Please Advise: I'm only interested until he likes me back. How do I stop moving on? 

A Nerve reader tries to break her love 'em and leave 'em ways.

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 girl 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,

A couple of months ago, I made the really drastic decision to move to another country to finish my degree in nursing. Right off the bat, I clicked with this one guy and we became close. From the beginning, I told him I didn't want a boyfriend while I was abroad (even though I'll be here for four years). Relationships are just too hard for me, because I seem to only have a two-month attention span when it comes to guys.

Here's how my formula usually goes: I meet a guy, we get along, we date, I fall pretty hard and "swear I've never felt like this before," and everything's perfect. Then suddenly, as though someone flipped a switch, I'm no longer interested. I get irritated, I pick stupid fights, I begin to act distant, guy gets confused, we break things off. I pretend it never happened, while the guy is still trying to figure out what the fuck happened.

It's a sad, pathetic cycle, I know. So, the second I started getting feelings for this new guy, I told him it would be best if we didn't date. We continued to hang out, but eventually fell into boyfriend/girlfriend roles, texting/calling constantly, being each other's dates to various functions, sneaking around and hooking up, though we would tell each other and everyone else we know that we were "just friends."

We began running into problems when a friend of his expressed interest in me. I was stupid enough to consider it, my logic being that I'd rather going through my "cycle" with some random hot guy than keep going with my friend and ruin everything. But before anything happened, I realized I would hurt my friend, and did nothing.

But, everything changed anyway. Though we still hook up, he's distanced himself. He goes out of his way to flirt with other girls in front of me, doesn't ever text or call me anymore, ignores me when we're around other people until I approach him (and if I don't, he ignores me the entire time), and generally just tries to act aloof when we're together. I called him out on it the other day and he response was that he still felt the same about me, but he knows his two-month time limit is almost up.

Perversely, since he's pulled away, I've found myself interested in him all over again. We're passing the two-month mark, and I still want to date him. I know it's because he's pulled away that I'm interested, and I know that's stupid, but I can't help myself.  

Should I keep after him and try to make it work? Or just find another fling? I should add that we're in the same nursing program, so I'll see him every day for the next four years, no matter what. If the advice is to cut my losses, how do I move on when I see him every day?

 Benefits Gone Awry

Help her out! If you've got questions of your own, email them to

Commentarium (35 Comments)

Aug 18 11 - 2:53am

Have no idea how old you are. Going to assume younger BECAUSE when I was 18 I also moved across the country and handled dudes/ladies with the same sort of schedule. As I got older, it actually passed and I began to enjoy the company I kept because I chose people on less superficial reasons ("Oh my god, we totally love the same band? MEANT TO BEEE. I have never loved anyone as much as I have loved youuuuuu!") . Obviously these are not details the letter writer provider however, it sounds very very familiar.

Part of why you're attracted to him again is because he's playing hard to get and it's purely psychological. If you're going to pursue him, go all out and if not, then mutually agree it's for the best that you keep it civil to get through school.

Aug 18 11 - 3:14am

This person shouldn't be dating ANYONE right now. Instantly switching from hot to cold, never being able to follow through, going through people like used Kleenex -- these are all signs of serious mental health issues that make love and intimacy basically impossible. You're not recognizing the men in your life as human beings; they're toys to you, things to be used for ego gratification and then thrown away on some pretext when they get boring. Stop it, and get help.

Aug 18 11 - 11:44am

She decided not to get with some other guy because she thought it would "hurt [her] friend." How is that not recognizing the man as a human being? Stop taking your issues out on the letter writer.

Aug 18 11 - 12:50pm

Read up on Narcissistic Personality Disorder and/or Borderline Personality Disorder. This isn't typical young-adult uncertainty and indecision, this is pathological.

The whole "suddenly, as though someone flipped a switch, I'm no longer interested" thing is a huge, huge red flag. Waking up one day and deciding that yesterday's "perfect" relationship is today's "I need to find a casus belli to end this" relationship is batshit crazy (to quote a later commenter who seems much more indulgent towards this kind of garbage). And it shows no real compassion or care for the other person, no insight, no desire to figure out why she just wakes up one day and decides to boot a person who loves her. She doesn't need dating advice, she needs to look in the mirror and figure out what happened to her.

Aug 18 11 - 9:00pm

No, this is plain old, ordinary "I like the chase." Let's not go nuts.

Aug 19 11 - 1:17am

No, it really isn't. People who like the chase lose interest quickly, but not overnight, and they usually know why -- they chased after someone who wasn't really right for them, or they're not ready to settle down, or whatever. But this person claims to have no insight into what's happening, and goes from bliss to indifference "as though someone flipped a switch". That's FUCKED UP, and anyone who thinks it's normal is fucked up too. Period.

Aug 19 11 - 10:28am

Seriously people? 6-8 weeks is pretty much the definition of fling and usually around the time most normal people find a once-exciting relationship fizzle.

The *only* issue here is this girl gets a little too intense on both sides of the spectrum. Also notice, she was fairly up front and kept things steadier in this most recent encounter and *SHOCKINGLY* things are moving beyond the 2 months.

Advice: Review what you're up to. Keep your feelings in check and be more controlled (but not so much to be like most of the people commenting here). Maybe give yourself a rule that you refuse to consider "love" etc. until you've been with someone 3 months and chalk up any feelings that come beforehand as likely infatuation (which is still fun, so don't fret).

When the time comes that you don't want to be with someone any more--whether after 2 weeks or 2 months or 2 years, put on your big girl pants and talk to them as an adult. It'll suck, but you can at least move on as a decent person.

Aug 19 11 - 5:16pm
kellie b

sounds like whatever has gotten dumped by too many ladies in the past...

Aug 20 11 - 8:22am

sounds rather to me like someone's an amateur psychiatrist. flagging someone out as having "serious mental health issues" based on one letter? what the hell is your problem? couldn't it just be that she's a little immature or indecisive?

oh no, we can't have that can we. after all, this is an american website, and god knows americans are neurotic as hell and want a label to attach to every damn thing so they can go to a doctor and get a pill to fix it.

people attempting to diagnose borderline or narcissistic personality disorder on a fucking internet forum can FUCK OFF

Aug 20 11 - 2:43pm

@kellie b: Nope, just tired of seeing people make excuses for destructive behavior. But I admire the way you took a personal swipe at me; really admirable, and great karma too.

@jockstrap: Immature/indecisive people don't flip like switches. It's pretty brave of you to tell someone to fuck off over the Internet.

Aug 21 11 - 4:41pm

@whatever: Although I can understand your concern for the people who may be at the end of Benefits Gone Awry's actions, one letter is not enough fodder to determine a serious mental illness within someone.

Not to mention people with narcissistic personality disorder usually do not care about other people, and always see themselves as the wronged party and are blameless thanks to their self-importance. (A comprehensive list of symptoms can be found here: Benefits Gone Awry has acknowledged that something is wrong with her actions, and is trying to seek an answer to rectify the situation; not trying to lay the blame at the other party's feet.

I suppose the argument can be made that she is trying to find a solution that would make everything better for herself; but after re-reading her letter, it hardly seems fair to call someone a narcissist for trying to resolve a conflict in a relationship that means a lot to her.

Aug 18 11 - 4:23am

Yup. what he said. Take some time to work on yourself. Research the EgoMind and why you are constantly dissatisfied. It has nothing to do with the guys, it is all YOU. You don't really value anybody else and treat them with respect because you don't treat yourself with respect either. As soon as somebody cares for you you bail? Yup, classic case. Luckily, even in just a few months of treatment you can begin to see a drastic change. Get therapy. You will find the peace you've been chasing after with man after man.
Good luck and God bless.

Aug 18 11 - 11:24am

Yes, yes, why haven't you researched the EgoMind yet, you crazy narcissistic whore! Can't settle down? Haven't found "the one"? Don't like your boyfriends. There's no question: you must be batshit insane.

Classic case. Classic case.

Aug 18 11 - 2:56pm

Yes, you're absolutely right CaCaw! After you've been through dozens of men and find yourself incapable of emotionally committing to a relationship, the last person you should ever consider looking at is yourself.

Aug 18 11 - 3:21pm

Hey, I'm not saying it's impossible she's crazy. Or that therapy couldn't possibly do her good. And when the hell did I say that the problem wasn't with her. I just think the way AM and Whatever are so quick to jump the gun on and call this writer mentally disturbed says more about them then it does about this writer.

I dunno, maybe they have a lot of girlfriends that have dumped them and they're bitter as hell. Hey, now that I think of it, maybe they need therapy too. Get help, AM. You will find the peace you've been chasing after, comment after comment.
Good luck and God Bless.

Aug 18 11 - 4:01pm

Since you asked: out of the dozen or so relationships I've had in my life (most of which have been lovely), only one was with a person like BGA. It was great at first, then turned to shit almost overnight when she started doing exactly what the LW described: picking fights, acting distant, belittling and demeaning me, and basically trying to provoke some sort of crisis so that she could find an excuse to break things off. In retrospect I realize that some of what she was doing was probably verbal abuse, but I was young, naive and in love, and didn't think women could abuse men.

She was the only ex I've ever had with whom I didn't part amicably, or at least civilly. Oh, and for the record: I dumped her, not the other way around. That took her by surprise, and I'd be lying if I said it wasn't gratifying to get the drop on her.

I've had 2-3 friendships that were ruined by behavior like BGA's. Sex and love weren't involved in those, but the sudden change in the wind was still painful and hard to understand. More to the point, I've had many, many friends of both genders who have had at least one relationship with someone like BGA, and had their hearts broken. At first it seems incomprehensible but there's actually been one hell of a lot written about this personality type, and the patterns of behavior are frighteningly consistent: BGA could hardly be more typical if she tried, right down to the lack of insight into why she's doing this.

The world, which is too full of assholes as it is, certainly doesn't need more people like BGA. They hurt other people, leave a trail of broken hearts in their week, and make the world a more cynical and unpleasant place...and more often than not, they get excused for it, because they're usually attractive, intelligent and charming. Yet I know people who have been through the shittiest childhoods imaginable, and still manage to conduct themselves with decency, empathy, and kindness. What's BGA's excuse?

Aug 18 11 - 4:02pm

week = wake, argh

Aug 21 11 - 3:55am


Wow, a series of emotional relationships ending because you were unable to understand the other person reactions and responses? That sounds like undiagnosed Asberger Syndrome... undiagnosed until now, that is! Now say thank you to the Internet.

Aug 21 11 - 2:17pm

I'm definitely thinking of a phrase that ends in "...k you", but not the one you have in mind. Anyway, shouldn't you be ripping the arms off of ninjas or something? (P.S. Christ, this site circles its wagons whenever anything with a vagina gets criticized.)

Aug 22 11 - 6:21am

Mortal Kombat 2 reference, eh? Serious symptoms, very serious. I diagnose that you have never known the touch of a woman.

Aug 18 11 - 8:40am

Have you tried talking to him and explaining to him the exact situation?

Aug 18 11 - 11:55am

Since you know you have this pattern, I suggest you stay away from men you know you will have to see for longer than 2 months because you go to school or work together. For now, focus on all the great men in the rest of the world. If you get tired on them in 2 months, you can move on; if you end up breaking your pattern, you can stick around. Either way, it's less drama with someone whose not a coworker.
As for this guy, I suggest apologizing for hurting his feelings and explaining why you did so. Then, tell him you want to keep it to just friends and stick to it! Stop hooking up with him. Once he believes you're not going to have sex with him, he will probably stop trying to entice you through flirting with other girls and being aloof which will then make you want him less. You might not return to being good friends again, but he should stop playing hard to get and start acting normal again which will help you feel normal towards him.

Aug 18 11 - 12:12pm

I never comment on these things, but all the comments so far are so batshit crazy that I feel like I had to chime in. Listen, I know communication can kill the fluttery butterflies feelings that come with liking someone, but in this case I think you need to talk it out. Just say, "I'm sorry I've got this weird self-fulfilling prophecy two month relationship killer thing, which I should have never brought up so early in the relationship, but since we still dig each other can we give this a go?" And SWEAR that you will be open and honest about your feelings in the future and won't just ghost on him if you decide you're no longer into it (because I think we can both agree that that is douchey and childish). HOWEVER, I would also encourage you to try sitting on your emotions a little longer before you act on them. I get that emotions often feel very immediate, like you have to talk and make a decision NOW, but that is rarely the case. Since waffling seems to be an issue with you, once you have the feeling "I want to be with him!" or "I don't want to be with him!" sit on that feeling for an entire week. Maybe two. Try to ride out that initial wave of manic emotions to see if it's how you really feel. And then be direct with the guy.

Aug 18 11 - 8:03pm

*clapping for Hannah*
Interesting, I wasn't sure there was anyone sane on this thread... thank you for being real with the LW... even though I am not sure this forum will be what ultimately helps her-- I mean, she recognizes a pattern, and admits she wants to change it. BIG first step. Then she came here to ask how (probably two steps back...) But, honesty, especially with someone you respect and/or like, is generally a better way to get to know someone - I mean REALLY know them, not the superficial knowledge you get in the initial two months... and the idea of sitting with some feelings for a while is also a good idea.

Good luck, LW-- and I applaud your honesty. While I don't come from a higher authority, and cannot apologize for armchair psychiatrists everywhere, I do hope you read some of the comments with a grain of salt. None of these folks can evaluate your personality based on a single snapshot letter written in an Internet forum.

Aug 18 11 - 1:26pm

Remember...the gateway to woman's heart is through her cornhole...that is all.

Aug 18 11 - 8:31pm

In love. With being in the excitement phase. The rush, the exploration, the synergy, sexual tension, la, la, la.

The question you need to ask yourself is WHY? Why am I attracted to this guy? Because he ignores me? Because he's interested in other girls? Because I have the control to ditch him when he gets too close and it fades into the pjs, humdrum, flicking channels on a Saturday night?

If the answer is "yes" to any of these questions, either honor your commitment to not date anyone or live in the fuck-buddies-this-will-end-badly world.

It really is the case of, it's not you, it's me. When you find someone when the three-month mark doesn't signify boredom and disgust, then you may be on to something. Until then, if you get charged up at the brand new and thrilling, let the next guy know you're just seeing where it goes, no commitments.

Until then, stop toying with those you've moved on from. It's just years in therapy no one will ever get back.

Aug 18 11 - 9:41pm

he used a seduction technique that you've been using on all these guys all along to keep wanting you. when one becomes aloof after they've shown you how much you get along, they become more desirable. haven't you ever let someone go because they simply liked you too much, they were all over you? but when they were a little mysterious, when you wanted to know more, you wanted them more. that's your case...

Aug 19 11 - 11:55am

1) It doesn't sound like you want a boyfriend right now, at this stage of your life. 2) That's totally ok! You do not need to be tied down if you don't want to be. You sound young - explore the world freely! 3) It sounds like the "type" of guy you're attracted to is the sweet, romantic, boyfriend-y type. If you were dating players, this wouldn't be an issue, because they wouldn't want a relationship, either. 4) Date players. 5) Don't date people in your program - it will cause unnecessary angst and drama. 6) You have hurt your friend by being evasive and inconsistent. You should explain to him that you're not looking to settle down right now, that you genuinely like him which is why you tied yourself in knots trying to pretend you weren't having a relationship when in fact you were, and that you think getting together while you're in the same program is a bad plan. 7) The friendship will probably end, but it would have ended anyway. 8) Practice being as honest and as kind as you can with the people around you. Playing the field doesn't make you an asshole, but being intentionally dishonest, does. 9) Honesty can be cruel, and kindness can be dishonest. Strive for the best possible balance between the two. Good luck!

Aug 21 11 - 10:41am

To use an analogy... You know how sometimes our sleeping patterns get out of whack, maybe we started working different hours or we're under a lot of stress. Maybe we can't identify what initially set off the cycle but hey there it is and often we just accept it for far longer than we should before taking steps to correct it. Likewise you seem to have identified a pattern of behaviour but also to have just 'accepted' it as the way you are, even though it doesn't seem to make you very happy. I fully believe you are able to change but you may need some assistance with teasing out the reasons why your emotions seem to have a mind of their own. You haven't spoken much about your upbringing or your role models for relationships and perhaps some of the answer lies there. A good therapist or psychologist should be able to help you to help yourself by providing insight into your actions and emotions. Sometimes we need someone objective to give us pointers into why we do the things we do. You'll then need to take that information and craft for yourself a new way of acting that will achieve a different outcome than the one you have come to expect from yourself. I applaud your reaching out, your consideration for your friend and lover and your desire to be a better person. Lastly, these things can take time and changing behaviour from reactive to proactive is a process that requires everyday acts of mindfulness and courage. Persevere!

Aug 21 11 - 9:48pm
Benefits Gone Awry

Thanks to everyone who's contributed.

1) On the whole therapy note, I have seen a therapist in the past concerning other issues in my life (which eventually led to the decision to move to another continent and start fresh). I brought up my dating history and patterns to my therapist and it was kind of dismissed because she believed there were more pressing matters with higher priority. She chalked up my commitment issues to my youth (I'm 21).

2) As for the situation with my friend, I took about a week to cool off from things with him. In that week, I just tried being productive and kept my mind off him as much as I could. I didn't ignore him, we still talked, I just kept my distance and tried not to stress and overanalyze. A couple of days ago, we had a talk. I told him how I felt about him, how I missed our relationship, etc. He finally admitted that he distanced because he didn't want me to grow tired of him. In the end, we came to the conclusion that we both need to grow up a little and to put things on the back burner. We'll be around one another for the next four years, so maybe something can happen down the line, but as of right now we'll learn how to be just friends.

So, again, thank you for the advice given. I knew the risk of putting my business on the Internet would come up with mixed results, but all in all, it's given me a lot of insight.

Aug 22 11 - 6:43am

I'm glad you received some insight, but a lady should never put her business up on the internet. Damn thing has plenty of lady business on it as it is.

Aug 25 11 - 3:53pm
Some Kid

Thanks for the advice, dad...

Aug 29 11 - 11:00am
The Regular Joe

everytime I have relationship dillema I go back and myself these questions:

Sep 10 11 - 3:50am
Psychology responds

You are what Scientific American Mind's attachment theory mind describes as an insecure avoidant type. There are: Secure attachment and Insecure attachment, being: Anxious–preoccupied attachment, Dismissive–avoidant attachment, and Fearful–avoidant attachment. You sound like the dismissive-avoidant type. Google "Scientific American Mind" and "attachment" and buy a copy, or just Wiki attachment theory and read up on the internet. Maybe go soul searching, some sessions with a psychologist. Good luck !

Sep 30 11 - 6:09pm

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