My Boyfriend Has Turned Into a Cold Fish. What Can I Do Save Our Relationship?

My Boyfriend Has Turned Into a Cold Fish. What Can I Do Save Our Relationship

I have a baffling dating problem that none of my friends can figure out either. I’ve been dating a great guy for almost 3 years. He was very (almost excessively) hot and heavy for me for about a year and he wanted me and my kids to move in with him. I told him to wait one year, and if he asked me again I would say yes. Anyway, he acted rejected but I did everything I could to show him I cared and wanted to keep dating. He became a cold fish, he hardly visits anymore, doesn’t include me in his family’s plans as much. Everything pointed towards a break-up, except that he calls multiple times a day to “check in”. His personality is aloof and cultured, he makes everything into an ironic joke, and he will not say he loves me. He has the personality, looks and success to get another girlfriend very easily. Instead of breaking up, he just buries himself in work, and keeps me hanging on. I don’t know where I stand, but he gives enough attention to keep me hoping and guessing. His mother seems to think we’re getting married. I can’t tell if he’s just weird, or if he doesn’t like me. I’m the new wife in that old movie Rebecca, where she is in suspense all the time. I can’t imagine breaking up, because he’s still the best boyfriend I’ve ever had. My hot and heavy boyfriend has turned into a cold fish. Love to hear your advice.


I don’t know how many of these questions I need to get until every woman on the entire Internet never has to ask it again, but here goes:

You have an out-of-town “boyfriend” who hasn’t been nice to you for TWO years.

Your “boyfriend” isn’t a good catch just because he’s cute, successful, and charming.

This, you claim, is the “best boyfriend” you’ve ever had.

You want to know how to get him to be nicer to you and commit to you.

Sorry, but you don’t.

Your “boyfriend” isn’t a good catch just because he’s cute, successful, and charming.

Yes, I’m sure he can find another woman to mistreat quite easily. But that doesn’t justify keeping him in your life, does it?

You seem to have the false impression that you’re going to get the guy from the first year of your relationship back. Uh uh. He was an illusion. You’re currently seeing the “real” version of him.

The second you get rid of him is the second you can find a guy who does the most important things you need in a man: cherish you, treat you like a priority, and commit to you forever.

Selfish, aloof, cold, distant, rude, dispassionate, ambivalent.

And you want to lock that in for the rest of your life?

Bernie, please. Your boyfriend SUCKS. The second you get rid of him is the second you can find a guy who does the most important things you need in a man: cherish you, treat you like a priority, and commit to you forever. This guy is a waste of your time.

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  1. 1

    I can’t tell if he’s just weird, or if he doesn’t like me. I’m the new wife in that old movie Rebecca, where she is in suspense all the time. I can’t imagine breaking up, because he’s still the best boyfriend I’ve ever had.  

    You can’t tell if he likes you but he’s the best bf you’ve ever had?   It’s not important to you that your bf’s at least LIKE   you a whole lot and express that (with or without words)   so that it’s clear to you?   Wow!   Such low standards for a relationship…..why is that?

    And it’s rather clear this is as good as it’s going to get with you two, sorry to say.



  2. 2

    Bernie – you know the answer to your question, you’re just not ready to let him go.   If someone else came to you with this situation what would you say?   This guy has got you going based on the potential you created around him not what he actually is.   If this is the best relationship you’ve ever had I would seriously consider dumping him and going on a soul searching mission to build more confidence, boundaries and self worth.   You should have walked two and a half years ago!

  3. 3

    Bernie, somewhere along the way I think your goal became just being in a relationship–instead of being in a good relationship.   I understand the hesitation about a break-up because you’ve invested 3 years in this guy, so don’t want the sunken costs.   However, please get out now before losing even more time and an even bigger investment in him.   The only “good” thing you stand to lose with a breakup is the hope you initially had about this being love…which never turned into anything real.   The real things you stand to lose are being ignored and rejected.   Whatever you do, please base your decision on what’s really happening right in front of you, not what you wish for or hope will happen.

    1. 3.1

      #2 & #3 I couldn’t agree more! She sounds so desperate and thirsty for a relationship. If this is the best she ever had it is because she is stuck on year 1 (which was probably the best ever) and is hoping and praying it goes back to that. I personally find it weird he wanted her to move in after a year.   I just could not feel that comfy living with someone I’ve only known a year. I’m glad (for the sake of her kids) she said no but she is so stuck on that 1st year she can’t accept the present and longer lasting truth (2 years is a looong time to be treated like this). I vote she show him to the door.

  4. 4



    What if another man came to you tomorrow, told you and showed you how much he loved and cared for you, and gave you the relationship and commitment you wanted? And he was someone you could love in return? Do you think you would still be wondering what you could try to salvage this relationship with your cold fish boyfriend? Do you think it would even matter why it went wrong or what you could do to fix it? I’m betting NO! You would be out of there so fast it would make your head spin and wouldn’t have the time of day for this man any more. Well, that is EXACTLY what’s waiting for you when you dump this guy. There is an army of wonderful guys out there. You just have to get better at choosing them.

  5. 5

    Evan + other commenters are probably right but when I first read the letter, my instant reaction was that OP’s BF had modified his behaviour based on her response (to moving in) and had put the relationship in limbo until he could ask again and she answered in the affirmative.   “I won’t emotionally commit until you do in case I get hurt and rejected again” behaviour, if you will.   At best it’s childish and at worst it’s vindictive.   What little I know of the BF’s behaviour certainly doesn’t qualify him for a “partner of the year” award but not knowing much else and going only on OP’s assertion that he’s “the best boyfriend”, I’ll assume the best case.   Having said that, you should talk to him OP.   Why put up with this hot and cold behaviour when you can know the truth and move on if necessary?   If it really is just childishness or a previously hurtful experience or something else easily rectified, an honest conversation will resolve the issue.   At that point you can decide whether his reaction (it may reoccur in the future in other situations) is something you can live with.   If he’s stringing you along, the sooner you discover this, the better.   In any case, two years seems like a long time to hold on and hope for better treatment.

    1. 5.1

      Absolutely! Grown up relationships require communication. Talk to him seriously and maintain your boundaries. Ask him why he’s behaving this way, give him the opportunity to explain, but also make it clear that you won’t tolerate it any longer and walk if necessary. That’s just no way to live. Trust me, you’ll end up depressed and feeling stuck eventually, especially if children happen.

    2. 5.2

      I second this. It’s a good observation of both sides.

  6. 6

    I completely agree with Skaramouche. Bernie hurt his feelings and now he is sulking like a child, maybe he is even wanting to dump her, but he still really likes her.

    From my current understanding of how women view Sexual market value from this site, I would guess that Barnie is either on a lower level then her current boyfriend or she feels that she not be able to get such a successful hot guy again, because of her… children or age, or whatever, because like all the other commenters said, if she was advising a friend should would have quickly told them to dump this guy.

    1. 6.1
      In Not Of

      The assumption by some that she’s confused, because well, she’s just not in his league is really quite fascinating.   There’s an underlying current of, well, she kinda had it coming because she dared to date a guy who was too good for her. I do not recognize mankind these days.

      1. 6.1.1

        I agree, I think the only reason that she is “possibly” staying with him even though he is treating her so selfishly is because she may feel that she is not in his league, and that she can’t get another guy of his level (I am basing this off of subtle things that she said in her letter).

        And before you give me the self-righteous “I don’t recognize mankind” speech, this is nothing new. For years women have been screaming that they care about looks as much as men do, and they are tired of the “woman don’t care about looks myth” and now when it is suggested that a women is “possibly sticking with a hot guy (according to her: looks, personality, success) who could “easily get another girl” according to her. You are shocked!

        Men do this all the time, and are called out for it, we choose the beautiful or sexy girl over the average looking, or unattractive, or overweight girl. Women say it’s because he likes whores and not good women, or they say it’s because men like bitches and not strong women, but the truth is He Just Chose the Hotter woman.

        Men love the feeling they get when other guys are envious of him because he has a hot woman on his arm, and even if you don’t want to admit it, women love this feeling too! So yes! Some men choose the sexy women over the kind but not really attractive women. Sometimes she isn’t so nice, but he sticks with her because he loves the feelings he gets from being with someone out of his league, being with someone others want, shows are high value. And if women always scream they care about looks as much as men, then why are you fighting the “possibility” that the original poster a woman is doing the same thing?

        Her self-imposed low sexual market value (if this is even the true), might not be her looks, it could be her age (most quality men and women go after the best looking person in their age group, if they can’t get anyone in their age group, they go after someone younger), it could be her children (some men and women focus on their careers when they are younger, so when they get older and become successful, they don’t have children and don’t want to date anyone with children), it could be her body (most men and women aren’t as tight as they were when they were younger, plus she has kids so she may be a little overweight, or she could have stretch marks), she could recognize all this and realize that most (not all) guys who could “easily have their pick of other women” would not choose some not as attractive, or old looking, or overweight, or has children,

        Or it might not be any of these reasons, she may be a 10 and she just likes the guy, but not one commenter has said that she had it coming, no matter how hot or great of a catch a guy is, no one deserves to be treated poorly by someone they tried to give their heart too.

        1. In Not Of

          It doesn’t matter to me how self-righteous you think it is.   I don’t know you from Adam and will never meet you. Of course people are gonna do what they’re going to do. But I’m sure it’s such an encouragement to the OP to run down the list of every area where she comes up short as if she deserves to be treated poorly.   But we don’t judge here, now do we?

      2. 6.1.2

        As much as I would like to agree with you, In Not Of, this is human nature, and I’m sure you and pretty much everyone else has been guilty of it at some point. It’s not about what her actual attractiveness or value is, because attractiveness is subjective, and value is intrinsic to us as human beings, it’s about what she *perceives* her attractiveness and value to be. It is more because she obviously sees herself as lower worth – particularly look at her statement that he could get another partner  easily but doesn’t seem to believe the same about herself. When someone perceives themselves as less than, and doesn’t stand up for themselves, and puts up with sub-par behaviour from us, it is human nature to want to treat that person dismissively. Or we certainly will not treat that person as well as someone who requires better treatment. Someone with healthy self-esteem will not sit around contemplating the withertos and the whyfors of why a man is treating her badly when she’s done nothing to deserve it, or what his sexual market value might be – they will simply LEAVE.  They will do their due diligence and then move on. Talk to any woman with healthy self-esteem who has dumped a guy who was treating her badly and I guarantee this thought: “There’s an underlying current of, well, she kinda had it coming because she dared to date a guy who was too good for her” never entered their heads.

        1. In Not Of

          I personally have no investment into whether the guy who is into her or not. I don’t know him or her.   I just think it’s rather catty to guess how many unacceptable flaws the OP must have when she probably is feeling bad about the situation.   I notice Evan doesn’t tell her, “well the guy would probably still want you if you were thinner, prettier, more fun and flirty, sexier, etc.” No, he just tells her to forget this guy and move on.

        2. Clare

          Agreed, it is rather catty – personally I believe all this talk of sexual market value IS catty, and besides which, is actually irrelevant when it comes to love. The heart loves who it loves, and moreover how many times have we seen a good looking young man with a woman who was apparently older and perhaps less taut and pretty than the 25 year old we would expect to see him with? Or a gorgeous sexy woman with a man who is not her equal in looks and is also not super rich? Personally I see it all the time. This is love. People want who they want and they find attractive what they find attractive. Moreover sexual market value is irrelevant if you are not being treated the way you want to be in a relationship. Obsessing about things such as money and looks and age is a load of BS. For the life of me I cannot understand why people so reflexively go there. Love is about something so much deeper, it has nothing to do with sexual market value. As someone said, look at all the gorgeous celebrities being cheated and unable to find happiness in love. And look at all the comparatively ordinary people in blissful loving relationships. We are so much better off forgetting about all this other crap and concentrating on being happy with ourselves.

        3. Adrian

          Clare, In Not Of is the one who made this about belittling the Original poster. I just said what I thought could be the reason she was sticking with this obviously bad boyfriend.

          And looks Do matter in dating, not in love, but in dating yes. No one ‘intentionally’ chooses a unattractive nice person over a attractive nice person. Most normal people don’t get upset if they don’t have a model on their arms, but they still want someone who they can kiss without the thought of forcing themselves, attraction matters! Without it you just have a friend of the opposite sex.

          Sexual Market Value isn’t B.S, we just don’t like it. If you don’t believe me, ask yourselves, how many men on a online dating website, did you see his picture, thought he was very unattractive, but you still read his profile… or did you just click next?

          Do you honestly think most men and women aren’t nice? Do you think most men and women wouldn’t treat the person they love good? Then why are so many people still single? People want someone they are attracted to, kindness and character comes second. It sounds horrible but it is the truth, we all have to toughen up to play the dating game.

          The real reason so many people are single is not because they can’t find someone who has the qualities they want in a partner, it is because they can’t find someone who has those qualities that they are attracted to, and who finds them attractive as well.  

          And again to the Original Poster Bernie, you should dump a guy if he doesn’t make you feel desired, special, comfortable around him, and safe. This has nothing to do with your looks or your body, it has to do with being around a decent human being.

        4. Clare



          I think you mistook what I meant when I said Sexual Market Value is BS. Of course looks matter, and everything you say about attraction is true. What I meant (and stated) is that that person’s sexual market value is irrelevant if the relationship itself is not what you want, for example if that person doesn’t want to commit, or treats you badly, or abusive or mentally unstable or unavailable.


          Looks are all very well, but there is zero correlation between being good looking and being a good partner. What I was saying is that people such as yourself seem to imply that sexual market value is everything, that it is the only determining factor when we decide who we end up with. But the reality that we see around is quite different a lot of the time. All the time, we observe couples whose members fall at differing points on the sexual market value scale because those people love how they FEEL with that person. By all means, Adrian, pursue the hot 25 year olds. I wish you the best of luck with that.

  7. 7

    Let’s put it this way Bernie, in 2 years I searched for, found, met and married my husband and he continues to show me everyday how wonderful he is. Just yesterday he gamely watched the Emmys with me because it made me happy.   I am not saying this to brag but to contrast that in two years if this guy is not stepping up he will Never be husband material and at the very least is a horrible communicator and you really need to get out now.   Two years is plenty of time for someone to show you who they are or who they are not. Your future husband would not run hot and cold like this.

  8. 8

    He’s just not that into you.

    There was a show.   There was a book.   There was a movie.   And…. there is this website where the resident dating coach responds to a zillion different scenarios involving post-hoc rationalizations for indifferent behavior, many of which boil down to that simple fact!

    Irrational fear, insecurities, and impossible dreams are what pull us back into relationships with people who don’t value us.   Personally I’d rather not let that trifecta from hell  run my life.

  9. 9

    That man sounds quite narcissistic.   If he had been genuinely interested in the OP, he would have understood that she cannot take such a serious decision as moving in with a man lightly, especially having kids.   On the other side, the OP seems to be more interested in how much money a man makes than in how he treats her.   Urgent reality check is needed

  10. 10

    No doubt this guy’s a damn strong Alpha in her eyes, a top 5  percenter. No wonder she’s  acting this way.  However,  its  up to her to  stop picking guys  who have  little incentive to commit, assuming that’s what she wants.

  11. 11

    He didn’t undergo a personality change.   He fell out of love and now you are seeing him as he really is.   He was all over you when his brain was sloshing with infatuation hormones and now he has returned to his baseline.   His cold, self-absorbed baseline that likes seeing you when it is convenient for him and getting some sex when he feels like it.   It’s not going to get better.   Everyone is right, cut him loose.   The nearly three years you gave him are gone but they’re not worth three more unhappy years.

  12. 12

    Um… why are you still with him?   Better question, right?   I’m a single mom too and I get it – he knows your kids, he looks good on paper, you are scared that there isn’t another solid citizen that seems willing to take you on.   But the thing is, when you realize that you aren’t someone who “needs to be taken on” and that it was perfectly reasonable for you to hesitate uprooting the kids and move in with him after a year, you will realize that this guy is a jerk and that you are dodging a bullet by letting him go.    You can do better.

    1. 12.1
      In Not Of


  13. 13

    Two things:


    1) Evan,  unless the letter is edited, I don’t see how you know the boyfriend is out of town.   “Hardly visits anymore” doesn’t necessarily mean “visit from out out of town,” if could mean “comes to my house.”

    2) The timeline is a little fuzzy.   The LW says they’ve been together almost 3 years, and that after 1 year he asked her to move in with him.   She told him to wait a year and ask again.   So theoretically that re-ask  should have happened at the Year 2 mark.   Has it, or hasn’t it?

    1. 13.1

      I noticed both of those points also

    2. 13.2

      Innocent, unless proven guilty. N’est pas?

      He still calls everyday.

      His mother thinks they are getting married…. there is just a bit more going on here.

      It is so easy to play the blame game.

      My question for Bernie is: why did you turn his offer down to move in with him in the first place? And why did you already know it would be a yes a year later? What was hindering you? And is it still hindering you? Or can you move more freely now?

      And now he shows you this little understanding but keeps ‘checking in’… Could he be in as much limbo as you are? Could he be acting out because he is clueless as well? You turning his offer down proved to be a turning point for him, if I may believe your words. Is it unforgivable? Ask him !! Take what he says and you’ll have your answer too.

      His actions are not so loud since he is still contacting you everyday. Ask him what his truth is, and if he can find willingness to open up again. If not, then no point in holding on


      1. 13.2.1

        His calling everyday is why most of us believe that his behavior is that of a child who was refused a piece of candy.

        She said she still tried to show him that she loved and cared about him after rejecting him, so it was not her fault, this is all on him.

        I have seen this before, he likes her, but feels hurt by her rejection, so this is his way of punishing her. He can get other girls but he doesn’t, why? He calls every day, why? To hurt her, make her pay for rejecting (embarrassing???) him.

        He is a child, or at the very least emotionally emature, she should dump him.

  14. 14

    “I don’t know where I stand, but he gives enough attention to keep me hoping and guessing.”

    He is already telling you where you stand– by his actions. Nic~

    1. 14.1

      Right exactly.   No need to over analyze.

  15. 15

    Classic Narcissist behavior. Still, even regular guys (and girls for that matter) put up a good front in the “Courtship” phase of the relationship. It’s really only after about a year that you get to see someone’s true personality. It sucks that you have to wait that long to find out, but there it is. If you don’t like the way he’s acting now then run because that’s what you’re really going to be getting.

  16. 16

    It’s a little late to note, but some people might find it interesting:

    It is very possible that part of his disrespectful behavior is a reaction to her gaining weight. Most people do gain weight in relationships, and men are prone to express subtle anger toward women who do.   Maybe those men ought to leave instead if they think it won’t change [tempting to self-promote an article about weight loss], but Evan probably would agree that many men would rather disappear or push away than directly break up.

    1. 16.1

      Men and women both gain weight in relationships, and from what I have read, men (unless active) show it more than women, because most women gain weight around their thighs and butt, but men gain weight around their mid-section. I think it is easier to notice a man with a bulging belly then it is to notice a women with thicker thighs or a rounder butt.

  17. 17

    What you have taught me Evan is that men do what they want and they reveal themselves through their actions and if you pay attention you will know the answer.   Women are far more complex creatures and we presume men are the same.   We spend hours upon hours trying to analyze what a man’s words or actions may mean because if we did those things our thought process would be complex with motives and feelings.   Men not so much.   Wow was this a revelation to me and a time saver.   So when you give this woman and many others a simple answer I get it.   My girlfriends many don’t.   They still want to dissect every single action five ways with my answer still being the same he’s a jerk, he’s a player, he’s not interested.   But I listen because they did for me.   What resounds with me in this letter is her saying he’s the best boyfriend she’s ever had.   As I’ve said many women have dated so many bad men that their standards are warped I was one of them.   She is too.   When you find that man who treats you right you will look back and say oh wow! Why did I put up with that?   You will not have to sit around and ponder his actions you will know he will show you and there will be no question.   I can understand the genuine desire as a person to figure out another person’s behavior and if you caused it.    I think she wants to know did she push him away and if this comes up again should she act differently? But we have to accept some people’s behavior can never be explained to our satisfaction.   Ladies you deserve better than a man that you some more time analyzing that a thesis.   Stop just stop.

  18. 18

    Just got done with one of these. In hindsight, I don’t even think he cared about me at all. Women to him are mothers and blow up dolls. I’d hes not treating you how you want to be treated, get rid of him.

  19. 19

    You can’t give someone advice to something like this based on one side of the story,  there is always 2 sides to every story, infact  it can be argued that there is always 3 sides to every story because people will always see and report on something from their own biased viewpoint so in a case like this there is the womans version, the mans version, and then the truth which will usually be somewhere between the 2. It is surprising how often when someone complains  about their partner their partner feels exactly the same, its also surprising how often someone will claim to be the victim the wronged party in the relationship when indeed the opposite is true, and ultimately if someone is going online to seek advice from strangers about a relationship or indeed asking anyone at all for advice then it’d be pretty safe to assume the problem lies with them and not the partner.

  20. 20
    Yohali Brutus


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