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. 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?

  2. 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?”….

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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?

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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?

  9. 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.

  10. 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?

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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!

  19. 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

  20. 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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