His Hormones Make Him Withdraw?

Has this happened to you?

You meet a guy and the attraction is undeniable. He seems very into you. He calls you and wants to see you. You’re having a really good time with him.

But, then, he withdraws and becomes scarce. This can take several forms. Maybe he:

  • Takes several days to contact you after you sleep with him
  • Disappears after a deep conversation or particularly fun evening
  • Comes closer, then pulls away repeatedly
  • Disappears and never returns

John Gray, author of Mars and Venus on a Date, has an explanation for this manly behavior that is based on hormones. This is what I learned from John and it makes a lot of sense. Finally, we have something to blame for this hard to understand conduct!

Men feel love when a woman is happy resulting from something he did. This causes him to bond with her. Once he bonds, oxcytocin, another hormone, gets pumped into his system. While oxcytocin helps women relax and causes them to bond and fall in love after sex, this hormone  makes men feel stressed. This is partly because their testosterone levels drop below normal.

As a result, men often withdraw to recoop. They need to remember their independence and do “guy stuff” in order to rebuild their testosterone to normal levels. That’s when they are ready to come back to you. Turns out this is all very normal for the regular guy. Too much closeness can cause him to retreat and this is a direct results of his hormones.

As a dating coach for women dating over 40 or dating after divorce, I hope gaining insight into a man’s brain chemistry and hormone reactions bring you some comfort. Particularly in this case, it’s not you it’s him and his hormones. For once, men’s hormones are the root of a problem and not yours!

There are a number of things that can  happen to interfere with a man’s desire to return:

  • Some men can’t handle closeness even if they want it, so they move on.
  • Sometimes women feel a man pull away and in response they want to talk about what has changed. This unfortunately often  makes a man want to run.
  • A woman who understands this natural process, is willing to observe his reaction to see how he resolves the situation.

As a single woman, the very best thing you can do is give him his space. It might be just a day or two. If it starts to stretch into a week or more, then you’ll need to make your own decision on whether or not you should move on yourself. Don’t pressure your date or ask a lot of questions no matter how much you are dying to know what happened.

Thanks to John for providing this explanation of what happens to men and why some disappear just when things seem to be getting good. I hope it provides some relief knowing that you did nothing wrong and in fact, it might have little to do with you specifically. It’s just his hormones. Go figure.

30 responses on “His Hormones Make Him Withdraw?

  1. Ronnie Ann Ryan Post author

    Hi Giovanna, I encourage you to take a step back and look at this objectively. He is NOT ready for the full, loving relationship you dream of. He told you this. You don’t want to ask because you fear being hurt. So, as long as you don’t ask him anything, you live in the fantasy of some day becoming “his woman”. If you were ready to be honest with yourself, you would know the best thing to do is be grateful he is a good dad and you have a good co-parenting situation. But take the pressure off love and romance with him and look for someone else to date. He knows where to find you if he wants to date you and move towards a genuine romantic relationship. But if you keep holding on, you’ll waste time, feel hurt and resentful, make him feel pressured and all of that jeopardizes your children’s happiness. Let it go. Look for love elsewhere. Maybe some day he’ll come around but don’t hold your life in limbo waiting around. That will never make you happy.

  2. Giovanna

    Hi, my child’s father and I have developed a great co-parenting relationship after two years – we weren’t a couple when I got pregnant. We dated previously but bad timimg, yet kept came into each other’s lives by coincidence. We got pregnant. I wanted to work on a relationship, but he said he wasn’t ready to commit to anything more than the child. He didn’t want to be intimate because he said we weren’t going to be together. Two years later, we have trust, respect and care for each other. Our families are super close, spend holidays together, support each other and spend time as a family. 4 months ago we became some what intimate, but I am holding back. He recently said he his happy we are in a good place thinks he is falling for me but is afraid of intimacy. He said his mind is stressed from work and things should get easier in a few weeks. He owns a business and works seven days. So I gave him space, but its been over a month since we spent time together. He hasn’t dated since we had our child, he is so helpful, caring, a great dad and I’m in love with him. I want to know what his actions mean but, am afraid to bring it up because I don’t want to get hurt. Not sure if I should wait for him or what to say. Thanks

  3. Ronnie Ann Ryan Post author

    Hi Denise,

    I know this is hard but he clearly has some intimacy issue. Being affectionate is not a sign of wanting a relationship right? It’s just how he was in the moment with you and that was honest. But the meaning women apply to these actions is where the problem lies which is why I recommend not interpreting or taking meaning from anything. What you do want to watch for is consistency and sadly that’s where he has failed.

    Don’t be too hard on yourself about giving him that second chance – that’s how we learn. Now you know when a man pulls away, the best thing to do is NOTHING. If a man returns within a few days or up to a week, then shows consistency then things might be a go again. But if there is closeness followed by weeks of silence, RUN don’t walk in the other direction because chances are he will do this for as long as you put up with it. He’s probably not a bad guy, just not capable of the intimacy that you’d like with him.

  4. Denise

    I, (47)was dating a guy (48) who has pulled away twice. Both times we spent a lot of time together. At least 2 to 3 times a week. We shared a lot. Told me he really liked spending time with me, that I gave him a peace when he held me in his arms. I really felt he was sincere and genuine. He was very affection holding my hand, rubbing my back…etc. We had sex once and it was great but soon after I noticed he was different . He starting to pull away. I wished him a happy birthday and it’s been 2 weeks since I last texted him and he has not texted me. It definitely hurts and for the second time . I feel stupid for giving him a second chance but I figured maybe he was ready for a relationship and by his actions I honestly thought it was going to be different. If he wasn’t ready why did he come around again. I just don’t get it!!!!

  5. Ronnie Ann Ryan Post author

    Hi Nicole, I’m so sorry to tell you this but his excuses are so typical. In ManSpeak, he’s letting you know he’s no longer interested. You have a kind, patient nature so you are giving him the benefit of the doubt. It’s time for that to stop. No wonder why you feel so confused – I understand. Being sick and busy are the top two excuses men provide when avoiding a date. Top it off with his non-responsiveness and I say he’s a goner.

    Did he enjoy those two weeks with you? Sure! But then he felt threatened or over it. Who can say? You’d think you know a man after 20 years, but not if you hadn’t dated him – that’s an entirely different thing. My bet is he’s not ready or doesn’t want another relationship. But a close fling was great for his emotional health and recovery. The best strategy for your dignity and self-respect is stop engaging. Don’t believe another excuse or get caught up when he returns. Instead, move on to find a better man who is relationship ready. I also recommend going slowly and not spending that kind of time together before three months to safe guard your heart and keep this situation from repeating.

  6. Nicole

    I’ve been dating someone for 2 months whom I’ve known 20+ years. He’s so passionate and attentive. Our chemistry and intimacy are incredible! His last relationship was abusive (her). Yet, he was vulnerable with me, planned future events, and said he felt he is falling for me and scared of getting hurt. We spent a lot of time together, nearly 2 weeks straight before his withdrawal… Last week his contact got scarce. Tues. he called saying he missed me, then he cancelled our Wed. date. Friday I got an apologetic text saying he was sorry. He’s been busy and sick, but asked about hanging out on the weekend. I tried calling, then texted saying no worries, I knew he was busy and needed space and yes I still want to see him. He never responded (this was last night) This is so frustrating because I don’t know where his head is and all I can do is sit back and wait. Btw I’m 45 and he’s 46 so it’s been more difficult to find love because at this age we all have baggage.

  7. Terry

    Thanks for the clarity….A hard lesson learnt! He was just so sweet at the beginning and could have never foreseen this. I’ll be sure to make a better choice next time..

  8. Ronnie Ann Ryan Post author

    Hi Terry,
    I hate to tell you but he’s not separated – he’s still married to her. His wife was away so he went out to play. Now she’s back. He’s still texting because he likes the attention. It’s time to move on. Don’t text him – don’t start or answer. Forget this scoundrel and don’t date separated men. Even if they really are separated, in 99.9% of the situations, these men are not emotionally available and not looking for lasting love. They want sex, variety and freedom and really who can blame them? So look for men who say they want a relationship.

  9. Terry

    I have been dating a separated guy over 5 months with 3 kids. He is 47yrs and I’m 39yrs. He was always very sweet when we met up approx. once or twice a week within the first 5 months and text each other at least every 2 days and became intimate after 3mths. However his separated wife of 6yrs came from overseas and now lives with him for financial reason and to take care of the kids all over 18. He had mentioned he would not get back together however we bumped in to a mutual friend of his and apparently he still introduce her as his wife.

    He started to withdraw when I asked where we stand and he avoided the topic. Texting has changed from every 2nd day to only once a week. Should I move on and assume he had gone back with his wife? I don’t understand why he still texts if he’s ending our relationship. This hurts more than telling me directly. I’m not sure what to do and I don’t want to question him again.

  10. Marg

    I am so glad I found this post!! I have been dating a guy for about a month and he was doing everything right. Asking for the date early, opening doors, paying, calling, texting, hand holding/affection. He was really making every effort to spend time with me.
    Then this past weekend he spent the weekend, and as soon as we had sex the whole feeling and mood was different. He did spend the night and the next day we had an ok time, but in hindsight, I probably should have let him go home to recover some of his spent mojo!
    He has texted, and did ask to see me again later this week. Now that I know he just needs to get his testosterone levels back up for the next time I can relax and not over analyze…. like we ladies love to do. Phew.

  11. Ronnie Ann Ryan Post author

    Hi Confused,
    It does look like he just wanted to sleep with you. What other excuse could there possibly be for his disappearance after saying overnight? It’s so hard when this happens, especially when you know someone over the years. Such poor judgement on his part. Don’t make excuses like he’s confused or bad news etc. There is no excuse for his actions. I’m so sorry to tell you this but, there are more men out there. Hold off on sleeping with men until they take you on dates consistently for several weeks. You want to see consistency in dates and calls, not just texting over several weeks to see if a man is more serious. Still no guarantee,s but improves your chances for not being hurt.

  12. confusedM

    I’m so glad I found this I hope you have some advice for me! I have just reconnected with a high school sweetheart after leaving a toxic long term (12years) relationship. we always kept in touch even throughout my past relationship he is always a bit flirty with me there’s deffo a mutual attraction and I’m close to his family and friends.. we started texting almost daily for the last 10 weeks. Then he started to come over for drinks with friends on a weekend and he would ring me to chat through the week. On Friday he came over and we were intimate. He slept over that night and we cuddled. He slept really well and left happy the next day. He text me within the hour and we chatted but he went out with friends that night and the next morning he was on Facebook so I inboxed him saying “I thought I might have heard from you last night” and he replied saying his battery had died on his mobile…. he hasn’t replied to any of my messages since then!! He read my response and ignored it! He has been on and off Facebook since and he has text our mutual friend so I know his phone works. Sadly the day after our last communication he got told some very bad news but I’m just wondering have I been used?? Is he confused over his feelings?? What is it all about!?

  13. Ronnie Ann Ryan Post author

    Hey Veronica,
    Well its normal for a guy who wants to have casual sex. Sounds like that’s not what you want though. The best thing to do if you seek a long-term, love relationship is not start with sex. Start with old fashioned dates and see if a man (even one you already know) continues to call and set up dates to spend time with you. Then after 5 or 6 dates (or more), you might be ready for intimacy. Some experts suggest agreeing to exclusivity first. But this particular man is not looking for a relationship – just sex. Otherwise he would call you. Not the end of the world – probably got you back in the mood to get out there and find a good man to love.

  14. Veronica

    Hello. I’ve been sexually involved with a guy that I’ve known since high school. We jumped into bed fairly quick and I was surprised when he called me soon after that. However his text and phone calls stopped. I asked him if he was only interested in sex and he said no but he still doesn’t call. I popped up over his house unannounced, he was alone and we had sex. But once again no communication. We are both in our forties and I’m new to dating after a long marriage. Is this normal.

  15. Ronnie Ann Ryan Post author

    Hi Jennifer, I hate to give you the bad news, but he’s no longer interested in you. Maybe he never was serious. So he doesn’t feel the need to find out how you are. He just wants to move on in peace. Let him go and move on and next time you may want to hold out a bit before intimacy to see if he’s the kind of man who pursue you over time – that might mean he’s more serious vs. just wanting a “roll in the hay”.

  16. jennifer

    Hello, I have been talking to this man about a month we been having sex for about 2 weeks and everything was fine until last week he has withdrawal from me he doesn’t text me anymore. I Sent him a text and he replied to me but didn’t continue the conversation just asked how I was doing I know he has been having personal problems but I just don’t understand why he wouldn’t at least send a text to see how I was doing. I’m very confused about this and im starting to move on even through I like him. Please help

  17. Ronnie Ann Ryan Post author

    Hi Kate,
    I have to be honest with you – my specialty is looking for love over 40, not college students seeking friends with benefits. I’m not judging that – whatever works for you, I’m just not in the “know” about hooking up culture. So I’m at a loss. Sounds to me like he does like you if he has a rep for not giving back in bed, but sure did try to please. His fast exist could be embarrassment over lasting only 30 seconds. But there’s no way to really know the truth unless he decides to tell you. However, I wouldn’t count on that.

  18. Ronnie Ann Ryan Post author

    Hi Vonne,
    If a man behaves the same way for months, you can pretty much count on that being his normal. Same thing goes for women of course. Your man might not want a close relationship, but does enjoy the company of a woman and wants to sleep with you. Age, education and number of children have nothing to do with a man who isn’t relationship ready or interested. He may be monogamous (or not) but that doesn’t mean he wants to get close to you.

    You might gently bring this up after sex. You could say something like, “I notice after we get together, you tend to withdraw for a few days. I like spending time with you so I’m curious about that.” Then don’t say another word and see what he says. It might open up a good conversation that fosters a stronger bond. Or he might demonstrate that he just doesn’t want or isn’t capable of more.

    I’m not saying you should walk away – I’m not sure what your goal is either. This situation might serve your own relationship needs well with a busy life and three children. It’s totally up to you.

  19. Kate

    Wow my apologies for the late comment. Hopefully you’re still willing to give advice. There’s this guy, and he’s a really great friend. I have a lot in common with him. I also happen to be incredibly attracted to him. I’ve just gotten out of a long term relationship and I really don’t want to do that again. I am really bad at being monogamous and it causes too much drama for me right now. Anyway, we decided to try to be friends with benefits. The first time we slept together it went well. Zero attachment but excellent sex. He stayed afterward for a solid half hour and we talked. Last night we slept together for the second time. It’s the middle of finals week and I really was having trouble focusing so I decided sex would release that energy and I could get back to work. I immediately noticed something was up. His kisses were deeper and longer and more passionate, grabbing my face to kiss me. When I went to give him oral, because that’s what you do when you’re hooking up, he insisted I didn’t have to and instead pushed me onto the bed and proceeded to focus on my pleasure for a solid half hour to fourty minutes, while holding my eye contact and watching me the whole time. Then during sex, he insisted on missionary, not a usual hook up position, it gets very intimate. He intertwined his fingers in mine and held my gaze the whole time. However, he only lasted about thirty seconds! Afterward he hastily got dressed and without even putting his shoes on, ran out of my room! He hasn’t texted me at all or snapchatted me which is unusual. I’d really love to keep sleeping with him. He’s a beautiful human being and I’m comfortable with him. I just need to know if it’s possible he’s withdrawing because of feelings, or if he’s just being a guy. I heard from others he’s slept with that he doesn’t give back in bed. He only takes and doesn’t last very long so he has a running reputation of what people call being a “fuckboy” on campus. Precisely the reason I chose him, since I have a reputation of leading guys on and dropping them without explanation. We get each other in this aspect. But if this has changed, I need to know.

  20. Vonne

    I am seeing a man who is ten years older than me I’m 31 he’s 41 we both have 3 kids each from previous marriages. We are both educated and successful and have been seeing each other for 4 months at least once a week but every time after intimacy I do notice he withdraws for a few days. Will this phase ever end? Please some advice. Thank you.

  21. Gemini

    Hi. Thank you for taking time to read and replying back. I just called him after reading your advice and he basically said his been tired lately, dealing few stress at work and plus having some few illnesses how it put stop from us seeing each other. I was direct, asked if it was me that he had problem, if he wanted to finish and if his feeling maybe awkward to do it because he feels bad. He basically said no, it’s not that. He apparently will be coming around to see me tomorrow. I wouldn’t have the strength to give him a call if you haven’t replied, it gave me a power and I felt strong to do it. Thank you.

  22. Ronnie Ann Ryan Post author

    Dear Gemini,
    Sorry to tell you his silence does send a loud and clear message – he doesn’t want to spend time with you. You should probably break if off before he breaks it off with you. Or you could ask him what this is about and let him know in a nice tone of voice that his long silence and disappearing act doesn’t work for being in a relationship with you. Ask if he wants to explain it – although I can’t imagine a good reason if he wasn’t to keep the relationship alive.

    Sometimes men don’t want to be the bad guy, so a guy will treat you poorly hoping you”ll break up with him so he doesn’t have to do it. No matter what, this is not a good sign and I’m sorry this is happening to you.

  23. Gemini

    Hi. I know this is an old post but I was hoping you can maybe give me some advice. I’m currently having problems with my boyfriend, who seem to do the disappearing act quite often. We get on well, we have no problems, issues but he seem to go very cold and ignore me for days. We been together for 18 months now, we had a small problem 11 month mark which lasted a month and he came back. But now he is getting hot and cold again. Sometimes I don’t see him for days. From seeing him 4-5 times a week at the beginning of relationship, it’s became 1 a week and now, this week marks the two weeks that i last saw him. We were fine last time we met up, everything was nice but now as I said 2 weeks I haven’t seen him. He kept in contact even though it’s not much. He initiated contact few times too. I’m just so confused, not sure what to think anymore. I don’t think his cheating on me, I do trust him but I don’t know what’s happening. Right now his silence and I don’t want to contact him and make myself look clingy. If you can help me and give me some advice, I will really appreciated. Thank you!

  24. Ronnie Post author

    Hi Christine,
    If he’s not asking you out, he’s changed his mind for reasons you will probably never know. This is the mystery of dating. I don’t know how old you are but he might have decided it would be better to date a gal who lives on her own.

    Truth is, it doesn’t matter why he’s pulled away. He has and nothing you can do will make him come back. Especially “trying” to get him back. The best thing you can do is ignore him. Don’t be mean, just don’t act like he is anyone special. On occasion, that can get a man’s attention. But most likely it’s simply time to move on and meet someone new who clearly wants to date you. You don’t need a wishy-washy man – that just leads to frustration and heartbreak.

  25. SB7900

    I have this guy friend. He started texting me since beginning of Jan and more frequently the past 5 / 6 weeks. He always came up to me and talked, flirted, sent hints about cuddling, kissing, etc. We arranged a date about 2 weeks ago and he said he wanted to come to my house for a movie and I told him that he will meet my mom then, and he said that’s alright, he’s okay with that. I thouight wow, is there a man that wants to meet parents on a first date. Date went well, he held my hand, stroked my arm, put his arm behind my back and drew me closer to him and kissed me passionately – twice. When he left, kissed and hugged me and said he enjoyed the night. Problem now – he has withdrawn and it’s almost as if I doesn’t exist. We did spoke twice since the date, as I see him at gym, and he was still a bit flirty and blushed when I told him something. Told me what he did the past weekend and asked what I did. And also asked when am I going on a date again with a guy friend of mine, which he knows as well. Also told me his plans for the weekend, where he’s going (out of town, following week again, week after that at a wedding – also out of town – and then on leave – even told me where he’s going) and when he’ll be back. Is he still interested in me, is he trying to tell me something or what can be wrong? Said everything is ok between us. Please help?

  26. Julie

    I had a recent relationship where my boyfriend seemed to be a completely different person from the man he was the night before. Unfortunately, we were on vacation, so I could not give him the space I could tell he really needed. A week after we got back things seemed to be getting better, but he still broke up with me. He said that he found his feelings for me slipping away. I’m disappointed because we seemed like a great fit in so many ways, but it’s time that I move on. Biology may be one answer, but I honestly don’t know what happened.

  27. Ronnie Post author

    Natalie, I think you missed the point here. This is an explanation of the bad behavior – what is behind it. This explains why sometimes even nice guys pull away – not voluntarily – but because of their hormones. This is not to give men a free pass on any bad behavior. And of course they don’t act this way with their male friends because their hormones don’t get activated by men – at least for straight men. In this case, its not a respect issue.

    The good news is – all men do not do this!

    And in all fairness, there are plenty of women who aren’t always on their best behavior either. I hear about it all the time from my male clients – how mean women can be. So men aren’t the only guilty ones, believe me.

  28. Natalie

    The knowlegde that this book provides is positive because it can bring us som comfort, as you said. But I also think there are a lot of excuses for mens not so good behaviors, and now even a biologically one for women to just accept. So at the end, the signals this book sends, is that men should be comfortable with their inconsiderate behavior towards women – again. Thats my opinion. I doubt that men would do this to another male friend with whom they have more respect towards.

  29. Cynthia

    This is why I sometimes think men and women are incompatible: we want to get closer, they want to withdraw! However, I don’t know if you realize this, Ronnie, but I think what you have here is not to get too physically intimate until you have some sort of emotional commitment. Unless you can handle being ignored!

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