Please Advise: How did his feelings for me disappear so quickly?

A Nerve reader falls in love at the exact wrong moment. Help her out.  


Wise readers,  

Each week, the inbox of our venerable advice columnist, Miss Information, is flooded with queries. And although she makes a valiant effort, she cannot answer them all. To deal with the surplus, we've decided to turn to you. So, don your spectacles and help this woman out. You can give her advice in the comments below, or, if you'd like to share what you wrote with your friends, on our Facebook page


Dear Nerve,

Okay, I'll start at the beginning: there was a guy I knew had feelings for me. We were just friends, but he made clear that he wanted to be more than that. We went out on a few dates, and slept together, but it just didn't feel right, so I broke it off. We continued to be friends.

A few years passed. We've seen each other go through different relationships and stayed friends, but recently, something changed. I know it's cliche, but seeing him with other girls made me realize how great he really is. I've never done anything to get in the way of his previous relationships, but all of a sudden, I found myself secretly pleased when he inevitably broke up with his "girlfriend of the month." What's more, I knew he still carried a torch for me — he said so constantly, and often wistfully remarked on what a great couple we would be.

After my latest falling out with another guy, he asked me out again. It was different this time. We started up a relationship — it felt so right. I fell for him, and I fell hard. I mean, I was planning the wedding in my head. Then out of nowhere, he broke it off with me, saying that my first instincts had been right all along — we aren't meant to be.

I'm heartbroken. I want to be with him. Is it possible he's just doing this as retaliation for when I broke it off years ago? I can't understand how his feelings for me could have ended so suddenly. I want to call him and convince him he made a mistake, but I know that's probably crazy. What should I do?

— Second Chance Heartburn

Help her out in the comments below. Got a question of your own? Email

Commentarium (34 Comments)

Jul 28 11 - 12:15am

I've been in your shoes.

The thing is, people change. And in those few years between the times you dated, you and him both changed. You had these memories of how things used to be, but when you got back together, he realized that it wasn't the same any more. I know personally, if I spend too much time with someone I'm not dating, they end up in the perma-friend-zone, and maybe that's what happened with him. Looking back, the ex who did this to me felt more like a brother or a friend than a boyfriend, but I'd gotten to used to the idea that we should be together that I didn't see it at the time.

Don't call him. Pick yourself up, get over him, rekindle the friendship in a few months, and go date someone else.

Jul 28 11 - 12:24am
You'll thank me

Don't beg him to come back.

It's hard, but if he doesn't want to be with you, then why would you want to be with someone who doesn't want to be with you 100%?

After years of carrying the torch, it just may be that you in reality and you in his fantasy are not the same person, which he realised after properly dating you this time?

Talk to him, ask him why he left, tell him how you feel about him, but I don't think you should try to convince him to come back. If he wants you, he'll come back on his own.

Best of luck.

Jul 28 11 - 12:33am

He might be the kind of guy who craves drama ... the thrill of not having you was so much better than the thrill of being with you. Don't call him, instead, fill up your social calendar ... you'll be too distracted to think about him.

Jul 28 11 - 1:01am

Betty is sooo wrong. Okay, I can't be sure she is wrong or that I will be right, but as a male, I can tell you that the same reasons that you think he is great and brought you near him are the same reasons he had a change of heart. This guys is a thinker. He cogitates things. He is perhaps now at a point where he can envision himself without your love, given the years that he probably secretly loved you.

Jul 28 11 - 1:15am

I think that whenever there is a severe power imbalance in a relationship, it means something's not right between those people. People who really, truly click with each other tend to have a dynamic where they're equals. In your relationship, the power has shifted back and forth between you two - first you had it, and then he had it - but it's never just been equal. I think that speaks to something. Based on the fact that you both, at some point, had this visceral reaction to the other where you were profoundly struck by the feeling that "something is not right," I'm inclined to believe that, on a deeper level, something is truly not right. Even if you can't see it now...just keep on trucking. I bet at some point down the line, when you're with someone who IS right, you'll be grateful that this one got away. Take care.

Jul 28 11 - 1:22am

Ok, let's open up the hood and have a look. I see it. When you broke it off with him, *he* was still in the dreamy stage. He had not seen the real you. At the time, *you* were more clear-headed one and broke it off.

That left him to pine for you. Which...let's be honest..."worked" for you. Always nice to leave them wanting.

Spin forward to the current fiasco. He entered as he was left - still dreamy. You on the other hand were unbalanced from your recent breakup and, as is often the case, leafed through your mental notes of past relationships and thought - you know, this guy wasn't so bad! Maybe I was wrong. Maybe I'll give him another chance. Oh he's *dreamy*.


It didn't take him too long to reach the same conclusion you did in the original encounter. But that was not all. He had a heaping bowl of foolishness to eat when he realized how long he had pined for the wrong girl. Hurt in *two* ways. Thus the abrupt break-off. You may have lost a friend over this. Time will tell.

Retreat to higher ground. Try to avoid this type of emotional carpet bombing in the future as it is clear there are innocents being injured.

Oh, and your radiator fluid is a little low.

Jul 28 11 - 3:09pm

You are dead right, and a great writer too

Jul 28 11 - 7:15pm

Well said, and this definitely seems to be the case. Funny how tightly people can hold to a fantasy even with the person right there in front of them as a friend all that time.

Jul 28 11 - 3:13am

I would guess he has been building you up in his mind for so long that now when he finally had you, through no fault of your own, you did not live up to what he made you to be in his head. No slight to you. This happens all the time, especially when you pine after someone.

Jul 28 11 - 2:39pm

Finally a voice of reason. I agree with Rish 100%. He had just built you up in his mind and the reality hit. I don't know where some of the other advice is coming from but coming from a guy who yearned after someone for eight years, finally got my "dream girl" and I soon realized that she wasn't anything that I had imagined her to be so I broke it off. It happens, at least he was honest telling you your instincts were right from the beginning and now it's only your reactive emotions that are causing you to still cling to him.

Jul 28 11 - 7:52am

This is why people date, cause you don't know until you try it out. You tried, and it just didn't work for him. You figured it out quickly the first time around, and he figured it out this time around. It sucks, but move on.

Jul 28 11 - 10:12am

Yeah... I think this pretty much nails it.

Jul 28 11 - 9:26am

If he's been having a different girlfriend every month, there just might be something about him that keeps him from being with the same person for very long. Once he had you, you fell into the same category. I know it hurts, but you can find someone better than that.

Jul 28 11 - 10:38am

It sounds like he is a serial dater. Nothing wrong with that, but maybe you thought, because he held a torch for you for so long, that you'd change him. Lesson learned. I also agree that he probably built up a fantasy of you which didn't match up to the reality of you. This sucks, but it happens to people sometimes, especially to guys who have a long term crush on a female friend.

Not to sound like a downer, but you should probably know that as soon as you are in a good relationship with a guy who likes you for who you really are, your friend/ex is probably, in a fit of regret, going to tell you he cares for you romantically again. You can mitigate this by keeping him at arm's length. Don't let him suck you into any relationship-ruining drama.

Jul 28 11 - 11:18am

I think all of the advice so far has been great, and I really have no guesses as to who's wrong and who's right about his particular reasons for breaking it off. But I will say, mulling it over will not do you any good. He's not interested in you at the moment, and whatever his reasons, they are legitimate to him. Hell, even if it was just retributive (which seems very unlikely), that's legitimate to him. You cannot convince him to stay with you if he doesn't want to -- relationships just don't work that logically. Back off. Stay friends with him if you can. Moreover, it sounds like this JUST happened (at least, at the time of writing), so who knows -- maybe he'll be more forthcoming and explanatory (in a gentle way) in the future. Remember that you cannot convince anyone to love you, no matter how well-reasoned your plea, and slowly give up on him as a romantic interest.

Jul 28 11 - 3:07pm
Irina G

I agree with some of the people who have said that he just built you too much in his head. And I think maybe part of you built him up too. Look at what you're saying, you knew it wasn't right but then after many breakups you began to look at your friend as maybe being "right" for you. I think you were heartbroken and wanted someone who was dependable (him) and he wanted this perfect girl that he could never have (you). It was only a matter of time before one of you realized that sometimes people are "just friends" for a reason.

Best of luck, cry your eyes out, keep yourself busy with OTHER friends (and/or dates cause, let's face it, those can be a good distraction) and in a month or two, when your heart isn't totally in agony, ask him what went wrong on his end. But do NOT beg him to come back. You'll realize soon enough that it's the right decision.

Jul 28 11 - 4:02pm
Daniel D.

Good comments here. We are all human. I wish we could realize how good we have it when the right person is there, right in front of us. For the other 99% of us, we'll keep trying it over and over, maybe we'll get lucky one day.

I've been through relationship after relationship where the "balance" was wrong.. I didn't love her enough at *this* time, then later, I loved her too much at *that* time, after she had kinda moved on and was "over it".

Seems like the timing is never right for anybody... don't feel too bad about these friend romances. I've been on 2 day long first dates, thought everything was going in Grand Fashion, only for the woman involved to find a reason not to like me. After a two day long first date, I never saw her again.

Pity, I thought she was great. Timing? Or just the mood of the masses at the moment?

Jul 28 11 - 5:10pm

So many wise comments here. Just to take one:
Based on the fact that you both, at some point, had this visceral reaction to the other where you were profoundly struck by the feeling that "something is not right," I'm inclined to believe that, on a deeper level, something is truly not right. Even if you can't see it now...just keep on trucking.

Jul 28 11 - 9:54pm

Masturbate. Regularly.

Jul 28 11 - 11:16pm
Buck Nasty

I've been in a similar place. For whatever reason these things take a life of their own. Leave it alone, whether you understand it or not. Something is/was wrong. Its okay. Understanding it/why won't make it better. Consider yourself lucky and move on.

Jul 29 11 - 1:29am
Wiser Now

Let him go and leave him alone. You know what you know, and that's all you need to know. Get your disappointment out of your system, then get busy doing something fun, rewarding, productive rather than dwelling on "coulda/woulda/shoulda" Host a girls night out.

Take it from a guy who was single twice during adulthood. I had my share of relationship disappointments -- girls who were unavailable when I was, then vice versa; great first dates followed by no returned phone calls or emails; first dates that never occurred 'cuz "something came up"

Now repeat after me -- "I'm smart. I'm beautiful. I'm a great catch. I will not settle for second best..."

Jul 29 11 - 3:43am

There's not a lot of info to go on, so I'll just offer some explanation from a guy who has been known to suddenly go cold and bail out.

He likes you, but you're not quite what he's imagined in terms of the girl he's looking for. So in his mind he can't or won't allow himself to fall in love with you because he knows he won't be satisfied. He might be able to spend years with you but all the while wishing he had more/something else/someone 'just right' instead of 'pretty good' or 'not bad'. When he starts to realize that you're into him and are falling hard for him, he experiences a certain degree of guilt or a conflict in his head. Good guys will inevitably feel responsible for the feelings of the girl they're with, even when they shouldn't or don't need to be. Knowing he couldn't reciprocate your feelings, he called it off before either of you become even more invested in it.

That's my theory. Then again, you might have just had really bad breath and he didn't know how to tell you. :-)

Jul 29 11 - 2:59pm

This guy simply woke up and got with the program. He knew that you played him for all these years (i know it sounds mean, but I'd be willing to bet you did lots of unintentional jealous behaviors when you were "just friends"), and now that he actually got to date you, he's seen the truth behind his fantasy. You can't force someone to love you, and if they have a fantasy idea of what dating you would be like, it's never going to live up to it. Think of it as a crying shame, but move on.

Jul 29 11 - 3:15pm
walk the line

If he actually came out and said it than it is most likely true. It's one of the hardest things to do, break it off with someone and tell them that you're just not that into them. Keeping in mind how difficult that conversation is, I would believe the validity of his decision and feelings and let it go.

Jul 31 11 - 10:22am
in your shoes

I went through a similar situation. I have a friend who I went to high school with, but didn't really become acquainted with until after we graduated when we had the same summer job. We started hanging out a lot and did some romantic things that were never really specified as dates. Nothing too serious ever happened between us, but we did mess around at a party and a couple of his friends specifically told me he was into me. Then in between college and each of us dating other people, the timing just never really worked out. Fast forward a few years, I was making a road trip out of moving home after being gone for a year and on the way I crashed with him at the hotel where his job had been putting him up. Everything finally seemed to fall into place. We went out to dinner, had great conversation, and had a pretty spectacular make-out session. It turned out that he was able to leave the next day with me and we drove tandem 12 hours to a friend's place to stay before heading home. For the next week we were almost inseparable. Then he was sent off on another job and wasn't going to be back for a few weeks. In that time we talked more sporadically and mostly just texted. I missed him, but didn't want to intrude on his work so mostly I let him contact me. When he was home again, we hung out and had a great time. However, he called me the next day to cancel his plans with me and tell me he just wasn't "feeling it". I was crushed. My friends said because we had never actually slept together he decided I wasn't worth it, but believe me he had his opportunities. I think he was skeptical and didn't want to hurt me. I had built him up in my head for so long, and maybe he did too, but for whatever reason things didn't quite click for him. Looking back I realized that it wasn't the most natural of relationships. I was the one stuck in the dreamy stage and chose to ignore the signs that we weren't right for each other. That seems to be similar as what you went through. Something clicked for you and you felt like you could "finally be together", but he just didn't feel the same when his fantasy became a reality. Maybe for you he's the one who got away, but you can't make yourself miserable over it and time will tell if that's really true. I think this is the reigning theme of the answers here so all you can do is move on.

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