Dear Molly, The guy I’m dating is pulling away. How do I keep him without being needy?

I started dating this guy a few weeks ago and at first everything was going super well. There wasn’t any weird “who is texting first” thing. There wasn’t any force conversation. It all felt so natural like we’d been friends for a long time. We went on around 10 dates, all good – I think – but since the last date (about 2 weeks ago) I’ve barely heard from him. A little here and there, but not like we used to. I feel like he’s pulling away and I’m not sure how to keep him without being needy. I’m frustrated and feeling forgotten. Help!


*A little housekeeping*

I’m going to start with the question most people reading this will immediately ask: Have you slept together and when? And answer it pretty quick: It doesn’t matter.

We get taught all these dating “norms” as women to wait until the third date or fifth date, or whenever, to sleep with someone because as soon as you do he’ll stop calling, stop texting, and slowly fade from your life. It’s just not true. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. There are no rules to how you can or can’t start dating someone.


Let get into it…

When you feel someone you care about pulling away it’s hard to not want to reach out all the time. New relationships are like sand, the tighter you white-knuckle them the more they seep through your fingers. With social media, we can see that this person is alive, and has the time to post and see their other friends. It raises the question: Why aren’t they choosing us? Why aren’t they writing us? Tempting as it may be to reach out, I highly suggest you refrain, take a beat, and regroup.

Maybe you just aren’t high enough on his totem pole of what matters in his day to day yet. Maybe he is pulling away. Maybe he’s simply busy. For most people this is the busiest time of their year, in the professional world we’re starting the biggest quarter of the year, it’s the end of Summer, universities’ Fall semesters just started up a few weeks ago. Instead of devoting your time to figuring out his motives, investigate why you are asking yourself these things at all.

All that we can say is definitely happening is that he is living in his freedom, living outside of the “you and him” and that is making you feel insecure. We have a habit of assuming that because someone doesn’t need us, that they don’t want us. His living free is not the same as him pulling away from you. When you start to ask yourself why he wouldn’t write you when he seems to have time you need to take a step back and ask why you care. Switch your focus from “Why isn’t he writing me?” to “Why do I need him to write me to feel wanted?”

Of course, we look at actions from people we care about as a reflection of how they care about us. Personally, I’m a big show me, don’t tell me person. But someone texting me “Good morning” every day isn’t “showing” me. Showing me would be wanting and working for that 11th date. It’s important to find your own foundation and stability outside of the relationship (whether that relationship is romantic, a friendship, or a family bond). Be solid in you. Flourish in your independence. Don’t rely on daily, breadcrumb interactions to validate how he feels about you. If he cares, it’ll be obvious once you step back.

You also need to remember that people love and express their care in different ways. Open up to the idea that he may be expressing his consideration for you in a way that you aren’t reading. Ten dates is quite a few for someone to just up and ghost you. I’d guess that he does care for you and that the two of you are speaking slightly different languages. What specifically makes you feel like he’s pulling away? That you aren’t talking all the time? Maybe he just feels like he doesn’t need to be in constant contact with you to show that he cares.


Moving forward

So what can you do right now? Don’t text him about the “space”. Don’t post your life on social media and expect him to come running. Don’t live for him. Don’t live for his attention.

Move forward in person. Try to schedule that 11th date. A little ruse never killed anyone. Shoot him a “My friend wants to hang out Friday, but I’d rather see you. You around?” or whatever feels like a you thing to say. If he’s interested he’ll make it happen. If he’s busy he’ll find an alternative time to see you. If he’s not interested, he won’t. You’ll get an “Ahh I wish I could”. Either way, you’ll have your answer.

Here’s the bottom line, you need to be secure in yourself and your partner’s freedom and you deserve a partner who never makes you question if they want you. Some people are naturally more independent, some people are naturally more co-dependent. I’m a very independent person and I really enjoy time to myself, but I know that my boyfriend doesn’t thrive in the same way. When I pull deeply into my own space and independence I have to be conscious of how it affects the relationship. In the same way that he stretches his stability to accept my independence, I stretch my independence to include him and keep a closeness.

If this person isn’t treating you the way you need, then move on. Earlier I said that there are no rules to dating and it’s true. Date whoever and however you want. What there are rules about is the behavior that you allow someone who knows you personally, romantically, or intimately to inflict on you. Do not tolerate what doesn’t serve you.




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