The Rubber Band Man Defined

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-05-2003
The Rubber Band Man Defined
10
Mon, 08-30-2004 - 1:02pm

Over on the Online Dating board (where I'm a CL) some posters were talking about the rubber band effect that sometimes occurs while dating. I posted a definition of the Rubber Band Man over there but thought I'd post it here too and see what you all think.


The Rubber Band Man defined by John Gray author of Men are from Mars Women are from Venus:


Just days ago your favorite Martian was holding you in his arms telling you how special you are and how much he loves you and now three days have gone by and he hasn’t even called! You may even share the same bed and yet you feel like he doesn’t even know you’re there! Why does it seem like he’s got you up on a pedestal one moment and other times you feel like you’re 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 go through 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 then pulling away. 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. And while this is a normal, and natural part of all healthy relationships, it is also very confusing to women. In fact, according to the women who visit MarsVenus.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. Then they are again 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 likely other issues affecting his interest that may or may not be related to you.

Reactions by women that may push men away further:
Unfortunately, this cycle can be quite upsetting to a Venusian. They wonder, “Is it me? Did I do something wrong? Does he still love me?” These painful thoughts often cause women to chase their partner demanding 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, that his partner doesn’t trust him, or even that he is incapable of making her happy.

Other times Venusians convince themselves that it’s “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 to women. If you find yourself in this situation here are a few things to remember:

1. This cycle is a normal pattern for men- he’s 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.

2. While he’s regaining his sense of self, maybe this would be a good time 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.

3. You are allowed to make contact but try to speak his language when you do. One idea is to ask him for information. 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.


So...what do you really think of the "rubber band man"? I noticed that John Gray points out that pulling away because of anger or frustration about the relationship is not rubber banding. Nor is pulling away during the early stages of a relationship rubber banding.


Do you really think that it's common for men who have reached a certain level of intimacy (emotional and physical, I imagine) to feel the need to pull away so that he can regain his sense of "self"? Has anyone actually experienced this?

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iVillage Member
Registered: 08-22-2003
Mon, 08-30-2004 - 1:24pm
i see it all the time in relationships around me. My dad does it with my mom at times. She is wise and has learned to just do her thing. But it took awhile for her to figure it out. My brother has been this way with my sis in law. Again she knows that he just needs to do his "me" time and she is ok with that. She prefers it because she gets to do her own thing and have some "me" time to herself.

I agree and disagree that men do this in the early stages of a rs. I think some men do this, and its because a certain amt of intimacy was developed early on - that made them feel the rs was further along than the actual amt of time. So they need some time to go play with their friends, to re balance themselves.

This is the hard part for me in relationships. I get angry with the guy because its like their mind is totally blank. It is as though you don't exist to them.

Its a wonder men and women actually have successful relationships. We are so opposites in how we deal with life and intimacy , love... Fustrating. and no wonder there are many unhealthy relationships as well as the stats on divorce ( a staggering 1 out of 2 marriages last!)

Avatar for alicea825
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-20-2003
Mon, 08-30-2004 - 3:48pm
Oh yeah, a friend of mine goes through this at least once a month with her boyfriend of 4 years. She's used to it now, so when he's rubber-banding, we go out for dinner and he spends time with his guy friends...eventually he comes bouncing back.
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-05-2003
Mon, 08-30-2004 - 4:12pm

Okay...so what do I think of the rubber band effect....?


I think it's a load of nonesense.


I don't believe that an emotionally healthy man pulls away and retreats from the one he loves/cares about because he needs to regain his sense of self. He might pull away only to come back again later - but it has nothing to do with the relationship.


In all my relationships (work/friends/family) I have been known to retreat once in a while. This behaviour has nothing to do with the people in my life. It also has nothing to do with getting back in touch with my "self" It has to do with the fact that I'm feeling sad, stressed, overwhelmed, over-stimulated...whatever...and need some time to myself. Either I need the time to myself because I really don't have the patience to be around people or because I'm feeling not quite myself and don't want to bring down the people I care about or because I need to sort things out on my own without the meddling of others (as well intentioned as they may be).


Once I've gotten things back on track I come back I reconnect with the people from whom I distanced myself. Those who know me well know that I do this from time to time.


Once again - in my opinion - pulling away in relationships has nothing to do with being so overwhelmed by the "we" that one needs to go away in search of the "me"

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iVillage Member
Registered: 08-22-2003
Mon, 08-30-2004 - 4:37pm
you do it yourself - what you described in your post to yourself ;). maybe its a different way of explaining the rubber banding effect. all men do this to a lesser or more extent. I have not known one male to not. And they are healthy individuals. I thnk is very unhealty to havea life with someone and not take some time away to do your own thing. i think successful rs are based upon the fact each has their own life - but work welll together in a rs. many times rs fail because one or the other invests too much of themselves. Very seldom are ppl good at balancing this - and if they do, they have already taken their "space" "rubber band" time away... so the pulling back is not as drastic, maybe un-noticeable.

lets face it , no one is perfect. i think I am sometimes, and then i give myself a reality check.

a man ,healthy one too, can do this rubber banding, but still love the person, and still be capable of a godo intimate rs.

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-05-2003
Mon, 08-30-2004 - 5:25pm

After experiencing the closeness and intimacy of a partnership—the “we” state, men need to regain their sense of self with the “me” state. Then they are again 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.


This in particular - the explanation for why men "rubberband" - is the reason why I think that this theory is hogwash.


Yes, I do pull away in relationships - but it's not because I've become so close and intimate in my relationship that I need to regain my sense of self. It's not because I need a break so that I can go back to experiencing intimacy. It's not that I've become so full from the intimacy experience that I need a break in order to appreciate it again. (Oh my god this relationship is so fulfilling and so satsifying I feel like I'm going to burst. I think I'll starve myself for a while and come back later when I'm feeling hungry again).


In a healthy relationship, it's a given that both parties are going to need alone time once in a while. It's also a given that two people don't need to always be together, doing things together or even talking with each other - even while in the same room - in order to have a healthy relationship.


In a healthy relationship, when one retreats for a short while it's not a big deal.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 07-08-2004
Mon, 08-30-2004 - 11:49pm

I think this is a matter of degrees.

Avatar for alicea825
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-20-2003
Tue, 08-31-2004 - 10:27am
It sounds to me like everyone is argueing the same point here...call it "rubberbanding" or "alone time" or "time with the guys"...it's all the same thing.

Avatar for cl_shywon
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-20-2003
Tue, 08-31-2004 - 7:19pm

I agree.


I do the "rubberbanding" thing w/ guys, but only if they don't give me my own time in the relationship.

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-07-2011
Sun, 08-07-2011 - 9:58pm
This is what my guy seems to be doing...We get super close emotionally, he pulls away, I chase him and he'll leave me or lash out or something and i'll leave him alone, then we get back together and everything's even better than it was before lol
iVillage Member
Registered: 08-24-2006
Mon, 08-08-2011 - 2:32am
If my BF has ever done this it has been to such a low degree as to be unnoticeable. We now live together, but before we did there was not a day that went by without an appreciable amount of contact. If we went a day without seeing one another it was because of practical reasons, and not because one or the other of us just didn't want to see the other. I have been in several long term relationships and I can't think of any where we didn't have daily contact once the relationship was established. I can't imagine being happy in a relationship where I went several days without so much as a text from my SO. I think that's just my relationship style. I haven't had a lot of trouble finding guys who seem to share the same style either. I'm sure other women would feel smothered by it, but I don't.