Over the past few years, I’ve gone out with three men who each stopped seeing me after about a month. About a year or so later, each of those men called me back, saying that they wanted to give it another try; the most recent of the callbacks was just a few days ago. What gives? Is this a new dating trend? None of my other friends has experienced anything like it. And why would these guys be so motivated to “try again”? It’s not like we got very deep into a relationship after only a month. Should I be concerned that they have some sort of weird relationship issues? I turned down the first man and ignored the second (he left me a voice mail and sent me an email), but I’m wondering: should I go out with the latest man? If he wasn’t into me the first time around, what makes him think he’ll be into me now? —JS, Los Angeles, California
The Straight Man’s Perspective: Chris Kennedy
Maybe these guys think you’re like dairy and expire after one month. (Sorry, that was cheesy.) Okay, seriously, I understand why you’re curious. This is a strange phenomenon, but as far as I know, it’s not a dating trend outside of you and these three suitors.
On the bright side, they tried the rest, did some soul searching, and now want to go with the best … and that’s you. On the dark side, they’re a year more desperate. Who knows? Who cares? Wondering about their motivation is irrelevant. What is relevant is your interest level in any of the three; I’m assuming you didn’t have it for the first two you dismissed. Do you have the same feeling for this guy? Do you want to give him a second chance? Don’t let stubbornness be your guide. You’re still single and dating, and if you want to give him a shot, do it. Might be a good chance to let him explain why he came back to you after a year. He should have a better idea than I will. See how the year has treated him.
If he doesn’t knock you over, then let him go and move on with your life. No use crying over spilled milk.
The Straight Woman’s Perspective: Rebecca Brown
Jesus, I thought I’d heard it all, JS—then you tell me this. How annoying. Though, as I type those words, I’m remembering that I’ve done and been on the receiving end of that very behavior myself: I’ve dismissed people as being not for me after about a month; then, during a long, dry spell, a bottle (or two) of wine in hand, have found myself flipping through old emails, thinking, “He really was funny, wasn’t he?” Or, “Wonder why he got on my nerves so much. I mean, why should I care if he told me the same story fourteen times? It really meant something to him. God, I’m a selfish bitch …”
The point is, it was during those times when I didn’t have a lot of mojo that I started thinking I should go back to the well in terms of hitting up past boyfriends. (And I use the word “boyfriend” loosely, since none of them ever really made it to that status.) You don’t want to go out with someone who’s mojoless and looking to revisit the ghosts of girlfriends past because he’s got nothing better going on. You’re better than that! Of course, you won’t actually know if that’s the case until you ask this man why he did what he did. So I’d do that, but personally, I wouldn’t give him prime-time date billing. Maybe you can meet for lunch during the week, or for coffee on Sunday afternoon. Give him an hour and make plans for immediately afterward, so you have somewhere else to go. After all, you’re busy and in demand. If he truly wants another chance, a little effort won’t kill him.
I’m a big believer that our initial reactions and gut feelings are always right, which makes me think that these guys’ initial, gut feelings were, for better or worse, correct: you weren’t right for them. And if you go out with one or all of them again, you might be kicking yourself in a month, because they’ll eventually realize what they realized before (if you don’t realize it first), and you’ll have to go through the whole “you’re not for me” process … for a second time. It’s worth one low-commitment date to see what’s up, but he needs to present a great case for why he did what he did and why he thinks things are different now. Listen to your gut—really listen. If you don’t feel 100 percent about what he says during that hour, move on.
The Gay Man’s Perspective: Darren Maddox
I have one big question: did you sleep with all of them? Perhaps you were the best lay they’d ever had and, after searching high and low, they just want to see if the sex is as good as they remember. If not, I’m stumped. I certainly don’t think this is a new dating trend—just an age-old story of drunk and horny after a breakup. Hell, it’s what country-music songs are made of.
But to answer your question, I say yes: go out with bachelor number three to find out what the fascination is. If you don’t, and this trend continues, you may never know. It’s just a date. You aren’t marrying the guy. Put your questions to rest, and just ask him point blank why he wants to see you again after a year. Then think about the other two. Could they want to see you again for the same reasons this man does? Do they know each other by any chance? Perhaps they wonder which of them you liked more, or who has the best shot at winning you over again. Who knows? You won’t until you go out with one of them again. Besides, maybe the timing just wasn’t right when you went out before, but their situations have changed since then. If you like(d) this last man standing, I say give it a whirl.
The Gay Woman’s Perspective: Jody Fischer
I don’t think what you’re experiencing is a dating trend, but I am wondering why it seems to be a trend for you. How did each of these men end things with you? Did they text you that the relationship was over? Did they tell you they met someone else? Or did they just disappear? Were you able to talk to each of them and bring things to comfortable closure for you?
I’m also curious how you felt about each of them during your month of dating. How often were you in contact? Were you “into” any of them? I notice that you did not end any of the relationships, which leads me to think that you wanted to keep the connections going. If you think my questions are interesting, I’ll wager that the questions you asked us will get a more thorough response when you ask them of the guys who want back in. I also wonder why you said no to the first two guys. If it was simply a matter of ego and pride, I encourage you to at least talk to these men to find out what made them exit and what’s driving them to want to try again.
To end a pattern, you have to first understand your part in creating it. That’s where I’d start.