Why Can’t Men Breakup in A Respectful Way?

woman wiping her tears with a tissue

Thanks for your excellent blog. I discovered it recently and have really been enjoying it. I have a question for you: Why can’t men break up with a woman? I was with my most recent boyfriend for seven months. Everything seemed great. We were at the meeting friends, parents and (his) kid’s stage. He always said ‘I love you’ at the end of every phone call. Then, all of a sudden, he started pulling away.

Despite me gently confronting him about it on numerous occasions and giving him every opportunity to break up with me – if that’s what he wanted, he never did. Eventually, he just became so emotionally distant that I had to break up with him. He seemed relieved and was back on Match.com the next day. It’s only been a few weeks and he’s already gone and deleted all evidence of our relationship on Facebook (we’re still Facebook friends), probably so the next woman can’t see it. Next woman? It seems like yesterday we were talking about our future together. It breaks my heart that while I was investing more and more into the relationship (for instance, slowly forming a bond with his young daughter), he was checking out and didn’t bother to tell me about it.

Sadly, this is a step up from my last boyfriend who did a total, utter and complete disappearing act after six weeks of what I thought was awesome dating — he called me every day, took me out every weekend and treated me like his girlfriend (until he didn’t). Looking back, I don’t think I’ve had one boyfriend actually man up and tell me the relationship was over for him. I’ve also read countless articles and books by women who’ve experienced the same thing. (Heck, you have a whole program addressing why men disappear!) I’m starting to think expecting a man to break up with me is unrealistic, and if I want to know how the relationship is going I have to be one step ahead of him. Can’t rely on calm, rational conversations. Makes me so sad.

What do you think? Is a respectful break-up too much to ask of a man? Or is a man who can’t give a woman a respectful break-up a bit of a loser and I should be happy to be rid of him?


The closest you came to truth was in your last line: a man who can’t break up like an adult is not the kind of man you want in your life for the next 40 years. Imagine being in a marriage where confrontation is avoided at all costs, where silent treatments are the norm, where the fear of expressing your feelings reigns.

Unfortunately, there are plenty of marriages like that. And guess what, Sonia? In half of them, women are the primary culprits of poor communication.

Now, of course, this is not scientific. This is anecdotal. But I’ve been around the block long enough to know that the primary reason you complain about how “men break up” is because you date men. If you dated women, your complaints would be leveled at a completely different gender.

All you can do is take responsibility for your own actions and let the unhealthy folks fend for themselves.

Example: John really likes Jennifer. They’ve talked a bunch, hooked up a bunch, shared a lot of personal feelings, and John is ready to take the next step to become her boyfriend. Jennifer, however, is still hung up on her ex. She thinks John is a great guy. She doesn’t want to hurt him. She doesn’t want to blow him off. She doesn’t want to commit to him. She doesn’t know what to do. She doesn’t know what to say. She half-heartedly returns his texts. She sees him occasionally, but doesn’t make him feel loved or appreciated or safe. She doesn’t have the conviction to either give him a chance or to let him go. So she does nothing. Eventually — eventually – Jennifer does the slow fade, and hopes that John finally gets the hint — although she never told him anything directly.

We can quibble with the details, of course, but this is just one anecdote.

I can cite my girlfriend from 1996, who dated me for four months, cheated with me over Christmas break, acted atrociously enough for me to break up with her the following month, and then told me she cheated on me in order to punish me.

I can also cite this brilliant song, The Fade Away by Garfunkel and Oates, which is all about women who don’t communicate directly.

Moral of the story, of course, is not to defend anyone who acts in a less than fair, healthy, or considerate fashion, but to point out that the emphasis of your email is on whether MEN can break up respectfully. Yes, they can. I considered turning pro at one point in time. But all you can do is take responsibility for your own actions and let the unhealthy folks fend for themselves.

The answer is not to “remain one step ahead” of your boyfriend at all times, but rather to choose a boyfriend who presents a secure attachment style, talks about his feelings, and lets you know where he stands.

Not surprisingly, that’s on YOU to change your decision-making mechanisms, not on all men to change their communication styles on your behalf.

Join our conversation (173 Comments).
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  1. 1

    I also know that many men are also fearful of women becoming extremely emotional, angry, throwing hissy fits, etc.   So, if we actually want men to behave like adults and break up with us maturely, it would be ideal if we could respond with a minimum of unnecessary drama.

    1. 1.1

      In my experience men also become extremely emotional, drama queens, they get really mad when I decide not to see them anymore after a few dates. Becoming Houdini is not such a bad idea but even after having some aggressive reactions I still find it in my character to say goodbye. I will not change who I am for the bad behaviour of others…

      1. 1.1.1

        I loved your reply very much Lin

      2. 1.1.2

        I love this too Lin!   I have had the same experience with men behaving in this manner but yet I still say goodbye and that is a matter of character!   Those who do not are cowards.    If you truly fear some sort of outrageous reaction do it in public.   Unless you have a reason to fear for your safety there is no excuse.   As commented below men cannot handle any negative emotion women display.   In fact many cannot handle any emotion displayed by women at all.   I’ve had men yell at men when I cried, run away, sit there and stare and look perplexed, and all I could think was did someone not raise you right?   If someone cried you comfort them!   Not all men of course but I find it is the rare man these days that has the courage to break it off in person honestly and as an adult.

        1. Not again

          Or we could just all accept that people don’t follow absolute scripts, do what we think is right for the situation, and give people the benefit of the doubt when they don’t respond in they way we want/expect them to, while being firm about our decision and stick to it (eg don’t be guilted into false promises or   continuing contact because she thinks youre terrible because didn’t dump her the “right” way or because he’s devastated that now he won’t get to sleep with you).

          I have to say that I really think some people make dating much harder than it needs to be. I realize many here people are like me, newly single/divorced and trying to relearn after being out  of the game for a long time. But sometimes we just have to trust our instincts and stop believing we can control what other people do.

    2. 1.2

      Henriette – and other men claim that women become over-emotional or ‘crazy’ when she responds to something with negative emotions. Even when she is responding in mature way. Some men can’t handle any kind of negative emotion being directed toward them no matter how diplomatically the woman does it.

      1. 1.2.1


  2. 2

    Good question. I admit to being guilty of a few disappearances and fade-ways, however, in certain circumstances I think they’re reasonable. I use an informal guideline which relates the length of time spent dating:
    Ons, 1 or 2 dates: a disappearing act is acceptable
    2 – 5 dates: a fade-away is acceptable
    More than 5 dates, but no commitment: breakup by text is acceptable
    Commitment: only face to face breakup is acceptable.
    The disappearance is probably the easiest option but sometimes I regret doing it in hindsight. An honest clean cut breakup always feels better in retrospect — sometimes you’ve no choice because some people just don’t get the hint! Arrgh.
    I also think that there is also an onus on people to improve their dating skills so as to detect hints and nuance better and learn not to take offence or it personally, as this is all part and parcel of dating.
    I also echo Evan that both genders are equally guilty when it comes to bad break-up etiquette.   

    1. 2.1

      Tom, this reply is actually more for Evan.   Evan; I’m surprised you did not  reply to Tom and share your differing opinion about what circumstances warrant a face-to-face breakup.

      1. 2.1.1

        @ Rowena

        What circumstances warrant a face-to-face breakup, for you,  Rowena?

        1. Rowena


          Respectfully; I’m not interested in sharing a different opinion; only  curious as to why the host of the blog, Evan, elected not to share his own opinion which I know from previous posts, is contrary to your own.

        2. Karmic Equation

          Why won’t you answer Tom, Rowena? Tom’s question is legitimate. If you want to question others on what types of breakups are “speech-worthy”, you must have some ideas of your own in that regard.

    2. 2.2

      Tom, my own rule of thumb is that if I acknowledged that person with my time then they deserve to be acknowledged when I no longer wish to spend time with them. So how I see it:

      1 to 2 dates: text or email

      5 dates: phone call

      More than 5 dates but no commitment: phone call or face to face meeting.

      It’s really not a matter of people not being able to take the ‘hint’. You need to simply clearly communicate better if they don’t know where they stand with you. That’s on your end to communicate, not their end to figure out your ‘hints’.

      1. 2.2.1

        @ AllHeart81 #2.2
        Firstly thanks for outlining what is appropriate breaking-up dating etiquette for you.
        It would be interesting if a few more posters answered the same question and chimed in with what they consider is the appropriate way to break-up, related to the nature and duration of the relationship. That way we could build a consensus.
        So, any takers…?
        “You need to simply clearly communicate better if they don’t know where they stand with you. That’s on your end to communicate, not their end to figure out your ‘hints’.”
        We’ll just have to agree to disagree on this so. My default position is that until commitment has been verbally declared then neither party owes the other anything except common human decency and respect. And this includes a break-up speech.
        I believe that the onus on every adult who dates lies on them to look out for their own welfare. Therefore, the onus is on the person who is unsure where they stand to ask, not on the other person to tell.
        Many people have poor dating skills, but I think it’s on them to improve those skills; one of which is accurately gauging the interest and motivations of the other party.
        Which is why we need this blog.

        1. Vik



          sorry to to say but your suggestions sounds that dating is a business deal and not about sharing human emotions. With this approach it seems like two people will care for more personal benefit than for the other person in question. I thought love is all about giving and risking to get hurt. Only then you might find love in return.

        2. Shaukat


          There’s absolutely no reason to break up with someone face to face after such a minimal number of dates. Outside of an LTR, virtually everyone breaks up over text. I’ve had women end it with me via text after three, four, or five dates. I actually prefer that to a face to face. In fact, I’m reminded of something Dan Savage one said: “Getting dumped over text sucks, getting dumped over email sucks, getting dumped in person sucks.” The people attacking you on this thread are just looking for a catharsis.

        3. Tom10

          As I thought so Shaukat,


          Thanks for restoring some semblance of normality to this thread: I was beginning to doubt myself there.

        4. N

          I am a 21 year old woman & i have dated 5 guys till today, none of which ever even broke up with me, just disappeared into thin air. I have proceeded to think that that is the norm these days, people drop dates like a hot potato , without considering that the other person is human & has feelings.

          As for me, i once broke up with a guy on text , even just after 2 dates, and he responded saying that he didnt even consider it as a date, it was just catching up, lol. Wth.

          So now even i think the fade away is a much better option , instead of having discussions at length.

      2. 2.2.2
        Karmic Equation


        I’m with Tom10 on this one.

        Sending “break up texts” or calling someone to “break up” with them, when there is no committed relationship, is presumptuous.

        If someone doesn’t text, email, call, or schedule another date within a reasonable timeframe, how much clearer can they be that they don’t want to date you. The fact that they’re not asking you out for another date tells you they don’t want to date you anymore.

        The reason so many women have problems with this is because women put all their eggs in one basket and date only one man at a time. So she focuses all her spare time thinking about/waiting for that one man to call. Date multiple people until someone commits. If you’re dating multiple people, you don’t have TIME to worry about why one of the guys isn’t calling you anymore.

        1. Nicky

          I agree with karmic to some extent as a woman i admit i have dated one person and more than one until we decide to be exclusive. However, when you date more than one there’s always that one who stands out the one you give more of your time and think about even when you are dating others as well. Truth is people are so scared to just be honest when the truth is i don’t think there is a person on the planet who wouldn’t prefer you telling them straight you’re not feeling them as opposed to stringing them along or leaving hints. People prefer your honesty and yes it will hurt and they will probably cry but after that they start picking up the pieces because they know for sure you guys are done. To string someone along or hinting thats cruel and inhuman because relationships have ups and downs so how is this person supposed to know whether it’s a hint or if it’s just one of the to be expected lows relationships go through on occasion. People naturally always think perhaps you are hinting you don’t want to be with them, but no one wants to assume and unfortunately many fear asking and others aren’t open to answer the questions truthfully even when given the chance. I personally think people who do that are unsure of what they want and leave the door open and use the ” i never broke up with you” as their way back in case they made a mistake or couldn’t find someone else or find better. Bottom line the longer you drag it out the more you hurt that person and the more they hate you. I personally can still be friends with someone who tells me he doesn’t want to be with me anymore and will still respect him after the pain is over , but if he does a slow fade or causes situations so i can break up with him, i still know i may have said the words but your actions caused it and actions speak louder than words and in this case i delete you out of my life forever don’t bother trying to talk to me a year later because i don’t respect you as a man and in the case of women who do this to men it’s low.

      3. 2.2.3

        I totally agree.   You don’t know if that person got in an accident and was in a coma!   Now the likelihood of that is rare, but I’m sure stranger things have happened.  A recent example in my own life is just last week in fact.   I hadn’t dated online for a year because of this exact thing so I guess I was jinxing myself.   Anyway, I had coffee with a guy which actually led to lunch – this was on my day off; not his, and the date lasted 5 hours.   He expressed interest the following day about a second date, but now it’s been 5 days and I have yet to hear from him although over the past few days I’ve sent generic texts like Happy Friday, blah, blah, blah, and nothing.   He told me on the date “he was raised right,” but actions speak louder than words.   This boy is rude!!!

    3. 2.3

      Whats the difference between a fade away and a disappearing act? A break up text for more than 5 dates? Im guessing you’ve slept with her by date 5?If you have thats crumby dude. If not then you are a christian or other religion that does not permit sex before marriage. Which is great. But somebody who is religious i have found won’t slow fade a girl. He will have compassion for her as its in his nature. As a guy you shouldn’t be giving hints out as well. You should be assertive and direct. Women appreciate that in the long run. Your post reeks of a commitment phobe, serial dater player who likes the sex without accountability. Thats cool, to each his own. I think your etiquette sucks personally and i feel sorry for a good woman who crosses your path. Just the can’t take a hint part set off a alarm bro. Thats weak man, thats how chicks ditch dudes.

      1. 2.3.1

        @ joe #2.3
        Hey hey hey, no need to be so snippy: I’m as curious as anyone to see what’s acceptable and what isn’t.
        The difference between a fade away and a disappearing act? I honestly don’t know how to make it any simpler. The first is where you fade away, and the second is where you just, um, disappear. Is that any clearer?
        As a guy you shouldn’t be giving hints out as well. You should be assertive and direct.“
        Okay, now we’re making progress. At least now I know how real men should behave, because you’re a real man, right bro?
        Sarcasm aside joe, I think that dating is a game, an art, where both parties are trying to charm/seduce the other and part of this is accurately reading the body language ascertaining the interest of the other party. Clearly you differ and think both parties should just be out with directly. Luckily with your evident subtlety and nuance I’m sure you have no problems in dating 😉  

        1. Selena

          I’d say the disappearing act is where someone you went out with (more than once?) is suddenly nowhere to be found on the planet.   They no longer call/text/email you or respond to same.


          The fade is a bit more subtle. They may still respond to texts/emails/pickup the phone occasionally, but less frequently, and keep the contact short. They don’t make any plans to get together with you (often because they are “crazy busy”) , but don’t ever come right out and say they are no longer interested. They have essentially “disappeared” because they typically have no intention of seeing you again, but they hope you will figure that out on your own – they don’t want any kind of confrontation with you, yet they don’t want to look like “the bad guy” either by abruptly totally dropping off the radar.


          On the internet, I think the Fade and the Disappearing Act are used interchangably because the result is the same: the person you were seeing broke it off without ever saying they were doing so.


        2. joe

          Yes that is clearer. They sound like the same thing to me.Lets call a spade a spade yeah? Thank you for clarifying. I wasn’t being snippy i was just stating my opinion. You don’t like it then thats ok.

          Im not really a real man, i just play one on the internet so now that we got that out of the way..all sarcasm aside.

          Im in agreement with you there. I didn’t say being direct or assertive was the way to go when trying to attract the other party. It is the way to go when ending a interaction after 5 dates. Sorry bro,maybe i made some unfair assumptions about you. I don’t know you. Your post smelled like BS though.. and   yes I’m human and have my own problems in dating. I wouldn’t be here if i didn’t right?So you can take your cute little wink face and send it to a chick your being coy with.

        3. Straight talk


          I’m with Joe on this one. Dating is not a game. It’s two people taking a chance to see what happens and decide if they want to continue getting to know each other.

          If after one date you aren’t interested, be polite but don’t imply any second date. Therefor

        4. Tom10

          @ joe
          Jeez, it’s not that complicated; we’re not talking rocket science here. But in any case I’ll spell it out for you:
          Disappearing Act
          This is where one party suddenly cuts all communication. No texts, no emails, no phone-calls. Sometimes called “the cut”.
          Me: “Laura stopped replying to my texts the other day”
          My mate: “So she gave you “the cut” yeah?”
          Me: “Yeah seems so, haven’t heard anything, she just seems to have disappeared”
          Result: Laura has moved on and I feel a small sting.
          The Fade away
          This is where one party begins to extend the length of time it takes to reply to contact, namely texts, emails and phone-calls. Whereas previously if it took a two hours to reply, now it will take 5 or 6. And then that will become a day, then two days etc. And each time the responder will ask fewer questions in response or no questions at all.
          Me: “Laura hasn’t replied to my text I sent yesterday, do you reckon she’s busy or fading me out?”
          My mate: “Well, see what she says dude, if she has a reason for her late reply and replies enthusiastically then it should be okay. Otherwise she’s probably fading you out”
          Me: “Okay, I’ll see what she does. If her message is vague I’ll reply in a few days with a vague one-liner and leave it at that.”
          My mate: “Yeah, if she’s keen she’ll make sure you know it.”
          Result: Laura has moved on and neither of us are upset. If we meet again we should still be on good terms as neither party dumped the other.
          Now I know you, and many others here, probably think it’s crummy cowardly behavior and one should just say it honestly if you’re not interested. But this interpretation actually misses the point: it’s designed so that neither party loses face. No-one suffers the sting or indignation of being dumped or rejected/per se: the communication just faded into the ether. So by that interpretation it’s actually a kind thing to do. However, this only works if both parties have some modicum of dating nous. Clueless daters and people out of the game for a while often can’t read this; so it’s probably kinder to come clean with them.
          I think there is an onus on every individual dater to be vigilant for these implied signals when dating. I seem to be in a minority on this though: it seems everyone else wants it spelt out in black and white.
          @ Straight talk
          “Dating is not a game”
          It isn’t?
          Your definition of dating is, I think (ironic considering your moniker) somewhat predicated on the assumption that both parties have the same goals and intentions in dating: namely a relationship, leading to marriage, amirite? However, I just don’t think this an accurate reflection of how dating works anymore. I think there are too many people with different agendas out there, and that it’s up to you to suss out their agenda. Dating with the *assumption* that “it’s two people taking a chance to see what happens” just seems extremely naive to me and is a poor strategy.
          I dunno, sometimes I think I’m on a different planet here to everyone else where I’m the only person making sense 🙁

        5. Selena

          Tom, I read another blog where the Fade (disappearing act, etc.) is often discussed. There doesn’t seem to be a consensus about it. Some people would rather have someone text/email them to say they aren’t interested, others figure if they haven’t heard from someone in a few days that’s it.   They don’t need a text/email with an explanation. Different strokes.


          What a lot of people don’t like is the unsolicited reject email.  Example:after one date, the next morning their inbox contains something like this:” I didn’t feel the chemistry sorry. Good luck in your search.”


          They don’t like it because if they were attracted, it’s a bit like sprinkling salt in a wound.   If they weren’t attracted it isn’t necessary and vaguely insulting. “Oh thanks for sending that, I wasn’t interested in you anyway.”


          You asked for others’ opinions on breakup etiquette so I’ll share mine.


          Dates 1-3: one doesn’t need to do anything proactive if they aren’t interested. You only went out a few times, it wasn’t a relationship. If the other person contacts YOU, the polite response is an email along the lines of:

          “Hi Jane/Joe

          I’m sorry I don’t think we have the chemistry/compatibility/whatever to continue this.


          Wishing you the best.



          Simple ,to the point, none of the mixed messages of the Fade. Not as rude as ignoring the contact like” the cut”.


          For breaking it off after several dates, especially if there was sex – a kinder, gentler version of the same email:


          “Dear Jane/Joe

          I want you to know I think you are a terrific person and I’ve enjoyed the time we’ve spent getting to know each other.

          However, I don’t see the two of us having the kind of compatibility/whatever we both need to see where this goes.  I’m sorry.


          I know you will find the right person for you and he/she will be a very lucky man/woman.


          Your friend, Joe/Jane


          With this type of email the person who is ending the dating situation acknowledges the time and emotion that was put in.   They are not being a shit by disappearing, and they are not stringing the other person along with the slow Fade.


          The above examples are for breaking off a dating situation BEFORE becoming a couple. The casual dating, “we’re seeing how it goes” stage.


          For people who are actually in the couple stage…a face to face breakup.



        6. Tom10

          @ Selena
          Great to see you back Selena, haven’t seen you in a while. I take it you’ve been on your annual sojourn and happily commenting elsewhere 😉
          Thanks for outlining what is appropriate dating etiquette for you. I actually don’t think you’re a million miles away from the etiquette I outlined in my original post to be honest so I’m not too sure why I got so much heat above.
          I agree that the preemptive rejection email isn’t cool. After one or two dates the simplest thing for a guy to do is simply not ask her out again. Then again, I’ve had one or two women ask a week later what they did that put me off. It’s gets complicated when sex happens on the first or second date. Then I feel I owe her at least another date or two (without sex if possible) before ending it.
          90% of the time I’m dumped by a woman she does it by beginning the slow fade. And since I’m hyper-vigilant for this I’ll normally cut it pretty quickly, either by asking her outright or not replying. Women are usually relieved either way. I guess since it seems so ubiquitous to me that I thought it was universal. Maybe I should lean a bit more to being more direct as that’s what quite a few posters think is right.

        7. Selena

          It’s good to see you here commenting also Tom. 🙂


          I agree sex does seem to complicate how to break it off.   Not hearing from someone after 1-3 sexless dates – we can chalk it up to “Guess he/she just wasn’t that interested.” Disappointing, but so it goes.


          Most of us see having sex as the other person really being interested, feeling chemistry with us – so when the other person disappears of fades away afterwards – it’s not only disappointing, it can be very confusing. What happened?   Is it over? Are they just slowing down? Did I do something wrong? Was the sex that bad?


          Warning: I’m gonna stereotype. When men bail after sex, women often feel that they were being “used” for sex. And sometimes that may be true. What else could be true is that the guy involved didn’t see sex as the same kind of big deal she did. Just part of dating – not enough whatever there – so it goes. Or, he knew it was just a casual thing and believed the woman knew that too. Whereas she didn’t know that, she may have thought having sex was part of starting a potential relationship.


          This is why I feel some kind of gentle email (or phone call) break-it-off is better if sex was involved or after several dates. There is a reason we don’t want to continue seeing someone –   compatibility, not wanting the same things, not a good personality fit, something. Why not just couch that in a “It’s not you, it’s me” way directly rather than letting someone who really liked you hanging?


          And Tom, this may be just me – but if I guy I had sex with wasn’t interested afterward – taking me out on another sexless date or two would just reinforce that he liked me for more than sex. It wouldn’t occur to me that he was doing it so he didn’t look like an arse and was trying to let me down easy. LOL!!

        8. Tom10

          @ Selena
          “Most of us see having sex as the other person really being interested, feeling chemistry with us — so when the other person disappears of fades away afterwards — it’s not only disappointing, it can be very confusing. What happened?   Is it over? Are they just slowing down? Did I do something wrong? Was the sex that bad?”
          I guess this is one of the biggest mistakes that women just keep make in dating: assuming that because a guy will have sex with her then he must be really interested or feel chemistry. In reality, many men are more than happy to have sex with women they have no interest in or chemistry with. Which is why they faded away afterwards. Every girl needs this message taught to her at the age of 15, over and over. Actually every woman of every age needs to know this. The only true indication of a guy’s interest is observing how much of an *effort* he is making. Without sex. Over a period of time.
          “This is why I feel some kind of gentle email (or phone call) break-it-off is better if sex was involved or after several dates. There is a reason we don’t want to continue seeing someone —   compatibility, not wanting the same things, not a good personality fit, something. Why not just couch that in a “It’s not you, it’s me” way directly rather than letting  someone who really liked you hanging?”
          But in reality, it’s almost always simply because they’re not really into you. It’s difficult to say that in any other language. But point taken. I guess it’s probably better to say something, even if it’s as bad as “it’s not you, it’s me”. Lol. I will take on board your recommendation Selena and omit my 2-5 dates is acceptable to fade-away guideline from now on 🙂
          “And Tom, this may be just me — but if I guy I had sex with wasn’t interested afterward — taking me out on another sexless date or two would just reinforce that he liked me for more than sex. It wouldn’t occur to me that he was doing it so he didn’t look like an arse and was trying to let me down easy. LOL!!”
          Ha that’s funny alright. I admit I’ve done that a few times: I didn’t want to give the impression that I was dumping her after sex so I thought an extra sexless date or two would avoid her thinking it was that.  

      2. 2.3.2

        when men just fade away, they tend to believe they can fade in again. That is why a clean “I do not want to see you again”, is the right thing to do.

      3. 2.3.3

        I couldn’t agree with you more !!

      4. 2.3.4

        I’m glad someone had the balls to tell Tom this. How immature.

        1. Tom10

          Which particular part of my comment was so immature pru?
          Considering as I’ve received so much heat on this one I think I’ll adopt a new dating etiquette:
          Ons, 1 or 2 dates: only face to face breakup is acceptable.
          2 — 5 dates: only face to face breakup is acceptable.
          More than 5 dates, but no commitment: only face to face breakup is acceptable.
          Commitment: only face to face breakup is acceptable.
          Now. Is that better?
          Sheez people.

    4. 2.4
      Cera Searle

      Love his comment.

    5. 2.5

      Hoo boy! Your comment became quite controversial. LOL. Sorry Tom but, you’re kind of a dick. It’s cute that you’ve figured out some rules that work for you. That’s great. Everyone has to have their boundaries and guidelines for what’s acceptable for them and if it’s working for you and the people you date, awesome. A lot of times, we create those guidelines based on our own painful personal experiences. We want to avoid mistakes and pain in the future. It’s understandable.

      For me personally, I would consider anyone that I’ve seen in person, even once, to be deserving of a voice call or text with a DIRECT message stating that “I’ll no longer be seeing you. I’m not feeling a connection”. No slow fade. No disappearing act. You’re dealing with human beings, man. I was sleeping with my ex at 4 dates so if he just texted me a “this isn’t working, bye” I don’t think I would have responded very well. AND, I certainly wouldn’t be putting out by date 4 for the next few guys I date, arguably making me much “harder to get” and prob frustrating for some guys. See how how we treat one another builds on each other? I know everyone wants to protect themselves and take responsibility for their own feelings. That’s fine (also, if you can’t handle other people having needs/feelings/expectations of you, that’s known as avoidant behavior which I’m getting whiffs of in your comments). I know that dating apps and all that make that easy to forget, but vulnerability is ALSO an art. The better you get it, the more you know yourself, the stronger you become, the better people you attract. Best of luck to you.

  3. 3

    How was Sonia supposed to know seven months ago that this guy was going to turn into a bad boyfriend so she could have made the choice not to date him?  Should she have gotten the hint when he said “I love you” at the end of every conversation? Maybe when he invited her to meet his family and introduced her to his child, that should have been her tip off to run.

    I’m not saying women don’t ever do this or that all men are louts, I’m only questioning the logic  behind the non-answer of, “It’s all your fault, Sonia. You should have known better.”

    I get frustrated when someone asks a legitimate question on this forum and it gets thrown back on them like they had some crystal ball they refused to look into after the first date. I’ve seen it again and again. You CAN’T make a choice not to date someone because you don’t have any information yet on which to make that decision. And when someone misleads you, as Sonia’s boyfriend had, how can you blame someone for being confused?

    She DID make a  decision to choose a different boyfriend by  dumping him once she realized it was a lost cause, so I fail to see how Sonia is to blame here, or how she could possibly modify  her decision-making mechanism without knowing up front how a person will change over the course of a relationship.


    1. 3.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      I missed the part where I said, “It’s all your fault, Sonia. You should have known better.” Please quote that back to me so I can retract it. If anything, I said that people of both genders have issues around breaking up, so don’t fall into the trap of assuming this is a man thing.

      1. 3.1.1

        Evan, I agree with Indira.   I do feel you are making excuses for the male here and in general when you state in closing “Not surprisingly, that’s on YOU to change your decision-making mechanisms, not on all men to change their communication styles.”   If the male is being misleading or decides to backpedal, it’s completely understandable to miss the subtle nuances of being dumped down the road.   If guys would just nut-up and breakup in a plain an obvious fashion women everywhere could move on quicker and easier.

        1. Clare

          I agree with Indira as well. With her point, not necessarily with her tone. Thought Evan was unnecessarily harsh on this one.


          Personally I’ve never had a boyfriend I was dating for months completely disappear on me, but I have once or twice had a guy pull away inexplicably from what was otherwise a very happy relationship. It’s incredibly painful because you DON’T see it coming. You can’t prepare for it. You can’t “alter your decision making” because everything was fine up until that point, great actually. You just get landed on your proverbial arse, and then struggle for a way to deal with it.


          I’ve since realised that people who do this – pull away from happy relationships without real warning or reason – have their own issues and intimacy fears to work through, and knowing that makes it slightly easier to move on from. However, this unceremonious dropping of someone you love/care for is still a crappy thing to do to someone. Evan’s answer was basically saying “well, look women do it too!” So? Would it kill us as enlightened human beings to send the message that treating people badly is not acceptable rather than just continually telling everyone to toughen up?

        2. selena

          @Rowena.. I agree, if men would just “man up” or women would just “woman up” it would make things so much easier ….I am a very sensible woman, I am not going to roll over and die if you want to end the relationship, but please let’s treat each other with dignity and respect and “break up” like two adults not two kids.

      2. 3.1.2

        “The answer is not to “remain one step ahead” of your boyfriend at all times, but rather to choose a boyfriend who presents a secure attachment style, talks about his feelings, and lets you know where he stands.
        Not surprisingly, that’s on YOU to change your decision-making mechanisms, not on all men to change their communication styles on your behalf.”
        This is clearly placing fault on  the OP for failing to choose an appropriate boyfriend; in essence telling her she should have known better.

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          No, “Indira” (your latest pseudonym). It’s exhorting her to make different decisions in the future, not blaming her for something she had no control of in the past. I may not have spent much time on niceties, but thankfully, the OP got the gist of it. Sorry you haven’t.

        2. m

          ”  It’s exhorting her to make different decisions in the future, not blaming her for something she had no control of in the past.”

          @EMK – but, to echo your very own “please point out where I said X” in your first response here, you may well have MEANT that, but you didn’t SAY that.

          ”  I may not have spent much time on niceties”

          Respectfully?   This isn’t about “niceties”.   This is about — most ironically, as the post in the URL is positioned in the blog’s “communication” subtopic — clarity of communication.


        3. LaTrice

          Why are you being so argumentative? Everyone is entitled their opinions, but it seems you don’t understand that.

      3. 3.1.3

        Well, actually, if you read the rest of the comments, the OP also saw it this way. So again, I ask you, how is someone supposed to see into the future in order to make different  decisions now? She made the right decision as soon as she saw it going bad; your advice is basically telling her that she could have saved herself 7 months of wasted time by not choosing this guy in the first place. My legitimate question is, how do we do this without a crystal ball, when the guy (or woman) is behaving like the perfect partner up until the breakup?

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          Not gonna fight with you, “Indira”. I’ve long said exactly what you’re saying – that there’s no crystal ball, no way to protect yourself if someone changes. You seem to think that I’m indicting Indira for the past, when I’m really encouraging her in the future. Let’s leave this one alone. Have a great day.

        2. Indira

          Okay, so safe to say you can give advice but no direction on how to follow it.

        3. Evan Marc Katz

          Where did I ask for advice? Oh, that’s right. I didn’t. You offered your unsolicited criticism and hoped that I would embrace it with open arms. I responded. Best of luck.

        4. Lin

          The guy was not behaving “perfect” he was distant .. in many cases before they disappear you have to watch out for red flags like this one. When a man behaves like this woman are not obligated to wate until the man decides to end the relationship you aso have the right to believe in deserving more love.

    2. 3.2

      Hindsight has 20-2o0 vision, as they say. I would also agree that I’m not sure that Sonia’s “decision-making mechanisms” are at fault here. Perhaps there is some nuance or issue that she overlooked, but perhaps not. She may discover some clues down the line, but I don’t get any sense of that from what she did write, and it sounds like she tried to talk to him about his behavior, to no avail. While he sounds cowardly and passive-aggressive, that may not have been evident while they were seemingly happily dating.

      One thing I would add, however, is that it’s time to go “no contact” with her ex. That means no Facebook friendship, among other things. If she wants to offer an explanation of why she’s “unfriending” him, she can. But being Facebook friends makes it too easy to check up and find things out that can only impede the healing process.

      1. 3.2.1

        Thanks, Ruby.

        Yes, I emailed this question to Evan within weeks of my breakup. My ex and I talked about deleting each other as Facebook friends when we broke up (I brought it up, of course), but he said it wasn’t necessary at that point in time. But it’s been a few months now and  we’re no longer Facebook friends. Again, I couldn’t get him to discuss it like a mature adult or make any decisions, so I told him I was deleting him because I thought it was healthier for both of us. We’ve also deleted each other’s family and friends – again, my call. Ugh. Glad it’s over.

        1. m

          That’s difficult, and I’m sorry that happened to you.


          I think there’s an underemphasis, in the dating “industry” generally, on societal edicts and expectations and the negative influences they can have on the behavior and communication patterns of both men and women.

          There is a cultural expectation — rarely explicitly stated, but felt like a drumbeat nonetheless and manifested in men’s behavior, as you and the OP have been brave enough to bring up and enough of us other women have experienced to comment WRT how strongly we can empathize, and commiserate — that men are not to talk about their feelings, as that can be perceived as “girly” or “unmanly”.

          So, rather than examine that exhortation and see in what ways it can be damaging to relationships, men just obey it unquestioningly.   And then things like this happen.

          I think things go a lot better when all of us look at “This is what society dictates I should conform to in order to present as an ‘approved-of’ member.   Is it ultimately helping my relationships or hurting them?” and evaluate and adjust accordingly so as to have improved interpersonal outcomes in our own lives.


          We need more honest (in terms of admission that this actually does happen) and better (in terms of more effective strategies to counteract it) guidance in order to do it, though.

    3. 3.3

      In this case, the guy was separated.   That is a huge red flag.   Not necessarily an “always avoid,” but a proceed with caution and guard your heart.   Also in divorced dating world, you don’t introduce your kid and family to the new girl for a significant amount of time and you are careful not to let the new girl/guy get to close to the kids.   If your boyfriend or girlfriend isn’t doing that – especially if he or she is separated or newly divorced – that person is likely on the rebound and is using the new relationship as a salve.   Another red flag. Chances are high that the person is eventually going to panic and pull away.

    4. 3.4

      Indira you hit the nail on the head. Truth is if anyone who is in a relationship (exclusive) like sonia was they would be confused man or woman. It isn’t right how she was lead to believe one thing, but he is thinking and feeling something else. If a man or woman goes out with you for 7 months introduces you to the family and tells you i love you even if he seems distant you are going to want to rule things out first like is he unhappy at work what kind of stress is he going through etc. I mean obviously you will wonder perhaps he isn’t into you anymore, but i guess you would also think that someone wouldn’t say or do loving things if they wanted to get away from you. Be straight that person will appreciate you being honest instead of wasting more days, weeks, months, years of their time, that would piss anyone off.

  4. 4

    One guy broke up with me face to face, i did not get hysterical, i just got very sad and withdrawn. Most men are cowards and cant face women they know they are disappointing and hurting so they disappear, write emails, text breakup messages, call on the phone, anything but face to face.   the men no longer care about your feelings when they breakup with you, its just how men are. A man doesnt know how you will react to being dumped, they assume you will get angry, so they dont want to face you when they dump you. They dont want to know the pain they cause.

    1. 4.1

      I’d venture to say that doing the slow fade, or “ghosting” as they call it is more of a character issue than a gender issue. I’ve done the slow fade, and have “ghosted” on a few guys back when I was in my early 20’s, but never after date 3. I knew a girl who, after dating a guy for nearly 2 years, conveyed her desire to break up with  him  through  the  smoochy photos she took with another guy on Facebook. That was her way of telling him “I’ve dumped you!”

      At my age (28), I’ve learned some things, one of which is to be honest and empathetic. The men who are guilty of doing things like this in the OP’s case are simply avoidant and would rather take the path of least resistance. They may have limited empathy, or have issues being assertive. You always hope that these men and women will feel badly about acting this way down the road, but it’s your responsibility to recognize that these individuals wouldn’t make suitable partners anyway.

      1. 4.1.1
        Karmic Equation

        I’ve disappeared on a guy after one date. I gave him a not-easy-to-forget kiss at the end of the night on our one and only date. Soon after he sent me a text that I considered too presumptuous. And I remembered that I didn’t like the way he shot pool (with his mouth open like a guppy – I know, very superficial), and I didn’t like his kiss (too wet, I’m a dry kisser. Hate wet kisses.) — When he texted and called me, I ignored them and never spoke to him again. I really didn’t know what to say to him after that first date that wasn’t going to be unnecessarily critical. He was definitely a nice guy, with a great voice. Good looking. But he turned me off, not on. It was only one date, so while I felt a little guilty about disappearing, I didn’t lose any sleep over it.


        I really would recommend that unless the guy is your boyfriend, that you don’t expect a face-to-face break up talk. And even then, if you’re the over-emotional kind (a quick-to-tears or quick-to-rant-and-rave woman or an easily angered man), that you shouldn’t expect a face-to-face break up either. I broke up with an ex who I knew would out yell me or get angry (I knew he wouldn’t physically hurt me, but I also knew I wouldn’t be heard — we’d had enough fights by then for me to know how he would handle that. Plus I would be in tears. Plus I knew he would say things he would regret. He was the kind of guy to say mean bad things when angered.) Plus, there was always the chance he would talk me into makeup/breakup sex which would have complicated the breakup. lol. I didn’t want to be seduced from breaking up with him.


        I knew I owed that easily-angered-ex a face-to-face breakup as we had dated over a year, but I just couldn’t. I would be a mess crying because while I knew it was for the best, I really didn’t WANT to break up with him. I NEEDED to break up with him for my emotional health and sanity. My distrust of him was making me unhappy and changing me in bad ways. I didn’t want to do that to myself.


        I doubt guys who disappear or fade after they’re your bf are THAT introspective, though. I’m 99.9% certain they just want to avoid the drama and the demands to explain “why”.


        That is why we want to have guys give us the break up talk, isn’t it? We want to know “why”, especially with the guy WE really like and don’t want to see go yet. That need for “closure” isn’t really to close. We want him to see our pain. Want the chance to change his mind.


        Let go the need to change his mind. Instead take on the mindset that if he’s not into you, that’s HIS loss, not yours. There’s plenty of fish in the sea.


        Yeah, it’ll hurt. But, it will hurt whether he tells you to your face or whether he just disappears. Closure doesn’t stop your heart from hurting.

    2. 4.2

      ”  its just how men are”

      Ummm no….. It’s just how some PEOPLE are. I’m a guy and a women or 5 has done it to me just like I’ve done it to a few over my many years of dating. There are no imaginary rules that the world has to follow while dating. That’s life, sad but true.

  5. 5

    Hmmm…. I think we all need to guard our hearts more…which means taking things slowwwwwwwer and it is hard but you gain so much confidence when there is NOT a lot of drama but you still have interested   possible-partners. I have had the “fall-off-the-face-of-the-earth-breakup” and truly it is unnecessary grief. BUT, kool thing, I made myself learn something new after breakups, like learning guitar, rock-climbing etc..Please   start googling “Meetup” groups in your area and find new friends. No, I haven’t make long-term friends yet..but having something to do is very beneficial. Evan, if you and/or your psychologist friends could come up with a profile of men (or women) that have this dysfunctional attribute. maybe we could weed through them without giving them the 3rd degree on the first date but look for certain signs after a few dates 3 , 4 or 5.   Maybe you have written about these in the past. It would be great if you could psychologically give us a profile to watch out for. I can tell you one thing that I found out about my ex and this is so sad, but he comes from a background of abuse and never got healing. I do feel sorry for him, but I don’t feel responsible for his wounded heart. Everyone has one BTW, (a wounded heart). If people don’t learn to heal from those then they continue to hurt others. Hurting people …hurt people…its sad but true. I guess that is stating the obvious, but my guy hid it pretty well at first. I wish I had waited longer and dated others while getting to know him. I ,for sure ,am going to do that next time I am online.

    1. 5.1



      There are some signs to watch out for. They’re not absolute or exclusive, but in general often signal a poor communicator or avoidant person:

      * Prefers to text or IM over phoning. Text is his overwhelming means of communication.

      * Texts tend to be short, even brusque.

      * Keeps number of dates per week at a fairly stagnant or declining level – doesn’t escalate time spent together.

      * Does not put a lot of emotional investment or thought into dates – they tend to be formulaic and favour where he is most comfortable.

      * Withdraws when you bring up a legitimate relationship concern – won’t discuss it to resolution but finds a way to shut the conversation down.

      * Has major past relationship hurts that he still discusses with bitterness.

      * Is not big on romantic gestures such as weekends away, flowers, Valentine’s Day etc.

      * Has a very obvious comfort zone which he is unwilling to move from.

      * Often plans other things, or has fixed arrangements with guy friends, on prime date nights, such as Saturdays.


      These are some of the signs I have observed, dating guys. Women may have different signs. But basically it seems that avoidance characteristics seem to come in a cluster.

      1. 5.1.1

        Yup, excellent list.   One of those things by itself, maybe two, isn’t a big deal, but when these characteristics start clustering, you have an emotionally unavailable person on your hands.

        I’d also add in the following past relationship indicators:

        (1) He is over 40 and has never had a relationship last longer than two years/has never lived with a woman/has never been married.   That’s a clue that he can’t seem to bring things to a higher level of commitment than fairly casual dating – no woman is ever good enough, he isn’t good at sharing his space/time.


        (2) He ended a long term relationship in the past year.   If he has a child from a marriage or long term relationship, he ended the relationship with his child’s mother within the past two years.

        1. Casey

          Very well said.

  6. 6

    I like this response.   Because we date men, it is easy to see things as, “what men do.”   And these things can often come up in our hen parties, where we sit around and talk about what jerks men are.   We never give thought to the fact that women do these things also, and often, if we are honest, we have to admit that we have done the same thing.    Since I have been reading this blog, I have caught friends complaining about what jerks men are because they do some given offense.   But as I am sitting there listening, I remember that they have done the same thing to men.   I bring this up, and try to do so in a joking manner.   Sometimes it is well received and we all have a laugh, and other times, certain friends seem insulted, and almost always try to disqualify it with the usual excuse that it was different when they did it.   In a case like this, they will cite concern for their safety.   Well, that may be a valid reason, but men have just as much to fear, since women actually commit more domestic violence, though because of their lack of strength, they typically do less damage.   But a guy might worry about his car being trashed, his apartment being trashed, or even being accused of domestic violence, as was the case in that Arizona Cardinals Cheerleader case.   He wanted to leave, and she was hitting and abusing him, and kept getting between him and the door.   He may have been able to force his way out of her apartment, but this might have left a mark on her.   Lucky for him, he had video of it.   But keep in mind the fact that a huge part of what helped him is that they checked her for injuries, bruises, buts, red marks, etc…   The fact that she had none helped him.   Had she had some marks, even with the video, it would not have been smooth sailing for him.   And as we all know, some women have caused minor injuries to themselves so that they could get a guy arrested.   We all like to repeat the saying that Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.


    It sickens me as a woman to see her play the victim role, when she was the aggressor.   I was shown this by a male friend who once stated that because he doesn’t engage in criminal activity, the biggest danger to his freedom is women.   We all laughed and teased him, but the reality is that he was right, and this video shows how dangerous it can be for men.   I fear that things may have gone badly for him had he not had that video, and had she had even one little mark on her.   Like it or not ladies, it CAN be very dangerous for men to associate with women, just as it is for us to associate with men, because you never know if someone will come unhinged when things don’t got their way.   I wonder how many slow fades are because the person fears some really bad drama starting up?


    I did see in the comments of one of these videos that he should be smarter, and find a less pretty, but also less crazy girlfriend next time.   I had a good laugh over that one, and yes, I agree with that comment.





    1. 6.1

      JennLee, I was thinking the same thing, but you posted it before  I did in regards to learning from these blogs and how the opposite gender experiences things.


      I  use to do   the fade away myself, because   of the fact that I hated to know that I  was the cause of a woman’s emotional hurt, but after reading the many comments on this subject from previous post through the years from many women, I have stopped the slow fade away or being passive aggressive, I now tell women the truth face to face.


      WHICH SUCKS!!! (^_^)


      But I think what most people struggle with (both men and women), in being direct, are the “Why?” questions. It is never just a clean break-up if you are direct. They want to know why, and     honestly… what decent human wants to tell another human that:

      > They are  fat

      > They are ugly

      > They are boring

      >  Their children are a turn off to you

      > You don’t want to date a person who doesn’t have  a higher level of   education

      > They are too short

      > They are too poor

      > You have found someone Hotter, Sexier!!!


      And the list goes on and on. Also note, the fade away isn’t always about the person we are breaking up with, it is some times (at least with myself), a way for  us to avoid showing how superficial and shallow we are.


      Which is why I agree with Evan, Neomi and others  completely, who said, it is more about being a  weak, cowardly  person, then it is about it being a man or woman thing.  Evan’s example with John and Jennifer is 100% true! I have seen it many many times, and after reading this blog, I refused to date when I was in my still hung up on my ex phase, so good or bad, this blog and the comments help people.

      1. 6.1.1

        The problem with a lot of the items on your list, Gabriel, is that I don’t understand why you would have started dating people you believe to possess those characteristics to begin with. I can understand losing your attraction to someone over time, but how can you not see from the very start that someone is fat (by your standards), ugly or too short?

        1. Gabri'el

          Hello, Erica. I personally have never been in that type of situation, no one has ever faded away on me, I was just commenting on what I have observed personally.


          I’ll do height first. Of course this one deals exclusively  with women. I only know of one man that refused to date a women because  of her height. He was 6’4, one of the top models at our agency, and the woman was 4’9… maybe 5 foot even, plus she was average looking. He got approached by women all the time so he could afford to be picky.


          Most women I know who do the fade away because of height, usually met the guy online, he is funny, educated, cute, successful,   etc, so she gives it a try, but after meeting him in person, decides that she just can’t do it, but feels guilty that she is rejecting a really good guy just because he is short, so she just fades away, hoping that he gets the hint.

          All the women I know who meet the guy in real life first, and gets to know him, likes him, flirts, etc, but he is short, she will   just never closes the deal or let it go to another level beyond friendship, so she doesn’t have to do the fade away, because they never agree to go on a official date. Evan did a post on backups, these guys fit into those type of categories.


          The exact same scenario is used for the ugly guy, again the women want to give it a chance because of his other qualities, but she finds that she just can’t do it, so she fades away.

          Some  men, depending on how  unattractive the women is, will still hang on long enough to sleep with her before he fades away. It’s weird, but some guys really will sleep with anything, it doesn’t matter if he is attracted to her or not. But these are usually guys who are average looking or unattractive themselves.

          The only other examples that I have seen of men fading away because of looks, deals with guys who are very attractive being set up on blind dates by their parents and the girl  is average looking or unattractive. The more options a person have in dating, the more picker they are, because they know that they can find someone more attractive.

          Weight, I have many stories of female friends and colleague disliking their boyfriends weight gain, but none involving them leaving him for it. But I do know of women and men  who did the fade away after a first date with a guy or girl  who used a fake or old picture in his profile, and the person showed up looking fat.

          I only know of one guy who was ever rude enough to actually just turn around and walk out after he saw the woman. I also know of a time when a guy walked up to a girl and her friends to ask her to out and she said in front of everyone, I don’t date ugly men.

          I know of men who have faded away from their girlfriends because she slowly put on a lot weight, these are usually guys who are attractive and have many other options. Most average looking guys I know don’t do this.


          Again, Erica in most of those cases, it was about the people who didn’t want to look in the face of the person they were about to hurt, because then they would have to say out loud and hear themselves confess that their reasons were vain, fading away, or ending it through text is usually the easy way out.

  7. 7

    People – men and women – hate delivering bad news.   I hate breaking up with people and by the time I make up my mind to do it, I admit (as a woman) that I do pull back a bit to mull things over.   I will do the breaking up when I’m ready, but if you care about someone, you don’t want to make a drastic decision.

    (1) Maybe you get too attached too fast.   Don’t be available every single weekend for 6 weeks straight.   Sometimes men read that as clingy.   Either way, a fade or disappearing act after 6 weeks is rude.   After 1 or 2 dates, it’s no biggie (IMO – I don’t need a formal break up if we weren’t together in the first place) but 6 weeks is long enough that a conversation is in order.

    (2) With your last boyfriend,   my sense is that he may have been on the rebound.   Since he has a daughter, I assume he is divorced or at least came out of a long term relationship.   It can take years to get over that and, without more background, my guess is that   he probably freaked out as you got closer, causing him to pull back.   You read the pullback as a desire to break up, but it may simply have been him sorting out how he feels.   When dating divorced men in particular, especially newly divorced men, I’ve learned through trial and error that when they pull back, you pull back too.   Don’t disappear, but don’t communicate much and let them chase you.   Your ex may not have wanted to break things off, but you didn’t really give him the chance to figure things out either.   When confronted, he could have given you some excuse about not being ready, but it sounds like he didn’t.   Instead, you broke up first and he may have been relieved because he was in the middle of an indecisive, panicky moment.


    1. 7.1

      Very insightful, L. Yes, he was separated.

      My  first thought was to give him some space without actually breaking up. This was an option I presented to him. But it’s an option  that would have kept me in a miserable holding pattern – as you said, it can take years to get over a failed marriage. I could tell he wanted out. His feelings for me had changed – for whatever reason. Bad timing, his emotional issues, the distinct possibility we weren’t a match… whatever. I told him I was going to take the ‘If you love someone, set them free’ option. The fact that he seemed relieved and had a new girlfriend within weeks suggests I made the right decision. If we’d met years after his divorce (he’s still not even divorced), it may have been a different story.


      1. 7.1.1

        Knowing he was separated, his behavior makes complete sense.   He was on the rebound.   His behavior is just classic separated man behavior.   It doesn’t mean he didn’t care about you.   It means he is using dating to avoid his pain and he let you get too close.   When he sensed the relationship deepen he freaked out.   What he should do is stop dating but instead he’s using online dating to continue to avoid his emotions about the divorce.   I’m sorry you fell into the trap.   As a rule of thumb, don’t date a man whose divorce isn’t final.   Even if it is almost final (separated a year, paperwork is all in), getting over a divorce is a multi year process.    Believe it or not, the biggest sign of a rebound is a man who is NOT cautious and who moves the relationship along quickly.   A man who is cautious is lower risk…   It can work out in the end, but you need to prepare yourself for a lot of hot and cold behavior.   And even then, the chances of having your heart broken are high.

        1. Josie

          L’s advice is spot on.   I am very hesitant with guys who are newly single, and being separated is a total nonstarter for me.

          I am sure the same holds true with women but I would be interested to know if as many separated women as men date online.

          I have run into numerous men who pretend to be divorced but are separated. So be cautious online.

      2. 7.1.2

        One more thing, your ex’s relief and dating new people immediately says nothing about you.   All that tells me is yes, he was definitely on the rebound and it means that he was in panic mode.   Chalk that up to a lesson learned.


        Also one other thing I was thinking… Are you drawn to emotionally unavailable people?   People who are emotionally unavailable don’t attach emotionally and are much worse at having a real break up conversation.   Signs are having one foot on the gas pedal, one on the brake, running hot and cold, future faking (promises about the future followed by emotional withdrawal), intense pace at the beginning only to check out, early sex, either never been in a long term relationship or recently got out of one.

        1. Kay

          This me in a nutshell. I’ve had the same exact sorts of dating relationships and break-offs or, rather, disappearances. I will say quite honestly I have NEVER had a man break up with me. I had one say, “We should take a few weeks, but never heard from him again. I knew that was going to happen, though, sadly.

          I am a classic “anxious attacher” who is attracted to/drawn to “avoidant attachers.” Avoidants come on very strong (foot on the gas pedal) and seem to pull you into the relationship very strongly… at first. But, there is always a moment he will screechingly put his foot on the break. You know it when it happens, but we make excuses for it, tell ourselves we’re imaging things. Maybe they call you later in the evening, when they know you’re asleep and won’t answer. Maybe they skip a day texting you. Maybe they make a snarky comment at lunch. Maybe they ask you an inquisitve question or make a strange observation like, “You always wear your hair like that. I just noticed…” But, it means they’re questioning their desire to be in this or to be with you and the fade/disappearance will follow, without a doubt.

          I had an unhealthy seven year off and on relationship with a man like this because of how strongly he comes on at first, fades when things become too intense and disappears. And, because I am anxious (ie, need to feel validation from the person I am dating/know love to or believe love always disappears, so accept it as status quo) I would reach out and beg him to talk to me or tell me why he was fading or not showing me the level of committent I felt was the next obvious step. It was an awful, unhealthy dance we did every few years. I finally introduced anxous/avoidant attachment to him and he was stunned that were were prime examples. We haven’t attempted to connect in any way since that conversation.

          I dated another man recently who showed classic signs of an avoidant. He only asked me on week day dates. He only texted. He repeated stories (as if he had forgotten he’d said them before/was saying the same stories to other women he was seeing/wasn’t moving the depth of our conversations forward). He rarely broached deep topics of conversation. It took eight dates before I mentioned my mther has Alzhemer’s and he said “So does my dad!” Eight dates! I knew then, something was very wrong.

          I did some research into myself as an anxious and into avoidants and their hot-to-cold romantic style (which –while I respect Evan’s opinion — the majority of are men).

          I’ve dated off and on for ten years. The last boyfried I had, ten years ago went *poof* without a word… after five years of dating. Ignored my calls. Never said so much as “goodbye.”   And, I had to do some education and soul searching recently   in order to understand that I do, subconsciously, attract to avoidant men. And it’s a skill one has to hone in order to a) Note, immediately, if a man is hitting/seducing that button that attracts to an avoidant and 2) Note the signs and his behavior very early on so you can end the relationship quickly when you see the signs.

          An avoidant will never be anything but an avoidant (without therapy, which many refuse because they are comfortable in their avoidance), so it’s best to get out as soon as you see them.

      3. 7.1.3

        Being separated is a big deal, and changes my evaluation of your relationship greatly. There’s a reason many women won’t date a separated man, and now you know why that is; they are simply not as ready as they think they are. I’ve read about the woman who is the “interim” woman while a guy is going through a divorce, I know I’ve even been her.

        Sounds like you are moving forward now, best of luck.

  8. 8

    Hi, Evan. Sonia here.

    Thanks for answering my question.  This was the part that helped me the most: “…a man who can’t break up like an adult is not the kind of man you want in your life for the next 40 years. Imagine being in a marriage where confrontation is avoided at all costs, where silent treatments are the norm, where the fear of expressing your feelings reigns.”  

    For the rest of the response, I felt as though you were a little rough on me. I hope you don’t mind me outline why:
    1. I didn’t mean to take ‘men’ to task, as opposed to women. But I only date men. So, 100% of my breakup experiences have been with men. And as a woman, I’ve never cheated, done the ‘fade away’ or the like, so I can’t relate to these women you speak of who are inconsiderate when breaking up. I was simply trying to understand people who have trouble with open, honest breakups better.  I don’t want to think they’re all unfit relationship material if that’s simply not the case.
    2. There was zero empathy for the fact that I’ve never had a man/person give me a respectful breakup (which has been extremely hurtful  – over and over again), or understanding as to why this might confuse me and make me think respectful breakups are an unrealistic expectation I need to let go of.

    3. You said: “The answer is not to “remain one step ahead” of your boyfriend at all times, but rather to choose a boyfriend who presents a secure attachment style, talks about his feelings, and lets you know where he stands.  Not surprisingly, that’s on YOU to change your decision-making mechanisms, not on all men to change their communication styles on your behalf.” I think I demonstrated my ability to move on from a boyfriend who was a bad communicator by deciding to break up with him within a month of him pulling away. I didn’t cling on, sweep it under the carpet for months or years or expect him to change.  But it wasn’t until he lost interest in me that I had any sense of his ‘attachment style’ or inability to handle problems in our relationship like a mature adult.  Up until that point, he was an extremely loving boyfriend in every way.
    Anyway, Evan, I don’t want you to think I don’t appreciate you answering my question, because I really do. It was helpful. But I also felt the need to let you know I found your response a little cold. I hope that’s okay with you. Thanks again for all the great work you do.  

    1. 8.1

      It seems like you were looking for confirmation or validation based on your questions that closed out your letter.   I think that, as time passes, you will find his response more helpful when the sting you felt of him being too “rough” on you wears off.   Someone once told me “the truth will set you free, but it’ll piss you off first”.   Lol.   Since then, I felt I’ve always gotten honest advice if it pissed me off a little bit at the beginning.


      Finally, the part that you quoted from his response should NOT have been the part of his response that helped you the most.   Again, that suggests you were looking for validation, and no one is served well in the long run if that’s what they’re looking for.

      1. 8.1.1

        Wow, Chance. Couldn’t disagree with everything you said more. Guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

        1. Chance

          Ok, let’s say that you weren’t looking for confirmation, then.   However, the advice Evan gave about choosing men, going forward, is one of only two things you can possibly do to address this problem.   The other thing is to work on feeling comfortable enough with yourself to the point that you don’t even care how men approach breaking off a relationship.   Not saying you’re insecure… It’s hard for anyone to get to the point of being this comfortable with themselves.   I don’t think that being trying to be more cognizant of potential warning signs

        2. Chance

          sorry, posted too soon.   As I was saying, I don’t think being more cognizant of the potential warning signs that a man might be pulling away is really something you should concern, much less stress yourself out, with.   If a man can’t break up with you cleanly, that’s his problem – not yours.   No sense in spending your energy constantly keeping your finger on the pulse of the relationship.   If you aren’t getting the relationship you want, then you break up with him (just like you did) and not worry for one second why he couldn’t just “man up” by breaking up with you.


          I had the slow fade pulled on me a couple of times, but who cares? I sure don’t.   You like yourself, right?   Good, then breaking it off clean with him just gives you the opportunity to get back out there and find someone who likes you as much as you do.

        3. Shaukat

          “I didn’t mean to take ‘men’ to task as opposed to women…I was simply trying to understand people who have trouble with open, honest break ups better.”

          Sonia, this is what you asked in your original letter:

          I have a question for you: Why can’t men break up with a woman?

          I’m sorry, but I don’t see how anyone could infer from the above statement that you were simply trying to ‘understand people’ better. You were making a baseless generalization based on personal anecdotes which, btw, is something a man who has dated women can do as well.

          Also, Chance is right. The statement you took away as the most helpful was not the most informative part of the response to your question.

        4. Sonia

          Shaukat, Evan’s whole coaching practice revolves around understanding men better. Not understanding people better. Understanding men better – so that women can have more success in dating and relationships with men.

          Evan often outlines fundamental differences between men and women, especially when it comes to communication. I thought this may be one of those occasions – that many men’s inability to break up respectfully might be a bit of a weakness I need to be more understanding of. This is actually the opinion of a lot of my friends and family (both men and women) – that men have a tendency to avoid confrontation at all costs, and that’s okay.

          As it turned out, Evan said two things: 1) That it’s not okay. That it is, in fact, a sign their relationship skills aren’t up to snuff for me or anybody else (except those willing to accept a certain level of dysfunction in their relationship). That I don’t need to lower my standards in the communication department – I need to find a man who’s a good communicator. And 2) That there’s no difference between men and women in this instance – both can be terrible at breaking up.



    2. 8.2

      Sonia-   Dating is hazardous to one’s emotions, plain and simple, and Evan’s advice is helpful for dealing with those hazards.   His recent email talks about women who try to figure on the first date if a guy is going to be your husband, big mistake.   Finding your mate takes a huge investment of time and  emotions (not to mention money).   You simply will not find your mate without investing in the process and there is no guarantee that your investment will not include loss.     In fact, loss is inevitable.   And I would appreciate Evan’s direct style.   Furthermore, sh!tty breakup style is not specific to a particular gender.

      1. 8.2.1

        I agree, Scott. It takes time to get to know someone. There are no guarantees. And it’s impossible to safeguard yourself from getting hurt. The only thing you can do is move on from relationships that aren’t making you happy. Better to have loved and lost. It’s all good!

    3. 8.3

      Sonia, I must take you to task on something.   I foresee you either getting mad, or denying its merit, and shrugging it off.   But these are your words.


      You said,   This was the part that helped me the most: “…a man who can’t break up like an adult is not the kind of man you want in your life for the next 40 years. Imagine being in a marriage where confrontation is avoided at all costs, where silent treatments are the norm, where the fear of expressing your feelings reigns.”


      First, I have to say that it would be completely understandable that this “helped” you, because it totally relives you of responsibility.   It is just worthless men, not anything you do, that causes this to happen.


      But wait…then you said this.   2. There was zero empathy for the fact that I’ve never had a man/person give me a respectful breakup (which has been extremely hurtful  — over and over again), or understanding as to why this might confuse me and make me think respectful breakups are an unrealistic expectation I need to let go of.


      Men never ever break up with you directly.   Ever.   That was your words.   Will you now say that, “well I mean most guys.” or in some other way, try to retract that?   If not, and you shouldn’t since you were so adamant about it, then there is a simple concept at work here.   That concept is the fact that YOU are the common denominator.   You have to own that.   Logic dictates that it is you that are doing something to cause this.   That thing isn’t just making them fade away, it is making them leave you.   Their leaving you is the issue.   And whatever it is that you do, causes them to fade away.


      Don’t get me wrong.   I am not saying that there is no value in you, or that you are just a horrible person, but there IS something about you that is making men pull away, and always in a silent fashion.


      There are a few theories as to what is going on here, that I have thought about since I first saw your post, not long after it was posted.   First, I thought that you and the men see your relationships very differently.   What you do may be something you are completely unaware of, and if somebody suggests it, you would likely deny it, flat out.   Here’s the thing.   You may be somewhat of a relationship bully.   You might do whatever you have to to get your way, such as being passive aggressive, or even shout, or belittle the guys.   In the end, they give you your way.   They become like Evan noted, where he walks around on egg shells to keep you happy.   The result of course is that you think everything is fine in the relationship.   Your bullying is “just a fight,” and relationships involve some fighting, right?   You see what you are doing as just normal stuff that goes on in all relationships, and of course since all of your relationships have had it, you of course see it as normal.   You don’t see what you are doing.   So when the guy has had enough, he fades away, or poofs.   They want no part of the drama that they believe will ensue if they tell you to your face.


      A variation on the above is that you also do things that the man really appreciates.   Maybe when you aren’t in a bad mood, you are on the polar opposite side of it.   You make him feel wonderful to be around you because you are so sweet during these good times.   Or maybe you are very pretty, at least to these guys, and maybe you are great in bed.   The idea here is that while you have a Mr Hyde side to you that makes the men leave, you have some quality or qualities that make it hard for them to do so.   So they need time to think, and then actually take that first step away from you.   Maybe this process for them is slow, and the whole time, they really aren’t sure which way they will go.   By the time they are totally sure, they have already done the fade away, so it seems pointless, to make it official.


      I could sit here all night and come up with possible scenarios, but the point here is not to guess exactly what you are doing wrong.   It is to point out that in some way, there is something about your personality, and or, your relationship style, that rubs men the wrong way.   This means YOU must find out what it is, and address it, or you will continue to have this problem.


      I mean you no ill will, and this was not meant to pick on you.   I want to help you, and I think the last thing you need to hear is that it is just the guy’s fault, that all these guys suck, and you just pick sucky guys, which allows you to ignore that you have a problem that you need to address.


      A quote that I think is quite relevant to this topic is this.     “We tend to judge others by their actions, but judge ourselves by our intentions.”


      You are judging these guys, but you don’t know what was in their mind.   At the same time, you will see your actions differently.   This is why it is not unreasonable at all to think that there is something you are doing, but you are totally unaware of it.   If somebody interviewed all of these guys as to what it was like to be in a relationship with you, it might shock you, and you would say that it is as if they are talking about somebody else.


      Good luck to you.




      1. 8.3.1

        JemmLee, Evan is the expert here – not you. That’s why I wrote in to him. I was more than prepared for him to administer some though love and tell me there was something I needed to change if that’s how he felt.

        My first instinct in every aspect of my life is always to find out what I can do differently to get a better result, as the only person I can change is myself. You don’t think I’ve spent a significant amount of time and energy – probably more than what would be considered healthy – analyzing what I might be doing wrong in relationships, and implementing any necessary changes? I’m extremely tough on myself.  Other people seem to be able to just shrug off a breakup and get busy meeting someone new – without stopping to consider what they might have done to contribute to the demise of their relationship – while, for me, the idea of making the same mistake twice kills me.

        Sometimes, it reaches a point where you need to concede, ‘I’m doing the best I can.’ There was only one thing Evan suggested I do differently – and that was to choose men who were good communicators and not waste time in relationships with men who couldn’t be open and honest. Done!

        As for your elaborate presumptions and hurtful insults, I’m not even going to go there.



        1. Sonia

          Sorry ‘tough’ love. Dah! Typos.

        2. JennLee


          Maybe we have found what causes men to never break up with you face to face.   Maybe you have a thin skin.   See, I never insulted you.   I gave tough love.   I never said that I knew for sure what the issue was,   I gave possible examples of what you might be doing.


          We are still at the fact that you are the common denominator.   All of us have had guys poof on us.   Most of us don’t have every single guy we date poof on us.


          As to self analysis, no matter how much time and effort we devote to it, we rarely get it 100% right, which is why therapists, and dating coaches like Evan have a job.   Most of us put a lot of time and effort into self analysis.   Yet, we all still have issues.   It is far easier for somebody on the outside looking in to see.   They have a better perspective of how we act, and what we do.


          The truth is, if all of the men you date do the same thing.   Break up with you in the same way, or for the same reason, then the common denominator is you.   All of us have been through many relationships, short and long, and usually, the reasons the men break up with us are varied.   With one, we are too clingy, with another we are too independent.   With one, we are too successful, with another there is a conflict in the desire to have children, or not.   With another, our schedules are not in sync.   With another, we want to go out too much, and with another, he just met somebody he liked more.   With another, he got tired of waiting for sex.   He wanted it by date 3.   Etc..etc…etc..     Some of them fade away, or poof, and others tell you at an end of a date, that it is over, and tell you why.   Others tell you on the phone when you call to make plans, or at a minimum, send you a text message, or an email.


          There are many ways to look at an issue, but again, the common thing here is that not one guy has ever told you why he was leaving.   He just faded away.   Combine that with your being hurt by my message, my guess is that you have a very thin skin.   That’s not a crime.   Some people are more easily hurt than others.   People who are more easily hurt tend to be a bit more dramatic that others.   They don’t see it that way, but what they see and what others see is often two different things. This would logically explain why guys don’t confront you with the fact that they are leaving.   They expect drama.   Is this true?   How can anyone know?   The only people that know for sure are the guys who are leaving you.   The rest of us can only guess, based on what you tell us.


          The fact is, I was not insulting you.   I was trying to help you.   I wouldn’t waste my time writing that post if I wasn’t trying to help.   If that hurt you, there is nothing I can do about it.   I stated what I saw in what you wrote.


          Once again, good luck to you.

        3. Sonia

          Thanks for your musings but, once again, you couldn’t be more wrong. I’m  the most thick-skinned person I know. Comes from working in a creative field – you get incredibly good at handling criticism and rejection. If there were an Olympic event for handling criticism and rejection, I’d win a gold medal. I’m able to take a long, hard look at myself better than anyone I know. Since you don’t know me at all, why don’t you just take my word for it on this occasion.

        4. Karmic Equation



          Re-read all YOUR replies to the comments that opposed or challenged you instead of validating you.


          There’s no arguing with you. You’re right. Everyone else is wrong. Because you’re open to learning, but everyone else is still wrong.


          Guys who poofed on you probably got tired of trying to communicate with you and having you shut them down because they disagreed with you.


          You’re definitely not thin-skinned. You’re tone-deaf and stubborn. You probably see yourself as simply having strong opinions and capable of expressing yourself assertively. When in fact you’re closeminded and don’t want to discuss anything that doesn’t validate your own opinions.

        5. selena

          @Sonia.. hang in there…when you least expect it, Mr Right for you will show up…stay encouraged!!!

      2. 8.3.2

        JemmLee, you nailed this one. I agree that the poster probably is acting in ways she doesn’t realize, that is generating this result. I know someone who does this, and it’s exactly what you said. She thinks she’s kind, sweet and extremely giving; she comes across as controlling, demanding and unwilling to listen to anything outside what she wants.

      3. 8.3.3

        JennLee- She didn’t say that every single guy she has ever been with has broken up with her.   It could be that she has been in relationships with men and when SHE was the one to end things, she did it face to face.

        So the common denominator factor is not 100% correct, as you are only addressing the relationships where the guy ended it.   And that is what she is writing about, the relationships where the it was the male who ended it.

        It seems that you assumed that she has never been in a relationship where SHE broke up with the guy, based on the fact that she ONLY addressed the relationships that were ended by the guy.

        If you had her complete relationship history, it would probably include the relationships where she was the one to end it.   And she wasn’t writing to ask Evan “Every time I break up with a guy, I do it like this — Why ?”   Most of us understand why the relationship WE ended didn’t work, after all we were the ones to end it.

        So the variety you speak of could come from the relationships that SHE ended, but she wasn’t writing to Evan about that.

        I also I notice that there was a bit of a pile on, that she only asked why MEN do this, and that was taken to mean that she believes ONLY men do this.

        Well as a woman, why would she ask what her own gender does something, if she doesn’t date women ?

        If I called Car Talk radio and asked “Why do cars always seems to break down 2 days after warranty expired” I wouldn’t be saying that other major appliances don’t do this also, but it just means that my question is directed this narrowly, because that is the scope of the show, and that is the particular problem that I want to discuss at the time.


        You could be right, about the OP, but I have noticed that you NEVER criticize males at all, and even defend some pretty bad behavior.

        You have defended men who go on misogynist rants (with out even reading their entire post) and you defended men who lie on their online profiles, including their desire to have children and justify it by saying that “I should be enough for her”. You seem to think that telling a women you were “open” to having children, when you had no intentions of ever having children was perfectly OK.


        Based on my observation that you have plenty of criticism for women and seem to think men can do no wrong, I could assume that you let men walk all over you in a relationship, and try and make yourself into whatever you think they want you to be, and lose yourself in a relationship.   OR, I could assume that since this blog is mostly for women, that you direct your advice at women.

        After all, the men rarely come here to ASK for advice, they usually come here to give it, or they come here to tell women that we all suck.

        BTW, I have a pretty varied r’ship history, and I still get the “you are the common denominator” schtick.   I’m in a relationship now, and I didn’t do anything DRAMATICALLY different that what I had been doing.   There was no big “AHA” moment, there was no big epiphany, I didn’t make any big behavioral change, I just found someone who I accepts me for WHO I AM, who I can accept for WHO HE IS.   Sometimes, it’s just a matter of time.   Sometimes it’s just really a matter of finding your match.


        1. Karmic Equation

          Sonia’s exact words from her letter were:

          Looking back, I don’t think I’ve had one boyfriend actually man up and tell me the relationship was over for him.”

        2. Sonia

          ‘Sometimes, it’s just a matter of time.   Sometimes it’s just really a matter of finding your match.’

          SparklingEmerald, I’m giving you a standing ovation!

          Also, thank you for this (below) – not only was it spot on, but it totally cracked me up! 🙂
          “I also I noticed there was a bit of a pile on that she only asked why MEN do this, and that was taken to mean that she believes ONLY men do this.  Well as a woman, why would she ask what her own gender does if she doesn’t date women?  If I called Car Talk radio and asked, “Why do cars always seem to break down 2 days after the warranty expires?”, I wouldn’t be saying that other major appliances don’t do this also…’

        3. Chance

          ” Why can’t men break up with a woman? “


          SE,   I know how much you and  Clare hate generalizations, but it appears you two seemed to have missed this one from the LW.   Was this an oversight?



    4. 8.4

      Not my blog and only my opinion (more of which, LOL, I’ve stated elsewhere in comments here —   with a particular focus on how, if it’d been clear that this was an exhortation as to how to do better in the future, as opposed to sounding like a condemnation of how you’d behaved in the past, it might have read very differently), but I think this was an excellent, excellent critique.


      (((hugs))) to you, if you would like them.   You’re not the only woman in a culture with our societal norms WRT how it’s “proper” for men & women to communicate (don’t get me started on the whole “avoidant” thing (has this always been a thing? has it always been this bad?   has technology enabled it to some extent?   So many questions)) who’s experienced some horrible version of this.

  9. 9

    I’m a woman and my method of breaking up is silently. But that’s only when the men don’t just get it that I don’t want to work on that relationship anymore. Also, I dealt with men who loves to finger point you and blame you for anything,everything. So I save the hassle of an unpleasantry. At least my last memory of the relationship isn’t horrific. And I can tell people that we just grew apart..and the rest is history.

  10. 10

    Sonia I think you are a smart woman and absolutely did what most women would do.   I think Evan was giving you matter of fact advice on how to try and choose better men but it is not that simple.   He should have been a bit more empathetic but he is here to give advice on how to be strong, pull up your big girl panties and move on (which I might add you did do very graciously and he should have acknowledged).   I have been in the same situation with a long distance relationship of someone I went to high school with (he was 3 yrs older).   We had many mutual acquaintances.   He would call every day and bring gifts to me and my kids and after 4 months just vanished with no explanation.   I never thought it would go anywhere but just out of friendship at least he could have said, the distance is too much, not worth pursuing.   I absolutely do believe it is a character flaw and a cowards way out.   If someone I was dating and disappared on (which I would never do)  had reached out to me after months together I would most certainly give them a reason.   I have faded away after 2-3 dates and that is reasonable but after months together and having an emotional connection I do believe an explanation is owed to the other person for closure.

    1. 10.1

      I’ve walked away, more than once. Not proud of it – it’s who I was at the time.


      Every time it was because she wasn’t worth the headache that I knew she would cause if I were to have the “breakup conversation”. And if we’re through anyway, what motivation could I have to tell her anything?


      This is why some guys “fade”. It’s not worth the headache they know they’ll get from her (because they know how she is).


      Other guys fade cause they lack the ability to act otherwise.


      Funny thing is, I figured all this out from the women who faded on me.


  11. 11

    answer is simple, men only break up with women who they don’t think are worth having a relationship with, and women who aren’t worth having a relationship are usually women that don’t deserve a man’s respect. most men will only break up with a woman if they think she’s garbage, because at the end of the day our standards aren’t that high, just look nice and be nice.

    1. 11.1

      Rawr, did you just pop out of your cave to say hello? 😉

    2. 11.2

      The question isn’t why breakups happen , it’s why do people break up in a passive aggressive, rude, or impersonal way .

    3. 11.3

      “because at the end of the day our standards aren’t that high, just look nice and be nice.”


      Please.   “Not high” and “simplistically stated so as to *appear* simple, despite enormous logistical, financial, & emotional demands & complications” are — as I’ve learned over years of dealing with men and hearing “We’re simple creatures” and “Our standards aren’t that high” (haaaaahahahahaha — the nerdier & more secure the man, the more likely he’s jonesing for that homosocial status of having a Kate Upton lookalike on his arm; and even then one of his dudebros is going to call her “fat”, and our dear nerd cares far more about what that dudebro thinks than having an actual relationship with that woman) — two COMPLETELY different things.


      But, as another commenter here has already alluded to, you’ve pretty much missed the discussion’s central point, so I fully expect you to have an equally tenuous grasp on this particular subtopic.   Just thought it might be nice to clarify for anybody else reading.


      You have yourself a nice day.


      1. 11.3.1

        His dude Bros are the people who had his back from day one, and who will continue to have his back til the end of time, through thick and thin. You on the other hand showed up 10+ years late to the party and expect all the best food to have been reserved just for you. This is a recurring theme but one that needs to be understood, if you show up in a man’s life in his 30s and beyond, you will never build a bond superior to the ones he already has, especially if he’s made something of himself. And why would you want a man who’s so spineless and desperate that he’d favor you who he barely knows over people who have been in his life for years and years anyway?

        A man’s puts the most emotional investment into things the younger he is. The more he experiences the world the more he learns to value the people who supported him in the past. To him you are just a stranger, and you will always be a stranger in comparison to people he’s known for most of his life, until you build anything resembling the kind of bond he has with the people in his past that takes time and a record of good behavior, kinda like how you also take time and a good track record to consider someone. I know nobody likes hearing this because they pay Evan good money to ignore or forget things that should be pretty obvious.

    4. 11.4

      Wait, are you saying every single woman who’s had a man break up with them is not worthy of respect? So a man would respect a homeless person like a decent human decent being but he wouldn’t respect a woman? WTF.

  12. 12

    I have read all the comments so far, and I have to say that I disagree with everyone who says that sometimes (from the 1st to the 3rd date or so) it is okay to do the fade away as long as it is in the beginning.


    That’s VERY hypocritical to me. I’ve have seen many people first hand as well as read the stories on this site of both men and women who thought the first few dates were great so when that man or women disappeared on them, they were hurt and felt insulted.


    Sure it’s not the same as being with a person who does the fade away after months of dating, but it is still rude behavior, and I think everyone who thinks differently needs to stop pointing fingers at Sonia’s ex and look at themselves, it is always easier to judge others and not see that we ourselves do the same thing,  as JennLee gave the example of with her friends in #6.


    Sonia, I do sympathize with you, but I wish you would have asked a different question. I wish you would have asked Evan why do people -because both men and women do it- say:

    > You are beautiful/sexy

    > I love you

    > I never met anyone like you

    > I’m so glad I met you

    > I think I’m falling for you

    > I can’t wait to see/be with you

    > I love talking to/spending time with you

    > Your (insert whatever you feel insecure about) doesn’t matter to me, you are perfect/I love you just the way you are

    And the list goes on and on. I wonder why people say these things when they know deep down they don’t mean them. Yes! People do love hearing them, but only when the person saying those “pretty  words” to us, actually mean them! I was always taught that words have power, so you shouldn’t say such powerful phrases like “I love you” unless you meant it.


    Is it done to placate? If so, why? In the scenario given by  Evan above, I have witnessed with my own eyes and ears  dozens of  women and men saying such things countless times to their   boyfriends or girlfriends, then  hours later brazenly   flirt with another guy or girl like they were single.  Sometimes, they tell the person they love them, then they will be   dumping the girlfriend or boyfriend hours later. This the what I don’t understand about situations like yours Sonia.

    1. 12.1

      @ Gabri’el #12
      “I have read all the comments so far, and I have to say that I disagree with everyone who says that sometimes (from the 1st to the 3rd date or so) it is okay to do the fade away as long as it is in the beginning.”

      We’ll have to agree to disagree so. I’d even go as far as to say that in certain situations the fade-away can be a kind way of breaking up as it can preserve the other person’s ego.

      “That’s VERY hypocritical to me.”

      I didn’t say that it’s unfair when women do it too so, eh, where’s the hypocrisy? When girls fade me away at the early stages I don’t get upset or take insult as I know that’s how dating works. If I did get upset, then I wouldn’t be ready to date.

      “I’ve have seen many people first hand as well as read the stories on this site of both men and women who thought the first few dates were great so when that man or women disappeared on them, they were hurt and felt insulted.”

      Why were they hurt and insulted after someone disappeared after just a few dates? Were they promised anything on those first few dates? Were they lied to?

      Gabri’el, perhaps the people you’ve seen first hand need to learn how to cultivate *justified* expectations in dating. On the first few dates no-one is owed anything except basic human decency and courtesy. Thinking you are *owed* a breakup speech at that point seems extremely naïve to me.

      Sure it’s not the same as being with a person who does the fade away after months of dating, but it is still rude behavior”

      I suppose we just have different interpretations of what constitutes rude behavior.

      “Sonia, I do sympathize with you, but I wish you would have asked a different question. I wish you would have asked Evan why do people -because both men and women do it- say:
      > You are beautiful/sexy
      > I love you
      > I never met anyone like you

      “I wonder why people say these things when they know deep down they don’t mean them…Is it done to placate? If so, why”?

      There’s a simpler explanation: they’re trying to create a good impression and establish rapport so as to achieve their own goals/motivations, whether that be sex, companionship or simple human connection.

      Gabri’el, a general axiom to remember when dating is that talk is cheap. People say all sorts of things often with no meaning or intention. What matters is their behavior over extended periods of time.

      1. 12.1.1

        “…a general axiom to remember when dating is that talk is cheap. People say all sorts of things often with no meaning or intention.”

        Yeah, like marriage vows.

      2. 12.1.2

        Tom, I think in each example that I heard, the girl really liked the guy. They e-mailed back and forth all day, then talked on the phone everyday for hours until the first date.


        This is way I agree completely with the dating sage Karmic Equation (^_^), you shouldn’t do those things with someone whom you met online until after you meet them first. 1 or 2 quick phone conversations to set up the date, not talking on the phone all night.


        Because by talking on the phone everyday for hours, you are building a bond with a fantasy, it’s not real until you meet.


        I can completely understand not caring if a  person you had no emotional investment to  did the fade away on you, but it is different if you really like the person -which for online dating means that you are really attracted to the person-   and add the ingredients of having good long conversations everyday on the phone; Of course you are going to be hurt if the person disappeared on you after seeing you in person.

      3. 12.1.3

        Here’s my two cents Tom.    Breaking up to me implies you are in some sort of committed relationship.   If you have only been on one two or even three dates with someone you met online that is not a relationship and under most circumstances it does not warrant a breakup.   I mention online because people just don’t have the same investment in people they meet online I mean you don’t know them?   I think this rule applies whether you sleep with the man or not.   If you sleep with a man you don’t know that we’ll that early on you do so at the risk of your own feelings.   Now slow fading and just ignoring that depends.   Sometimes both people do it so if a guy is not texting me or wanting to hang out after a few dates and I’m not interested either great.   I think the situation is different when it’s clear one person is still very interested and you are not.   I don’t think it’s fair to just ignore that persons texts and hope they figure it out just tell them you are not interested what’s the harm?   That early on just say hey nice meeting you but I did not feel a connection or I met someone else or whatever and then if the person does not get it then ignore (many men are very persistent).   But telling someone who is clearly contacting you with interest that you are not interesting to me is just a matter of respect no?   Take dating out of the picture   it’s just rude to sit there and ignore someone who is texting you!   I mean maybe I was raised different but I just don’t treat people like that?   Can you explain?

    2. 12.2

      Gabri’el, I didn’t ask this question because I already knew the answer.

      Again, I can’t relate to it. Whenever I say things like this, I mean them – and I don’t change my mind the next day/week/month. But I know people usually say these things  because  they  mean them in the moment. Doesn’t mean they’ll still feel the same way in the next moment.

      Although I’m a wordy person, I’ve learned in dating that actions speak a hell of a lot louder than words. Believe the actions – not the words.  As   Tom10 said:  ‘Talk is cheap… What matters is their behavior over extended periods of time.’

    3. 12.3

      I have done the “fade away” after a date or two many times, but only under specific circumstances. If it takes her more than a day to respond to a follow-up, or if she responds with a “I’m pretty busy this week but let’s keep in touch” or the like, I will never contact her again even if/when she does respond (and a lot of the times she eventually does). I know many men who will act as I do.


      Men are (and should be) sensitive to spending resources on situations that aren’t yielding. I know many men who are like me, and as such I have a hunch that many “disappearance” stories are of similar stripe. Momentum and enthusiasm is critical with online dating as at the end of it all, you’re still strangers in those first stages.

      1. 12.3.1

        “or if she responds with a “I’m pretty busy this week but let’s keep in touch” or the like, I will never contact her again even if/when she does respond (and a lot of the times she eventually does). ”

        I can’t help but wonder if you are cutting off some opportunities.   These women who say  “I’m pretty busy this week but let’s keep in touch”  may well be actually busy!   So you would not return a woman’s text or call if she followed up a week later after explaining how busy she would be?    What if her  quarter is ending at work or she  has a major meeting or work project impending?   What if they have family obligations or visitors that will tie them up for the coming week?   It sounds to me that you are being way to sensitive in the early stage of dating, far to soon to judge someone’s interest.   Taking situations   so personally   in the early stages of dating is not a recipe for success.  

        1. Tom10

          @ SAL9000 #12.3
          “if she responds with a “I’m pretty busy this week but let’s keep in touch” or the like, I will never contact her again”
          @  Josie  #12.3.1
          “So you would not return a woman’s text or call if she followed up a week later after explaining how busy she would be?”
          I’m with SAL9000 on this one. “I’m pretty busy this week but let’s keep in touch” is usually a woman’s polite way of stalling for time so that they can think of a way to shrug you off, or it’s a polite fade-away where she’s hoping that you pick up the hint in the meantime. If I was her dream guy she would ensure there was no room for misinterpretation and would make  sure not to send ambiguous messages.
          Now, if she was genuinely busy for a week with work or family, she would book a specific date/weekend in advance of that occasion to retain your interest. I.e.: “I’m busy this week as my family are in town, but would you be free the weekend after?”
          In that case, I would give her the benefit of the doubt and reply to  her if she comes back once her event is over.

        2. SparklingEmerald

          “I’m pretty busy this week” was my standard fade away line.   He recognizes it as such, and wisely does not pursue it any further.

          When I really like a guy, I don’t look for excuses for why I can’t be with him, I look for ways to spend time together.   “I’m busy” is the female equivalent to when a man says “I’ll call you”.

        3. SAL9000

          So how many people do you know feel dating, even online dating, is a rich, enjoyable and rewarding experience? Well, now you know at least one person. So how did I get here? I ONLY communicate with and date women who demonstrate near total consistency, enthusiasm and politeness, and in my volumes of experience a near perfect indicator of that is communication. Let’s take date followup responses from two women who are equally interested in seeing me again (these are real BTW):


          1)   Response after two days:   I have a busy week, can you call me next week?


          2) Response the next morning:   I have a big work deadline on Friday and I’m going rafting over the weekend, but how about next week after I get back, say a hike after work?


          Both of these require the same effort but only one is a good predictor of a maturity, sincerity, self-awareness, etc. The other? It’s a good predictor of the exact opposite.


          So yes, I am most definitely “sensitive” and “judgmental” when it comes to these factors, and filter quickly and harshly, and my dating experience has been rewarded accordingly. So,   yes, I am “cutting off some opportunities” but then again no, not really ;).



  13. 13


    Number 1 : Wow this site has some intense-blogger-people. There has been like 41k responses since yesterday…

    Anyway, Clare you are insightful and I truly appreciate your response about “what is the psychological profile of fall-of-the-face-of-the-earth-breakup-people”.

    He DID show some of your signs to look out for:

    Short with texts– This doesn’t bother me. I am a travel road warrior with work on a flight every week so I was Thankful for short texts.

    Didnt plan elaborate thought-out dates: Did not bother me either because I was exhausted all week from traveling!

    Not super romantic. NP with me– one of my favorite comedians is super synical Sarah Silverman.

    Have past hurts that he hasn’t resolved. YES !!! He was divorced for 5 years and still talked about crap from his marriage.

    Anyway the the next time someone is super simpatico with me but TALKS a lot about is ex- wife ( even after 5 yrs) It’s in the NOT-good column.

    Seriously I do appreciate your comments! I am being a little silly but your comments make sense. I am just not the normal person when it come to guy interactions. I dont get my feelings hurt very easily so I think I miss the signs.

    Thanks again!

    1. 13.1


      my boyfriend is more romantic thsn I am, in fact it’s a standing joke in our relationship that he loves me more than I love hin.   It’s astonishing to me still that he  is so consistent, kind, thoughtful, more so than I am.   I’m the one that has had to learn to be more demonstrative.

      the funny thing, I realise now that our relationship is not that unusual.   Most couples do love each other and look out for each other and as far as thry can accommodate each othrt

      1. 13.1.1

        [tech woes]…. And as far as they can accommodate each other.   It’s not a competition or one person chasing the other down or trying to get them to change and be better.   There’s no need for it.

        It feels bad to lose a relationship, even a lesser one, but see it as a stepping stone to better things.   You’ll be grateful one day that it didn’t work out, insofar as you think about previous relationships at all.   I never do except to wonder what I was thinking.   And the ones I treated badly I hope things worked out well for them  too.

    2. 13.2

      Christy it sounds like you also would fit into Clares example of   bad boyfriend/girlfirnd from your comments.

      You like short text, you have a past hurt from a relationship (though to be fair, you may be smart enough to not mention it to a new guy), you say you don’t have normal male/female interactions (what does that even men??? Being a good girlfriend or just good to someone you like, isn’t something you have to learn, it should come natural… sounds like a HUGE red flag to me), and of course like most women, you don’t plan romantic dates you only wait for the guy to do all the planning, paying, so all the pressure is on his shoulder, while all you do is show up and wait to be impressed, if he can’t jump through your hoops and balance the ball on his nose good enough with what he planned, for the first few dates, you dump him and say next!

      The next two examples that Clare gave you didn’t mention, but I’ll go out on a limb and assume that you like all women fall into this catergory also. No romantic gestures and unwilling to leave their comfort zone to do something new.

      Christy, you most likely don’t do anything romantic for a guy in the beginning, you like most women only look to recieve during the first few dates and the first few weeks of dating. Sadly, many of the things aren’t even considered romantic, they are just normal human interaction, but most women don’t call, text, or even invite out, they wait for the man to do it first.

      So as far as romantic gestures, you want them from a guy you like, but what does he get… like most women, I’m assuming you feel that him being with you should be enough for him. Flowers, cards, etc, are all nice, but most men don’t even get the simple gesture of a Good morning text if he doesn’t contact the women first.

      I am acutually glad that Evan responded the way that he did, because I have seen women do the all kinds of one sided behavoir, all in the name of courtship.

  14. 14

    Men do break up in a respectful way. Real men are actually capable of ending a relationship in a manner that doesn’t destroy either party and allows for civil discourse in later run ins. Real men will answer your questions respectfully when when you want to know why. They don’t do this because you’re a woman or because you were a girlfriend. They do it because that’s how you behave toward other humans in general; forthright, honest and respectful; and they do it even if the other person doesn’t offer them the same. Stop dating betas. Stop dating boys. Age doesn’t make someone an adult, it makes them an age.

    1. 14.1

      “Stop dating betas?”   Who says betas don’t break up  respectfully?

      1. 14.1.1

        It’s not about “betas”, and a pox on whoever decided to introduce the Greek alphabet into an ongoing culture-wide gender psychology discussion with no apparent working comprehension of either.

        It’s about passive, conflict-avoidant people with limited communication skills — who still feel as though they are nonetheless entitled to a relationship for as long as they want it to last with no apparent concern as to how their own relationship-relevant personal skill deficits will affect the people they’re dating — not being willing to break up respectfully.


      2. 14.1.2

        That parenthetical was supposed to say “Of course if you want to call those people ‘betas’, you’re certainly entitled to do so.”)


        /edit function

  15. 15

    marymary: Thank you for your encouraging words. I do not wish bad upon my ex. I hate the way he broke up but I think his actions are very separate from my validation as a person. ( I can only say that now because it has been 6 mos.!) Crazier though .. I finally picked up my ” stuff” that I “left” at his apartment because he apparently never wanted to see me again ….this week! I had to drive 23 miles to a construction job site where he wrapped my things up with 15 lbs of blankets and plastic so it wouldn’t get wet… I looked in the box later and he had stuff in there that wasn’t even mine but super cute …2 pics of flowers and he didn’t give me 2 other things I left. Whatever …we have had very minimal contact and frankly he is too much drama. Seriously men are just as much drama as society depicts women to be. He was WAY more of a DQ than me! Thx again–Keep your marymary going girl!

  16. 16

    I think men edge out the women on this one. Both genders pull the disappearing act rather than have a mature face-to face break-up. I just think men do it more. Why do I say this?   I’ve had both boyfriends and guy friends who readily admit that men are generally TERRIBLE in their treatment of women when it comes to respectfully breaking-up. Sigh.

    My favorite (or least favorite) story was described in Psychology Today (an article on break-up etiquette), a few years ago. A long-term couple was making plans to buy a house together, get married, etc. The woman received an email at work one day saying, in effect, “you are not the woman for me, please collect your things from our apartment”…. Apparently it took this poor gal years to bounce back from this cowardly email break-up.

    1. 16.1

      Wow, that’s awful!

  17. 17

    I also think men fade or disappear more often than women, HOWEVER, I think that is just due to the nature of the male as the pursuer, the female as the responder mode, that many people still follow. It is easier to just “fade” by not calling, it’s a little harder to fade if the other person persists in pursuing.   So I don’t think men are any worse than women in this respect, it’s just the nature of the dating game makes it easier for a man to disappear. (at least in the very, very early stages)


    I think face to face is the only acceptable way to break up when there is an ACTUAL relationship, (as is the case of the OP). However, as heart breaking as it is, to have the amazing disappearing act pulled, after declarations of love, and a long term REAL relationship, there’s nothing to do, but move on.   Eventually the silence, & the absence must be accepted as the wordless breakup.


    I think disappearing or fading is fine after a handful of sexless, no commitment dates.   I really don’t understand why anyone of either gender thinks they are owed ANY type of “break up” speech in that situation, either face to face OR by e-mail, text or phone.   No need to “break up” with someone if you aren’t in a relationship with them.


    In my younger dating days, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, there was no caller ID, and a gal can only say “I’m busy” so many times.   I tried to just “disappear” after one or two dates, but some guys would INSIST on an explanation.   On a few   occasions, I had males I had met IRL, and who got my phone # by stealth,   not take the hint, when I always had other plans.   Finally after just saying, that I wasn’t interested they would demand to know why. So basically, they were expecting a “break up” speech and we had never even gone on a date.


    I have faced men who have behaved VERY badly in the face of rejection.   (Heck, I have gotten nasty-grams from online guys that I never MET, for not answering their e-mails.   Sometimes these nasty-grams came a few hours after their initial e-mail was sent).


    And I must admit that I have behaved badly towards men who’ve rejected me (not lately, but in my youth).


    So keeping in mind the bad behavior I’ve experience and engaged in, I can’t say that I blame people for disappearing rather than having a face to face discussion about it.


    However, a break up e-mail, to someone you were making marriage plans with is over the top !



    1. 17.1

      “I also think men fade or disappear more often than women, HOWEVER, I think that is just due to the nature of the male as the pursuer, the female as the responder mode, that many people still follow. It is easier to just “fade” by not calling, it’s a little harder to fade if the other person persists in pursuing.”


      I disagree, in part.   I think men disappear by not initiating, and women disappear by not responding.   But then, I have seen this in the reverse, women not initiating, and men not responding.   My gut tells me that it is pretty close to equal.

  18. 18

    Just a couple thoughts, that largely run counter to the posts above, but these are my experiences:

    I’ve only once been the one to end a committed relationship, and I didn’t have the option of just disappearing, ’cause there was a ring to give back.   Maybe if I could have avoided that face-to-face conversation I would have wimped out, ’cause God knows it wasn’t fun.

    I’ve only twice had a guy pull the disappearing act.   Once it was in high school, so who can blame him?   He was a 16-year-old boy!   The second time was a 46 year old man, and after he vanished (and after I had a couple weeks to get my own disappointment in check and could speak to him in my big-girl voice) I sent him an email saying I knew I was in no position to demand an explanation, but I’d not had anyone treat me like that before and would really love to know what the hell had changed from his point of view.   Then I got the conversation I’d wanted in the first place:   mature and painfully honest.   Which allowed us to part respectfully instead of having that wall of resentment and avoidance.

    So in my experience, both men and women, at least some of them, have the nerve to break up respectfully.   Hope I don’t get to test that belief again any time soon.

  19. 19

    The one conclusion I arrived at regarding men’s behavior when it comes to dating is: if the only explanation that would make him out to be a decent person is that he is DEAD or in a hospital, then he is not a decent person.


    And once you realize that, it’s really impossible to remain heartbroken over the guy. Angry – yes, but anger only helps you get over him.


    The one thing that usually gets me the most is anger at myself, for ever allowing the situation to happen in the first place. So after all the years of experience, I really do try not to gloss over any and all red flags.


    Not trying to blame the victim here at all, but looking back on your relationship now, Sonia, you probably ARE seeing the signs all wasn’t as well as you thought at the time, right? Again, just going by my own experience: there was always actually something that at the time I chose to ignore because of how much I otherwise liked the guy or wanted to be with him.

  20. 20

    I’m 39 years old and haven’t ever had a man actually break up with me.   They either neglect or emotionally abuse me until I leave them, or they simply disappear.   Sonia’s only mistakes were dating a separated man and asking him why he was pulling away.   When guys pull away, you assume it’s over and start dating other men.   If he won’t talk to you and man up, he’s just wishing you’d get the hint and leave.   Men are cruel.   Just like my most recent ex who supposedly loved me, introduced me to his family at Christmas, and then ghosted on me.   Every time someone disappears like this it hurts the other person so deeply.   How can we ever trust anyone ever again when one day it’s “I love you,” and the next day they’re gone without a word?   The Houdini act is cowardly whenever a man or woman does it.   Stop hurting people if you might want a sane partner someday.   You won’t deserve one if you go around wounding people because you’re so weak and dishonorable that you can break up with someone.

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