Is He Busy Or Is He Ghosting?



I’m not sure if you remember me or not – we spoke a few months ago about my match profile and I sent you a Starbucks gift card that you almost thought was spam and deleted, haha. I’m sorry to bother you, I just am really at a loss and needed expert advice. Do you believe in “the pullback?” I’ve been researching online and A LOT of articles are written saying that it’s normal for your boyfriend to just stop contacting you if they have heavy feelings for you because they’re scared. I don’t know whether to call bullshit. I am in a similar situation now.

Met a guy online. He pursued me completely from dating to saying “I love you” first to initiating an exclusive relationship. We have been seeing each other for almost two months. Everything was perfect between us. No fighting, no red flags, no nothing. Then, he starts acting odd a few days ago. Not saying “I love you” back in texts…not calling me “babe,” etc. He still would say things like “I wish we were cuddling” and things like that, but he was different and I could sense it. I asked him if he was okay because he wasn’t acting like himself and he said he was fine and just busy working on homework, so I let it go.

The next day…same thing…so I finally asked if everything was okay between him and I and he said he was sorry that he’s been acting differently and that he has a lot on his plate and it’s a balancing act and it sucks. Now this is true. He does have a full time job and two part time jobs AND was recently told his current job would be ending this summer. Those were not new developments though and never affected his interactions toward me or our relationship. He DID just sign up for two classes online though and that seemed to push him over the stress ledge. I said I understood completely and that I was always and would continue to be supportive of that. I said if you’re saying that you don’t want to be in a relationship anymore though, then I need to know that.

NO RESPONSE. NOTHING. It’s been 36 hours. He’s posting on Facebook, so I know he’s alive. I don’t know what to do. It literally came out of nowhere. All throughout the days he’d say I love you, I miss you, you make me so happy, and he’d call also almost every day. I genuinely believed him and because I’m so shocked, I just need guidance. Did classes really put him in a place where he felt like he had to end our relationship? He couldn’t just say “Hey, as you know I’ve got a lot going on and these classes are going to take up some of our time together. Are you okay with that?” BECAUSE I WOULD HAVE BEEN OKAY WITH THAT.

Do I text again and ask what’s wrong? According to “the pullback” articles, I’ve already screwed up everything by asking that already. TWICE. Is this really pullback? Should I say nothing and he’ll spring back to me? Should I text and act like nothing is wrong? I’m honestly devastated. I feel so hurt, so betrayed, so dehumanized. I’m sorry this e-mail is probably a grammatical mess…I’m just so lost and I need the advice of someone I trust. Thank you for even taking the time to read this.

I’ve been researching online and A LOT of articles are written saying that it’s normal for your boyfriend to just stop contacting you if they have heavy feelings for you because they’re scared.

This is NOT A THING. Advice like this makes my eyes bleed. The idea that a guy is pulling back because he’s afraid is something Shonda Rhimes uses as a plot device every other month. No. Gurl, no. With the rare exception, most guys pull back because – wait for it – they don’t want to date that person any more. He’s stopped saying I love you. Big. Red. Flag.

Next let’s address this “almost 2 months” thing. Almost two months usually means about 6 weeks. So, any guy actively and aggressively seeking to lock down a relationship before that is suspect. Yeah, yeah. I’m so cynical. Whatever. For those of us who date and date and date and constantly run into that person who isn’t quite ready to settle down, we know this guy in your letter is a unicorn. People just aren’t moving this fast anymore. Well, let me amend that: people aren’t moving this fast anymore except for people who just want to be in a relationship and lock it down quickly, then realize after the fact they don’t want to be in that relationship.

Now this is true. He does have a full time job and two part time jobs AND was recently told his current job would be ending this summer. Those were not new developments though and never affected his interactions toward me or our relationship

Exactly. The multiple jobs and classes were not new developments. They were always part of the equation. Ergo, him using those things to explain why he’s gone incommunicado is bullshit. Much like the letter from this morning about the guy who needed space, I think this guy jumped in head first thinking he had time for a relationship or wanted to be in this particular relationship and discovered 6 or 8 weeks in that he didn’t.

Did classes really put him in a place where he felt like he had to end our relationship? He couldn’t just say “Hey, as you know I’ve got a lot going on and these classes are going to take up some of our time together. Are you okay with that?” BECAUSE I WOULD HAVE BEEN OKAY WITH THAT.

Right, he could have communicated his intense schedule, but he didn’t.

This sounds like a simple case of The Fade. He might follow up with you in a day or two, but I think it will be to tell you he doesn’t have time for a relationship. Don’t let him convince to to keep dating under the new boundaries he’s set. A lot of guys do this; they come on strong then pull back citing job pressure or issues with past relationships or what have you.They do this to be released from their (boyfriend) contract, so to speak. Then they continue to hover around and take you out and sleep with you, only now there’s no exclusivity. Don’t fall for that trick.


Sometimes the love of your life is the love of your life. (R)




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38 Responses to “Is He Busy Or Is He Ghosting?”

  1. bbdawg Says:

    OP, it sounds like the pattern is that of a man who likes the “chase”, the rush of a new person, and gets bored once routine kicks in. Yes I agree with Moxie that 6 weeks is a little early for that sort of thing. There are exceptions, but generally speaking, a lot of intensity and “I love yous” before you get to know the person is a bad sign, or at least, the sign of something that most likely will not last.

    It’s nice to have intense and brief romantic relationships, but if you’re looking for something more lasting, it generally means spending sometime to see if each other’s lifestyle, goals and interests are compatible.

    • Eliza Says:

      Yep–the fascination with the “Conquest”….too much too soon, leave very little to be desired at the end. Lust does not translate into long-term relationship material. We are all busy–or can make ourselves even busier if/when convenient. When there is genuine and mutual interest time is not a factor…I know plenty of people pursuing their post-graduate degrees and holding down full-time employment in demanding fields…yet they are in LTRs…no excuses…only weasels resort to such. Where there is a will, there is a way.

  2. BTownGirl Says:

    Agree with Moxie – these situations are ripe for winding up with some Dog In The Manger sh*t because the guy has flipped the script where things are now on his terms. In any event, even if this mythical “scared of his feelings” was A Thing (it’s not), would you really want to be with an alleged adult who couldn’t handle being…happy? I’m guessing not. As for this oh-so-busy issue, I’ll give you a personal example. My ManFriend is a surgeon, so he’s a pretty busy guy and has to, you know, make sure people don’t die. This dude supposedly started falling apart over two online classes? I can see how that and the multiple jobs could be stressful, but…military generals have relationships. Come on now. Don’t let anyone make you feel like you’re “screwing things up” by asking if something is going to work out. That’s just bullsh*t.

    • KK Says:

      I think with people who have really busy schedules, like surgeons, i-bankers, etc, it doesn’t stop them from having relationships. BUT, that super busy schedule does dictate the relationship and it does mean the people in the relationship end up spending a lot less consistent time together than people who have less crazy busy schedules.

      I think the key thing here is that he didn’t rectify everything after she asked him if he wanted to be in the relationship.

      Also, if you need to ask that question, it is a horrible sign.

      To me, it sounds like this idiot-jerk is making her break up with him. He doesn’t want to do it. I mean, she asked him if he wants to break up and he doesn’t respond? After telling her he loved her? That is fucked up. She deserves an actual break up.

      • BTownGirl Says:

        Agreed! It works for me because I like having time to myself/having plenty of time for friends and I have a really flexible work schedule. We do indeed have to prioritize his schedule, but I made the decision from the get-go that I had to be fine with it to proceed. Also agree on the LW’s relationship – he’s weasling out!

      • Eliza Says:

        KK–what can we say–the guy is a massive “weasel”…lacks a spine. She can do way better than that. If she’ll let herself.

      • Eliza Says:

        KK–I agree–but she won’t get closure from that weasel. What a poor excuse of a man. She’s better just moving on…and disconnecting altogether. He’s a spineless coward, so he will not communicate or reply…he will just “Ghost”. His inactions are telling enough. As they say, when things go lightning fast…they can end just as quickly. And those articles about the “Pullback”?…wow ignorance is bliss. Don’t believe everything you read on the net.

  3. fuzzilla Says:

    **A LOT of articles are written saying that it’s normal for your boyfriend to just stop contacting you if they have heavy feelings for you because they’re scared.**

    I mean, it’s “a thing” in that it’s a line a lot of guys use. Like women in old movies would say, “Sorry, I’m washing my hair that night.” Is it “a thing” in that it’s true? No.

    • Goldie Says:

      I’ve never even had anyone use that line. It’s okay to be scared of your feelings if you’re in middle school, but for a grown man to be scared of his romantic feelings for another person? that’s hard to believe. It kind of saddens me that, apparently, “A LOT” of people write this drivel and actually get published.

    • Selena Says:

      **A LOT of articles are written saying that it’s normal for your boyfriend to just stop contacting you if they have heavy feelings for you because they’re scared.**

      I’m old enough to have seen this theme in old novels and movies. I remember when women would tell themselves and their concerned girlfriends’ same in an attempt to explain why “a boyfriend” was suddenly backing away.

      Then a book called “He’s Just Not That Into You” was published and all that “he got scared of his feelings” nonsense was revealed as just that – nonsense. He wasn’t scared. He just wasn’t that into the woman he had been pursuing and was demonstrating that fact.

      I’m a bit surprised these “he pulled back because he scared himself” articles are still being written in 2016.

  4. Bree Says:

    The novelty of sex with you has worn off so there’s no need to put in any more time on you. You’re securely on the hook so he’s putting that time in on someone new. The most you can expect now is that he’ll hit you up for sex every once in a while. Things were “moving fast” for a reason and that was it.

    • Missy Says:

      Well, that… or he has an Avoidant attachment style.

      OP, 2 things:
      1. I recommend the book Attached, which describes this type of relationship in terms of attachment theory. For me it was a real eye-opener and helped me see the “pull back” for what it really is (about him) and not take it as personally. It hurts, of course, but the book helps me read and interpret the signs in a way that was much more practical and less devastating.
      2. From your description, it sounds to me like you are actually an excellent communicator. I hear you worrying about having said the “wrong thing” not just once bit “TWICE”. So I want to really emphasize that YOU did not say the wrong things. If you ask someone if they’re ok, bc they’re not acting the same as usual, and they brush you off, blame it on something that doesn’t make sense, or deny that anything is different/act like you’re crazy… That’s not a good sign. A healthy response is to find out what seems different, talk about it, and come to an agreement about expectations (until I experienced this myself I wouldn’t have believed this could EVER happen). If you tell someone that if they don’t want to be in the relationship you need to know that, a non-response is NOT ACCEPTABLE. Seriously. It’s beyond childish and cowardly. To me it sounds like you communicated very sensitively and effectively, and his not replying to you is absolutely NOT because you shouldn’t have said anything. It’s because your suspicions were right, and this guy is neither brave nor self-aware enough to acknowledge it.

      • Sarah Says:

        I mean, *maybe* he lacks courage and self-awareness. It’s also possible — and probably more likely– that he’s just a selfish asshole.

        • Missy Says:

          Yeah. After I posted it I realized he lacks courage, self-awareness, and/or plain old-fashioned decency. Going from “I love you” to “no response” is seriously an asshole move.
          The fact that there is so much relationship advice telling women that this kind of behavior is both acceptable and (somehow) the woman’s fault is crazy-making.

          There are decent guys out there, OP, and it’s a lot easier to find them when you learn to identify and weed out guys like this. One big red flag is the timeline, as others have said. Healthy relationships generally develop over time. That doesn’t mean they’re all gonna last, of course, but you’ll know where you stand. If you are second-guessing yourself and wondering what the hell is going on, that’s another set of red flags… and not signs that you did anything wrong.

      • fuzzilla Says:

        **To me it sounds like you communicated very sensitively and effectively, and his not replying to you is absolutely NOT because you shouldn’t have said anything. It’s because your suspicions were right, and this guy is neither brave nor self-aware enough to acknowledge it.**

        Yeah, it bothered me that she put so much time and effort and care into such an asshole (by which I mean it makes me sad when women do this – bend over backwards to please other people and then blame themselves when that person is a shitstain). Although I can’t blame her for being invested if he seemed “all in” and throwing around “I love you”s up ’til that point.

        “I can’t talk to you because I’m so crazy about you” – from someone you’ve been dating – sounds like bullshit because it is. I’m sorry, OP.

        Also, I don’t think OP ever mentioned her age? I’d guess pretty young, judging by the dude working all these piecemeal jobs.

      • D. Says:

        Admittedly, I’m not that well versed in “avoidant attachment” in adults, but wouldn’t an “avoidant” kind of person avoid getting into a relationship in the first place? Like, she’d be pursuing him, and he’d allow it to continue, but would otherwise be kinda “meh” about the whole thing?

        It just seems…not quite on the money that someone would be an “avoidant attachment” type and would say “I love you” within, like, the first month.

        I’m sure that’s an interesting and useful book, but from what little I know about the “avoidant attachment” style, it doesn’t seem like it’s applicable in this case.

        • fuzzilla Says:

          A common theme in letters to Moxie or romantic complaints you hear through the grapevine is – guy doesn’t want relationship but still wants sex/companionship. Guy says vague and pleasant things to woman to keep her around (“I have so much fun with you!”). Woman reads too much into that, then gradually notices something’s missing/relationship isn’t progressing, etc.

          Yeah, that doesn’t seem to be the case here, so not sure what the OP’s takeaway or “one to grow on” is… He’s just young and immature?

        • Missy Says:

          Yes. well, this is exactly the pattern the book describes for people with avoidant attachment styles. The explanation goes something like this: everyone had intimacy needs. People with avoidant attachment styles tend to create intense intimacy very quickly, get their needs met, then start finding fault with their partners or fading.

          of course, you don’t have to take my word for it. You could actually read the book.

        • Jonathan Says:

          No.Fear-avoidant is a strategy to protect the person using it from being harmed by constantly being on the lookout for some sign that their partner is going to hurt them or is not loving them. They then avoid the other person, but have a longing for them and wants to get back with them. There is another strategy called dismissive-avoidant. They dismiss the person and just move in. They are often referred to as “relationship averse”. They still get in relationships, but when it gets brought they dismiss their partner completely and move on. The OP’s lover may be engaged in that strategy, which would look like ghosting. Fear-avoidant individuals have low self esteem, while dismissive avoidant individuals have a high self esteem. The former can be cured of their strategy much easier than the latter, as dismissive avoidant individuals believe they don’t “need” another person to be complete so have little motivation to change.

          I would suggest telling him that you are interested in a relationship that is warm and deep, and that his avoiding you us not something you are interested in. If he is dismissive avoidant he will be more than happy to walk away and heal. If he is fear-avoidant, he may suggest repairing it and be willing to work on it. You can have a successful to relationship with someone who is fear-avoidant as long as you are willing to engage in affirming your love for him while he simultaneously works on being aware if his tendency to withdrawal from any perceived threat. As someone suggested above, do so.e research on dating fear-avoidant types. Don’t bother with dismissive avoidant types, as they don’t feel like they need anyone.

          Best of luck!

          • fuzzilla Says:

            **I would suggest telling him that you are interested in a relationship that is warm and deep, and that his avoiding you us not something you are interested in.**

            It’s a terrible idea to keep trying to engage someone who blew you off (well, maybe not if it’s your kid’s oncologist, but a romantic partner? No. Hell no). Even if you think it’s a great idea, they won’t hear you because they aren’t responding.

            • Jonathan Says:

              True fuzzila, if he does not resurface. But suspect he will. At that point it is not a terrible idea to tell him that you are not interested. Setting a boundary is a form of engagement that is really never a terrible idea. And yeah, he may not hear that she is “not interested”, but that doesn’t make it terrible to set the boundary.

          • Missy Says:

            Also? It’s possible to have a successful relationship with a fear-avoidant type, but it’s not likely… Unless you yourself are a Secure type. Which, maybe she is. They say most people are.
            But yeah, what Fuzzilla said.

            • Jonathan Says:

              Good point Missy. As you say, success with a fear avoidant is possible, but not likely. And true, if OP is secure attached – 55% of population – then she would be more likely to have that success. But I would encourage you, and OP, to consider that one can be successful in relationships with people who are fear avoidant – or anxious attached – as long as they seek professional counseling or learn about how to cure their partner. And know that anyone single who is over 25 should learn how to deal with people using those attachment strategies. Study’s show that over 80% of those over 40 who are single are not securely attached. Why? Because the securely attached folks meet up and stay together – essentially removing them from the dating pool. Perhaps if OP had this knowledge, she could have avoided getting to this level in the first place. With knowledge and fearless, OP could have been in more control the whole time.

  5. D. Says:

    On the issue of the timing of things, especially (1) pushing for exclusivity, and (2) saying “I love you” at, apparently, some point earlier than “about two months.”

    This is not normal. This is ridiculously fast.

    The truth is that NOBODY falls in love with someone else within 6-8 weeks. They might really, really like you (or their idea of you, or what you’ve shown of yourself), but they are NOT in love with you. Love takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight.

    That’s not to say that love can’t grow from initial strong attraction, but it takes longer than 6-8 weeks. You simply don’t know someone well enough to know whether you’re really in love with them within that timeframe.

    The reason why is simple: anyone can keep up a facade or play a role for 6-8 weeks. This is still the “getting to know you” phase of dating. At best, it’s the “confirming what I already suspect about you” phase. At worst, it’s the “discovering I don’t like you as much as I thought I did” phase. In your case, it sounds like he fell into the latter category there. That’s not a comment on you in any objective sense, either, by the way. It just means this one dude wasn’t as into you as you thought.

    “I love you” is just words, and words are wind unless they’re backed by real emotion. And the truth is that you don’t have the real emotion within that 6-8 week period to back up “I love you.” Nobody does. It’s functionally no different from saying “I love you” on a first date.

    Most of the time, guys like this are guys who are really eager to be in “a” relationship. They’re more into the idea of being in a relationship than they are into you. That’s not to say they aren’t into you at all, either. It’s just that the degree to which they’re into you is completely overshadowed by the degree to which they want to be in a relationship, and you’re good enough to do that with. Or so they believe, until they get to that 6-8 week point and decide “Yeah, no. Sorry.”

    And you know what? Most dating scenarios that go beyond, say, 2-3 dates usually make it to somewhere around 6-8 weeks and then fizzle. It’s a pretty common breaking point because it’s another stage where you start to get to know the “real” person across the table from you. The facade has dropped, and the novelty has worn off. And usually at that point, the more subtle but very real differences between people start to surface. I’m guessing that’s what happened here.

    • BostonRobin Says:

      Yep, it’s the “getting to know you” stage and I hope the OP realizes that she’s getting to know what an asshole this BOY is.

      You have to learn to not get invested so early in a relationship. Two months is nothing! If someone starts acting like this so early, move on. This is who he is.

  6. Goldie Says:

    A friend who taught me the ropes of online dating years ago, said this to me once: “someone who goes from zero to boyfriend in six seconds, will go the opposite way just as fast”.

    “I love you” after a few weeks? Giant red flag.

    • fuzzilla Says:

      **“I love you” after a few weeks? Giant red flag.**

      It could just mean they’re a bit awkward rather than manipulative (raises hand sheepishly that this has happened to me & we’re still together).

      A lot of red flags could be nothing on their own (like, hey, his mom really DID die on the day he had a date planned with you) and you kinda need to look for a cluster of them.

      • Goldie Says:

        I guess you’re right. My mind immediately went to “Toxic Ex did that to me”. It was really weird to hear “I love you” from a relative stranger that I’d just met a few weeks ago. It was weirder when he started expecting me to say it back. Dude, how can I say I love you when I hardly even know you?!

        I guess as a one-time thing, it might be nothing, but when he’s showering you with ILYs, like mine did, or like OP’s guy was doing, then that sounds a little bit off.

        • fuzzilla Says:

          Oh, showering someone else with affection and attention right out the gate in a way that feels un-earned is a narcissist red flag, for sure. I think they even have a term for it – lovebombing (again, it *might* be nothing on its own).

    • BTownGirl Says:

      Your friend needs to print that on a t-shirt immediately! So freakin’ true.

    • Selena Says:

      “I love you” after a few weeks? Giant red flag.”

      I don’t think it’s a giant red flag per se. I’ve had partners who said it early that I ended up living with for years. And at least one guy who said it early who ghosted a couple weeks later.

      Using the L word in the “getting to know each other” stage is best not taken too seriously in my experience. Love either grows or it doesn’t.

  7. Glazer Says:

    6-8 weeks sounds like a common time frame in regards to online dating. Human beings are creatures of habit and I think 6-8 weeks is enough time to see if 2 folks can tolerate each others habits, lifestyles and form a mutually enjoyable…ROUTINE.

    I LOVE YOU is a very powerful statement. The guy was a douche for not saying it anymore.

    I had that happen to me and I was devastated when she ‘changed her mind’.

    IMHO, you can’t back track or reset the social contract so to speak.

    If the guy hadn’t said those words, I would just chalk this up to the typical short term shenanigans associated with online dating.

    I’m sad he said those words to her. I hope this experience doesn’t cause her to think any man saying that is not sincere.

    I am VERY careful about saying that to someone and I would not appreciate it being taken lightly.

    Men usually say it first. Yes, the timing is important. Understood, but please don’t discount a man saying that as having some ulterior motive.

  8. Glazer Says:

    Also, yes, SOME men go experience the amygdala hijack when we feel a woman sees us as long term potential. Ya know, the ‘fight or flight’ response.

    We feel guilty because it’s a moment when we realize the feeling is not mutual.

    We know instinctively this is not foreva and shut down.

    A woman giving me a gift such as a nice shirt, early on, scared me to death. My mind went through a million teracycle calculations in nanoseconds.

    The outcome?

    I freaked out and shut down. I felt like I was wasting her time.

  9. Parenting Says:

    Eh!! This sucks so much!

    Something similar happened to a friend of mine many years ago. She dated a guy for 2 months. Everything was going great. She invited him over for dinner. They talked the day before and he told her how excited he was about their date the next day, blah, blah, blah. She cooked dinner, got dressed up and waited for him. No show. She called twice. No response. She called me really upset wondering if he was dead…but no such luck. Six months later she ran into him at the gym. He acted like nothing happened and showed her pictures of his dog.

    This is not a guy overcome by his oh-so-powerful feelings. Its a guy acting like a complete douche because he is too immature to end a relationship like a big boy.

    • BTownGirl Says:

      People who pull stuff like this, I tell you, you just have to look at them like, “Why are you such a f*cking loser?” and count your blessings that you didn’t keep dating them and wind up being left at the altar or something. Btw, I choked on my iced coffee at “no such luck”!!

      • KK Says:

        My mother told me very recently after my heart was broken by a guy in a similar that she broke up with her college boyfriend by just not talking to him anymore. I could not believe it. And she told me she still feels guilty. I’ve been asking her why she did it, and I understand it more and more. But I feel like it is a truly shitty thing to do.

        • BTownGirl Says:

          Well, the dude that treated you like that is a turd. In the case of your mother, I don’t know about y’all, but I had the maturity of a doorstop in my college years!

          • Goldie Says:

            I told each of my college ones that I needed to concentrate on my studies, and for that reason, could not date him. I never got around to actually concentrating on my studies. But I don’t think any of them found out.

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