One of the hardest parts of dealing with the Ex Boyfriend Recovery process is dealing with an ex who is distant. It’s hurtful – one day the two of you are sharing everything together and he is your best friend, and the next, it’s like he’s a total stranger.
There are a number of reasons why your exboyfriend may be acting distant, and we’re going to explore them in a minute, but first I wanted to remind you that in the immediate aftermath of a breakup, distance is a good thing. You both need it to reflect and try to process the new changes in your life, now that you are single again.
And if you know you want your ex boyfriend back, distance is absolutely necessary to reset the stage for the rest of the process of trying to get him back. No Contact lays the groundwork so that you can build upon it throughout the time you are building rapport and trying to secure your ex back as your boyfriend again.
So though it is hurtful to see your ex maintaining distance, there are upsides to it, too.
Reason 1: He’s Maintaining Distance So He Can Settle into a New Pattern of Not Being With You
People are habit forming. So when someone disappears from your life, it packs a huge punch, and (as has been mentioned before on this site) is akin to the feelings of an addict going through withdrawal. This is one of the things that makes No Contact so effective.
Men tend to process things more logically, rather than emotionally. They have a tendency to try and go through traumatic events looking at things through a logical lens, and try to push away emotional responses.
After our breakup, my ex immediately jumped into spending time with his friends. He kept himself so busy that he didn’t have time to think about, or be emotional about our breakup. He was doing something that a lot of guys do after a breakup, and that was to distance himself emotionally from me so that he could adjust and settle into a new pattern of not being with me. I was a part of his life every day for a long time, and all the sudden, he changed the terms of our relationship, and had to face the repercussions.
Guys hurt after breakups too, though in different ways, and they don’t always express it as openly. In fact, they rarely do.
Some signs this may be the reason for his distance may be: if it’s pretty close to the time when you broke up, if he seems to be struggling, or if he’s nice when you do interact, but tries to keep that to a minimum.
If this distance is occurring immediately or within a month or so after the breakup, it is normal and you yourself should mirror his actions, because you need some distance too. Embrace No Contact. Throw yourself into activities to focus on you. Take the time to regain some self-esteem that was lost over the course of your heartbreak.
Distance at an early stage is a good thing. I know seeing your ex pull away from you hurts when the two of you were so close before, but trust me that he needs this distance to see the value you brought to his life, and you need the distance to see your value again.
Reason 2: He Cares and He Doesn’t Want to Let Himself Care
It’s very unlikely that your ex’s feelings for you evaporated overnight and that he just no longer cares about you. It’s more likely that he still cares about you on some level.
But maybe there are reasons the two of you broke up in his mind (valid or not) and he is being stubborn and sticking by his decision. He could be being distant because it hurts to not be distant.
Think of Buffy and Angel in season 3 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Their relationship in season 2 didn’t exactly work out for the best. They try to maintain a friendship, but they both still care deeply about one another. After some time of this grey area and back and forth, Buffy sets some boundaries in “Lover’s Walk” and they have this exchange:
Angel: Hey. I was wondering when you were coming.
Buffy: I’m not coming back. We’re not friends. We never were. And I can fool Giles, and I can fool my friends, but I can’t fool myself. Or Spike, for some reason. What I want from you I can never have. You don’t need me to take care of you anymore. So I’m gonna go.
Angel: I don’t accept that.
Buffy: You have to.
Angel: How can… There’s gotta be some way we can still see each other.
Buffy: There is: Tell me that you don’t love me.
(He is silent, looking at her painfully. She walks away).
Ouch. But do you see what I mean? There are very important reasons why they can’t be together (I could go on and on, but I won’t because – spoilers). They love each other very much, but at base, they are too different, and ultimately their lives are not compatible.
The same could be true for your ex (though I am positive it is not so life-and-death / end of the world). It may very well be that he still cares about you, but can’t reconcile the idea of trying again with the decision that he already made logically, so instead, he pulls away.
This could happen in the immediate aftermath of the breakup, but it could also happen as you are texting, meeting up, and developing general rapport.
As I’ve mentioned, men are logical, and so if he feels himself starting to care about you again, or maybe part of him is questioning if he made a mistake, he may try to shut down his emotions. And an easy way to do that is to act distant with you.
This is pretty typical of rubber banding (a theory you should definitely google as soon as you’ve finished with this article). When men feel themselves starting to get emotional or attached, it scares them, and so they pull back out of fear.
Give him the space. Don’t go crazy texting him and asking him why he’s ignoring you. Give him the time and space to process his emotions.
He’ll be back. They always snap back.
Reason 3: Trying to Protect Your Feelings
Your ex knows that he hurt you when he broke up with you. It is likely he has and will continue to experience a lot of guilt as a result.
There are always power dynamics at play in relationships, and that remains true, even after a breakup. When your ex ended things with you, he took the power. Good guys are aware of this shift in power dynamics and will try to give you both space – for both of you to heal.
In the Facebook support group, I see a lot of situations where men break up with their girlfriends and then try to get a friends with benefits situation off of the ground. This always infuriates me, and my advice is usually always to let that guy go.
These men don’t understand the shifted dynamics of power. Or worse, they don’t care.
If your ex is distant and you sense (or maybe he even told you) that it was for your emotional protection, he’s a good, sensitive guy who understands that he hurt you, and is keeping his distance for your sake.
Reason 4: He’s Seeing Someone Else
Ah yes, the dreaded “other woman” scenario.
Yes. It could be that your ex has moved on to someone new and that is why he is maintaining his distance.
It could be something he is choosing to do himself, out of respect for his new relationship, or maybe even out of respect to you (if he’s a good guy and doesn’t want to hurt you. See the point above).
Or, it could be that this distance is something his new girlfriend requested of him. Which means that she is threatened.
As I recommend with every Other Woman situation, utilize the Being There Method. Stay in his life if at all possible, and try to stay in a position where you a still a confidante – someone he feels comfortable being vulnerable around.
This is not the ideal situation, but assuming not a lot of time has passed since the breakup, take solace in the fact that your ex is very likely in a rebound relationship.
Reason 5: He’s Nervous About How Your Interactions Could Go
Maybe your breakup was messy. Most breakups are messy, but maybe yours involved a lot of yelling, arguing, and tears. Maybe cruel things were said.
If this is the case, it could absolutely be the reason for your ex’s distance. He may want to maintain contact with you (whether it be to get back together, or to try to have a friendship), but he may be nervous about how your interactions will go. He could be nervous that if he starts talking to you, you’ll want to re-hash the relationship, blow up emotionally, or give him a guilt trip.
If this is the case, you have some serious damage control to do. When you do interact with him, make those interactions as light and fun as possible. Do not, under any circumstances, bring up the relationship or any other emotionally charged topics.
This will be a slow moving process, but if you can keep your emotions in check and be patient, it will prove to him that you are safe to talk to, and that distance will lessen.
Reason 6: It Has Nothing to Do With You
I know this is hard to believe, but it’s very possible that the reason why your ex is being distant in your communications has absolutely nothing to do with you.
This is something I have to keep reminding myself as I re-enter the dating scene and talk to new guys, as well.
Reasons why your ex (or anyone, really) is note responding, or why they may seem distant include: They’re busy, they’re distracted, they’re hungry, they’re upset with something completely unrelated to you, or they’re having a bad day. And I’m sure I could think of one thousand more reasons.
People are busy. They have lives outside of their relationships with us. I myself am guilty of making assumptions about why people are short with me, and I’m usually way off base.
If you and your ex are developing rapport and things have been going well, take deep breaths and settle down. It’s likely he has other things going on. Or he could possibly be rubber banding, but even if that is the case, don’t worry, because he will absolutely be back.
Keep the Focus on You
If your ex is being distant, the first step is to give him space. Constantly calling him and texting him is only going to drive him further away. Embrace your time on your own by focusing on self-improvement.
There could be a number of reasons why your ex is being distant, and I’m sure I didn’t even come close to covering them all here. But the main thing you have to keep in mind is that you can’t control your ex. You can only control you, and how you react to situations.
Keep a cool head as you try to maneuver this stressful area with your ex. Don’t let your emotions get the better of you. Engage in some push/pull theory. If your ex is being distant and pulling away, you do the same. I know that it is our impulse to push instead, but as men are logical, they also process things differently, and that often means processing things alone.
Remember: Distance doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It can absolutely be good thing if you remain calm and use it to your advantage.
(Written By Rachel)