What Do You Do When a Guy Dumps You and Then Comes Back?

Right as I discovered you, I’d starting dating a man. He asked me out on the next date during our dates. He kept in contact regularly between dates, mainly calling because he knew I preferred it — WITHOUT me having to even tell him this! — and texting during the workday to keep in touch. Our dates were well-planned, picked based on things he thought I’d liked, and fun. This man was not like any other guy I’d dated, much nerdier and a little weird but also relaxed and confident without being a jerk. I was able to relax and be myself from the outset with him, something that is entirely new for me.

Based on the things I was learning from your books “Finding the One Online,” “Why He Disappeared” and “Believe in Love,” dating this man was like rapid training on the fly. I led him around the bases slowly (he responded so well to the no-sex til exclusivity chat), was easygoing and appreciative of everything he did for me, and generally felt like the cool girl I am in everyday life.

I admit it, my emotional investment in him grew before we got to exclusivity. Although I read your posts about how I should give a man 6-8 weeks to claim me, because we both had work trips that interrupted our flow, I gave him nearly 4 months to choose me. And as the other men I was dating fell off, I found myself less interested in finding other men to replace them, as this front-runner guy was making all the right moves. It was probably a mistake on my part not to continue seeking out other men, since I was not yet exclusive with this man.

And perhaps predictably, things started going downhill with him. First, the contact from him slowed down. A couple days between calls, then no calls for almost a week between our dates. He asked me why I wasn’t contacting him first, and I politely stood my ground that before exclusivity I wasn’t ready to initiate with him, and that I appreciated all of his efforts. Then, he canceled a date. He did it in a responsible way, calling the day before and apologizing. I was about to leave on a work trip so we loosely planned to reschedule when I returned. Slowly I was feeling less safe with him, and I was starting to feel insecurities rise up in me.

A couple of days later, he called and we had a relatively painless breakup. He said that while he thought I was amazing and awesome, he ultimately wanted something different. We both expressed disappointment and surprise that things didn’t work out better between us. And while that was hard to hear, I respected his opinion and appreciated the way he conducted himself. I see a few mistakes I made, things I am still learning. In reading your stuff I see that I stayed too long and that I got too emotionally invested in this one man before he stepped up to claim me. Yet, I have no regrets. It was one of the healthiest and easy relationships I’ve ever created with a man, I chose well in him even if things didn’t work out, and it made me feel inspired and hopeful for the future.

Though I was sad and feeling rejected, I knew that I’d put my best foot forward and the only place to go from here was up. Within 24 hours I was back online on the dating sites, making plans to go out places where I knew there’d be men, and generally trying to move on. Your books were immensely helpful here, helping me stay in a positive mindset even as I simultaneously nursed my hurt. Although I didn’t completely forget about this man, I trusted that he was telling me the truth that I wasn’t what he wanted. I’ve gone out with several men since and feel open to their attention. He’s still on my mind every so often, but I’m not using him as a crutch to keep me from letting other men in.

So you can imagine my surprise when, less than two weeks later, he called me to say he’d made a mistake in letting me go. We’ve set up a date for later this week and I’m curious to see how things will feel. I know what I need to say to set boundaries, but mostly I’m feeling open and intrigued by what made him change his mind. After the initial rush of joy of him returning, and the surge of hope that maybe things WILL work out, I’m back to wondering what might unfold with this man.

Ready for Lasting Love?
Ready for Lasting Love?

I know that by the time you answer this question our date will have come and gone. (Perhaps many dates!) But I am curious, in your extensive experience, do relationships work out when a guy dumps you early on and then comes back? Or might this be a case of a warning sign of trouble…

Curiouser and curiouser,


Thanks for the compliments and thanks for providing the detail necessary to help me help you.

As you’ve already acknowledged, you’ve probably already gone out with this guy again, and drawn your own conclusions, so I’m sorry I’m a little late to the parade. Please take this for what it’s worth, after the fact.

It’s funny how easy it is to contradict my own advice, and it’s funnier how easily I can make peace with my contradictions.

I usually quote things like:

“Believe the negatives, ignore the positives.”
“It’s called a breakup because it’s broken.”
“He’s just not that into you.”

Basically, I casually observe from my perch, that if things don’t work out, there’s a reason they didn’t work out, and that’s okay. No need to try to piece Humpty Dumpty back together again when there are a million other guys out in the universe.

And, in general, that’s true. Most women would be well served to stop their wishful thinking, leave the past in the past, and move on.

If things don’t work out, there’s a reason they didn’t work out, and that’s okay. No need to try to piece Humpty Dumpty back together again when there are a million other guys out in the universe.

But there’s something about your story that makes me feel like there is still an opportunity worth exploring. Quick tangent:

I have a Masters (private coaching) client right now, who was dating a guy for about 6 weeks. When it was time for him to step up and become her boyfriend, he backed away, saying that he was having a hard time getting over his ex. To her credit, my client let the guy go with a minimum of fanfare. We prepared to get online and cast a wide net.


Two weeks later, I’m on the phone with my client. The guy came back. He had time and distance to think and he realized that he really blew it. Quote:

“Thomas called me and said he thinks I’m the total package and just wanted to clear his head so he can commit to me fully. He said he’s never felt as comfortable with someone, and feels like he can be himself with me. Finally he said he’s looking for something serious and wants to get married and have kids soon, and is ready to go to the next step with me, i.e., becoming boyfriend / girlfriend, if I’d have him. I said yes.”

So I ask you, skeptical readers who are understandably protective of another woman’s emotions, does it sound like my client made a mistake in letting this guy back in her life?

I sure don’t think so.

You can take it personally that a guy didn’t know that you were “the one” from the second he met you, but, as they say, “You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.”

He took the time to gather his thoughts. He came back, humbled. He’s been doing all the right things ever since. Does this guarantee a marriage? Of course not. Does it give my 41-year-old client great hope that she’s found a guy who likes her a lot and has the same long-term goals as she does? Absolutely.

Basically, people’s thought processes and emotions are messy. You can take it personally that a guy didn’t know that you were “the one” from the second he met you, but, as they say, “You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.”

Furthermore, allowing this guy back in your life doesn’t give him a free pass to the altar. If he starts being an unpredictable guy who disappears and communicates poorly with you, you have every right to dump him. But just because he had second thoughts does not make him a bad guy. If anything, it makes him a normal human being, who made a mistake and is now trying to rectify it.

Your script has yet to be written, Kate. Be sure and come back and let us know what happens, okay?