Are You Trying to Get Him Back? Maybe You Should Reconsider.

disinterested man

Every day, I get women contacting me for dating coaching. Almost invariably, they’re calling about a guy.

But not just a guy. A guy they’ve got great chemistry with. A guy that makes them weak in the knees. A guy who could be the one… if only he weren’t being so elusive. These days, all he does is text once in awhile and hint at making plans.

It’s almost as if he’s forgotten how amazing that first intense month was.

It’s almost as if he’s acting like he’s not interested in a serious relationship.

It’s almost as if he doesn’t care.

And yet every woman who wants to know the same thing:   How do I get him back?

To which I invariably ask: Why do you want a boyfriend who doesn’t call you, doesn’t communicate with you, doesn’t make you feel special, doesn’t make an effort to show you he cares, doesn’t follow up quickly to see you, and doesn’t indicate in any way that he’s currently interested in an exclusive relationship with you?

“Because of how he makes me FEEL”.

You mean anxious, insecure, needy and depressed?

“Well, not that, exactly. I mean, it’s not like that when we’re together.”

How often are you “together”.

It’s been a few weeks. It’s definitely not like it was in the beginning. I just want that feeling back. Evan, how can I make him want me like he did before?

Here’s what I say, ever so gently, to those women:

It’s not about this guy. It’s about you. If you want true power and control over your love life, it’s about breaking that pattern of trying to fix relationships with broken men who treat you like crap, and making healthier decisions about men. If your goal is to “get this guy back”, you’re really missing the point. Dating coaching isn’t about making men do anything. The emotionally unavailable guy is STILL going to be unavailable when we’re done coaching. But when we’re done coaching, you’re going to realize that you don’t actually WANT a guy who doesn’t make you feel special. You’re going to be free to have a relationship with a man who actually gives you the love you deserve. How does that sound to you?

Most people think it sounds pretty damn awesome. If you read this post and can identify, please, give up on the idea of “getting him back” and focus on the idea of “letting him go”.

The reason to is to learn how to let go, instead of spinning your wheels on some jackass whom, I can assure you – you do NOT want to spend the next forty years with.

Life is too short to waste on unrequited love. Find a guy who treats you like gold.

That’s what it’s all about.

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  1. 1

    Probably the single most valuable piece of knowledge you gave me in coaching. For some reason, many others said things like this to me, but you got through.

    It’s a strange, bittersweet feeling though (giving up the emotionally unavailable men) because I feel that the roller coaster ride of emotions are behind me forever, so its almost like losing a piece of myself. The addiction… the highs and lows.

    Also, not being attached to the outcome is a part of me now, but still feels foreign. I’m currently doing it… but it’s strange. ha, ha.

  2. 2

    This is a valuable, but hard lesson. I’m still learning it, in fact. After having that intense chemistry high, you sort of expect that from a romantic relationship, you expect that from your long-term partner. So though you can realize the guys from your past with whom you had that feeling may not have been the best matches, you’re still out there searching for the fantastic compatibility with the tremendous chemistry.

    And I’m still trying to get used to the idea of an “easy” relationship where the guy always calls when he says he will, who is interested in spending lots of quality time with me, who doesn’t try to push my boundaries, and who essentially just tries to make me happy (without being a total suck-up). Because it almost feels too easy, as though a relationship should be hard, that it should have more trials and tribulations. Though I realize that ideally one’s relationship shouldn’t be hard or be a major stresser in your life.

    Amazing how warped one’s sense of what love is can be.

  3. 3

    If you love someone, set them free. If they come back they’re yours; if they don’t they never were. – Richard Bach, author of “Jonathan Livingstone Seagull”.

    Chasing after a guy who has drifted away ain’t gonna bring him back. As tough as it is, you have to just let him go….

    1. 3.1

      And DON’T take them back!

      Why would you want to?

      Move on to better,it’s out there!

  4. 4

    FWIW, the guy isn’t always the defective person in this scenario. Sometimes it is a matter of a healthy person deciding that things aren’t going to work and the woman refusing to move on despite being communicated with in a compassionate, clear manner.

    The advice part of this post is gold:

    If somebody acts like they are not interested, then they are really not interested, that will likely not change and there is more happiness in moving on.

    1. 4.1

      Melissa you are so right on the money ! So much of this entire discussion hit me hard, I’m dealing with this currently . After almost a 4 year long relationship, that I could just feel in my bones wasn’t going anywhere ( no matter how much he said, he never did) when your own Mother is telling you ” it’s time for him to shit or get off the pot” it’s a sign . For someone that’s 18 years older than myself, I originally thought ” wow, just has to be mature, stable, building and looking to build a future” and I fell hard, but now… It’s all different, this article is really helping me realize a LOT!!! I’m 27 and the ex is 44 (I know) but he’s still living at home as an only child with mom and dad & Is just too comfortable . If he wanted to move forward, he simply would ! After awhile, the last year and a half id say- we started seeing each other less and less, communication less (on his end) I finally decided I wasn’t going to bring up spending time together, I’ll wait and see if he does … And did he? Of course not ! After weeks, time and time around I would start arguing about it ( but not until weeks went by remind you) time and time again of hearing “I will make a sincere effort” not once, was an effort ever made . If you want to be in the company of   someone, you will . If you want to call them you will etc etc just so many different things . But yet he tries to put this on me, of course lol .. And then calls and starts crying saying how much he misses and loves me , wants to be with me and on and on . So, I started to think ok maybe we can work this out (for the last and final time) but most likely it would just end the same way again for the same reasons. After him coming to me and saying these things, he starts with thenot communicating and then says ” what did you think we were gonna get back together” ” I don’t want to rush into the same thing again, if your just going to start bitching” I’ve had the same complaint the past year and a half with no change on his end, so yes of course I start bitching !that was last night, at this point it’s clear to me …

  5. 5

    Steve – if every “emotionally unavailable” man that I’ve dated communicated in a clear and concise manner that they weren’t interested, my dating life would have been a cake walk.

    The part I think your missing is that these men will do just enough dangling of the carrot to keep you constantly in a confused state. They DON’T (as you stated), say it’s over and walk away. They still send texts and make the occasional phone call about how much they miss you, and you OCCASIONALLY see them. They’re hot and cold, up and down… and as Evan stated… many are “broken”, as in unhealthy. Or else… you’re just not the right one, but RARELY do they tell you this in a mature manner that allows women to just walk away; least you think women who tend to hang around with men like this are pursuing them and calling them… we’re NOT… we’re just often accepting bread crumbs…. which is not good enough.

    1. 5.1

      oh Melissa I agree with you!       as a fellow single woman dating, I go thru the same thing where the guy will not be man enough to be clear and honest, instead they send mixed signal and keep the woman dangling!
      best wishes to all of us,

    2. 5.2


    3. 5.3

      Very well said, Melissa! Honestly, you articulated that perfectly. Although, the one point I disagree on is that sometimes I think it is easy to chase guys like this. Not all women (as you said, some just accept less than they deserve when they should give him the boot), but, many, like myself, have fallen into the trap of chasing a man like this. Usually because when first he’s chasing you, you get addicted to how good it feels. Then, when he goes hot and cold and sends mixed messages, it’s easy to get caught up and confused and start chasing. No more, ladies. No more…

    4. 5.4

      YES!!! That’s what the problem is. Men are not upfront with saying that they don’t want to be serious with you. They beat around the bush because they want to keep you as a back burner or a Plan B. They like that you are available and loyal and give them ego boosts when the girl that they really wants rejects them. Yes, we women are guilty of staying around too long but men are guilty of giving us false hope too. It’s a two way street buddy!

    5. 5.5

      And sometimes they have spent a lot of time and energy actively trying to convince you you are the one for them and then just when you believe and trust them and relax, thats when they begin being emotionally unavailable. You question, they deny, you know somethings up, they deny and then finally it blows up and they tell you you are not the one when it was their idea at the start. Its like as soon as they have convinced us and know they have us they change their minds?

      1. 5.5.1

        Exactly, it usually is their idea. Once they have our attention, then they start having excuses. Once you go over some excuses they will have new ones and so on. It is very simple: If someone wants to be with another person, he/she will do it, no matter what.

        It is the responsibility of each person to be honest with him/her self, and recognizing when this situation is happening to make the final cut for the sake of both.

  6. 6

    What I got from Evan’s post is that we need to decide for ourselves what is and is not acceptable treatment- regardless of what the guy (or girl) that we want to be with does. It’s about taking things at face value and not waiting for the magic that was there in the beginning to reappear if we find that it is currently gone.
    When you’ve decided what type of treatment you’ll accept BEFORE anybody specific comes along, the decision to leave when you aren’t being treated well becomes much clearer. It becomes a no-brainer whether you are being given breadcrumbs or not.
    Of course waay easier said then done, but it becomes a lot easier when you start focusing on you and keep the focus there, instead of focusing solely on whoever your potential bf/gf is at the time.

  7. 7

    Evan, I just want to tell you how valuable your posts are. You get straight to the point, and then explain why. Especially this week, for some reason. I’m almost 50 years old, divorced and dating, and just wish I’d understood this reasoning in my 20s and 30s! Thank you so much for what you do !

  8. 8
    Karl R

    Melissa said: (#5)
    “these men will do just enough dangling of the carrot to keep you constantly in a confused state.”
    “RARELY do they tell you this in a mature manner that allows women to just walk away.”

    No one can unilaterally keep you in a confused state.

    I’ve had a date who was wonderful to be around and encouraged me to set up a date every time I saw her in person … but she never had time to go on dates.

    Another lady was always available by e-mail or phone, but she couldn’t find the time to go on a date three weekends in a row.

    One girlfriend was wonderful … right up to the point where she suddenly vanished.

    I may have been unable to understand what they were thinking, but I was never confused. I don’t accept this kind of behavior in a date or girlfriend. When this situation occurs, it’s time to move on.

    I agree that it would be preferable to get a clear explanation in a mature fashion, but I won’t let the lack of one impair me.

    1. 8.1

      When you are honest with yourself, you can’t be confused. I think what many women mean is that they don’t understand the change from Mr. Wonderful to Mr. Jackass. And since they really want to believe that a man was really wonderful instead of an asshole, they start to feel confused within themselves. The confusion is internal. But when you put your feelings above someone else’s, you don’t feel confused anymore.

    2. 8.2

      Karl R,

      Can I just clarify something? When you say you weren’t confused, by behaviour which seems quite confusing & inconsistent, do you mean you didn’t waste time and energy worrying about why they were acting this way. Instead, once the behaviours became unacceptable, you just moved on?

      It’s an important point, I think because a lot of us ( me included) feel like, if we could understand why people act in an inconsistent way, we could either move on, or deal with it better. If your point is that it doesn’t matter why, just have your boundaries and move on when people consistently don’t adhere to them, I think that’s really useful to spell out.

      Many of these comments make me feel that people (me included) are driving them/ourselves crazy looking for answers we’ll never get. And tips for putting these situations in the ‘I guess we’ll never know why’ basket may be useful.

      The only thing I can really contribute to this is, that when someone ghosts or runs hot & cold, or does the ‘slow fade’, if I really liked them, I allow myself a fixed ‘mourning period’ (it may only be a few hours if I knew them only fairly briefly) and then after that I’m not allowed to talk or think about them anymore. that way I’m not denying my feelings or pushing them down, but just not letting the person’s behaviour affect me a disproportionate amount. That usually works quite well for me.

      1. 8.2.1
        Karl R

        Marika asked:

        “do you mean you didn’t waste time and energy worrying about why they were acting this way. Instead, once the behaviours became unacceptable, you just moved on?”


        Or I’d assign a likely reason. In all likelihood, she just wasn’t that into me. (It’s all-purpose, and at least partially true in most of these cases.)

        A couple of them gave me reasons, but I didn’t really think “Things got sooo busy,” was any more believable than the reasons I invented.


        Marika said:

        “I think because  a lot of us ( me included) feel like, if we could understand why people act in an inconsistent way, we could either move on, or deal with it better.”

        Closure comes from within.

        People act inconsistently either because we’ve misunderstood part of their behavior, or because they don’t know what they want, or because they’ve changed their minds.


        Your strategy for dealing with it seems reasonable to me.

  9. 9

    @Melissa, post #5. I’m sorry you ended up dating players or the guy who can’t “shit or get off the pot”. Taking your post with Karl’s ( #8 ) it seems as if there are both women and men who lack whatever it takes to tell someone they aren’t interested.

    @Karl, post #8, that was one of the best posts ever. Yes, the writing on the wall is clear, I think it is just that people find themselves in situations where they don’t want to see it.

    I’ve had all three of those things happen to me too. I think I can take them a little bit less personally knowing that I am not the only one.

  10. 10

    I think most of us can agree that a lot of the people we end up chasing do the carrot dangling action and we go for it because we’re so insane/desperate for their affection. But how does one distinguish between someone who is genuinely trying to reignite a relationship in comparison with someone who is trying to put in a few breadcrumbs to get back in your good graces?

    For instance, imagine there was someone who you went out with for a while and had an intense fling but ended up breaking up. What happens if s/he starts calling or e-mailing you daily? Are you to have a self-preservationist attitude and be polite but obvious that you’re not interested because you want someone who really wants you? Or do you go on ahead and engage fully with the chance that the person has matured and wants a serious relationship, or with the chance that once they know they’ve got you on the hook again, they’ll vanish? Because I know there are lots of people who have on-again/off-again relationships, or have broken up with someone only to get back into a serious relationship, sometimes leading to marriage. So how do you figure out if a rekindling of the relationship is a carrot or a sincere overture?


    Your advice in post #6 is golden. Though I think many of us may dream of having a relationship, and perhaps even dream about what that relationship would look like, I think very few people set clear standards of what they expect from their partner. If they did then a lot of the carrot dangling/bread crumbs stuff would never have worked.

    1. 10.1

      Or we see carrots when there aren’t any there, because we think we want that carrot so badly. The guy may have no evil intentions. He just doesn’t care enough anymore, and it isn’t important whether he used to. It takes confidence to know when enough is enough, though. But it is a valuable skill.

    2. 10.2


      Good question! As someone who’s been in this situation, I think I can shed some light. You ask some questions (in a gentle way) to prod a little bit more and see if they’ve given any thought to the problems you experienced and how to fix/circumvent them in the future. If they give vague answers or platitudes like “I just love you so much, we can get through this!”, I would be wary of getting back into the relationship. Vague answers and platitudes indicate that they are just lonely, rather than are actually serious about getting back together.

      If you met them online you can also look over their profile (especially if it’s been a while and they’ve revamped it) to see if anything’s changed. I did this with a charming man who I had a ‘fling’ with (no sex, but intense chemistry & amazing kissing) who I had a couple of amazing dates with, but then was too busy to make plans in advance and cancelled at the last minute twice. I said goodbye and blocked him after the second last minute cancellation last year. Early this year he revamped his online profile and contacted me again. I read over it and it had words like ‘spontaneous’ and similar all over it. I knew that ‘spontaneous’ in his case meant ‘flaky’. I wrote him a very nice but direct message thanking him for interest but saying that I could see from his profile we still wanted different things. He wrote back calling me ‘defensive’ so I ignored him. A week later he sent a kiss (which I also ignored). You can see that his behaviour hadn’t changed at all, he’s just trying his luck again as it’s a new year and maybe he’s lonely. If he actually wanted a relationship, he would’ve said so.

  11. 11

    I have a friend who says: “men will always always leave the door on an ajar….”

  12. 12

    I would agree that I’ve seen plenty of couples who do the on-again, off-again relationship that sometimes leads to marriage. I have yet to see any one of those marriages succeed.

  13. 13
    Karl R

    A-L said: (#10)
    “how does one distinguish between someone who is genuinely trying to reignite a relationship in comparison with someone who is trying to put in a few breadcrumbs to get back in your good graces?”

    Effort. If I was trying to reignite a relationship, I’d assume that I would need to put in some effort to show that this wasn’t just a momentary deal.

    And if a lady was trying to reignite a relationship with me, I’d take steps to ensure that it was a sincere effort.

    A little over a year ago I was in a wonderful relationship. We broke up (very amicably) because she wanted lots of kids and I didn’t want any. During the long conversation following the breakup, she mentioned that while she wanted lots of kids, she would prefer (if her dream relationship wasn’t possible) to be in a great relationship with no kids than a lousy relationship with lots of kids.

    For the sake of arguement, let’s assume that she said that specifically to dangle a carrot, just in case “Plan A” didn’t work out as she had hoped. But as the Behrendts so eloquently pointed out, “It’s called a breakup because it’s broken.” At least in this case I understand how it was broken.

    If she tried to reignite a relationship with me, I would have a couple immediate concerns that would need to be addressed:
    1) Has she given up on the idea of having kids, or is she hoping to rekindle the romance, then change my mind? If it’s the latter, it would be a recipe for creating a lousy relationship without kids … and that relationship would be with me.
    2) If she’s given up on having kids, is that decision temporary or permanent?

    There are a couple other breakups where I don’t understand the reason(s) why the relationship ended. In those cases, I would need to understand what happened the first time before considering trying again.

    And in any case, I’d give a previous relationship one more chance. If it didn’t work the second time, then we were clearly unable to fix the broken parts.

  14. 14

    Finding someone can be hard. Finding someone with the sought-after qualities the last one had could be especially hard. If there were research on it, likely it would show that people tend to pine more over those who outrank them in physical attractiveness.

  15. 15

    @A-L Thanks. I’ve learned (am still learning it?) the hard way!

  16. 16

    It’s my experience that when a woman it a bit too dazzled right off the bat, then nothing good will come of the situation. She looses her ability to remain objective. The guy should have to put some effort into winning her and if he doesn’t even try, then there is your answer. Talk is cheap. Unless there are actions to back it up, then it’s probably best to close your eyes, empty your heart, and move forward.

  17. 17

    Evan, this is the best post I’ve read so far on this site, if not the best out there! And I agree with everyone’s comments above.

    I, too, have had an experience similar to OP, as have many of us. We had intense chemistry, shared values and interests, he seemed like the perfect guy. Then after a month, once I was hooked on the dopamine, the drama began, the mixed signals, and I found myself making excuses for him.

    After getting fed up and calling him on the nonsense I realized this guy didn’t know what he wanted, was never going to change (had the same pattern w other women), and my sticking around wasn’t going to increase his appreciation for me. So I broke it off. It was tough but a good learning experience

    1. 17.1
      Pretty girl

      Downtown gal,   same happened to me..Within a month, I could tell the guy was not right for me..Guess what?

      I ran for the miles, didn’t even look back. You just know when someone is serious with you.

  18. 18

    Another comment –

    In a perfect world people would be upfront about what they want, but often that doesnt happen. Even if they do communicate, (as in Steve’s example above), you have to know what you want in order to have a fulfilling relationship. Actions speak louder than words.

  19. 19
    Moving on!

    How is it that these blogs almost ALWAYS are speaking directly to me? Oye!
    I was in (up until yesterday) one of these ‘dopamine’ filled relationships. Extreme highs and lows, drama, chasing the unavailable lover.
    It was a 2 year and some odd month relationship. Now that I look back on that first month, he blatanly told me he wasn’t any good for me. Yes, he actually used those words!
    “I’m no good for you”
    “You have so much going on, I have nothing” etc etc.
    Oh but no, I insistented on showering him with all this affection. HA! The joke was definitely on me!
    We recently have been talking about moving in together (this is probably the 10x time we’ve had this “discussion”. At least 4x he ‘disappeared’ and came back saying he was scared.)
    Well, yesterday I come home to a completely empty house. Yup, he had taken all his things! Didn’t even bother leaving a ‘dear jane’ letter.

    I’ve unbuckled my seat beat and I’m jumping off this rollercoaster ride. I should’nt be shocked, he’s done to women before me (yup…he told me).

    well, it’s a HARD lesson learned but I’m moving on. And to think, he had the nerve to text me and say “I love you”. HA!
    Thank God I read Evan’s other topic about why the guy dumps you and still tries to maintain a connection.

    I’m so over him….

  20. 20

    I agree with the previous posters who are really intrigued by this post. There’s a lot to chew on here.

    Evan, I completely agree with your assessment of the situation and your suggestions for what women should be looking for. I think where a lot of women, including myself, get bogged down is somewhere between understanding intellectually what they should be seeking and emotionally what they’ve become accustomed to wanting. It’s like eating broccoli–just because I know it’s good for me, doesn’t mean I’ll choose it over a pint of ice cream.

    I’m the first to admit I have adrenaline junkie tendencies in certain areas of my life, especially dating. Over the last year, I’ve dated a couple of players and had one very dysfunctional semi-LTR. Right now I’m seeing someone who seems balanced and happy. The amount of time he wants to spend with me seems appropriate. Four-hour conversations go by in the blink of an eye. Our life paths and life goals mesh very well. He tells me I’m gorgeous, but not too much. His interest in me seems genuine and healthy. I find him smart, attractive, and interesting. And yet I find myself with this nagging ambiguity about our relationship.

    Is it a case of classic conditioning, where my previous dating experiences have made me wary of belonging to any club that would have me as a member? Am I waiting for the adrenaline fix that comes with a less stable situation? Or am I protecting myself and just waiting for the other shoe to fall, as it has in my last relationships? Is it my intuition telling me there’s some friendship there but it’s not enough overwhelming chemistry to make a lasting relationship? Is early chemistry overrated–if there’s a little spark there, should I blow on it and see if it grows into a bigger flame? Am I stringing him along if I do that? Am I settling or just suddenly finding myself on the foreign soil of a normal adult relationship? Are a healthy relationship and excitement mutually exclusive?

    Not looking for answers here so much as thinking out loud. I can’t imagine I’m the only one whose mind churns over these same issues.

    And BWT, A-L, I totally agree with you, obviously about the “chemistry high,” and also about the dangling carrot of an off-again, on-again relationship. In addition to men who do the back and forth dance subconsciously, there are guys who are now reading books and paying for workshops to learn how to do this intentionally. I think we buy into it, because we extrapolate advice about not being too aggressive, always letting the guy ask first and following his lead, trying to make a guy’s life easier, etc. We wind up with an extreme (and warped) version of masculine and feminine roles. I’m sure, Karl R, there are times when women play these games too, just not as often.

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