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Ask the Experts: Why Some Men Run Hot and Cold

By Managing Editor Jeannie Assimos

This topic struck such a nerve with the online community, I decided to reach out to some of the most insightful relationship experts I know to find out why some guys could be totally into a woman one minute, and the next…distant and cold. It baffles many women. Here’s what they all had to say:

"He's Immature."

Relationship coach Virginia Feingold Clark kicked off this topic in an earlier blog, and she had lots to say about men who run hot and cold:

"The situation is classic. He starts to pull away, you become like a dog with a bone, unwilling to relinquish what you want. You search frantically for the man who was 'hot' on you. He must still feel that way — he just doesn’t know it. So your problem becomes how to get him to pursue you like he did before. The trap is believing that there is something you have to make right and that you did something wrong that made him turn cold."

"Most of these men haven’t grown up, they’re just immature. They thrive on the challenge of wooing you until you fall for them, but as soon as they think they’ve got you, they get bored and move on. It doesn’t matter how fabulous, beautiful or smart you are, they still get bored because it’s not about you. It’s about the thrill of the chase and you are the prize for a moment or two."

"Some hot and cold men may just not be ready for a fully committed relationship. He may like you a lot but be unable to decide if you’re 'The One.' Rather than making a decision, it’s easier for him to string you along until he can know for certain. His ambivalence will bring out his hot and cold behavior since he is so indecisive. Changing these men is not in your job description."

He's Emotionally Unavailable

"Three top reasons I see:
1.) He's changed his view or is undecided about you as a potential long-term mate.
2.) He's a game player who loses interest once he's 'got' you.
3.) He has intimacy fears that are activated at the first sign that he has strong feelings developing for you, so he backs off.
No matter what the reason for his hot/cold behavior, a common outcome can be predicted: if he's not consistently responsive to you at the beginning of the relationship, chances are he is not going to change and become consistent in the future. As frustrating as it is not knowing why he changed, your time and energy are better spent with someone who is emotionally available to you."

- Dr. Shannon Kolakowski, Licensed Psychologist and Author

It's a Guy Thing

"Hate to say it, but it is often because he has found someone else he is more attracted to and wants to pursue instead -- OR he really wants to watch the game or join his buddies online in a game. It's a guy thing."

Louann Brizendine, M.D., author of The Male Brain

Blame it on the Hormones

“Men need to sustain 30 times more testosterone than women to feel good. When a man's testosterone levels are high, he will come on strong. After connecting for a while the love hormone, oxytocin, begins to increase. It feels good to him and her but too much oxytocin inhibits testosterone. At this point he goes from hot to cold and withdraws to rebuild his testosterone. Like a rubber band he stretches away only to spring back when his testosterone levels are restored. Giving him the space to pull away without pursuing him at that time allows him to fully pull away, rebuild his testosterone and then spring back. Why Mars and Venus Collide explain these hormonal differences in greater detail."

-John Gray, Ph.D.

It's Not About You

"It's confusing for anyone when there's an abrupt change of heart, but before you go replaying and analyzing every interaction to see what you said or did wrong, take a pause: this may have nothing to do with you. His own fears about what it means to get close may be giving him cold feet. Maybe he has some unfinished business from a previous relationship where getting close meant getting hurt. When he starts having those strong positive feelings again his anxiety may kick in and say -- rejection alert! Run! If you think you have something really good going, talk about it. Maybe your man needs time to work through his anxiety and see that (your) love is here to stay. But if despite your attempts to make it safe, he continues to be standoffish, it may just not be the right time for him. His not being ready is not a reflection on you, but this is where your own self-protection might need to step up for your own good: it might be time to let go."

Dr. Tamar Chansky, author of Freeing Yourself from Anxiety

He's a Player

eHarmony relationship expert Grant Langston says, "You could write a book on this topic. Here are the main two reasons in my mind. The first is that she did something, said something, that makes him think, 'Uh oh. This isn’t the woman I thought she was.' The second is that he wasn’t really into her to begin with. He wanted something, and when he got it, his interest waned."

Man on the Run

Dr. Seth Meyers seems to agree with the maturity factor being the main culprit of the hot and cold guy: "The thrill of closeness is exciting at first, but can soon become threatening and scary."

Reality Bites

"Men can become cold when the potential of the connection doesn't match up with reality. So he goes away or cools off a bit after the first date. Hurt feelings come when one person may have visualized more of the relationship than the other, building it up to be farther along than it really was (i.e., thinking they are exclusive and thus consistent before anyone goes on a second date) and then thinking they are 'owed' an explanation or some sort of consistent behavior when it falls apart."

- Heather Setrakian, relationship researcher for eHarmony

He's Putting on the Brakes

According to NY psychologist Vivian Diller, "There are three common causes behind the guy who goes hot to cold:
1.) Sometimes guys fall in love with a fantasy of who a woman is, or they fall in love with being 'in love.' When reality hits, the fire dies down, they go cold.
2.) Sometimes men move things faster than they can handle. Turning cold is their way to slow things down.
3.) There are some guys who are just afraid of intimacy and commitment, so they can only stay hot for short periods of time. They may think they want a relationship, but when it comes to the effort it takes, they realize they don't.
Take away advice? It's not necessarily anything you have done -- or can do -- that changes a guy's temperature. If a guy goes from hot to cold, you can find out why, but don't blame yourself."

Whose advice resonated most with you? Have you been through a similar situation?

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