Men who start and stop communication with you are confused about what they want. Do not spend your time wondering why they are doing it
or what you can do to change it.
I’m writing this post with a lot of love for women who are losing their sane, NORMAL expectations about how they should be treated, and I’m writing this in flaming-heart commitment to the protection of wholesomeness.
Wholesomeness being a healthy, unjaded outlook on life, people, and self, whose primary evidence is a disposition of open-hearted optimism.
We’re losing that open-hearted optimism because we’ve slowly-but-surely become spellbound by idiot media/TV/internet drama which portrays “cool girls” putting up with all kinds of B.S. and tolerating disrespectful behavior. We watch this, and even when our rational mind extracts the much tamer “this is what I would do in that situation” application, we still have a fueled-by-fear addiction to being “cool” and non-needy. Add to that a history of being used, misled, or heartbroken, and watching our female friends, coworkers, sisters, and cousins get wrapped around the axel by fuckboys – we’ve slowly come to believe that this is normal and to expect anything different is to ask for too much.
I want to acknowledge upfront, that the push-pull B.S. game is not gender specific – I know that men deal with this and I know LGBT people deal with this. It’s a sucky human experience. And every orientation has nuances that make it specifically crappy for them.
Now, there is an obvious scenario in which you talk for the first time and it’s just not a match between you two and then you don’t talk again. It is an appropriate response to let the communication end.
For today, I’m talking to the women who are regularly communicating with a guy they hope to date, spend time with, and maybe even build a relationship with. This can be someone you just met, a guy who you’ve crushed on for a while, a guy who’s made a confession that he finds you attractive, or an ex who has reappeared back into your life. I will say it again:
Men who start and stop communication with you
are confused about what they want.
The context I’m referring to is the one where the conversation(s) go great and you feel like something is starting up between you and the guy drops off the face of the earth. Maybe he mentioned getting together, or he’s going to call you on the weekend… And then …crickets.
Maybe he comes back after a few weeks and starts something up with you again and then drops the ball. This also applies to a man who will only communicate by text (randomly) but never pick up the phone.
I call this “throwing pebbles at your window”
Basically, he wants to get your attention, get you to engage with him for a few minutes in a way that requires nothing from him, and after he gets his hit of connection, disappears. This guy generally has 3-4 women in his texting rotation that he throws random texts out to.
THIS DUDE IS IMMATURE and you can’t fix that.
He wants to get a dopamine hit of connection that comes from you responding to and interacting with him. Dopamine and adrenaline chemically flood his system the second he pushes “send” and waits for you to respond. Adrenaline and oxytocin surge his system the moment he sees your response. The thing you need to know is: this guy has a handful of women he’s texting for his “hit” and has no plans to take responsibility for the effect he’s having on you, nor follow through on the hope/expectation he’s building up in you because of his random compliments or half-assed suggestions you get together.
Most men who use women for a chemical hit are not even self-aware enough to know why they are doing it, and their narcissism is a barrier to feeling any empathy for you.
Please hear and accept this:
You ARE NOT being too demanding to ask for a man to be available to you and to show his dependability by regularly communicating with you when you are getting to know him.
Having a man like you but only give you random attention is NOT ENOUGH. If you like this guy enough to want to talk to him frequently, go out with him, and possibly explore a relationship, you must require consistent communication to do that.
We ladies put A LOT of stock in connection. If we feel connected with a person we make it mean that there’s something real and something valuable and we also usually assume that the guy is feeling the same thing. But you need to hold out for consistency and integrity before you indulge in your feelings of connection with him.
The only way you can figure out if you’re dealing with a quality man is to watch his actions. If he’s appearing in/out of your life without an explanation, drop him. Be aware of how this push/pull game drains your energy and don’t allow it to happen.
Connection means nothing without consistency.
The #1 excuse that women buy into the most is the “I’ve been really busy” excuse. It may be true that the guy is busy, but that’s NOT the reason why he fell out of touch.
I’ve dated men who were crazy busy – ran companies, were single dads, were training for triathlons, volunteered at the soup kitchen – but they were consistent in their communication and it never felt like the start/stop thing. We kept communication going even during times we could only see each other sporadically.
And I’ve dated guys that seemed to have a full-time job, but were always golfing, going on vacation, or at restaurants/clubs with the bros and complained that “everything was just so nuts at work” that they just couldn’t. be. in. touch.
Not to mention, as an insanely busy person myself, I always make time to communicate with those I care about. I’ve been a single mom and entrepreneur for the past ten years and it’s obvious to me that when I care for and respect someone I stay in touch with them and communicate. Because, RIGHT: I wouldn’t want to hurt them or lose them.
So let’s go over the different scenarios why a guy starts and stops communication with a woman (and if you have additional reasons, leave them in the comments and I’ll add them to this list).
REASONS WHY A GUY IS INCONSISTENT IN HIS COMMUNICATION.
1. He doesn’t know what he wants and he’s not interested or motivated enough to figure it out so he takes you for a ride on the up/down game.
2. He wants to get his dopamine hit of connection that comes from interacting with you.
3. He is under-developed or inexperienced at dating and is insecure about how much he should talk to you. He’s worried about coming across as needy, so he immaturely tries to “be cool.” This happens a lot with very young guys, or men who were married for many years and are newly divorced. Their growth stopped around the age they got married.
4. He’s dealing with something really deep, personal, or heavy like an addiction, a mental illness, a struggle to accept his sexual orientation as bi-sexual or gay, or severe financial problems and uses his connection with women to self-sooth and gain a sense of ‘normalcy.’ I have personally known male friends and clients who were dealing with these things and they are REAL. But it’s nothing that you want to get involved with. Allow him to get the help he needs from professionals, his family, and male friends. Not you.
5. He is married or in a relationship and is playing the field behind his lady’s back.
6. He’s not that into you anymore (for whatever reason), and he’s too cowardly to let you know his feelings have changed. But sometimes he gets curious about you and hits you up.
7. He just wants sex from you with no obligation or ties.
8. He doesn’t think his friends would accept you, and since he puts the opinion of his bros above your needs, he keeps you on the downlow.
9. He’s your ex, and he’s between relationships, so he wants to indulge in what feels familiar and comforting with no requirement from you that it will go further.
In the most extreme cases, the man who constantly plays the push/pull game is an Intimacy Avoidant, which is a real condition. It means that getting romantically close to someone is terrifying to him – love feels smothering to him when it gets to the point he has to commit and be responsible. The avoidant is so totally consumed with insecurity and shame and performance anxiety that he can’t let a woman get close to him for fear of failing or being abandoned.
Avoidants have highly narcissistic tendencies and are devoid of empathy. That’s because their psyche is filled with toxic levels of resentment, shame, and self-hatred toward themselves that they have no room to feel for anyone else. They are afraid that if they fall in love and become vulnerable with someone, they will literally implode and be destroyed by the responsibility of it, or by being abandoned. Now, you would never know the guy is dealing with this, just judging by appearances, because the Intimacy Avoidant is usually one of the smoothest, funniest, most charismatic men you’ll encounter. That’s because he’s developed a multi-layered armor of survival and protection, which usually includes an air of entitlement (fascinatingly, also stemming from low self-esteem and self-hatred), and to which our female brain misinterprets as “confidence” and thus causes the lady loins to burn.
So don’t judge a book by his cover. Assess by his actions. And this guy’s calling card is the disappearing act.
I want to be clear about something: There ARE good men who are emotionally intelligent, confident, and know how to treat a woman. They walk into a room, confidently own their power, they have many responsibilities and facets to their lives, but here’s the differentiator: These men are solid. They value their self-respect above anything and will keep their word and have a tell-tale pride in possessing a protector/provider air. They aren’t empty, arrogant, egoic showmen looking to get some attention. Do your homework and know the difference.
Now, a few words of practical advice…
FOR MEN WHO WANT TO HANDLE THINGS WITH INTEGRITY.
WHAT TO SAY TO A WOMAN YOU ARE NO LONGER INTERESTED IN:
It happens. You are talking to a woman for a while and, in the exploratory process of communicating, you realize you’re not interested in her anymore. Or someone else comes into the picture that you like more. You must be honest and tell her. DO NOT just disappear on her assuming she’ll figure it out or that it is somehow better than being upfront about the situation. Please do not use the fear of hurting her feelings as a reason to not say the truth. It’s NOT better to ignore someone; it’s actually very damaging to them.
Do you owe her this? Yes. As a decent human being, you do. When you say you’re going to call, make plans for the weekend, be in touch, check in, show interest or evoke any kind of hope or expectation in the heart of another person, you owe them an explanation when you are no longer willing to do that. Because otherwise, you are adding to distrust and pain on the planet.
Just be truthful and gracious and say, “I’m sorry. I just don’t feel the necessary attraction that needs to be in place to build a deeper relationship with you. I respect your time and I think you are a wonderful person. I wish you the best.”
And then take her number out of your phone.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU’RE INSECURE OR UNSURE ABOUT HOW MUCH TO BE IN TOUCH:
It’s a normal human experience to feel unsure sometimes. Ask yourself, “Do I want to be with a woman who likes to be in communication and is enthusiastic about getting to know me?” If the answer is yes, then reach out to her every other day (or so). It doesn’t have to be an hour long conversation every time, just a quick text to say ‘Hey, I’m thinking about you.’ Pick up the phone and call her and make plans to see her. A woman that likes you is wanting you to do this. If she’s interested in you, she will receive this well and she will respond warmly. If she has intimacy-avoidant issues or just doesn’t feel the same toward you, then you will feel it by her lack of excitement. Ok bummer, but now you know. In that case, don’t shrink away like a dog with your tail between your legs. Address the situation kindly but directly, “I sense we’re not a match. I wish you well.”
FOR THE LADIES WHO ARE TRYING TO HEAL FROM THE “COOL GIRL” SYNDROME.
If a guy is here one minute, gone the next, you can address the situation directly (as every strong woman has the right to do) while protecting yourself from bitterness.
Bitterness grows from putting yourself in situations that you know are bad for you with the hope that they will go differently this time, and then getting resentful because they don’t. Bitterness also grows from not addressing what needs to be addressed because you are afraid of looking crazy and then tolerating behavior that doesn’t work for you.
IF YOU ARE NEWLY DATING SOMEONE AND THEIR COMMUNICATION STYLE ISN’T WORKING FOR YOU:
Just be honest. Be courageous enough to tell them what would work better for you and give them a chance to meet you half way.
If you’ve been talking to someone for a few weeks and he hasn’t asked you out yet, ask him why. Say, “Hey, I’m just wondering why you haven’t made plans for us to get together?” And then be quiet, and let him respond. If he says something like, ‘Oh, I’ve been really busy’ and then he doesn’t ask you out right then and there, let this dude go.
If you’ve been getting to know someone mainly through text/email/messenger, you need to have some phone and then face time. Just say, “Hey I’ve enjoyed chatting with you, but I find it hard to get to know someone through text. Can we set up a time to talk?” And then see how he responds. If he acts resentful or doesn’t call you within a day or two, he’s not interested in the real experience of getting to know you. Bye boi.
WHAT TO DO WITH A GUY WHO IS CONFUSING YOU WITH HIS PUSH/PULL ANTICS:
Once you realize you are wrapped up in the push/pull game, my best advice is to totally disengage. Your intuition is super smart here, and if you’re reading this article and someone has immediately come to mind as you were reading, then bingo, baby – your intuition is telling you that this dude is no good.
Do not, I repeat DO NOT, get in touch with him to confront him. You are going to be highly tempted to tell him off or “have the last word” but don’t do it because it starts the engagement all over again. Instead….
Get back to center. Right now get out a piece of paper and write down 5 nurturing things you can do to help you get back to your strong grounded self. Call a girlfriend, take a yoga or spin class, buy flowers for yourself (Trader Joe’s has $4.99 bouquets), take a walk downtown or in the park, go to Sephora with $40 and explore the face masks, take a drive and listen to a favorite playlist, cook yourself an organic dinner, scrub your bathroom and clean your makeup brushes (hey, puts me in an empowered mood!), clean out the bookmarked links on your computer, go to the bookstore and buy He’s Just Not That Into You, Crazy Time, Attached, It’s Called a Breakup Because It’s Broken, Getting the Love You Want, or Disarming the Narcissist (all my faves).
Please be on guard for all the ways your ego (I call the Survivor) will try to justify his behavior, tell you you’re being “too hard” on him, you’re being too demanding/unreasonable, or the most convincing…that you don’t care that much. This is your inner voice, and it wants that hit of connection too. Yeah girl, taking 100% responsibility for how you’ve wanted this mistreatment is POWER. Responsibility is not blame – it’s simply acknowledging that this scenario is happening because you’ve been open to accepting less than what you want, and there is some part of you that gets thrilled every time drama is created by the push/pull.
This is what “explaining” yourself is all about, and why I tell you not to do it. It is a ruse, masterfully run by the inner-Survivor, that acts like you are making a case for your defense – but what you are doing is begging him to change your mind. You’re offering reasons, hoping he will give you an explanation that makes sense and will allow you to hold on to him. Once you’ve observed this guy’s action of reeling you in and then throwing you back out a few times, you must make a powerful decision to never allow him to do it again. This guy is DONE-zo.
When he contacts you again, keep it simple and direct. Say something like, “Hey, I’m no longer up for this back-and-forth. No hard feelings, but I don’t want to be in touch.” Leave it there. He most likely will act confused, defensive, or try to get you to explain. DO NOT EXPLAIN. DO NOT REPLY to his apologies. As soon as you start talking he will twist things to make himself right and you wrong, throw guilt or shame on you, try to make you feel like you’re over-sensitive or crazy, or just manipulate you back into the game by capitulating. Remember, this guy is using the connection to make himself feel high, and if you surprise him by interrupting his fix he won’t be happy. His survival instincts will have him move on quickly to the next girl in rotation, but he’s going to have to make you wrong before he walks out the door. It’s called power tripping.
So why even answer at all? Because you need to close the door with integrity and use your voice. The integrity of the situation is that you no longer wish to be contacted by him, and you must use your voice to speak that truth.
The areas in our life that need transforming
will always attract crisis and drama until we
are committed to transforming them.
The crisis will accelerate and the drama will intensify.
Commit to transforming what needs transforming.
Using our voice and being courageous in these situations WILL turn the tide of what is customary and expected in male/female relationships.
Ok, now it’s your turn. How have you handled the push-pull guys? When did you take your power back? What advice would you give women who are going through this right now? Please, answer in the comments. Your voice is appreciated here!
All the light,
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Do you take things a little too personally?
I address this very common issue in my latest workshop that explores the reasons WHY we feel stung in certain situations. I give you a step-by-step outline of what to do when confronted, embarrassed, or hurt by someone else’s actions, what to say, and how to move on from the experience with confidence.
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