Why do people pull back?

Why do people pull back and shut down after being opening up? Why do they put up a façade after showing you a glimpse of their issues?

I have been noticing a pattern lately.

People open up. Tell me about their problems. Expose their vulnerabilities for a brief meeting when they need support. Go into the details of what is wrong in their lives. Ask for advice. Hash it out.

After that one time, they grow distant. They shut down. They pretend their problems no long exist. They act invulnerable. They seem too busy in their perfect little lives. Questions about their lives are met by ‘cannot be more perfect’ answers. Questions about their problems are ignored and you get irrelevant answers.

Why does one single act of being vulnerable make people feel so ashamed that they will cease contact with you and pretend nothing happened?

It is a stereotype that men withdraw emotionally and grow distant. All the cases I have experienced this month are of women who showed me chinks in their ‘perfect lives’ and withdrew afterwards. Don’t tell me everybody’s problems disappears overnight. 

8 thoughts on “Why do people pull back?

  1. Arrived here from IHM ! 🙂
    This post of yours instantly rang a bell !
    Even I have noticed this,….being strong all the time is tiring ! I used to think its my fault ,…maybe I became judgemental or gave a strange look !
    Then I realised its may be people don’t want to appear weak in the next encounter !

    1. Welcome!

      Yup, people do not want to appear weak and our social media worsens it. Why would you be vulnerable when everyone is posting their picture perfect lives?

  2. Yes I see this too. I think sometimes they didn’t like my response. I may get them to look for the underlying, deeper issue. And they are not ready to go that deep.

    Or sometimes, they regret opening up because now they feel more vulnerable.

    I’ve realized that maybe people like to confide in small steps. So, now I just listen and match their pace. If they tell me one small thing, I give only one small response. If they tell me a little more, I respond a little more. And wait. If they recede, I let it go. That way, before they know it, they are not going farther than they would like to.

  3. Powerful. This is so true. I have noticed it more in women also. I think women are under immense pressure and maybe they are embarrassed or still have the same problems but don’t want to vocalize it for fear of being accused of it dragging on.
    One of my friends is like this. Sometimes she has some very difficult times with her husband and is at her wit’e end. Then all is magically well in perfect-land. And I think to myself…ok…it takes me a minute to process this change in my perception. But then I realise that marriage itself has so many ups and downs and you can go from being deeply in love to hating each other in seconds, several times per day LOL.

  4. I guess they are embarassed? Sh$$t! I shouldn’t have opened up to her…Now she knows my life is not perfect…I’m like everyone else…On the other hand, there are people who are too open – you wish they would just shut up…

  5. Maybe once they open up and confront their own vulnerabilities, they feel so weak that they don’t want to accept it and do it again?

    Something like If we close our eyes, then the problem will eventually go away types//

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