Why do men stay in touch with an ex who they dumped?

I dated this guy long-distance for almost a year. It was a really healthy relationship and we both put forth a lot of effort to make it work. He broke it off about 6 months ago due to distance and work stress, which I understood. It was a really mature break up. We each went our separate ways and cut communication... for a month at least. He then got back in touch. We chatted casually for a few weeks and then I finally broke down and asked what his intentions were. He said he just thought we were friends. I very politely asked him to give me some space because I obviously hadn't moved on yet and his texts, emails, calls, etc. were hindering the process. We didn't speak for another month and now he's back in touch. He sends me songs to listen to, asks about work, brings up inside jokes from the past, lets me know when he's coming into town. I know men are simple creatures and when he said he didn't want to get back together, that's probably what he meant. But why feel the need to stay in touch when we live across the country? We weren't friends before we dated and he's older so we don't have the same social circles. I've tried not responding, short responses, being friendly... I would date him again in a heartbeat, but he's really messing with my head. I know only he knows what his motives are but I'd love any insight from someone who's experienced this. Is this guy confused or just simply keeping me on the back-burner?


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Most Helpful Guy

  • "I've tried not responding, short responses, being friendly..."

    Have you tried just telling him that your feelings are such that a mere friendship is just not going to do it? "Go big or go home" so to speak?

    Unless it was a nasty fight, I have always tried to remain friends with exes myself.

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    • Yeah I did. After that first month when he started reaching out, I sent an email letting him know I wasn't able to be friends with him. I let him know how much he meant to me, but that I had hoped we could work things out and seeing as he didn't feel the same, it was probably best to not be in touch. So that's why there's so much confusion as to why he is back in touch.

    • I suspect he is rekindling interest then. Keep in mind distance will remain a problem of course.

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What Guys Said 5

  • People fall into both categories on this.

    1) On one side, staying friends is the best kind of breakup there is. At least for me that would be. In any future relationship, I'd much rather be with someone who was cordial with their exes, as opposed to couples who had really nasty breakups.

    2) On the other side (apparently the side you are on) it's best to break it off completely. It's hard for some people to remain friends after a breakup.

    Neither side is wrong. It's just different ways people feel. The problem with you two is that you are on opposite sides. He wants to remain friends. You don't, at least not for now. There does not necessarily have to be a "why" he stays in touch. Maybe from his point of view he could just as easily ask "why not?"

    It seems he didn't feel like he could continue the relationship as it was, for the reasons he stated. Just because he didn't want to continue as it was doesn't mean he hates you, or never wants to talk to you again. It's not like it has to be one or the other, with nothing in between. Just like prior to a relationship there are all kinds of levels of companionship, there are all kind of levels after a breakup also.

    If you need more space / time to get over it, you need to make it clear to him. When you said you needed space, that can be pretty vague. He obviously didn't have the same idea of "space" as you did. You guys aren't on the same wavelength, meaning you aren't making it clear what you want. You are going to have to be more firm and clear what you want (and don't want).

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  • why feel the need to stay in touch? he said it specifically... "He said he just thought we were friends."

    so like friends do he is being friendly. it's understandable however if you need space and it's fine for you to convey this to him. I think it's the sign of a rather more evolved man that he didn't see you just as a romantic friend but also as a platonic friend.

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    • I agree that it's a sign of maturity to remain friendly with an ex. If I see an ex in person I'm nothing but friendly. but continuing to reach out when you know you broke their heart and they've told you they can't do the whole friends thing seems more selfish than evolved to me.

    • maybe he feel guilty about hurting you. perhaps he's reaching out because he is your friend and he wants to make sure you are ok.

      stop judging him regarding it... not saying you're wrong but it serves you absolutely no purpose... simply tell him. 'i'll be ok in time but I need space. please respect my desire of space from you.'

  • I think you need to tell him that you need time to get over him. Maybe you could be friends in the distant future and maybe not. What he's doing right now is just reopening wounds that haven't had time to heal. I once had contact with a woman I broke up with but I think that was more her choice. We don't have any contact anymore. That relationship had a lot of issues though.

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  • I didn't read that but sex

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  • He is keeping you on a back burner.

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