Can He Really Be a Good Guy Who Just Got Scared and Bolted, or I am I Right to Wonder About the Strength of His Character?

Dear Evan,

About 2 1/2 years ago I dated a man whom I thought was perfect for me. We clicked on all levels from the moment we met and I had never felt so comfortable with anyone as I did with him. It felt like we had known each other forever. He pursued me intensely and wanted to see only me. After a month of seeing each other he simply disappeared. I tried to contact him a couple of times but he didn’t return my calls. I was hurt but somehow not surprised since this had been a pattern in my life since my divorce. Reading your books and blog made me realize the mistakes I’d been making with men; namely falling into the pursuing role or coming off as desperate for a relationship.

As you know, people don’t change. Maybe someone will drop some weight if the doctor says it’s healthy, or someone will go to therapy when depressed, but, for the most part, we are who we are.

Two months later this man wrote to me and apologized. Since then he has contacted me repeatedly, asking for another chance. He says that walking out on me was a huge mistake and that he hasn’t been able to forget me. He insists that I didn’t do anything wrong but can’t really give me a straight answer as to why he disappeared, except that he was under an incredible amount of stress at work at the time and shut a lot of people out. A short time ago he asked me for another chance yet again, and I finally succumbed because I haven’t been able to forget him either. I saw him again and it was wonderful. I can tell he’s a lot more emotionally “there” than he was before. He’s saying and doing all the right things, but the past haunts me. Although he is great in many ways, I question his integrity. I would never do to someone what he did to me. Evan, can he really be a good guy who just got scared and bolted, or I am I right to wonder about the strength of his character?

Dee Anna

Dear Dee Anna,

You’re right to wonder about the strength of his character.

But that doesn’t mean that I couldn’t be wrong about him.

As you know, people don’t change. Maybe someone will drop some weight if the doctor says it’s healthy, or someone will go to therapy when depressed, but, for the most part, we are who we are.

We are not judged on our intentions or our heart, but our actions. Actions, we are told, speak louder than words.

I spent nearly TWENTY YEARS pining for a woman whom I put on a pedestal, only to find out that, in fact, she wasn’t as great as I thought she was. She’d come through half the time – kissing me in New York City, consoling me after my father’s death, intimating about moving to LA; the other half of the time, she’d shut me down, refuse to share her feelings, disappear for years on end. I always forgave her. Why? Because of my deep-seated, thoroughly irrational feeling that we were meant to be together. We had so much history! So much in common! So much chemistry! The fact that our communication styles never meshed seemed like an afterthought. Which is kind of silly, because if you can’t communicate, there IS no relationship, no matter how strong your feelings.

These are the same people who were cold, callous and clueless enough to disappear in the first place. Chances are, they regret that they lost you, NOT necessarily their behavior.

This past week, I’ve coached two clients through similar situations with exes who came back. Is it possible that the exes are sincere? Sure. People make mistakes. People want to atone. But let’s not forget: these are the same people who were cold, callous and clueless enough to disappear in the first place. Chances are, they regret that they lost you, NOT necessarily their behavior.

I mean really, who DOES that? What adult thinks a situation over and says: “Hmm, I could a) have an uncomfortable conversation letting her know that I’m under stress right now and not ready for a relationship…or b) I could disappear from the face of the earth, refuse to return her calls, and leave her wondering what she did wrong? I think I’ll choose B.”

For all I know, Dee Anna, he could be completely reformed. But if I were a betting man, I’d bet he’s no different than people who want to lose weight but lapse on their diets, want to stay clean, but go back to drugs, or want to stay monogamous, but can’t help but cheat. That very thing that allowed him to treat you that way the first time is still a part of him.

Only you can decide if you’re willing to take the risk that it resurfaces again.

4
3

Join 5 Million Readers

And the thousands of women I've helped find true love. Sign up for weekly updates for help understanding men.

I hate spam as much as you do, therefore I will never sell, rent, or give away your email address.

Join our conversation (55 Comments).
Click Here To Leave Your Comment Below.

Comments:

  1. 31
    Anna

    If they only knew each other for a month and he disappeared without word I would be interested in hearing his story. I would give him a chance to explain and take it from there. There is no commitment to start a relationship but I would give him a chance to talk about it. I have nothing to loose by listening do I?

  2. 32
    Steve

    I agree with Evan’s sentiment, but not the literal meaning of his words.

    People can and do change. That is where I disagree with him.

    I think that *most* people are *unlikely* to change and if they do they will suffer setbacks to their old ways. So, if there is something significant about a person you don’t like and you don’t have a lot invested in them I think the safer bet for your happiness is to move on.

    I think that is more where Evan is coming from.

  3. 33
    Selena

    Put it on yourself.

    Would you completely disappear from someone whom you had come to care for? With someone you believed who had come to care for you? With little or no in the way of explanation?

    That’s the crux. People don’t do that with those they care about. They do that when they find the relationship is not what they want, or is in some way inconvenient for them.

    People change/don’t change throughout their lifetime.

    Never on someone else’s agenda or wishes though.

  4. 34
    Lance

    @Steve: The safer bet? Like what, being single, diving back into the online singles market again which everyone knows is majorly hit or miss, or maybe trying the Saturday night bar scene and meeting a stranger? Clearly, the safer bet is working with the guy where they already have an awesome connection and trying to work it out. It’s far less work and you already know a lot about the guy.

  5. 35
    downtowngal

    Life is full of rough patches, and if it’s true that he was going through a tough time, would you be willing to get involved with someone who reacts this way whenever going through a tough time?

    If OP wants to give him another chance, this guy needs to tell you the truth as to why he bailed after a month. In person. This way you can decide if he was full of BS. And then make your decision. You’re in the driver’s seat here so take the keys and go slowly if you decide to merge back onto the highway.

  6. 36
    Kim

    Lance’s comment: “Humans are the most adaptable people on earth.” Can’t argue with that!

  7. 37
    Dee Anna

    Hi, I’m Dee Anna, the original poster. I wanted to thank Evan and everyone else for all of the comments. Since I wrote this message weeks before it was posted, I had already decided to give the man in question another chance. I mostly did so for my own peace of mind, otherwise I thought I might always wonder. As you might guess, things did not go well and didn’t last much longer than they did the first time around. This time I watched him very closely and I did not like what I saw. He knows how to talk the talk but not walk the walk. He’s a sweet talker who knows how to say the right things but his actions don’t match his words. I learned from Evan the importance of this, otherwise I might still be letting him jerk me around. His actions made it very clear that he thought he didn’t have anything to make up for nor did he have any understanding as to why I might have some trepidation. He behaved as if the cat was in the bag, so to speak. Not only did he expect me to do all the heavy lifting in the relationship, he dared to say I was “rubbing his nose” in the past when I brought up some of my concerns, and found ways to blame everything on me. Thankfully I have learned not to tolerate this sort of behavior from people and showed him the door at the first whiff of his b.s. attitude.
    Lesson learned: the best indicator of future behavior is past behavior (I think this is what Evan was saying when he said people don’t change). Don’t give people another chance–it will always play out in a predictable way.
    Thanks again, everyone.

  8. 38
    Ava

    #37 Dee Anna
    Dee Anna,
    Thanks so much for the follow-up. I’m sorry things didn’t work out, but at least now you have the answers you need. I’ve attempted to give people from my past a chance, one time with a former close friend I hadn’t seen in over 20 years! Amazingly, I had the same issues with this man in our 40′s as I’d had as friends in our 20′! Then again, I’ve known other people who’ve reunited with an ex and it ended up working, so you never know. Now at least, though, you can move on. Good luck!

  9. 39
    Relationship Advice From Penny

    Dee Anna,
    Thank you very much for having the courage to share all of this with us. You took the time to share from start to end! I’m sure I’m not alone when I say this is so appreciated! We can all learn so much from your experience. So thank you. I know it must feel good when you now “know” for yourself the truth – when you give yourself closure like this, it’s quite eye-opening and somewhat empowering.
    Evan was right, “people change only when they truly want to and not when we want them to.” Though it is true that people do deserve second chances, however, it is also true that it can’t be at the expense of your own happiness. It is great that you went in with your eyes wide open this time – and you did it for you, NOT him. Big hugs to you for how far you’ve come. You did good! I shared something on my latest post (on my relationship blog) that I hope can also help you keep moving forward in a positive direction. :)

  10. 40
    LC

    Give him a 2nd chance, but don’t sleep with him until you’re married.  That should give him the chance to prove that he’s sincere and will keep you from getting hurt again.

  11. 41
    MsWalker

    RE: #22: If you don’t give the guy another chance, you’re un-American.

    24

    EMK…
    “Clarification from a Communist:”
    LOL!  …..thanks for breaking up the heavy.. : >
    EMK..”People change mostly because THEY want to change, not because someone else is telling them to change.”….
     
     

     

  12. 42
    MsWalker

    Anna said..“rubbing his nose” in the past when I brought up some of my concerns, and found ways to blame everything on me.
    That is … in a nutshell why I divorced .. the ex would not own up to his very very serious mistakes.. he thought one quick apology was enough.. even when it was very very serious

  13. 43
    Angela

    I’m sorry that it didn’t work out Dee Anna! I also had a man poof on me then come back- we actually dated longer the 2nd time but guess what, he pulled his Houdini act again. I would be VERY wary of giving a man a 2nd chance who pulled something like this. He is very likely to do it again.

  14. 44
    Kira

    I truly appreciate having found this thread, as a similar situation just happened to me with a mature, professional man who is in one of the ‘helping’ fields and old enough to know better. This helped get me straight: Basically, a leopard doesn’t change its spots, and his failures are not a reflection of me at all. It’s a tough situation when the chemistry feels right, but who wants to start a relationship based on apologies and failure to exhibit empathy? 

  15. 45
    hunter

    @44Kira,
    ..”old enough to know better”?…..a mans mind does not grow with age(not your fault)..

  16. 46
    Mark

    As a man if I ever just stop talking to a woman that means its over. In retrospect, i’ve adopted the 1 strike and your out rule. If she flakes even once then I never talk to her again romantically. She gets put in my friends zone for good. No time for stupidity, if your serious your serious. End of story.

    1. 46.1
      hunter

      “if she flakes even once?”…….the first three dates are anxiety ridden…at least three dates is the norm….

  17. 47
    Alicia

    Anna did what she needed to do.  Satisfied her “wondering” and proceeded with caution.  after seeing him with eyes wide open she didn’t allow herself to be “played” again and recognized the red flags and walked away.  She took care of herself.  Good job.  
    I also agree with Mark.  If I had listened to my first instincts and left the I got scared  & disappearing act guys aka “flakes” alone the first time, I would have avoided a second and in some cases a third disappointment.  
    No second chances on people who disappear . If they are that inconsiderate, that’s already a red flag….  Dating can hand you some tough experiences and choices but we have to respect ourselves and have healthy boundaries. 
    When people show you who they are believe them… Maya Angelou  
     

  18. 48
    Anne

    love the comments and feedback, Evan you got some explaining to do my friend……give the guy a chance seems more positive because at the end of it all its what the lady wants whether the heart will be broken, it will heal again like before so why not.

  19. 49
    Monika

    If a person is really afraid of intimacy it takes a long long time to overcome this fear. I have been in therapy for two years now and I still struggle with the fear. I have gotte much better I attract better men, communicate better and kniow when the fear is speaking, but Im not completely cured. 

  20. 50
    Jen

    I think Evan definitely has good points.

    We are all creatures of habit.

    BUT we also grow from experiences.

    Seeing someone for a month is not a lot of time to truly get to know someone.

    I would ask you – how many dates did you go on? Was there exclusivity? IF there was exclusivity, then I would say his behavior is completely UNacceptable.  Either way, if the feelings were mutual, it would still be unacceptable.  Because if he cared enough, he would still be communicating with you.  He’d be AFRAID of losing you every minute he was without you or afraid of losing you to someone else!  He would let you know what’s going on, not disappear.  That’s not what a grown adult does.  No matter how scared he is or whatever the case may be, its inexcusable.  He should have said something – anything, to let you know that he’s dealing with whatever. A good communicator does not disappear the moment problems arrise – that doesn’t make for good partnership.

    In my personal opinion, you gave him too much too soon.  

    You can give him a chance again, but NOT make him a priority. See other people simultaneously and let him WORK for it. The more  he has to work for you, the more he will VALUE you.  If you value yourself, he will too.

    Maybe he has changed given how much time has passed – you’ll just have to feel him out BUT 
    Let him pursue you.  A guy knows whether you’re interested or not- you don’t need to reassure him. 

    Let a man be a man,  not a child. 

  21. 51
    naive dumb girl

    I fell head over heals for this guy. We clicked on every level and I had never been so happy. He disappeared after being together for 8 months. I was crushed, confused and really blamed myself. ..clearly I felt that I must of done something wrong for him to just disappear. I made a few attempts to reach out to him, and sadly gave up. It hurt worse to hit send on my message and receive no response. I moved on as best as I could, but what he did really did a number on me. I also still loved him, which made me so mad, and I couldn’t understand why I cared about somebody who discarded me like that.

    Three months later I received a lengthy email from him explaining why he did what he did. He claimed that he cared so much for me that it scared him away. He just got divorced and his world had been turned upside down.  Everything from finances to work. He made a mistake,  he was so sorry, and he missed me more then anything.
    We met to talk things out, and he asked for another chance
     I loved him, I was scared and hurt and he understood and promised he would never do it again.
    He lied.
    We spent the summer together. Went on vacation together. Spent every available moment together. Then he went AWOL. I attempted to contact him one day and he did not reply. 2 days later I tried to contact him again with the same result. This was 10 days ago.
    I am so mad, mostly at myself.  I feel stupid to of given him that chance, because I now have to start the healing process all over again. I am sad. I refuse to contact him anymore.  He is alive, he updates facebook every other day. 
    Unfortunately I have some of his stuff here, things that he will want back. I am afraid that when I see him I will buckle. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>