Men Are Like Rubber Bands Men are like rubber bands.
When they pull away, they can stretch only so far before they come springing back. A rubber band is the perfect metaphor to understand the male intimacy cycle. This cycle involves getting close, pulling away, and then getting close again. Most women are surprised to realize that even when a man loves a woman, periodically he needs to pull away before he can get closer. Men instinctively feel this urge to pull away. It is not a decision or choice. It just happens. It is neither his fault nor her fault. It is a natural cycle. Women misinterpret a man's pulling away because generally a woman pulls away for different reasons. She pulls back when she doesn't trust him to understand her feelings, when she has been hurt and is afraid of being hurt again, or when he has done something wrong and disappointed her. Certainly a man may pull away for the same reasons, but he will also pull away even if she has done nothing wrong. He may love and trust her; and then suddenly he begins to pull away. Like a stretched rubber band, he will distance himself and then come back all on his own. A man pulls away to fulfill his need for independence or autonomy. When he has fully stretched away, then instantly he will come springing back. When he has fully separated, then suddenly he will feel his need for love and intimacy again. Automatically he will he more motivated to give his love and receive the love he needs. When a man springs back, he picks up the relationship at whatever degree of intimacy it was when he stretched away. He doesn't feel any need for a period of getting reacquainted again.
WHAT EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW ABOUT MEN
If understood, this male intimacy cycle enriches a relationship, but because it is misunderstood it creates unnecessary problems. Let's explore an example. Maggie was distressed, anxious, and confused. She and her boyfriend, Jeff, had been dating for six months. Everything had been so romantic. Then without any apparent reason he began to distance himself emotionally. Maggie could not understand why he had suddenly pulled away. She told me, "One minute he was so attentive, and then the next he didn't even want to talk to me. I have tried everything to get him back but it only seems to make matters worse. He seems so distant. I don't know what I did wrong. Am I so awful?" When Jeff pulled away, Maggie took it personally. This is a common reaction. She thought she had done something wrong and blamed herself. She wanted to make things "right again," but the more she tried to get close to Jeff the more he pulled away.
After taking my seminar Maggie was so relieved. Her anxiety and confusion immediately disappeared. Most important, she stopped blaming herself. She realized that when Jeff pulled away it was not her fault. In addition she learned why he was pulling away and how gracefully to deal with it. Months later at another seminar, Jeff thanked me for what Maggie had learned. He told me they were now engaged to be married. Maggie had discovered a secret that few
women know about men. Maggie realized that when she was trying to get close while Jeff was trying to pull away, she was actually preventing him from stretching his full distance and then springing back. By running after him, she was preventing him from ever feeling that he needed her and wanted to be with her. She realized that she had done this in every relationship. Unknowingly she had obstructed an important cycle. By trying to maintain intimacy she had prevented it. How a Man Is Suddenly Transformed If a man does not have the opportunity to pull away, he never gets a chance to feel his strong desire to be close. It is essential for women to understand that if they insist on continuous intimacy or "run after" their intimate male partner when he pulls away, then he will almost always be trying to escape and distance himself; he will never get a chance to feel his own passionate longing for love. In my seminars I demonstrate this with a big rubber band. Imagine that you are holding a rubber band. Now begin stretching your rubber band by pulling it to your right. This particular rubber band can stretch twelve inches. When the rubber band is stretched twelve inches there is nowhere left to go but back. And when it returns it has a lot of power and spring. Likewise, when a man has stretched away his full distance, he will return with a lot of power and spring. Once he pulls away to his limit, he begins to go through a transformation. His whole attitude begins to shift. This man who did not seem to care about or be interested in his partner (while he was pulling away) suddenly cannot live without her. He is now feeling again his need for intimacy. His power is back because his desire to love and be loved have been reawakened. This is generally puzzling for a woman because in her experience if she has pulled away, becoming intimate again requires a period of re-acquaintance. If she doesn't understand that men are different in this way, she may have a tendency to mistrust his sudden desire for intimacy and push him away. Men also need to understand this difference. When a man springs back, before a woman can open up again to him she generally wants and needs time and conversation to reconnect. This transition can be more graceful if a man understands a woman may need more time to regain the same level of intimacy-especially if she felt hurt when he pulled away. Without this understanding of differences, a man may become impatient because he is suddenly available to pick up the intimacy at whatever level of intensity it was when he pulled away and she is not. Why Men Pull Away Men begin to feel their need for autonomy and independence after they have fulfilled their need for intimacy. Automatically when he begins to pull away, she begins to panic. What she doesn't realize is that when he pulls away and fulfills his need for autonomy then suddenly he will want to be intimate again. A man automatically alternates between needing intimacy and autonomy.
For example, in the beginning of his relationship Jeff was strong and full of desire. His rubber band was fully stretched. He wanted to impress her, fulfill her, please her, and get close to her. As he succeeded she also wanted to get closer. As she opened her heart to him he got closer and
closer. When they achieved intimacy he felt wonderful. But after a brief period a change took place. Imagine what happens to the rubber band. The rubber band becomes limp. Its power and stretch are gone. There is no longer any movement. This is exactly what happens to a man's desire to get close after intimacy has been achieved. Even though this closeness is fulfilling to a man, he will inevitably begin to go through an inner shift. He will begin to feel the urge to pull away. Having temporarily fulfilled his hunger for intimacy, he now feels his hunger to be independent, to be on his own. Enough of this needing another person. He may feel he has become too dependent or may not know why he feels a need to pull away. Why Women Panic As Jeff instinctively pulls away without any explanation to Maggie (or to himself), Maggie reacts with fear. She panics and runs after him. She thinks she has done something wrong and has turned him off. She imagines he is expecting her to re-establish intimacy. She is afraid he will never come back. To make matters worse, she feels powerless to get him back because she doesn't know what she did to turn him off. She doesn't know that this is just a part of his intimacy cycle. When she asks him what's the matter, he doesn't have a clear answer, and so he resists talking about it. He just continues to distance her even more. Why Men and Women Doubt Their Love Without an understanding of this cycle it is easy to see how men and women begin to doubt their love. Without seeing how she was preventing Jeff from finding his passion, Maggie could easily assume that Jeff didn't love her. Without getting the chance to pull away, Jeff would lose touch with his desire and passion to be close. He could easily assume that he no longer loved Maggie. After learning to let Jeff have his distance or "space," Maggie discovered that he did come back. She practiced not running after him when he would withdraw and trusted that everything was OK. Each time he did come back. As her trust in this process grew, it became easier for her not to panic. When he pulled away she did not run after him or even think something was wrong. She accepted this part of Jeff. The more she just accepted him at those times the sooner he would return. As Jeff began to understand his changing feelings and needs, he became more confident in his love. He was able to make a commitment. The secret of Maggie and Jeffs success was that they understood and accepted that men are like rubber bands.
HOW WOMEN MISINTERPRET MEN
Without an understanding of how men are like rubber bands, it Is very easy for women to misinterpret a man's reactions. A common confusion arises when she says "Let's talk" and immediately he emotionally distances himself. Right when she wants to open up and get closer, he wants to pull away. Commonly I hear the complaint "Every time I want to talk, he pulls away. I feel like he doesn't care about me." She mistakenly concludes that he doesn't ever want
to talk to her. This rubber band analogy explains how a man may care very much about his partner but suddenly pull away. When he pulls away it is not because he does not want to talk. Instead, he needs some time alone; time to be with himself when he is not responsible for anyone else. It is a time for him to take care of himself. When he returns then he is available to talk. To a certain extent a man loses himself through connecting with his partner. By feeling her needs, problems, wants, and emotions he may lose touch with his own sense of self. Pulling away allows him to re-establish his personal boundaries and fulfill his need to feet autonomous. Some men, however, may describe this pulling away differently. To them it is just a feeling of "I need some space" or "I need to be alone." Regardless of how it is described, when a man pulls away, he is fulfilling a valid need to take care of himself for a while. Just as we do not decide to be hungry, a man does not decide to pull away. It is an instinctual urge. He can only get so close, and then he begins to lose himself. At this point he begins to feel his need for autonomy and begins to pull away. By understanding this process, women can begin correctly to interpret this pulling away. Why Men Pull Away When Women Get Close For many women, a man tends to pull away precisely at the time when she wants to talk and be intimate. This occurs for two reasons. 1. A woman will unconsciously sense when a man is pulling away and precisely at those times she will attempt to re-establish their intimate connection and say "Let's talk." As he continues to pull away, she mistakenly concludes that he doesn't want to talk or that he doesn't care for her. 2. When a woman opens up and shares deeper and more intimate feelings it may actually trigger a man's need to pull away. A man can only handle so much intimacy before his alarm bells go off, saying it is time to find balance by pulling away. At the most intimate moments a man may suddenly automatically switch to feeling his need for autonomy and pull away. It is very confusing for a woman when a man pulls away because something she says or does often triggers his departure. Generally when a woman starts to talk about thing with feeling a man starts to feel this urge to pull away. This is because feelings draw men closer and create intimacy, and when a man gets too dose he automatically pulls away. It is not that he doesn't want to hear her feelings. At another time in his intimacy cycle, when he is needing to get close, the same feelings that could have triggered his departure will draw him closer. It is not what she says that triggers his departure but when she says it.