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?

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  1. 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!!!

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. 36

    here, here!

  7. 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:)

  8. 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!!!!

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 41
    chris prince

    @ Andrea – you said “there is no indication that the ex wants anything other than something platonic.”

    Seeing as how you’re a take-what-people-say-literally-and-at-face-value kind of a woman, how’d you like to come over to my place and I can show you the vintage button collection I keep in my bedroom?

  12. 42

    …we like to keep in touch, because, once we stake our claim, we like to check on the herd….if you start seeing someone else, we will say,,,,,,, “why did you let the stallion in?”….

  13. 43

    I hooked up with a former boyfriend whom I hadn’t seen in over thirty years. I’ve been a widow for over 25 years and he had been divorced for over 9 years. Well , he cam to see me twice over the past 5 years – once his ex remarried. Up until then he had claimed to still be in love with her.
    After his first visit, he claimed he just wanted to be friends- but we were intimate becaus he knew that I wanted it. I did- because it had been 18 years since I had been with a man, and for him it had been 9 yrs. So even though he claimed to want friendship only- I figured we must have clicked in some way. Saw him again a year later , and now just last week. When he came down it was for my daughter’s wedding, and he informed me that he was crazy in love with a woman he had been introduced to several months ago. I told him he should have stayed home, and never should have come to see me at this time. I really let him have it , and I told him that despite everything- we would have a great weekend and then I never wanted to see or hear from him again.
    I am firmly convinced that the men who do things like this- see women who they don’t want to be involved with will keep doing it until they are told off. By the way he had to travel over 2000 miles and change his reservations several times so this wasn’t a casual deciision on his part. Now , I am convinced that if his love interest will have him she will regret it for the rest of her life- but at least he will be out of my life.

  14. 44

    Sounds very familiar Dory. See my posts in October. My ex boyfriend just sent me a very suggestive Christmas card suggesting we get together so he could see my tree and some new home improvements. But,he’s still seeing the woman from the walking group. I almost laughed out loud and completely ignored his card which went into the trash. No matter how old men are, they still behave like spoiled little boys and try to get away with as much as they can.

  15. 45

    I have a question for Evan: do guys just need time to decide what they want, as in the blog above, and does this justify staying in touch with the woman they dateed and slept with previously?

    I am confused…it sounds like some of these guys ARE players and are looking for sex only, but some might be truly confused.

    In my case, I have been being contacted by my ex but I have not gotten together with him at all, barely have time to talk to him. He is back pursuing me and says he has broken up with the other woman now for about a month or so. He has flown me to visit my family. What should I do?

  16. 46

    You meet up with a bf from 30 yrs. ago who tells you he wants to be friends, but you convince him to have sex with you. You see him a year later. Four years go by, and he flys 2000 miles to attend your daughter’s wedding and tells you he has fallen madly in love with a woman he met several months ago. And you are quite upset.

    Honestly, this doesn’t sound like a man who has been stringing you along. With all due respect, it sounds like you have spent 5 years hoping for a romance that never materialized. I suppose he could have told you about the woman in his life before planning to attend the wedding, but maybe he thought telling you in person was an act of friendship?

    I am mystified by women who think they have a deep relationship with men they seldom see in person. What did you think he was doing all those years between visits? In any case, I hope you find someone close to home that really does want to be more than just friends and a once in a blue moon sexual encounter.

  17. 47

    Illinois- There’s no one foolproof bullshit-detector test, unfortunately. Some guys ARE players and are looking for sex only, but some might be truly confused. If your guy is reappearing in your life, you would be doing yourself a favor by being skeptical esp. if he hurt you once before. Like Evan says, it’s all in his actions, not his words. If he’s pursuing you again, you have to look or ask for confirmations that he’s serious.

    It sounds like he’s making some solid gestures if he’s investing in plane tickets to fly you to your family. (Does he live in the same town as your family and do you live out of town?) Beyond spending the cash, tho’, you should be looking for him to state in no uncertain terms that he wants a committed relationship with you. It’s not unheard of for a man to shower a woman with generosity, but still be unable to make the most important promise to her.


    hunter – I’m confused by your herd/stallion analogy. Are you a shepherd or some sort of ranch hand in this scenario? Are we women mares or something? And if other men are stallions and it’s your, um, herd, is this some sort of kinky interspecies mating type of thing? Or are you an equine being too who is also animorphously capable of tending to a herd? M’be like in a Disney cartoon where Goofy’s a dog and Pluto’s one too, but one’s the pet and the other is the master which would make you Goofy in this analogy, btw… Oh dear, I’m afraid all your figurative speech can be just too much for my feeble little brain. Please do clarify ’cause us fillies are really trying to figure out how the whole thing works with you male ponies or mules or, er, asses.

  18. 48

    You know a person could have “love” feelings for someone without having the same feelings recipricated. It doesn’t lessen the feelingsif they are not returned. If the object of your affection knows how you feel, and he continues to encourage you to correspond, leaving the door open for future visits- I’m convinced that he doesn’t have your best interests in mind.
    If a man really liked a woman as a friend( not romantically) he should be gracious enough to leave her alone so she doesn’t have to be reminded of him I don’t think anyone wants to be tortured by the person they are interested in. Who wants to know that the man is capable of having strong feelings for another woman?It certainly can’t give a person confidence. What I don’t understand is why men think they are being “honest” by telling someone who they know likes them that they are in love with another woman. I think they should enjoy their ne love and leave other women alone. Why would they even want to see another woman if they were so in love?

  19. 49

    I don’t know that it’s always about sex. Sometimes it might be just about missing the person who was in your life for a time. Perhaps having a subsequent relationship that was unsatisfactory and making comparisons.

    To determine whether or not it’s a good idea to start seeing an ex again might depend on how long or short term the relationship was, and what the reasons were for the breakup in the first place. What has changed? Anything?

    I don’t think the reasons for wanting to stay in touch are spurious necessarily, but they can be ambiguous, indecisive.

  20. 50

    I had the exact same thing happen. Dated a guy who said and acted like he was very attracted to me. When I admitted i had feelings for him he cooled things off without telling me the reasons. I was left sad and confused as he called a lot and we saw each other on weekends now the occasional phone call. Now he says he wants to be friends when we never were in the first place. I feel like he controlled the relationship from day one and I am supposed to go along with his feelings. Does he care about mine? He said he didn’t care about sex ( I was a virgin) because he was looking for a long term relationship. He said it would be easy for me to find someone else as I have all the qulities a guy would want in a woman. I don’t want to make excuses but he was going through some personal problems with the death of a parent and finding steady employment and also had a bad experience with a woman before meeting me. Is he scared of commitment or getting hurt? or is now not a good time for him to be in a relationship?

  21. 51

    Well Julz,
    You’ve just joined a very big club. Many, many of us have had this experience where someone comes on strong, and just as we start to think there is really something there, they abruptly drop off the radar screen, or do a fade out as in the case with your guy. It really is confusing. We wonder what happened? How did we misread him? And we try to psychoanalyze possible motives, like fear of commitment, fear of being hurt, a bad time for him to be in a relationship.

    If you read Evan’s blogs, you’ll see time and time again, that the reason simply comes down to he just wasn’t that into you. That phrase has become such a cliche I find it grating, but it’s true. Someone who is really interested in you wants to spend time with you, they don’t leave you hanging, they don’t string you along with only occasional phone calls.

    I’m sure he meant it when he told you you have all the qualities a guy would want in woman, but that was a nice way of saying, even so, you’re not the woman for him. Go ahead an attribute all sorts of psychological problems to him if it makes you feel better. But know this, you WILL find someone else for whom you are the right woman and that guy will stick around.

  22. 52

    Thanks for the advice Selena. I found comfort in your words of wisdom. I think i already knew that he wasn’t that into me anymore it is just really hard to admit it to yourself. Men really need to understand how their actions affect women emotionally and how it prevents them from fully appreciating great guys when they come do along. Evan’s reponses are great but sometimes it feels like women are supposed to tippy-toe around men so we don’t hurt their feelings. What about telling them how much they have hurt or deceived us? They are not little boys.

  23. 53

    Well Julz, I’m almost gung ho on the idea of you calling this guy to tell him how much he hurt and deceived you. Almost. Because I’m not sure he actually deceived you. It sounds like you dated just long enough for you to become attached and for him to decide you just weren’t the girl for him. It also sounds like he attempted to let you down easy (he said it would it would be easy for you to find someone else because you have all the qualities a guy would want in a woman). How do you think he should have handled it? How would you have handled it if you felt you just weren’t into him?

    The point of dating as I see it, is to see if we really connect with that other person. Sometimes we find after a period of dating, that we just don’t– long term is not in the cards. And so we have to tell them that. Is there any *good* way to do that? Any way that doesn’t hurt the other person’s feelings if they hoped the relationship would continue?

    We want someone we are attracted to to show interest. If they don’t, we figure they just aren’t into us from the get go. The confusing thing is, that mutual interest may be high in weeks 1-3, but possibly not so much by week 6 and by week 10 we have figured out this other person just isn’t the one for us for whatever reason. We just don’t know on week 1 how we will feel on week 10. If *it* isn’t there mutually, we can feel used, ‘played’, that our time was wasted. And this happens with both nice guys and nice girls who never set out to deliberately hurt someone else.

    It might be cool to have a crystal ball to look into and see just exactly how long we will be into each other, but then again maybe not. So we go on, and eventually we do find someone who ‘sticks’, and to whom we stick with as well. It’s happened to me before and I expect it will again. And for you too.

  24. 54

    I agree with the sentiments mostly but I think when you’re in the position you don’t see it that clearly. I don’t think it is that cut and dry though. Before you ask, No I am not hanging to him in the hope that he changes his mind or if nothing better comes along. I don’t want a guy to do that to me, I won’t allow it. I didn’t think he played me in a deliberate way but he set the tone of the relationship-touching, kissing, etc then telling me we should be friends later on the same night. I think there was a very strong mutual attraction and it is hard to see that dissappear. But that’s my own pride. If you say friends, mean it.

  25. 55

    Touching and kissing and then the “let’s just be friends” speech later the same night? Talk about mixed messages. What’s up with that? I’d be pissed. Maybe this guy really does have psychological problems.

    I know what you mean about it being hard to see a mutual attraction disappear, it does hurt your pride, if not your heart. It’s happened to me a few times. My post above was geared toward the nature of short term relationships–that initial attraction doesn’t always *hold*. I’ve been on both sides of that as well. Never gets any easier when you are the one who still has ‘the feelings’ and the other person doesn’t.

  26. 56

    Well, I can sympathize with you regarding confusion about someone’s feelings. The funny thing is that I don’t think the guy actually knows how he feels. I think his feelings might change from moment to moment. The problem lies when we ( women) are so dependent on how the guy treats us. Who cares if they don’t want to have a romance- someone else will eventually come along- the problem is we don’t want to admit defeat, and we keep trying to convince him that we are the right person for him.
    If the sparks are not mutual- he should be man enough to move on and let you find someone better suited for a relationship. What annoys me is the guy who wants to keep you on a string that he reels in and then lets go. He’s playing and the person he’s playiong with is you.
    By the way- it feels great to tell the guy who is doing this that he is an ass. BAsically he needs to be told off and you need to get rid of him from your thoughts.

  27. 57

    I’m going to boil it down to it’s essence…..

    JD has been relegated to the guy’s bullpen. That is why most men would continue contact.

  28. 58

    Thankyou Selena and Dory you both make a lot of sense and your advice has been very comforting. It is nice to know that others can relate to a problem and can offer real, heartfelt advice. Thanks again and best of luck to you both!

  29. 59
    Illinois girl

    Hi All,

    I saw him, and my guy is saying that he wants to come back, and when I pressed him he said that he had decided he wanted to see other people last year, but that our relationship was the only one that was any good. He wants to come here to be closer as he lives in another state. I want to give him another chance, but I am afraid he will do this again. What do you suggest? I am still very attracted to him and we get along well. He was very recently divorced when we dated a year or so ago. Time has passed and the feelings are still there.

    Illinois Girl

  30. 60

    Before getting back with an ex, I believe it’s wise to examine in depth why you broke up in the first place–are those reasons still there? In your first post you said he went cold after 6mos. He says it’s because he wanted to see other people? That might not be completely unreasonable given that he was fresh out of a divorce when you started dating. I dunno. Still hurt you though.

    Point is, can you trust his sincerity about only wanting you now? The fact he’s willing to move to be near you says something. I suggest alot of talking to determine if his feelings are really about YOU and not just about having ‘someone’.

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