Perhaps a male's perspective would help with this....
Your situation is one where you are in love with a man who is clearly overwhelmed and stressed. He comes to you of his own motivation and tells you that he wants to back things off a bit as things have been too intense. You, who are clearly very in love with him, feel torn; you know he is overwhelmed and stressed but yet this man is wonderful and you can't really deal with the thought that this relationship could be going in a direction such as this.
What to do? Do you back off Do you press forward?
Men are much less complex in many ways than women. We tend to be more simplistic in our views of complex emotions and circumstances and sometimes this drives the women in our lives overboard. Our reactions, if done by a woman, would mean something totally different than if a woman said or did them.
The good news. I believe that B is simply feeling too overwhelmed and pressured to deal with the complexities of a relationship. For a woman, that typically means in so many words that she is done with the relationship and is telling the man, we are done or lets just be friends.
Men, well...most of us are not this forward thinking. We tend to need space when our emotions get the best of us. This almost never means that the relationship is over, just that we need some space and time to ourselves. Usually it means that he needs some weeks to recover and recoup and to get himself into a plan. These plans need time to work out and as such often require no contact. Simply, men withdraw until they are ready to reengage and respond.
I think that is exactly what is going on here. B needs some time and he needs to see that you are totally willing to give it to him, and to not pressure him in any way. Some men do this, especially those who have been through bad relationships before as a test of character and expectation for the woman they are interested in. The way to pass the test is to keep in contact with him; text him, even call him once in a while but to do so with a focus on fun and lightness. I have a feeling that the world sits on B right now and one more serious thing would be too much. So, he created space.
He clearly has feelings for you. Otherwise he would have been far more blunt and purposeful in his actions. Instead he gently talked to you and showed genuine emotions with you. This is not common at all in males who are not "into" someone.
Give him space. But, in your contact with him, have fun with him. He needs this and in time, I strongly believe he will be back with you, fully. For now, this is a respite for him, a time to refocus.
I know you are scared, but I think you have little to worry about. The signs he is showing here are good ones and he seems a decent man. He likes you. That is clear. He is just has too much serious input in his life right now and needs a more casual approach. Stick with him, but let him set the pace. I see this working through. Steven
Sorry it took me a while to get back to you. For some reason the automatic email that notifies me of a response was not working today.
Even hearing what you have said here, I am encouraged that indeed he is so far overwhelmed and stress crazed that he controlled the only thing he could at the time...a relationship with you. He backed away, but not totally away from you in an effort to make sense of his life and to sort things out. That is not a bad thing in a male's world. It is for him, simple emotional survival.
Saying that he wishes he lived closer is a simple way to say that he is so fried from stress that even the trip to see you is hard, but know that he does like you. No man says this type of thing unless he has feelings. For, if he did not have feelings he would have simply ended the relationship with no opportunity for future contact. Instead he opened the door for much more contact and is talking with you. Totally not what a man who is looking to end things would do.
Complements, etc: I would steer clear of too much of anything really at this point, except as I have said...having fun and laughter together. He needs this. And, as he is pretty typically male in his responses, giving him a complement will simply make him feel either like he owes one back to you (common reaction) or that he is not doing well, and you think it will help him to hear it; neither an ideal situation.
Instead, simply enjoy talking with him and if you can, seeing him if he can arrange it on his terms. This limbo situation will not last forever, and he will stabilize his life as things settle and will reveal his intent to you. Right now he is not fully able to deal with an intense relationship and has wound it down for the time being.
How not to be needy? Focus on the truth. You are a catch. He knows it. He is acting like it, but it is hard for him right now. So, he backed off. Let him do so, and realize that in no uncertain terms he is still interested. It is just, different.
And, as far as over analysis...this is hard not to do, but men, we just do what we say and there are not deep layers of meaning in what say. So, see it for what it is...(Can men be that basic?) Yes. And enjoy us men... And enjoy him. Tell him you want to have fun with no pressure. He will love that. And, you, enjoy it in the process. This will work out. Good signs are there. Steven
Yes, men focus on one thing at a time. There is even a word for it in psychology, compartmentalization. Why? It is due to testosterone. This hormone causes males to be males in body, but it also damages the part of the brain that allows both brain hemispheres to communicate together easily. Women, as a result, do multitasking far better (as both hemispheres communicate better) and think and do multiple issues and thoughts at once. Men are one task, one thing at a time folks, most of us. We also tend to ignore emotions, and value logic over all; hence B's reaction to you. He is thinking about the logic of a relationship slow down, not the fact that he has caused you pain by his choice. In his head this all makes total sense. When the plan in his head is done, he'll be back.
This type of behavior is very common. It usually lasts several months (two-three) but this is an estimation only as all are different. I have not written books on this topic, but the very best one in this area is a classic. Men are from Mars and Women from Venus. It is simply excellent and talks all about this type of behavior. Amazon.com has it inexpensively. Steven