Hot/cold relationships

One day they’re all over you, the next you get the big brush off. A week later it’s back on again. What’s going on? Welcome to the heady world of hot/cold relationships. Here’s what you can do if you’re constantly getting mixed signals.

happy couple

"Oops, I forgot to reply to your message...again."

Am I in a hot/cold relationship?

You’ve met someone, you really like them and they seem to feel the same way. You chat all the time…then one day, nothing. They don’t text, don’t call, and before you know it…

  • 20 texts a day have whittled down to three a week.
  • The texts you do get are straight to the point and minus the kiss.
  • They’ve stopped trying to impress you.
  • You’re doing all the chasing, making you feel like a stalker.
  • You have no freakin’ idea when you’ll see them again.
  • When you do see them it’s like nothing’s ever happened.
  • You avoid talking about anything remotely serious for fear of losing them.
  • You’ve settled into a pattern of getting drunk, having sex, then waking up full of remorse when they walk away and don’t contact you for several weeks… and so it goes on.

Am I the problem, or is it them?

Poring over their messages or reliving dates won’t give you the answer, because it’s probably not your fault they’re flaking like this.

“It actually says more about them than it does about you,” says The Mix’s relationship adviser, Matt Whyman. “It’s easy to obsess if you’ve been left with a question mark hanging over the relationship, but you mustn’t blame yourself.”

“It could be down to the simple fact that they might be lacking maturity, or for some reason they’re just not tuned into your feelings,” he says.

Is it OK to treat people this way?

No – especially if it’s making you unhappy. A healthy relationship is about mutual respect, having fun and feeling comfortable enough to speak out when you’re feeling a bit rubbish. It’s not about being ignored, treated badly, or being left in limbo wondering what the hell’s going on, only to be called when they feel like it.

Shall I end it with them?

Not necessarily, but you need to find out why they’re behaving this way. “It could be anything: a bereavement, stress, they’ve gone off you, found someone else… but only they can say what’s going on,” says Matt. “Don’t beat yourself up trying to guess.”

That doesn’t mean you should put up with it. If their behavior’s leaving you doubting your own sanity you’ve got to ask yourself if all this stress is worth it? “Focus on the impact this is having on you,” says Matt. “If it’s making you unhappy you need to let them know how you feel. You deserve to know.”

What can you do about it?

It may be tempting to fire off a passive-aggressive message, or scribble f**k you on a post-it note and stick it on their car, but it won’t make you feel better in the long run.

Try and resist the urge to play them at their own game. They’re unlikely to realise the error of their ways and beg for forgiveness. Instead, take a few deep breaths and ask yourself, ‘Is this what I want?’ If it isn’t, it’s time to have an open and honest chat about the relationship.

“When you approach the subject, try and communicate your feelings without making them feel bad,” says Matt. “Remember, focus on the impact it’s having on you, and don’t have the expectation they’ll change, or pin your hopes on fantasy.”

When to walk away

Unfortunately sometimes there’s no explanation for their behavior, it’s just the way they are.

Remember this is NOT your fault, but you need to take control of the situation if you’re unhappy. “If they’re not giving you what you need, ask yourself, ‘Do I want to build a relationship with this person?'” says Matt.

“If the answer is no, know that you’ve tried your very best, but it’s not happening. At some point you have to draw a line. It’s not a healthy relationship if you’re committed and they’re not.”

Next Steps




Updated on 29-Sep-2015

Photo by Leo Hidalgo