If a man displays these 8 behaviors, he’s struggling with the loss of freedom in a relationship

My grandmother once told me, “For a man to want to stay, he must feel like he can leave.” 

I was too young to understand at the time, but I do now.  

While freedom is important to us all, it is particularly important to men in the context of their romantic relationships. 

Simply put: to be happy in a relationship, a man must feel free. 

They need to feel like they are in control of their own choices, that they are being respected, and that their partner would be OK without them.  

It comes down to feeling like they have a choice when it comes to the relationship. And, paradoxically, knowing they have a choice makes them more likely to want it. 

So, how do you know if your man is feeling restricted?  

Oh, there are warning signs… 

And being able to identify them will give you the opportunity to stand back and consider how your actions may be setting your relationship up for failure. 

So, if a man displays these 8 behaviors he’s struggling with the loss of freedom in a relationship. 

1) He’s pulling away for longer

Men can begin to act differently in a relationship for lots of reasons.  

But if we’re to know it’s because he’s not feeling the freedom he needs, we’ll start with the most obvious sign. 

You’re seeing less of him.  

A man needs space when he’s in a relationship. He needs time on his own, away from his partner.  

This is what psychologist and internationally best-selling author John Gray was describing when he coined the term, “the man cave”

Men require time alone to process their thoughts and recharge. And this can’t be accomplished with their partner breathing down their necks. 

Too much proximity to their partner can leave them feeling exhausted and overwhelmed.  

So, if he is pulling away from you for longer, his actions are blatantly telling you that he feels like he’s losing his freedom. 

He is crying out for more space. So, give it to him, without bitterness or anger.  

It doesn’t mean he no longer loves you. It simply means that he needs to figure stuff out.  

So, trust in him and leave him to it.  

2) He’s increasingly irritable

Has your man been moodier lately? 

Maybe he’s losing his temper with you more than usual? 

Easily losing his patience or becoming snappy with you over the littlest of things could be another sign that your man is struggling with the loss of freedom in the relationship.   

He may feel that you are always ‘at’ him, directing him and trying to influence his decisions.  

And this will ignite every man’s fear of being smothered and controlled.  

His irritation and annoyance at you will seep out in many ways and under the guise of many different things. 

This isn’t because he’s afraid to tell you what the problem is, it’s probably that he himself is still unaware of exactly what it is.  

He just knows how he’s feeling now isn’t good, and that it seems to be originating with you. 

There is no quicker way to make a man unhappy than the feeling that his autonomy is at risk.  

So, if you notice your man becoming more and more irritable, check how you’re contributing to the situation.  

Perhaps he could do with less interference from your side? 

Backing off just a little can really help turn things around.   

3) He’s planning more things without you

Speaking of backing off… 

The next sign a man is afraid to lose his freedom in a relationship is that he will begin to plan more activities without you. 

He may do this stubbornly or subconsciously, but he will be strategizing ways to spend more time away from you.  

He’s basically showing you that he is the boss of his own life. That he will not be dictated to. And that you need to back off.  

And what better way to assert his independence than to do things totally independently? 

Look, if he wants to get away for a few days (or more), there’s nothing you can do.  

Let him off. Maybe his time away will reignite his enthusiasm for the relationship. Cause if it doesn’t, nothing will.  

Now, onto another slightly dramatic sign… 

4) He’s acting out

signs youre in an incompatible relationship according to psychology If a man displays these 8 behaviors, he’s struggling with the loss of freedom in a relationship

If a man feels like his freedom is being taken away or being restricted, he will act out.  

The masculine is all about autonomy and self-sufficiency, so the moment he feels he is being emasculated or like he’s being treated like a child, he will resist.  

And this resistance can take many forms.  

It could mean he starts to do more of the things he knows you don’t like or approve of.  

Or he could totally shut down and detach from you and the relationship. 

When he acts out, he’s showing you that he won’t be told what he can or can’t do.  

And that the more you try to tell him, the more he will resist. 

So, if you notice this behavior, it may be time to check if there’s anything you’re doing that could be making him feel this way.  

If you can’t figure it out, it’s time for a chat. 

5) He’s making excuses to get away more

If your man suddenly gets much busier with work or other commitments and starts making excuses as to why it’s not possible to spend more time with you, this could be the result of him feeling like he’s being controlled.  

Don’t forget, a man can be fully committed to you and still want to spend time apart.  

This is totally healthy and natural and doesn’t mean his feelings are diminishing.

However, not getting the time he needs for his own hobbies and friends will result in his feelings changing over time.  

It’s inevitable.  

So, respect his needs and let him go so he can return with more enthusiasm for you and your relationship.  

6) He won’t talk about it

Look, women are natural communicators. Research has shown that many women speak an average of up to 20,000 words a day, whereas the average man speak roughly 7,000 words. 

So, it’s quite normal that your man won’t talk as much as you.  

However, if you find that he has become quieter than usual, it may be because he feels like you are trying to change him and thereby trying to rob him of the freedom to be himself. 

He may be cutting back on conversation to minimize the verbal manipulation he feels is being directed towards him.  

No man wants to be controlled by his partner, and if they feel like this is the case, they will shut down and retreat.   

So, if you notice this behavior, it could be a sign that he feels like his freedom is being threatened.   

7) He creates conflict

And from shutting down to standing up! 

When a man begins to create more conflict than usual, it is a clear sign that he feels he isn’t being respected in his relationship.  

He may begin to create conflict to assert his independence.  

If you notice this, try and put yourself in his shoes and see things from his point of view.  

Relationships are not supposed to be power struggles, they are supposed to be about acceptance and compromise.  

And the final indicator that he is struggling with the loss of freedom in a relationship… 

8) He tells you he’s struggling

Obvious, right? 

Or is it… 

Men will often tell us exactly what the issue is, and we will often begin to hypothesize and obsess and produce an entirely different theory of our own.  

But, if your man tells you he’s feeling a certain way or struggling with a certain thing, believe him.  

And know that you’re lucky to be with a guy who is a good communicator.  

Now, you can both sit down and discuss what can be done. 

Remember, men are simple and straightforward creatures. The obvious answer is often the correct one.  

Final thoughts 

Men want to feel accepted, respected, and not pressurized in their relationships.  

If you are noticing the above behaviors in your man, it’s time for some self-reflection.  

Ask yourself why you need to control him.  

You may find that the root cause of this compulsion has nothing to do with him and everything to do with you.  

Picture of Niamh McNamara

Niamh McNamara

A freelance writer fascinated with human nature and social dynamics, Niamh read literature, history, and philosophy at university before spending time in journalism and PR. Armed with a passion for words and ideas, and a healthy appreciation of the ridiculous, she tries to make sense of it all. Connect with Niamh on X @NBMcnamara123

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