Just days ago, your favorite Martian was holding you in his arms, telling you how special you are and how much he loves you; now, three days have gone by and he hasn't even called you! You may share the same bed and yet you feel like he doesn't even know you are there. Why does it seem like he puts you up on a pedestal one moment and other times you seem to be last on his list? Sometimes it feels like feast or famine when it comes to getting his attention... is this some version of male PMS?
Absolutely not; although it really can feel like it! This is actually a very normal process that most men experience in intimate relationships. Called the "rubber band," or the male intimacy cycle, it's when a man vacillates between being close to his partner and pulling away from her. Men do this for many reasons, the least of which is to connect with their more masculine side and focus on the activities that make them a good provider and partner. While this is a normal and natural part of all healthy relationships, it is very confusing to women. In fact, according to the women who visit AskMarsVenus.com, it is the biggest source of frustration and pain in their relationships.
Why do men need to pull away?
After experiencing the closeness and intimacy of a partnership, the "we" state, men need to regain their sense of self with the "me" state. After they reconnect with themselves, they will then be ready to experience more intimacy. For most men, intimacy is like an all-you-can-eat buffet. They experience it, enjoy it and then become full. They need time and space to feel hungry again.
In healthy relationships, men do not pull away out of anger or frustration about their relationship. If your partner is pulling away out of anger, or is simply avoiding you, there is likely something else going on. Also, rubber banding does not happen when a couple is newly in a relationship. This cycle evolves over time. If he is pulling away early on in the relationship, there are probably other issues affecting his interest that may or may not be related to you.
A woman's reaction to the rubber band may push men further away.
Unfortunately, this cycle can be quite upsetting to a Venusian. She wonders, "Is it me? Did I do something wrong? Does he still love me?" These painful thoughts often cause women to chase their partner with demands for an explanation. "Why haven't you called me?" or "What's wrong?" When a woman reacts to the rubber band by chasing, it can cause a Martian to pull away even more -- perhaps stretching until the rubber band breaks. He may feel pressured because his partner doesn't trust him, or he may even feel that he is incapable of making her happy.
At other times, Venusians convince themselves that it is "wrong" to contact their partner, that they must refrain from even talking -- and that whoever talks first loses. Of course, while they are determined not to fold, they are also waiting by the phone, checking their voice mail, checking their e-mail, or checking that lump in bed lying beside them for signs of life.
There are so many confusing messages out there for women. If you find yourself in this situation, here are a few things to remember:
- This cycle is a normal pattern for men -- he is not playing with you. Every woman knows how wonderful it is to see your sweetie after some time apart. His heart feels that for you whenever he pulls away and it's a positive experience. Let him go... and trust that he will come back.
- While he's regaining his sense of self, maybe this would be a good time for you to regain yours as well. Instead of waiting and worrying, why not visit with some girlfriends? Catch up on your reading. Garden. Meditate. Get a pedicure. Enjoy your life.
- You are allowed to make contact, but try to speak his language when you do. One idea is to ask him for information. You can ask him something like, "Remember that movie you were telling me about? What was the name of that again? I was thinking of renting it." Appeal to his sense of being the expert by asking for his help or advice.
But what if he's not rubber banding? What if he's just plain lost interest? How can you tell if you're being patient with his need for space or being played for a fool? There are ways to talk to your partner so that you both get your needs met.