10 Things You Can Do When A Guy Acts Interested, Then Backs Off

Suffering and Healing | | , Editor & Writer
Updated On: February 19, 2024
When a guy acts interested then backs off

We all look for true love, and some of us are hit by Cupid’s arrow sooner than others. However, in this pacy age of social media and online dating apps, you may come across many instances when a guy acts interested, then backs off. You might even wonder, “Why do guys act interested then not follow through?” Well, perhaps, finding love, or a good boyfriend, or even a man who is genuine and truly deserves your heart, is like trying to spot Halley’s comet.

When a guy backs off after showing initial interest, it is hurtful. But it arouses an urge to put on your detective hat and understand why he is acting distant all of a sudden. Did you do something? Should you not have mentioned your 8 cats? Well, there can be many reasons a guy would suddenly act weird or distant toward you. But before you go plucking rose petals and play “he loves me, he loves me not”, let’s understand why a guy acts distant when he likes you. So, instead of asking yourself, “Why does he act interested one minute and distant the next?,” read on to find all the answers…

8 Reasons Guys Act Distant When They Like You

Do guys distance themselves when they like a girl? Yes. Why do guys do that? Well, that is beyond the realm of logical understanding. The truth is: men are complicated. They often do the most irrational things when they are overwhelmed with emotions.

When a guy acts interested, then backs off, there is a high chance he is falling head over heels for you. Why then, would he act indifferent toward you? Because he does not know what to do with these emotions. Even when you are in a committed relationship with them, men can suddenly start acting distant when things begin to get too serious. Here are 6 reasons that can answer the question: “Why do guys act interested, then not follow through?”

Related Reading: Lack Of Affection And Intimacy In A Relationship — 9 Ways It Affects You

1. He is scared of emotions

Love is a powerful emotion. While it is all roses and violins playing in the background for some, for others, love can be extremely scary. So, if you ever find yourself uttering, “He likes me but keeps his distance”, and wonder why, look out for some signs of such fear. When guys lose interest when their fear of emotions is at play, there can be many reasons behind why :

  • When you are overcome with an emotion as strong as love, it is difficult to process the feeling
  • He is likely planning a wedding with you in his head but is too scared to get into the practicalities of a relationship
  • Other factors of life are pushed to the back burner when love strikes, and guys start feeling lost
  • Expressing emotions is not the strongest suit for men, thanks to patriarchy, and this limited emotional intelligence causes them to distance themselves when they like a girl

One of my friends, Anna, told me she believes a coworker likes her a lot. She said, “We struck up a rapport over lunch. He stares at me but acts uninterested when I try to talk about personal things. I feel he is pursuing me slowly, but then, I am not sure. At times, I feel he has lost interest.” Well, it could be because he finds the idea of being in a relationship enticing but is overwhelmed by his feelings. Such men thus begin to act distant all of a sudden.

2. He is commitment phobic

How many times have you dated a guy who disappears from the face of the earth the moment you want to get into a serious, committed relationship? Do you often find yourself complaining, “He likes me but keeps his distance”? Well, remember, a committed relationship is a huge step for men. The idea of a relationship is synonymous with losing the sense of freedom for them.

Maybe he likes the idea of sitting in his bachelor pad and playing video games with the boys more than the idea of spending his day out grocery shopping with you. Or maybe you are not the only woman in his life. Maybe he is interested in someone else now, and wants to keep his options open!

Related Reading: Here Are 11 Ways To Figure Out If Your Guy Is Avoiding You

A group of men was asked, “Why do guys distance themselves when they like a girl?” Most men had the following answer: “When men lose interest in their girlfriends or dates or seem to, it is mostly because they want to explore more. Commitment or a serious relationship is a big step and there are so many women out there.” It is the ‘many fish in the sea’ mentality at play here. Most men do not get into a committed relationship until their 30s because they are not ready to tie themselves down.

3. He is acting distant because of experiences of the past

Men are not the emotional fools they might appear to be sometimes. When a guy acts interested, then backs off, the reason has less to do with you and more to do with him. His past experiences could be coming in the way of your romantic dreams. It’s possible that:

  • He has been financially or emotionally abused by his previous partner
  • He has been cheated on by his former girlfriend
  • He has been deeply hurt by a partner before, through arguments about his shortcomings, and thus, has his guard high up

So, if you keep telling yourself, “He stares at me but acts uninterested”, or you are wondering what happened to your perfect Prince Charming and why he is acting distant all of a sudden, it is probably because the intensity of the relationship has triggered emotions he is not ready to process and he is thus maintaining his distance to protect his heart. It could be a form of defense mechanism to shelter himself from having his heart shattered into a million pieces again.

4. He doesn’t think you’d reciprocate his feelings

Why does he act interested one minute and distant the next, you wonder? Well, one of the main reasons why guys distance themselves when they like a girl is that they are easily intimidated when a woman they are genuinely interested in looks like a model out of a magazine. If they think you are out of their league, guys tend to get the impression that you are not likely to reciprocate their feelings.

So, a few reasons for this could be:

  • He feels you do not like him back, probably because you aren’t too expressive
  • You earn a lot more than him, and he is aware of that
  • You look better groomed than me
  • You appear more intelligent than him and are into hobbies, such as reading or dancing, that aren’t his cup of tea

Related Reading: Why Do Guys Distance Themselves After Intimacy?

“That is what I do. As I get to know her, I realize how wonderful she is and believe she deserves more. My sense of self-worth gets in the way,” says Marcus, my coworker who’s in his late 20s. Here are some instances when such a scenario is possible:

  • He is distant but he still texts you
  • He meets you often, but not with a lot of enthusiasm
  • He is not intimidated by you and talks often but doesn’t get into personal topics

5. He was just infatuated initially

guy flirts, then goes cold
Don’t be glued to your phone, sending long text messages. It is not worth it

So, why does a guy flirt then back off? For most men, the reason to commit to a woman is not just her looks or her qualities but also the excitement that you bring to the table. At the start of a relationship, a guy might be attracted to you, but as time passes, he is probably not receiving the excitement he wants. So, the infatuation begins to wear off. In such cases, he might like you but will begin to act distant. In such a scenario, the distant behavior is not about you particularly, but about the needs and expectations of the guy.

6. He has different goals in life

Will a guy back off if he likes you? Oh, yes. Men can like you but still not want to commit to a long-term relationship if your goals do not align. Everyone has a path that they are following and do not like being thrown off of it. You might think that this is your perfect partner, but when a guy acts weird around you all of a sudden, he has most likely realized that he does not see a future with you.

Related Reading: Should Couples Have Goals? Yes, Couple Goals Could Really Help…

A friend, Nancy, had been dating a guy for over a month. However, when the guy realized that she was not ready to move out of the country, he lost interest and started acting distant. During a discussion with me, Nancy confided, “He is distant but still texts like we are good friends. I guess he realized we are just different people.”

She then asked, “Why does he act like he likes me one day and not the next?” This is when you know the guy liked you but did not see a future because of different goals and so, did not wish to waste your time. So, in this case, he may have been a good boyfriend but left her because of his personal growth. Nonetheless, he wanted to remain friends rather than lead her on.

7. He was only interested in sex

So, would a guy hold your hand if he wasn’t interested? He certainly would, if that’s what it takes him to woo you for sex. It is a sad reality, but sometimes, this is why a guy acts interested, then backs off. It has nothing to do with you and is more about his intentions. He was most likely interested in starting a physical relationship and not a long-term relationship.

If you refused his advances or made it clear that you were not interested in hookups, it could have led to him disappearing because he realized he wouldn’t get what he wanted. When men lose interest, they usually don’t spend time being around. So, don’t ask yourself, “Why does he act like he likes me one day and not the next?”, when you already know the answer. All you need to do is shake off the denial and accept the reality, no matter how hurtful it is.

8. You did not make him feel like a hero

Still wondering, “Why does a guy flirt then back off?” When a guy suddenly goes cold on you, it could be because he isn’t getting to save a ‘damsel in distress’. One of the most prominent causes for a man acting interested one minute and distant the next has to do with the biology and psychology of men. There is a little-known idea that compels a guy to commit or flee. This has to do with how he feels about you.

You see, it all comes down to bringing out the inner hero in men. The hero instinct, a concept developed by relationship specialist James Bauer, talks about what really motivates men in relationships and is embedded in their DNA. And most ladies don’t have any knowledge of it. So, if he starts acting distant, it is probably because you are an independent woman and he did not like that.

Related Reading: Is your man with you just for sex? 20 signs to watch out!

10 Things To Do When A Guy Acts Interested Then Backs Off

So, now we know the answer to the burning question, “Why do guys act interested then pull away?” However, the confusion and internal chaos of when a guy acts interested but then backs off can be irritating. There can indeed be multiple reasons behind a man showing interest and then backing off, but it’s also true that when men lose interest, they are most likely to ghost you for good, without coming back again. Before you declare yourself unworthy of love driven by his hot-and-cold behavior, go through our list of 10 things to do when a guy acts interested, then backs off:

1. Forget and move on

If you find a guy acting distant after the first date, the simplest way to deal with this problem is to forget him and move on. You do not need to waste your energy on wondering, “Why did he show interest and then bail?” Even if he is distant but still texts you, do not encourage him or his mixed signals, or build castles in the air.

You deserve to be with someone who’s ready to express their feelings and not be afraid. So, when a guy suddenly goes cold on you, it is his loss. You are better off being with a man who is prepared to commit and is emotionally mature enough to communicate his feelings.

2. Do not blame yourself

Blaming yourself when a guy shows interest, then suddenly backs off is a one-way ticket to eroding self-esteem and losing confidence. It is common to blame yourself when a guy acts weird around you, but it is important to remind yourself that you are not the reason he is acting distant. So, avoid blaming yourself when a guy cuts you off suddenly or pulls away emotionally.

Related Reading: 15 Top Signs Of A Selfish Boyfriend

3. Indulge in self-care

So, what happens when you back off from a guy who gives you the hot-and-cold treatment? You get more time for yourself. Reminding yourself of your worth and who you are is very important in this scenario. So, take care of yourself and spend time indulging in the good things that life has to offer, or doing everything you like, instead of wasting your time when you see the signs a guy is not into you. Here are some ideas:

  • Hang out with your friends
  • Go for a spontaneous solo trip to your favorite destination
  • Pamper yourself with a spa day
  • Join a gym and lose those extra kilos

One of my friends from our school gang, Shania, whose crush began acting distant all of a sudden, said this to us on an iMessage chat: “This is so bizarre! Did any of you see this coming? Would a guy hold your hand if he wasn’t interested? He backed off when I showed interest. What do I do now?” Our immediate response was that she should dress up and go out for a nice dinner with us.”

4. Get yourself back in the game

If you’re still wondering what to do when a guy acts interested then suddenly backs off, our answer would be: go out and find a man who shows you that you are worthy of all the love in the world. When a guy flirts, then goes cold, don’t waste a moment thinking about him. You deserve so much more than a man who could not communicate his feelings to you. So, discover your worth!

Remember, no man should be allowed to dim your light. There are many men out there waiting to love a woman as fabulous as you. So, if you are ready, get back into the game. Start dating men who have potential and who appreciate you for who you are! 

Related Reading: How To Respond To Ghosting Without Losing your Sanity?

5. Express your feelings

So, what’s the best thing to do when a guy cuts you off suddenly? As we’ve already stated above, one of the reasons why guys act distant when they like you is that they feel you would not reciprocate their feelings. So, if you find a guy acting distant after the first date, and are wondering why he is pulling back all of a sudden, ask yourself, “Does he know what I feel?”

If the answer is “no,” then take the first step and express your feelings right away, so that you both are on the same page. Two positives can come from this:

More on Ghosting

6. Don’t let emotions take over

What about the law of attraction when he pulls away? Well, you might be drawn to him more than ever before. But when a guy acts interested, then backs off, he is not only insulting the sanctity of your emotions but is also insulting you. Except in cases where there is a lack of communication from both parties, it’s not fair for him to leave you wondering, “Why is he acting distant all of a sudden?” So, when a guy flirts, then goes cold, stay firm in your decision and cut him off, instead of telling yourself miserably, “He backed off when I showed interest.”

Even if he is distant but still texts, do not let him control you. It is very easy to get overwhelmed by emotions when you have devoted time and energy to the person. But remember, your self-respect is above everything and you should not be with someone who does not have the maturity to face his emotions and communicate like an adult. It could also be one of the signs a guy wants you to back off. So, just back off and see what he does.

Related Reading: Romantic Manipulation – 15 Things Disguised As Love

7. Explore your hobbies and passion

Still wondering what happens when you back off from a guy? Well, you get to invest in your interests and passion. Every person needs to take a break from a relationship, especially if it’s a hot-and-cold game or one that brings a lot of bad emotions. So, instead of continuously wondering, “Why is he on and off with me?”, leave him alone and find something that makes you smile, even if it’s just immersing yourself in work, and helps you deal with the agony you are currently experiencing.

  • Take up an old hobby you had forgotten about, such as tennis or painting
  • Learn a new skill, such as a new language or culinary art
  • Give your 100% to your career, if climbing up the corporate ladder is your passion

8. Don’t make up excuses for him

So, you’ve been left wondering, “Why is he acting distant all of a sudden?” Interestingly, women often make a variety of excuses for the person they like, even if the object of their affection doesn’t like them back. For instance, you may keep telling yourself, “Perhaps he is pursuing me slowly.”

However, given that people have the freedom to behave as they choose, this is likely one of the worst things you can do. Just because he made you feel like the best thing ever and then changed into someone entirely different, his behavior shouldn’t be justified. If a guy flirts, then goes cold, don’t tell yourself that he is just busy with work. This could also be one of the signs a guy wants you to back off, for whatever reason it may be. He undoubtedly has a reason, but it is not your responsibility to figure out what it is.

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9. Maintain your distance

There is a very thin, almost invisible, line between curiosity and obsession. When a guy acts interested, then backs off, it is okay to be curious and wonder “Why is he on and off with me?” But do not get so obsessed with him. Stop trying to find the answer to “Why did he show interest and then bail?” We don’t want you to morph into Joe Goldberg of You and begin stalking him, threatening him, or harassing him.

The law of attraction when he pulls away will make you follow him, naturally. Don’t give in to it. If he is maintaining his distance, you must maintain yours too. Even if he stops texting and then starts again, it does not mean you can text him all day long. Instead, learn to ignore him. In fact, back off and see what he does. He might just get back in touch if he’s really into you.

10. Know that you are worthy of love

One dating advice we would like to give you for sure is: even when men lose interest after showing interest initially, don’t feel sad or let it affect your sanity. It’s not a big deal. Although meeting someone exactly like him is unlikely (and that’s probably a good thing), you can be sure that another person will enter your life and provide you joy and love instead of the misery you are currently experiencing. Make sure you don’t take romantic rejection as a personal attack on yourself. Here’s what you can do instead:

  • Remember to appreciate yourself and all that you do, and move on at your own pace
  • Focus on the future and the fantastic possibilities ahead, be it new career paths, relationships, or hobbies
  • Love the people who love you and add value to your world, be it your friends or family
  • Try to be receptive to new ideas with both your heart and mind

Related Reading: 10 Must-Follow Healthy Relationship Boundaries

So, will a guy back off if he likes you? He sure can. And you can very well be left wondering, “When I show interest he backs away. Is that even normal?” But figuring out what to do when a guy acts interested, then suddenly backs off can be difficult for people. Viewing the two of you as potential partners for each other takes a lot of courage. So, when the dream comes crashing down, the aftermath can be painful.

But remember that when a guy acts interested then backs off, it is not your fault or your responsibility. A mature adult would not leave you confused but would let you know clearly that things are not working out. So, here are some final thoughts from our end: do not let yourself wonder about your potential. But hold your head high and leave him behind.


1. Why do guys act interested then pull away?

We often find ourselves asking, “Why do guys switch up so fast?” Well, the biggest reason for men to pull away is the fear of their own emotions. The thought of a relationship is appealing to them, but the effort scares them.

2. What does it mean when a guy comes on strong then backs off?

When guys lose interest after showing interest initially, there can be multiple reasons. He might have expected something different in his head and that’s why he was persuasive. However, there is a high chance the relationship was not what he had expected, and so he backed off.

3. Do guys disappear when they like you?

Yes. A lot of men cannot deal with their emotions. The idea of love scares them, and if they suddenly feel that they are overcome with emotions for a person, they will disappear and maintain distance rather than muster the courage to tell them about their feelings. So, at times, you will find girls wondering, “When I show interest he backs away. I wonder what’s wrong with me!”

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