Dumped! Why Guys Really Call It Quits

Was it the sex? The exclusivity request? One man explains what’s really going on when guys disappear from a relationship.

By Dan Bova

eorge Costanza claimed to have invented the “It’s not you, it’s me” breakup excuse on Seinfeld. But he’s certainly not the only man out there who suddenly got spooked and hit the relationship “eject” button. Here’s the scoop on why some relationships abruptly go bust.

You play it too cool
Playing hard-to-get can be an extremely effective device, but you might scare a guy off if you abide too strictly by The Rules. “I went on dates with this woman my buddy set me up with and we had an awesome time: Great
There is a biological reason why men and women move at different speeds in relationships.
conversations, great kisses. But then she wouldn’t return my calls or emails for a couple of days. And it seemed like she always had other plans if I didn’t book a date way in advance,” says Jim, 29, from Bennington, VT. “My buddy kept telling me she was into me, but I couldn’t help but feel like she was stringing me along until she found something better. So I stopped calling her. She called me a week later to make sure everything was OK, but I just broke it off before she could dump me.”

Tip: A vital part of the playing hard-to-get game is dropping enough clues (especially to shy guys) that you can be gotten. When you do go out, let him know that you had an amazing time. That way, when you don’t jump all over his offer of a last-minute date, he won’t think you’re just blowing him off.

He feels there’s something amiss on the s-e-x front
Too soon. Not soon enough. Too willing. Not willing enough. The truth is, men have lots of issues with bedroom compatibility. “When you jump right to sex, you skip a lot of the bonding behaviors that intensify a relationship,” explains Dr. Pat Love, author of The Truth About Love: The Highs, the Lows, and How You Can Make It Last Forever. “I tell people to try and enjoy the ride a little. Don’t skip over that romantic, electrifying bonding period.”

Beyond bypassing the bonding period, sex can throw other obstacles into a relationship. Chris, 32 from New Haven, CT, broke things off because, he explains, “My ex-girlfriend and I were compatible in every way except sex. I like to spice things up, but she wouldn’t go for it. After a while, I just felt rejected. It all went downhill from there.”

Tip: If you are presented with a mattress maneuver you’re not comfortable with, don’t just say “no,” suggests Dr. Love, “say what.” Meaning, to avoid making your guy feel rejected, suggest an alternative that would be pleasing to you. This way the guy knows that you’re not put off by him, just by the idea of pouring hot wax on his chest.

He feels he can’t measure up
Ask a room full of single guys if they’d be interested in dating a successful woman with a BMW in the driveway and a sizeable stash in the bank, and 9 out of 10 will trample you to get to her. But while the fantasy of having a
A woman might think she’s taking care of her man, but he thinks he’s being controlled.
woman who takes you to fancy restaurants and picks up checks bigger than your weekly salary sounds nice, lots of guys can’t handle the emasculating feelings that arise. Says Kevin, 30, from New York City, “I met someone at a friend’s wedding, and we really hit it off. She was a financial executive; I was, and still am, a production assistant just scraping by. She said it didn’t matter to her and I tried not to let it matter to me. But whenever she slapped down her platinum card, it just made me feel kind of pathetic.”

Tip: So what is a successful single woman to do? Dr. Love advises talking about it honestly—and briefly. “If you want to go out somewhere you know is out of his reach, just say, ‘I would like to treat you,’ and try not to make a big deal out of it. The more you talk about it, the more he will feel emasculated.” And remember, you’re not his financial advisor. Let him grab the check every now and again. It might not be good for his bank account, but it’ll do wonders for his ego.

He feels like he has two mommies
He spent half his life listening to one woman tell him the brown belt doesn’t go with the black pants. He doesn’t need you to keep at it. “A woman might think she’s taking care of her man, but he thinks he’s being controlled,” says Dr. Love. “When men feel like they are being mothered or being talked down to, it can be very demeaning.”

Tip: Want to improve your guy’s junky jeans and crappy T-shirt style? The key to success is properly phrasing your fashion policing. Don’t say, “Honey, you’d look so nice in an Oxford shirt.” Say, “Oh my God, you’d look so hot in this.” If he thinks buttoning-up equals sex appeal, you can be sure he'll button up.

You’re moving too fast
When fellas feel like the relationship has gone from zero to “let’s move in together” in three seconds, most guys slam on the brakes. “There is a biological reason why men and women move at different speeds in relationships,” says Dr. Love. “During sex, both men and women secrete a hormone called oxytocin, which intensifies feelings of love and the desire to nest. But in men, testosterone counteracts its effects. So afterwards, the woman is lying there feeling like they’ve bonded for life, while he’s wondering what’s on ESPN.” A woman may feel so connected as a relationship blossoms that she’s thinking long-term; the guy, however, may not feel as committed to a future together.

Tip: How best to handle this chemical imbalance? Lay off the Bride’s magazine for a while and follow his lead. Let him refer to you as his girlfriend before you call him your boyfriend. Let him suggest your first weekend getaway. If you’re with the right guy, his heart will eventually catch up with his hormones.

Dan Bova is a writer and editor based in New York.
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