was a reason he did all those things before, and there isn’t a good enough reason to stop doing them. If you want to be taken out on a date, call him up, and let him know you want to be courted.
He did something wrong, and knows it
I feel like there’s a very equal ratio to guys who can hide their feelings very well or those who you can read like a book just by the look in their eyes. It’s the same for when guys make a bad decision, and are pondering the thought of having to explain it to you, or whether they even should. A lot of times, guys are hoping to ‘find the right moment’ to tell you – as if they think you will be less struck by the news – or have to take the time to figure out what and how in words they’re going to tell you. In the meantime, you’re stuck wondering why he’s being so distant. And he probably figures he can just get away without telling you, since you haven’t asked what’s wrong. Right? Wrong.
Solution: Don’t go investigating into his personal life, yet. Guys, good guys, typically aren’t very good at hiding their feelings once you have confronted them about something being off. This goes without saying that good guys are likely to communicate the issue without you having to question him in the first place. If you do ask and he immediately turns into ‘defense mode’, that should speak for the kind of person he is and the way he communicates. Defense could be in reaction to something you aren’t supposed to know about, and something he doesn’t want you finding out. Do not let that behavior go unnoticed.
Ultimately, depending on the situation, it is then your choosing as to how to further handle the relationship.
He may just not be interested anymore/has found someone else
And clearly he hasn’t told you – which makes him in the wrong on his part. I place both of these in the same category because generally all clear and subtle signs are the same for each situation. And, well, because he is still dragging you on and allowing you to continue growing feelings. Out of all of the above listed, distance from disinterest and having a new prospect is an entirely new drawing board.
Solution: It’s difficult to just come out and assume your significant other has found someone else worthy of their time, but you do have the right to believe they are disinterested. You do have a choice in this matter – to continue the relationship in hopes they are willing to acknowledge your frustration, or to take those signs as a way of relief from having that person be able to repeat the behavior in the future (aka ending the relationship). To help you, here are the signs that he is just not interested.
To know that your significant other is with someone else – well, unless you have physical proof in hand – you may just have to endure the self approach. Meaning, if you know within yourself that he’s with someone else, with no way of proving it – why go through the trickle down heartache of approaching him just to have him say, “Yeah? What proof you got?” And honestly, either way, why would you want to mend that relationship even after busting him, anyhow? Just end it and be done with it.