Why Would a Guy Keep in Touch After He Already Dumped Me?


Hi Evan,

I’ve been dating an amazing guy who’s only just recently become “too busy” for a relationship. I know that is really just code for him losing interest and that’s okay… Disappointing indeed, but okay.   Oddly though, he suggested that we have another conversation in a week’s time to see where things are at. Shortly after our breakup tonight, he sent me a text message saying he was sorry and that he’d really like to keep in touch. I told him I was open to that but that he’d have to take that step.

Evan, I’m OK with him not wanting to date me. To be honest, he is such an amazing guy (opposite of the loser musicians and wannabe actor types that I usually end up with) that I often wondered why he was dating me in the first place. But that’s obviously another issue. Why would he bother texting afterward or bother suggesting that we have another conversation about things in a week? I don’t get it. Why wouldn’t he just walk away after doing the dumping?

Just Dumped

Have you ever dumped someone, JD? It’s a horrible, horrible feeling, right up there with, well, being dumped. And this feeling, if you can imagine it, provides the full explanation for why people act inconsistent.

Step outside your own shoes and put yourself in your partner’s shoes.

As always, the best solution to being your own dating coach is to step outside your own shoes and put yourself in your partner’s shoes. Why would he possibly do what he did? There has to be some rationale. I’m just going to channel him right now and see what I can come up with:

“Well, I really like hanging out with JD, but I get the sense that she’s starting to get attached to me. And since I’m such an amazing guy, and I’m at a particularly busy time in my life, why would I want to tie myself down to just one person? Plus, the longer I continue to see her, the more I’m going to end up breaking her heart in the end. And I hate that feeling. I once dated this girl who strung me along for months and crushed my spirit, and I don’t want to do the same thing to JD. So I’m going to break up with her. Yeah. That’s the right thing to do.

Why do men keep in touch after a break up?Mostly because you let us.

On the other hand, it’s not like I ever promised to marry her or anything. I mean, she already knows I’m not fully committed. So maybe after I dump her, we’ll just stay in touch. Maybe do the occasional ‘friends with benefits’ thing. That way, I’m not technically hurting her. We have sex from time to time, I don’t have to commit, and I’m allowed to see other people. Perfect! If she lets me get away with it, she can’t get mad at me for being a creep. In fact, I think she likes me so much, she’ll just be glad to see me once every few weeks. I’m gonna send a text message to her and see how she feels…”

But that’s just my perspective as a guy who has done the same exact thing. Why do men keep in touch with you after we break up? Mostly because you let us.

Readers? What do you think?

Join our conversation (238 Comments).
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  1. 21

    I agreed with Evan until the second paragraph. Who says that he’s just in it for the sex? All of the comments have run with that, but there is no indication that he wants anything other than something platonic.
    You say, “But all guys do” right? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe he wants it but won’t act on it. Maybe he’s not attracted to her but think she’s a cool girl.

    Furthermore, many of the above comments have suggested that you can’t stay friends with people you’ve dated. I dispute this. I’ve stayed friends with most, one of whom I fell for and took a while to get over. In fact, we went for lunch earlier this week and it was fantastic. He’s amazing but parts of our personalities aren’t suited for a relationship.

    Also, I agree with Chris. The guy in question broke up with the girl when the time came, thereby not wasting her time. If he does want sex, and she’s okay with it – and yes, I believe that both people can be okay with it – then what’s wrong with that? People are so judgmental when it comes to casual sex. People think that the fact that some people can’t handle it means that EVERYONE can. Everyone’s different with their own capacity to handle situations.

    Bottom line: If you can handle a friendship with an ex go for it. If not, don’t. Gauge your own comfort level and, *consider* the opinions of others, but don’t let a bunch of strangers with only part of the story tell you the way it’s SUPPOSED to be. It’s crucial for you to be honest with yourself about what you can handle and about what you want.

  2. 22

    To Alaskagrrl:

    I’ve found it possible to be friends with a couple ex’s, but it did take an appreciable amount of time after the breakup for that to happen. To be able to be friends you need to make an emotional shift –from romantic feelings to ones of solely friendship. You have to really “be over” that person and not harboring a secret hope that they will come around and want you romantically again. This takes time. Usually quite a bit of it. From your post it seems clear that you are not there yet and that’s hardly surprising, it hasn’t been all that long since you stopped seeing this man.

    You also didn’t date all that long either and you should consider that perhaps he did you a favor– in that once he realized you were not the one for him, he let you go rather than stringing you along and letting you become more and more attached. He may genuinely want your friendship, but if his calls do nothing more than leave you in a state of yearning, you are better off not taking them until such time as you can truly feel detached–romantically–and thereby possibly open to what friendship he has to offer.

    I understand this was a rather unfortunate experience for your first time out dating Alaskagrrrl, try viewing this as ‘pratice’. He wasn’t the one for you, but someone else will be.

  3. 23

    The thing about ‘wanting to stay in touch’ after a breakup is that it’s so ambiguous. Do they really just want to see how you’re doing? Testing the waters about getting back together? Angling for the possibility of a booty call? Or waffling through all 3 possibilities? How can you know?

    I think it serves best to have no contact after a breakup for a period of at least 4 mos.-longer if the relationship was particularly intense. This gives each person time to “get over, move on” and sort out their feelings about the other and why the relationship ended. Hindsight often brings clarity and hindsight is by its nature not immediate.

    If someone kept contacting me after a breakup I know it would just make me more confused and be a stumbling block to healing.

  4. 24

    Hi there, I recently had an ex-boyfriend email me out of the blue and it didn’t see the email. Then he showed up in my city ten days later and sent me another email. I think he is trying to re-contact me and rekindle the relationship, but I was busy didn’t see him. He sent me an email saying he was glad to know that I still cared for him and he still cared for me. We have been on and off for a year, and he broke up with me to see another woman last spring. He aslo came to town late in the summer and I saw him briefly for coffee and to return his things. When he broke it off in May, I was devastated. This guy had talked about marriage and went cold on me about six months into the relationship. What do I make of this behavior? I don’t trust him anymore.

    1. 24.1

      I’m in this situation right now, we’ve been dating for few months, we love each other   but after few weeks he starting so distant and later in ask for space he said his love is fading away and he ask gor space which I agree but ge still text me but not that sweet like before, but after a week I found out that he brought a woman in hos apartment over night. This hurting me so muvh because inspite of what he did to me I still love him and responding to his text and meeting him once a week.  

      1. 24.1.1
        Karmic Equation


        This guy isn’t your boyfriend. If sleeping you’re sleeping with him weekly and are upset by the fact he’s sleeping with other women, then either A) stop sleeping with him or B) continue to sleep with him AND date other people.

        You’re still single. He’s still single. He doesn’t owe you anything just because he slept with you. YOU don’t owe him anything just because you’re sleeping together.

        If you like the sex. continue. If you want a relationship with this man, then the best thing to do is to let him go. If he really liked you, he’ll come after you. You can restart a NEW relationship should that happen. But be clear about what you want if you take him back, which is that you expect exclusivity before you sleep with him again.

        If he disappears. GOOD. He wasn’t the right man for you.

        Love isn’t a good enough reason to be in a relationship. There has to be LIKE on both sides and a true desire from both sides to be in a relationship.

      2. 24.1.2

        Love is more a decision than a feeling or emotion.   What he’s really saying is the novelty and newness has worn off and he’s not getting the warmies.   He’s done you a favor by showing you that he chases feelings.

  5. 25

    In response to Andrea who said: “Also, I agree with Chris. The guy in question broke up with the girl when the time came, thereby not wasting her time. If he does want sex, and she’s okay with it – and yes, I believe that both people can be okay with it – then what’s wrong with that? People are so judgmental when it comes to casual sex. People think that the fact that some people can’t handle it means that EVERYONE can. Everyone’s different with their own capacity to handle situations.”

    Yeah, but from reading JD’s letter, it seems fairly obvious to me she’s not in a place to handle casual sex with her ex. So the folks on this blog who speak out in favor of her not polishing the guy’s knob WHILE SHE’S STILL NOT OVER HIM aren’t necessarily being judgmental. Just realistic in this situation.

    Sure, casual sex is fine for some people. I think Mrs. Vee put it best at some point, though, when she said that many women use the “language” of sexual liberation while having casual sex to mask their motives of securing a longterm commitment, or to hide the pain from the hollowness of the sex.

  6. 26

    I wouldn’t trust him either. For one thing, the off and on deal (I’ve been through it) is a big indicator of incompatibility on the whole. You may care for each other, but you find yourselves so frequently at odds–gets tiring after awhile.

    In the case of your ex-bf, my guess would be that gets motivated to contact you when he doesn’t have something else romantically going on, when a new relationship proves not to work out. The woman he dropped you for last Spring perhaps as an example. It would appear that this has become a pattern, and if you don’t want to be devastated again, I’d suggest saying “No thanks” to any more of his attempts to hook back up with you. Unless ofcourse, you don’t mind being his back-burner girlfriend while he leaves his options open to keep scouting for a trade up.

  7. 27

    I think Selena nailed it with with her reply to Alaskagrrl.

    lorelei –
    I don’t see indication in JD’s letter one way or another about whether she’s in a place to handle casual sex with her ex. Nowhere in her letter does sex come up. Evan’s the one who raised the issue. As I said in my earlier comment, people who commented ran with that, but there is no indication that the ex wants anything other than something platonic. I think that all of this talk about sex could confuse her even more.

  8. 28

    I got an email from a man I’ve been seeing for over a year. We reconnected after many years of not seeing one another. We were hot and heavy over 20 years ago. We have survived marriages, illness and other events. Now, he wants a “moratorium” on our relationship to see how things work out with someone he just met in a walking group. He wants to continue to email me jokes, etc. and be friends. By the way, he’s no spring chicken. He’s 78 and I am 58. I’m not the beauty queen I once was either. I told him “Auf Wiedersehen.” Things never change even with age. Men akways want to leave the door open for a return engagement when they desire IT!

  9. 29
    same position

    First, I want to thank everyone for this posting – it helped me to end something similar that had been going on for way too long. Second, although I agree with a lot of what is said, the truth is that each situation is different. I was seeing someone for about 6 months before he broke up with me. 2 months later he was apologizing and, I thought, trying to get me back. Because I had fallen for him, and not lost that feeling during the break up, I was ecstatic and jumped right on board. The problem was that I was already emotionally involved, and never sure of what he wanted. The lack of communication caused us to end up in a booty-call scenario, which lasted another 6 months. I kept telling myself that no one would sleep with someone for the better part of a year without any feelings, and kept going. Finally I realized that we felt different things for each other. I don’t doubt that he cares about me or wants me in his life, but he’s not emotionally attached because it became just sex – which I allowed (and sometimes even pursued). It took all the strength I could muster (which wasn’t a lot because I had become so emotionally exhausted from the relationship) to finally put an end to it. We spoke once after and that is when I realized he had to be completely out of my life – so I cut him off. It hasn’t been easy but I know it will get better. So, thank you for all your words of wisdom to each other because it really made me realize that I am not going to get what I want when I demand nothing.

  10. 30

    Dear Same position, You sound like you got your act together. I wish you “good things.”This posting also helped me and it’s only 4 days since I got my “moratorium” email. Cheaper than shopping to ease the pain which occurs at any age when you really care for someone.

  11. 31
    same position

    Oh, Anita, I wish I had my act together. It’s only been a few days. But, the amazing thing is that although I am sad because a big part of my life is now gone (albeit unhealthy), the sadness is not the same as the angst and anxiety I was feeling. As my friends say, “Take a deep breath and step outside the rollercoaster because it has finally come to an end.” That is the good part – no more ups and downs. Now I just need to pick up the pieces and move on. Sounds much easier than it is. But after ending it, I felt this strength that he had taken away from me. Don’t take that to mean I place blame – we both engaged in the unhealthy relationship – only I was also emotionally engaged. Good luck!!!

  12. 32

    Thank you Same position, I’m going to a “Singles Discussion” group on Friday night and am volunteering at a Nature Center tomorrow. My friends tell me, this man did me a favor. Now I have more time to devote to ME and the things I love to do instead of always doing what HE wanted to do. I also feel empowered and stronger. Happy Halloween.

  13. 33

    I just happened to stumble upon this website on aol. I must say the similar situations, the insightful comments and sage advice from others has given me more perspective and understanding than the many books I have read, journaling, talking with friends, reflection, etc., etc.
    To paraphrase Evan it’s certainly easy as a third party to pass on advice and knowledge, but if you are the individual involved-whoa let me tell you all the logic, experience and common sense can (and in my case did) go out the window. After reuniting with a former love of my life from 20 years ago, I engaged in the rollercoaster ride of on-and-off again excuse-laden, withdrawal more than a Citibank ATM then I could stand. Finally, after he returned from overseas (after “dating” for a year) without so much as a call, note, text, etc -even though it was my birthday, to get together for another booty call, I laid this line on him: If you want a revolving door, go the Waldorf Astoria, because my door says one thing and one thing only-EXIT.
    So, now I see him every two-three weeks with my mother in tow and he does my mother’s teeth and mine for free. The way I figure it, Be careful of biting off more than you can chew, and I, I want to chew with pearly whites.

  14. 34

    Just found this website – thought I was going mad but I guess this happens the world over.

    Meet a guy beginning of this year online. We date – he is very intense for three months and I get caught up in the whirlwind. Calls become a little less frequent, but he seems OK when meeting, then he disappears altogether (doesn’t answer the phone or email msgs). Two months later emails to say he is an idiot and I am wonderful. Doesn’t say why he disappeared. I tell him there is no point being friends – he says he wants to meet me but doesn’t arrange anything. Two weeks of text messages later, I ask him if he wants to meet – he says that he is tired and he will chat tomorrow. Wake up call! Block his number, texts and emails.

    For some stupid reason miss him, but try and date anyway (without success) and then guess who pops up FOUR months later? He texts me from a different cell number “Hey, how’s it going? How are you – it’s X!”. Really tried hard not to respond, but I did after a week. He sends me text messages every day during the week. One or two are flirty, but others are just general chit chat, so I assume that he is not after booty call. No idea why he got in touch again and to this day I still don’t know why he broke up with me. He hasn’t been in touch for five days.

    Given up trying to figure this out. Trying to work on myself instead and convince myself that if I had a bit more faith in myself, I wouldn’t be sucked into this toxic behaviour. Here’s hoping 2008 will be better than this year

  15. 35

    ok…heres my experience…and a very recent one at that ..was dating about a yr and a half he was my best friend too and i love him dearly ..really never saw it coming ..met the family in ohio …his mom and i are close .he even told her ,,ill never meet another woman like this…bla bla bla. well.. 3 wks ago on the way to dinner ..just 2 days after he called me saying,: “you are in my heart.. i love u”
    youre very special and all that,, he broke up with me..said he wasnt “sure” needs time.

    mind you, we were always together on the weekends and have lots of memories ..just imagine ..so i can defintely identify …he says hes hurting because he hurt me. i made one mistake at first and went over to his home ..he said: he just wants to be alone ..please leave ..its very hard for me to see u” so i havent called hes called me about 3 times but is still choosing to go to his familiys home alone this thanksgiving..im hurt ,as well as stumped ..DEJAVU , I AGREE WITH YOU …THIS TOXIC BEHAVIOR THING. I GUESS I NEED TO WORK ON IT AS WELL I TOO HOPE 2008 IS A BETTER YR. THANKS FOR LISTENING ALL.

  16. 36

    here, here!

  17. 37

    I have a bit of a different opinion about the matter and my situation may be a rare case or something. I also don’t want to steer you in the wrong direction or give false hope either but here goes. I dated a guy for one year, then we moved in together, lived together and dated for another year, then he dumped me. I didn’t see it coming, I was devastated and felt like the 2 years we had spent together was a waste. I let go, I got my own apartment and lived independently and single. He called me just about every day and still wanted to talk, still said that he loved me even though I wouldn’t say it back. I would ignore his calls a lot of the time and even told him that I thought it would be best if we didn’t speak and he would be so upset so I agreed to hang out with him sometimes and he would say that he made a mistake and this went on for months until he finally asked if I would take him back. I still loved him as well and I really think that letting go was the best thing we could have done. We have been married for almost three years and have been together for 7 years counting our 4 month break up. I guess my point is, maybe he isn’t out to use you as a “friend with benefits”. Maybe he just needs time to sort things out with himself and figure out what he wants. He might want to keep in touch with you so that during this time you don’t completely lose touch and become strangers. He may still care about you but just not want to be with you at the moment for some reason. My husband (boyfriend at the time) broke up with me because he wanted to see what it was like to be single again and date other people. He did, and said that it felt wrong and that it just made him miss me and want to be with me more. I believe him because I dated and experienced the same feeling. Not sure how old you are but I think when your young and you become so committed to someone even if your heart tells you it’s right you brain, your rationale, friends, society, even family sometimes tells you it’s wrong because you’re too young. I guess to sum this up I don’t think it’s a bad idea or the other person neccessarily has bad intentions to keep in touch. Keep it strictly friends though, limit the amount of time you talk on the phone and the time you spend together. Absoulutely NO SEX! If he wants that then you need to tell him he needs to rethink his decision to break up, then give it some space. See what happens then, and even if he say’s he does want to be with you again tell him that you need some time to think about it (and really think about it). If the relationship can survive a separation and the two people still choose each other after having the option and getting a taste of freedom again, you know it’s golden:)

  18. 38

    Sonya –

    Thanks for another viewpoint. When I first started reading the posts I thought “Wow! I really need to stay away from the guy who took a break from me!” Now I’m thinking that each situation needs to be evaluated on it’s own merit. Men and women are complex and one-size dosen’t necessarily fit all. I liked what you said about “Keep it strictly friends though, limit the amount of time you talk on the phone and the time you spend together. Absoulutely NO SEX!”. That makes sense. I think I’d add “guard your heart”. Be careful not to make this an excuse to stay in relationship that isn’t going anywhere, but also not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. If you’re on a “break” or a “breakup” date other people, date him (but follow Sonya’s suggestions about limits). If he wants to come back, lay down the ground rules, watch to see if actions and words go together and that he’s pursuing you. And from my personal experience…..so easily said, so difficult to do!!!!

  19. 39

    There is absolutely no excuse for exploiting the venerability of another human being for your own benefit. He knows what he is doing. He wants sex until the real deal comes along. He knows you like him and that you will probably go along with it.

    To the guys, the best example here is when a girl dumps you but still wants you to keep taking her out and paying, mowing the lawn every week and doing odd jobs around the house. All without the rest of the good parts of real relationship. Is that what you want.

    Then think clearly and ask is that what she wants and deserves.
    She deserves the very best life has to offer her.
    The real deal.
    I hope you find the one who deserves what you have to offer.

  20. 40

    I agree with Sonya.

    If a guy or woman just wants sex, that isn’t a real relationship anyway in my book. That is a one night stand, or a hook up.

    I think the problem comes in when we get the two confused.

    If you have had a real relationship, and he needs time to be single or find out what that is like, I say let him, if you are willing to wait and still have feelings. But I agree to not have sex with him at this point, or really, ideally, again until you are married or have a marriage committment.

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