How Do I Get The Nice Guy I Ditched To Give Me Another Chance?

Hi Evan, Love your blog. Here’s my situation. I’m 37, single, and had a really bad breakup 2 years ago. I’m cautious but also a hopeless romantic. I finally meet this guy at a house party who intrigues me and reminds me of an old college boyfriend: cute, sweet, very shy. The first few dates, I really like him. He does everything right. He’s intelligent, curious, shows up, cooks me dinner… But around the 5th date, I start feeling ambivalent about him.

We’ve made out but no sex. (I want to be sure before I go there.) I start wondering if he’s too nice/boring/granola. I’ve travelled a lot, my friends all tend to be pretty ambitious, successful, outgoing types. I worried if he would fit in. I found him too timid. So 4 weeks in (7 dates,) I felt trapped. I couldn’t wait to get away from him! I pulled away when he tried to kiss me. It was pretty obvious that I wasn’t feeling it. When he suggested seeing a movie that weekend or cooking dinner for me later in the week, I was noncommittal. I suggested dinner the following weekend. I figured there was no harm in dating casually a bit longer. Plus, I’ve chosen fun, charismatic guys in the past and that’s gone nowhere! I wanted to see if I could make things work with someone who didn’t make me feel super tingly but might be a good long term partner.

 

But a few days later, he suddenly tells me things are moving too fast. He wants to dial it down and just be friends. When I asked why, he said “it just doesn’t feel right,” that I was giving out mixed signals and he had no say in anything. I was really, really shocked by this as the last time we met he was clearly keen to see me! So Evan, here’s the thing. He was right – I did give mixed signals. Ironically, (of course!) now that he has pulled away, I find him much more attractive and want him back. (I know this isn’t a healthy trait.)

After that, I admitted via text messages (not ideal I know) that I had some issues, didn’t behave well, and agreed it would be good to be friends. (But I really wanted to see him again to see how I felt.) After pestering him with texts, he agreed to spend Sunday morning with me to go for a walk on the beach. And we had a lovely, relaxing few hours. I wanted to kiss him, but I didn’t. I wanted him to kiss me, but he didn’t. I joked, “too bad we’re not dating, otherwise I’d kiss you.” He asked what he said that was so charming. I told him I was feeling more relaxed and left it at that. We had a long hug when we said goodbye. He kissed me on the cheek twice and said something about maybe cooking dinner for me again sometime… Now, I’m confused. Does he really just want to be friends? Is he still interested at all? So two days later, I texted asking if we could meet up for dinner sometime. 3 days have gone by and NO response. Evan, what do I do? I want another shot with this guy. Yes, I was stupid to have taken him for granted so early on. I still don’t know if he’s the guy for me, but he has qualities I really like. I realize I focused on things that were superficial. I don’t want to act all crazy and start stalking him. He must know I really like him, right?

 

Evan, you always say that a guy only wants to be with a girl who makes him feel good. I clearly didn’t make him feel good when I pulled away. How do I salvage the situation? I don’t even know if he pulled back because I pulled back or he met someone else or lost interest or he’s commitment-phobe. In which case, I’m better off not dragging things out… My question is, how can I get him to meet with me again in a low-pressure, relaxed environment so I can let him know genuinely how much I like him? Or should I just let it go? If he likes me, he will contact me himself, right? Help! Thank you! – Confused in the City

 

Oh, Confused!

If you weren’t such a big fan, I would tell you that this is a dilemma entirely of your own making and that you’ve made your bed and now you must lie in it.

Okay, that’s what I’m going to tell you anyway, because there’s not much I can really add to the belated wisdom you exhibited in your question:

You didn’t find him attractive or desirable until he became distant.

You blew him off and expected him to be waiting for you. He wasn’t.

You didn’t find him attractive or desirable until he became distant. Telling.

You were worried about what your friends thought and let that affect things. Sad.

You realized that chemistry is an illusion but you dissed him anyway. Predictable.

But then we get to the meat of your question, “What should I do to win him back?”

Let’s quickly flip it around, shall we?

Nice guy takes you out. Gets mixed signals. Gets blown off because you didn’t feel sufficiently excited, attracted, or nervous around him.

What could he do to convince you that you were wrong?

Should he text you again? Call you again? Send you flowers? Proclaim his love outside your window with a boombox?

Nope. There’s nothing the nice guy can do to convince you that you were wrong.

Wait. There IS one thing.

I nearly forgot because it’s childish, and nothing I’d ever recommend – except for the fact that it works like a charm:

He can pull away and stop trying to court you.

What a great strategy. It salvages his self-respect and makes you come crawling.

At least, that’s how it looks from the outside.

So, to all the people who are reading this who want to learn how to “get your boyfriend back,” the answer is clear: stop trying to get him back.

So, to all the people who are reading this who want to learn how to “get your boyfriend back,” the answer is clear: stop trying to get him back.

If he thinks you’re special, he’ll come around on his own.

And if he thinks you’re a little selfish, a little ambivalent and a little immature, you certainly provided enough evidence for him.

But I’m not worried about you, Confused. I’m pretty sure you’ll never make this mistake again.

The question – to me – is whether any of our readers will continue to blow off the good guys, simply because they’re too “available.”

Your anecdote makes a much better case than I could, thanks.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    BloggyDaddy

    Evan, I think this is pretty common.  Being back in the dating world again after my divorce 2 years ago I’ve experienced this.  It’s really confusing sometimes and it feels counter-productive but if I express too much interest the spark is dead..dead..dead!

  2. 2
    Cheryl

    I’m not sure this is on topic but where is the line between being adoring and being smothering? I want to be with someone that adores me and that I adore. But, I’ve had new guys call and text not just daily but obsessively- almost hourly! I don’t have anything new to tell you since we talked an hour ago. I want to be with a nice guy. I practice the Adam Sandler effect and prefer to rate someone on personality over appearance but men, please don’t smother us! And then, I feel guilty for not wanting to be with these men. Ugh. I’m rambling.

  3. 3
    Demi

    Oh confused, I feel your pain!
    This story sounds all too familiar to me as well and I hope he comes around.  If not, you’ve learned a good, albeit painful, lesson.
    A similar situation recently occurred for me as well.  The guy and I had gone on two dates but I wasn’t feeling the chemistry.  He tried to kiss me and I gave him the cheek.  I told him I just wanted to be friends.  Well, we ended up hanging out about 5-6 months later (at my invitation) and I thought “oh dear, perhaps I made a mistake…what to do?”  After hanging out 3 consecutive weekends, the 4rth one, after a lot of flirting, he made a move to kiss me and it was HOT!  He commented that we’re probably more than just friends now, however he hasn’t exactly followed up, except to send me a few texts the next day that he was thinking about me.
    I am thus also confused, but realize that I may have sabotaged a regular dating situation through my own quick judgment of the guy.
    Of course, all I can do is wait and see if he follows up on his “we’re more than just friends” statement.
    Perhaps in your case it would be good to simply write him a quick email saying that you feel you made a mistake, apologize, and tell him you’re open to pursuing dating again if he’d like.
    Then leave it all alone.
    What he does will be your answer.

  4. 4
    kenley

    Dear OP,

    Try telling the guy the truth and ask for a Mulligan.  Too often in the world of dating we are so used to gamesmanship and subterfuge that just telling the truth isn’t the first thing that pops into our heads.  If you are honest and vulnerable and admit your mistake, he just might surprise you and be willing to start fresh.  If he doesn’t, then you can have the satisfaction of knowing that your were courageous and asked for what you wanted…and that’s always the best you can do.

  5. 5
    Ruby

    I think this kind of ambivalence is very common in the early phases of dating. What matters is how both parties handle it. Men also want to protect themselves, and if someone sends mixed signals, that can be a warning to other person to back off. That’s what happened here. When he backed off, CITC had the space to move closer again. 

    What’s problematic is how she handled things after that. After a really bad break-up, it’s not unusual to feel cautious about getting involved with someone new. Instead of talking to him in person or phone, perhaps mentioning her situation, that she hadn’t been in a relationship in quite a while and needed to take things more slowly, she texted him that she had “issues”. I know we all have some baggage, but personally, I wouldn’t be pleased if I received a text message telling me that my prospective partner has problems (and i don’t know what they are). Still, even after their long walk, she didn’t use the opportunity to tell him in a direct way how she felt. After blowing him off, with vague talk of her problems, she’s now pestering him with text messages. 

    It’s no wonder the guy isn’t chomping at the bit to go out again. At this point, I’d give things a bit of a cooling off period. If CITC doesn’t hear from him, then maybe an email with a more direct explanation of her feelings would work. 

  6. 6
    Still Looking

    After dating extensively and going through the “why bother” stage numerous times I found someone I thought might be special.  Our chemistry on our first date was off the charts and 10 hours later we could barely pull ourselves apart.  We met again the next day and that day was also magical.  I was really falling for this lady and then the problems began.  She started to pull back.  We had sporadic communications for a few weeks and we finally had a lengthy phone conversation in which she stated we had fantastic chemistry, she really liked me, etc. but I wasn’t attentive to her needs because I’d do things like talk with her on the phone too long and it was my responsibility to cut the conversation off when it was time for her to go to bed.

    I’ve come to the conclusion that the rationale for cutting off the budding relationship probably has nothing to do with the nonsensical reasons she gave me.  Maybe she is afraid of moving forward.  Maybe she doesn’t want to risk being hurt again.  I don’t know.  

    At first I was torn between is she playing hard to get or is she really just not interested.  Should I send flowers and pursue or should I just sit back?  After reading numerous articles and comments on Evan’s site the answer is clear — no matter how wonderful I think this woman is, the reality differs from the illusion and I just need to sit back.  Maybe in 6 months or a year she will be ready and I might be interested.  Unfortunately, her hot then cold attitude has left me lukewarm at best.  If I saw her tomorrow and she met me with a huge smile and a hug, I’m sure the chemistry would be right back to 10+, but her actions after the first weekend together have definitely knocked her down on the compatibility scale quite a bit.  I imagine the OP’s BF feels the same way and thanks to internet dating, there’s not much reason to hang around waiting to see if another date would result in true love or being kicked to the curb again.

  7. 7
    Steve

    Confused’s email reminds of that movie “The Tao Of Steve” ( based on a true story ) about a low income obese man who is a successful pickup artist.  He claimed all of his teachings came down to 3 techniques:
     
    1. Be excellent ( at anything, impress the woman )
     
    2. Be desireless ( don’t project neediness, emotionally or sexually )
     
    3. Be gone ( don’t make yourself too available )
     
    I think EMK is correct in that such things are for less mature people.  However, they do effect people.   Women value strength in men.  A strong person who has things happening in his life is naturally going to be doing #2 & #3.    Someone who isn’t,  is going to send a message on an unconscious level to a woman that he isn’t that great of a catch
     
    *HOWEVER*
     
    Freud said that “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar”.  Some guys are “nice”, even realizing the signals they put out, because that is just the way they like to be and they don’t care if it gets them women or not.
     
    It is over either way for Confused.   On an unconscious level she doesn’t find that behavior attractive.   People tend to lose interest in people who lost interest in them.   If Evan is right, if the man realized he was driving you away by being too available,  he probably wouldn’t respect you very much for responding to a dating/PUA trick.   Given the kind of woman Confused is, that lack of respect may make her want him more, but that doesn’t mean he will want her nor that they will be happy together.
     
    My vote is for moving on.

  8. 8
    Selena

    Well…if HE hadn’t pulled back do you really think you would still want him?  How about if both of you kept it going 10 -12 weeks? That’s pretty much the mark when people decide if there is anything “there” or not.

    I think you just want him because *inexplicably* he doesn’t want you. The truth is probably neither of you were that into each other and realized it 7 weeks in. As often happens. 

  9. 9
    Honey

    Yes, to me there is no real evidence that there is anything “there” beyond the fact that she wants to feel attractive, which is how she felt when he was chasing her.  When he wasn’t, she became insecure again and this rekindled the attraction.  I would bet as soon as he became available again, she’d lose interest again – which isn’t the nicest way to treat someone you respect.  I’d just let it go.

    This sort of thing happened to me so many times when I was dating that I started to wonder if it was me and if I’d do it with everyone, no matter what – but no fear!  When I met the right guy I was even more attracted when he reciprocated.

    And we just got engaged last week!

  10. 10
    Selena

    Congrats Honey! Though I have to say, I thought you and Jake had already planned to marry before this. ??

  11. 11
    starthrower68

    I suspect, as Honey says, she was even more attracted when Jake reciprocated is probably what our OP would have experienced had this been the right guy.  It’s probably tough on this guy because rejection hurts.  Once I am rejected by someone, I pretty much shut off my emotions toward that person, and it would not be very easy to rekindle them.  I doubt he’s a commitment phobe.  I suspect he’s smarting and is gun shy.

  12. 12
    hunter

    …How interesting, women have done me, the same way “confused” did to her friend. 

  13. 13
    Annie

    Can I throw something out here, that I think really clouds our judgment on this?

    Sex.

    When we meet some-one, we want to QUICKLY determine wether or not we feel sexual desire for them. If we don’t, we WANT to feel that desire, so we keep trying, when it doesn’t happen we pull away, often too quickly. There is WAY too much sexual pressure in relationships especially in dating.

    Then the male in question, who finally voices his own thoughts, we begin to see a person, not a thing who we wish could make us feel sexy and desired. He doesn’t exist to make us feel that way. He was simply being nice and trying to get to know us!!

    I have relaxed, deliberately around the whole physical side of things, because I think this is a huge problem. Stop expecting chemistry and excitment. Just notice the person you are with. If he’s right, you won’t be having sex…you will be “making love”..wether it’s fiesty love, or tender even if this takes some time. :)

    How to get him back? You can’t. Just be receptive if he calls again :)

  14. 14
    Steve

    @Honey #9.   I thought you already were engaged as well :).   Congratulations!!

  15. 15
    Karl R

    Confused in the City asked: (original post)
    “He must know I really like him, right?”

    He knows you send mixed signals. How is he supposed to figure out that you’re really interested in him?

    Confused in the City asked: (original post)
    “If he likes me, he will contact me himself, right?”

    He did let you know that he liked you … when he leaned to kiss you. You responded by pulling away. (And that let him know you didn’t feel the same way.) He let you know again … when he kissed you on the cheek twice. And how did you respond to that? Did you kiss him back?

    So your actions are still telling him that you’re not interested. That lowers his incentive to contact you.

    Confused in the City asked: (original post)
    “how can I get him to meet with me again in a low-pressure, relaxed environment so I can let him know genuinely how much I like him?”

    If you’re waiting for a relaxed, low-pressure environment in order to tell him that you like him, then you’ll never tell him. If you want to tell him, you’ll make the opportunity to tell him. And you’ll take that opportunity even though it won’t be relaxed or low-pressure.

    Confused in the City asked: (original post)
    “Is he still interested at all?”

    I have no idea. If you want to find out, you’re going to have to risk being turned down. And that’s why it will never be sufficiently relaxed and low-pressure.

    One thing to be aware of:
    If I were in his shoes, I would only give you one more chance. If you flaked out a second time, I wouldn’t give you a third chance.

    And if Honey (#9) is correct, then it’s a moot point.

  16. 16
    Honey

    We had set the date, but I did not yet have the Best Ring Ever.  Now I do :-)

  17. 17
    A-L

    Congratulations, Honey!

  18. 18
    jrd

    “…I’ve chosen fun, charismatic guys in the past and that’s gone nowhere! I wanted to see if I could make things work with someone who didn’t make me feel super tingly but might be a good long term partner.”

    I have two questions for Confused in the City: How do you believe this man would feel were he to learn what you actually think of him and your relationship? Why should he give you another chance?

  19. 19
    Selena

    Good question jrd. How many of us would want to be someone who admited we didn’t make them feel super tingly, but thought we might be a good term partner anyway. Sort of sounds like picking out a sensible car. Not very flattering. Got to be a little more than that to make someone excited about being with you, yes?

    1. 19.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      @Selena: “How many of us would want to be someone who admited we didn’t make them feel super tingly, but thought we might be a good term partner anyway.”

      Frankly, Selena, I think everyone is WAY too insecure, sensitive and unrealistic about this kind of stuff. If I have a happy marriage that I find loving, fun, nurturing, and fulfilling… if I treat my wife like gold and get treated like gold in return… if we’re building a life and a family that is 100% gratifying – what DIFFERENCE does it make that I’ve admitted that she didn’t make me feel super tingly when we met?

      Similarly, if she married me and we’re both happy, why do I have to have the fantasy that I am the smartest, cutest, wealthiest, kindest, funniest, sexiest man she’s ever been with?

      That’s right. I don’t.

      Because I’m secure with myself and I’m secure in my marriage.

      Solid relationships can withstand the truth. Weak ones are the ones where we have to tell pretty little lies because of our partner’s insecurity. Worrying that your partner “compromised” his/her way into a great relationship with you is a great waste of energy that can undermine something really wonderful.

      Over the years, I’ve had a number of people tell me how sorry they are for my wife – because I talk about her honestly like this.

      All I can say is that my wife is CERTAINLY not sorry she married me.

      She allows me to tell the truth and doesn’t judge me for it.

      This is a standard to which I would hope you’d aspire.

      You don’t need to “tingle” to be happy, and if you think you do, well, I predict you’re going to have a hard time finding a relationship that lasts 40 years…

  20. 20
    Steve

    IMHO, #8 is the best comment.   Down to Earth.  Succinct.

  21. 21
    starthrower68

    CITC should have put off the impulse to run and gave it a chance.  I have done that with a guy or two before and ultimately it didn’t work out, but I at least stuck with it long enough to see if anything could develop.  I think a woman has to search for that happy medium; he may not want to make her rip her clothes off (at least not at first) but she is sufficiently physically attracted to him to have sex with him should the opportunity arise (no pun intended).  Her mental and emotional attraction to him will get her the rest of the way there, as women are much more cerebral about this stuff.

  22. 22
    Selena

    Evan my friend,

    You are in a relationship that has lasted around 4 years so far. I hope it does last contentedly for you and your wife for the next 40. But you can’t predict that, no matter how much you may want to. That’s the realm of faith and hope.  And time will out.

    I don’t need a “tingle” to be happy. I already am happy. But I would be definetly less happy if I found myself trying to connect with someone who didn’t desire me really, but more so saw me as a means to an end – my good qualities as…utilitarian. And I suspect that might be the case with the letter writer Confused in the City. I can understand that she has tired of dating charismatic guys where the relationship ends going nowhere. And at age 37, she wants something more substantial. She’s looking deeper. Still…even though this last one was a “nice guy” doesn’t mean he was the nice guy for her. 

    She didn’t dismiss this man after one or two dates, she went on 7 over 4 weeks.  She wrote she became bothered because she found him too timid. That is until he told her he wanted to dial it down and be just friends. Then all of a sudden she had to have him! He was getting away!

    What do you think might be the outcome if this “timid” man resumes his courtship of her? She’ll be relieved and appreciative – at first. Then once she has him back for awhile (possibly) she will find herself becomming dissatisfied, he’s not outgoing enough, not ambitious, driven enough… great guy that he is, she will find herself the one who is driving the relationship. And resenting it.  Not a pleasant outlook for the next 40 years.

    The takeaway here for CITC, is that she DID learn to appreciate qualities beyond the superficial of infatuation. That’s a win. Take that into the next. Understand how the *good* qualities matter, but also realize she personally needs someone who is a bit more outgoing, willing to take the wheel.

    “Super tingly” is fun. But who expects ”tingly” to last lifelong? On the other hand who wants to be with someone who doesn’t feel that way about them in the first month or three, or six? Who wants to enter a romantic relationship with someone who’s main concern is durability? Apparently not CitC’s nice guy.

    Or me.

  23. 23
    jrd

    EMK,

    I do not usually take the liberty of speaking for anyone but myself, but I will do so in this case. I believe that most people need to believe they were chosen by their partner, and not simply filling a position. They do not want to be the I-could-not-have-my-first-choice-so-I’ll-make-do-with-you option. The majority of people do not need to believe they are “the smartest, cutest, wealthiest, kindest, funniest, sexiest” person their SO has ever been with, but they need to feel they are more special than anyone else to their partner. They need to believe their SO thinks of them as the best choice, not the default choice.

  24. 24
    Steve

    My intuition is that EMK and Selena do not disagree, they are just getting caught up in their choice of words.  I don’t think either of them have a problem with the idea of two people coming to value each other more than when they met, over time,  as they get to know each other.  I also don’t think either of them would advise anybody to keep dating someone who they think of as a loser ( reading between the lines of Confused’s description ) after having given them a a fair shot — 7 dates.

  25. 25
    Ruby

    So which is it?

    Did CITC act too hastily because her guy didn’t fit the mold of the “successful, outgoing, ambitious” men she’s dated in the past? Or was she trying to force herself to like someone that she wasn’t really feeling enough for because she thought she should?

  26. 26
    Selena

    Re: #25 Steve
    You are correct, EMK and I aren’t that far apart here.
     
    I’ve had my share of infatuations when I was younger. I’ve also had relationships that didn’t begin “super tingly” but developed some of that as I got to know the guy better and turned into something serious. I believe it’s pretty common to feel some measure of ambivalence in the early weeks/months of dating – you just getting to know each other after all, and sub-consciously, if not consciously evaluating whether or not you make a good match. I see the value in riding out ambivalence for a short while opposed to hasty decision making.
    Not sure that’s the case here though. CITC writes:
    So 4 weeks in (7 dates,) I felt trapped. I couldn’t wait to get away from him! I pulled away when he tried to kiss me. It was pretty obvious that I wasn’t feeling it. When he suggested seeing a movie that weekend or cooking dinner for me later in the week, I was noncommittal.”

    That doesn’t sound like ambivalence to me. It sounds like she realized she just wasn’t into him. And that bit about not fitting in with her friends was a rationalization.  It was when he rejected her (albeit nicely) that she decided he was a great guy and she wanted to continue dating him. Rejection stings. If she could convince him to “give her another chance”, she gets to erase the rejection. Pretty neat trick. But just because she realizes he has many of the good qualities that she wants in a partner doesn’t necessarily make him the right guy for her. Or that she would be able to convince herself he is in ensuing months.

    Since these letters are printed a month after they were written, I’d like to know what happened next. How about it Confused In The City?

     

  27. 27
    Steve

    @Ruby #26.
     
    Is 7 dates spread over 4 weeks a fair shot?

  28. 28
    Honey

    @jrd, #24 -
    But I think EMK would agree with you completely.  His point is that what you are saying and what he is saying are not mutually exclusive.  I am sure his wife IS more special than anyone else to her.
    Love isn’t just what you FEEL, in other words.  It’s what you DO.

  29. 29
    Evan Marc Katz

    To clarify my point, yet again…

    My response in the comments had NOTHING to do with the OP’s question, which is why I never referenced the OP’s question. It exclusively had to do with the comments from jrd and Selena, which suggested that it matters why two people end up in a happy relationship. If my wife decided that she was 38, had been with a cheater before, and thought that I was a good guy who made her laugh and wanted to be a father, then that’s a PERFECTLY valid reason – especially if she’s HAPPY with the choice she made. The real problem here – as illustrated in Dan Ariely’s “The Upside of Irrationality” is that we UNDERESTIMATE our ability to adjust to new circumstances and OVERESTIMATE the value of achieving the highest of highs.

    In other words, your “new car”, in 5 months is just “your car”. It will not continue to make you as excited as the day you bought it, no matter what.

    And a man who is paralyzed in a car accident reports that his happiness is virtually the SAME one year later as it was before his accident. We all revert to the mean. Which is why holding out for the “new car” feeling is usually a futile plan. Once the new car smell wears off, what are you left with? That’s right. Your best friend.

    In other words, you damn well should be concerned about durability in a marriage; FAR more than “tingly” for the first six months before it wears off.

    This is science, y’all – not my opinion.

     

  30. 30
    Goldie

    @ #30, I object! I referred to my car as “my new car” for probably the first five or six years… :D
     
    But, seriously, I don’t trust “tingly”. Give me enough alcohol, and most guys will make me feel tingly. I probably make a lot of them pretty tingly as well. Being considered a good long-term fit is IMO a lot more rare and valuable. Heck, if a guy told me that I don’t make him super tingly, but that I’ll make a great companion long-term, it will be such a deviation from the norm, I’ll probably follow him to the ends of the world just for saying that :)
     
    Also, if your partner’s “tingly” wears off before yours does, you’re in for a world of pain. I learned that in my past marriage.

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