i don't do hot and cold. You're either in or you're out

Up until I had my epiphany seven years ago, about unavailable relationships and in particular my own unavailability, I was convinced that I had a special skill that made available men unavailable. In my mind, I would get involved with someone, incidentally who I probably didn’t even like that much, and they would be blowing seriously hot and then ‘something about me’ would make them become unavailable and start blowing lukewarm or cold. I believed that they were great guys offering great relationships and that if it weren’t for my flaws, they’d still be the same guys I’d assumed they were and offering the same relationships that I’d assumed or been led to believe that they were offering.

If you’ve ever been in an unavailable relationship, you’re likely as familiar with blowing hot and cold as you are with your own reflection. It’s gone from intense and gradually or very sharply cooled down.

  • They’re not as eager and in pursuit as they were before.
  • In fact, you’re the one doing the chasing now.
  • Suddenly you’re hearing excuses including about how busy they are.
  • Whereas you used to hear from the all the time, now there are increasing gaps.
  • They seem less attentive.
  • You feel like a pest when you get in touch.
  • They’ve disappeared with some lame-o excuse and come back in a rather feeble capacity that you’re now trying to breathe life into.
  • They get snippy with you when you remind them of things that they’ve said and even promised you.
  • It feels like you’re on your own with your feelings.
  • You can feel them pulling away, possibly because the feeling is familiar.
  • You’ve actually got used to breezing in for an intense ‘set’ and then them breezing out again for a while, often without hearing from them and suspecting or even knowing that there involved with others, but being OK with being their ‘appointment’.
  • This might be a well honed routine. When they pull away and you stop chasing them, they chase you back and then when you respond, they pull away. And lathe, rinse, repeat.

Blowing hot and cold is never a good sign and it is in fact a code red alert because you can never trust in this person enough to know what to expect from them. Your relationship will not be able to have balance, it can’t progress because they keep undermining it, they’re inconsistent (and if you stay around too long they become consistent at being inconsistent and train you to expect less from them), and as a result of all of these things, you cannot expect intimacy or commitment.

With all of this jiggering around with the hot and cold, you may think you still have something going on (the hallmarks) but your relationship will not have the landmarks.

There’s no point in being with someone who blows hot and cold because it’s not a mutual relationship, it’s all on their terms, and you can never really know where you stand because they persist in undermining you and the relationship.This is unhealthy and demeaning.

The person who blows hot and cold thrives on control and equates feeling out of control with desire. They value what they don’t have and ‘newness’, so you’re on borrowed time.

When you won’t give them the time of day or they don’t know if you’re interested or they don’t know if you’re ‘buying’ what they’re ‘selling’ (read: a relationship and a person that’s not actually available), the lack of control makes you very desirable. They get curious.

You will know this feeling well if you’re the type of person that only thinks that love is valuable when it comes from a reluctant or defunct source. If you got their interest and commitment, you’d lose interest.

This lack of control causes them to overestimate their interest and their capacity for a relationship and they do this by Future Faking and Fast Forwarding you through the early stages of the relationship. The promises, the thinly veiled hints about things they see you both doing in the future and the intensity, blinds you to paying attention to red flags and sweeps you off your feet. When you come back to earth, whether it’s gradually or sharply, it hurts. Particularly when it’s gradual, it can make you feel very insecure because you wonder what you ‘did’ to ‘change’ them when in fact, they haven’t changed; they’ve unfolded. In turn, if you blame it on you instead of seeing their shady behaviour for what it is, you’ll start campaigning for ‘reinstatement’ and for the ‘win’.

If you don’t register the inconsistency and you hang around, the blowing hot and cold will disrupt and confuse you, and actually, you’ll become desensitised to getting crumbs and may actually think you’re getting a loaf when you’re actually on a crumb diet.

If it’s sharp, it can feel like you’ve been sucker-punched and you’ll wonder what you did to cost yourself their adulation. Am I not beautiful / sexy / good enough / interesting anymore? You may wonder why they disappeared and chase them or hope for their return, when in actual fact, they’ve made a sharp cowardly exit before you see that there’s an emperor’s new clothes situation.

As I explained in my book Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl, it’s like when someone runs the hot tap and then you get cold, then lukewarm, and then hot, then cold, then hot and so forth – often it feels much hotter than what it actually is because you’ve been put through the lower temperatures.

Blowing lukewarm or cold should be a wake-up call if not the exit bell ringing. At the very least, it is a sign that you need to step back, stop, look, listen and evaluate what the hell is going on. It’s question asking time (if the situation calls for it), but it’s highly likely to signal an exit.

The moment that you allow someone to be inconsistent, you are allowing your expectations to be managed down.

It can be very tempting to play in the Hot & Cold Casino and keep betting on potential but it’s a false economy that will eat away at your soul. Once you end up playing this game and realising that cutting them off, threatening to end it, mentioning that you’re seeing others etc makes them step up, albeit only for a short time until they realise that you’re back under their control, you’re trying to mess with supply and demand. What are you going to do? Keep doing these things in order to get attention from them? It’s only a matter of time until they recognise the pattern and then they will even become half-hearted in chasing after you. They realise you’re not really that serious.

Blowing hot and cold is ambivalent, ambiguous, inconsistent, contradictory, unreliable, unstable and yes, at times, assclownary. Not one of these things are remotely attractive or ‘exciting’ – they’re eject button worthy.

It takes a thoughtless and/or rather self-involved individual to actually think that not only can they do this, but that they can essentially pull the same con on you numerous times without being noticed. They may even deny it if they’re that deluded.

You cannot forge a mutually fulfilling relationship with someone who blows hot and cold, so why waste your time? It’s not because you’re not good enough and it’s certainly not because they need to retreat from the relationship to renew their desire; it’s because they’re unavailable, inconsistent, controlling, and not worth pursuing a relationship with. To make it about you, is to suggest that people treat others poorly and ‘change’ their characters because they’re ‘provoked’ by the inadequacies of others.

They’re either in or they’re out. They’re either on or they’re off, but what they shouldn’t have license to do is to keep changing it with you, so don’t give it to them.

Your thoughts?

The Dreamer and the Fantasy Relationship is now available from my bookshop along with with Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl. You can also check out my ecourses.

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331 Responses to Why There’s No Point Being With Somebody Who Blows Hot & Cold

  1. Awakened says:

    @NeedSoneAir something’s fishy there. When his roommate girlfriend comes over he doesn’t want you there. Wants you to leave?? I hate to say this but he’s lying. A man that has nothing to hide from his GF is not going to be asking her to leave just cause his roommates GF is coming over. What he meant to say was I need for you to leave cause my OW that I’ll be screwing is coming over you don’t to be no where in sight. Now you get it?? …. Flush him and move on….

  2. Chanel_Lover says:

    Can this be applied to friends as well ? Both female and male? I have a guy friend who lives in another city (a good one hour away) that likes to lay it on heavy (flirty texts, calls at odd hours) and will even make it a point to meet up with me to spend time (pays for everything, no questions asked) when he’s in the city I live in. However once he’s back to home base… its like I don’t exist anymore, even when I try to reach out and ask him how his day is. Should I just ignore him when he tries to hit me up ? (no we haven’t had sex-he’s just an overly affectionate friend-and yet cold at the same time)

    • Christabel says:

      Chanel Lover,
      You can absolutely apply nearly all of Natalie’s truths and advice to male (even female) friends. I had to flush one several years ago who did all this blowing hot and cold mess as well as much worse.
      Men that blow hot and cold will not change, and they will always be more comfortable leaving you on unstable ground. Your comfort and happiness isn’t even secondary, it’s not on their radar at all. You deserve friendships and relationships with consistency, respect, care, and love, so I say if your level of discomfort with this guy is so great it has brought you to comment here, No Contact just might be your best option for you to start putting your needs first.

  3. wren says:

    “Men that blow hot and cold will not change, and they will always be more comfortable leaving you on unstable ground.”

    Interesting, I always wondered why my “exEUM” would seem to go out of his way to do something emotionally devastating to me just before he took off for a few days (we lived together). I was already feeling sad that he’d be going off to party without me (and I wasn’t welcome to come) but then he’d stick the knife in one way or another before he left; I realise now because he felt he’d have more control over me while he was away if I was reeling/hurting and off balance from his latest installment of his special brand of assclownery. One of the first times, and the most blatant, he was planning a weekend away visiting his buddies and the day before he left he told me he was starting to question our relationship and if we should be together. Then he left, leaving me to lick my wounds (which had no chance of healing, because it was left up in the air). While he was away he didn’t call or see how I was doing, even though he must have KNOWN I was hurting and in shock (it was the first time he’d suggested breaking up and told me that he was questioning his feelings for me). The next and just as bad or worse time, he was going away for a two week boys’ summer road trip and a day or two before he left I asked him if he’d think I was hot if he didn’t know me and saw me walking down the street (looking back now it was such a pathetic cry for validation, approval etc) I said this because he routinely told me how hot other women were and I wanted to get a clear sense that even if I was only one of many, I WAS one of the millions of hot laydays he appreciated. He acted like he didn’t understand the question, then when pressed said “maybe, sometimes….” in an uncertain tone of voice. I said WHAT? Maybe, sometimes you’d think I was hot? He said I guess I just don’t really see you that way. I said WHAT? You’re my fricking boyfriend. How do you see me, like a sister? He said, sometimes I find you attractive, but mostly you’re just [my name]. Which I took to mean humdrum, average, nothing special. Considering he loved to regale me with the wonder of beauty he saw in other women this was really too much. I even looked in the mirror and saw myself as unattractive, and then had a paranoid realisation/awakening that my whole life I’d been fooling myself that I was attractive and really I was not. (Even though all my life people have told me I’m very pretty etc.) Next day he took off with his guy friends and I knew what that meant, a bunch of single friends and him, all ogling the talent as they drank their way around East Europe. This was the last straw and when he got back I told him I’d booked a flight out of there and wasn’t coming back :)

    Perhaps I’ve gone too much in to the detail but it’s therapeutic to share and there might be other women on BR who have struggled with similar acts of cruelty. To bring it back, it’s so interesting that he would do these things before he went away, almost as if it was a calculating move. Could he really have been that sinister? Or was it his subconscious at work? Cool thing is, after 7 weeks of NC I care less than less about the answer to that question, even though we were together for nearly two years and I put him at the centre of my universe. I can almost taste complete freedom YAY! Thanks Natalie and the BR family!

    • Lilian Lauderdale says:

      Wren – I went through the same exact thing with my exEUM who I was with for nearly 9 years. He would constantly ogle over women when we were out and always mentioned how a woman at the bar or our waitress was attracted to him. Then he would proceed to tell me that I am “plain potatoes” and that guys only thing I’m “cute” once they get to know me. It was so hurtful coming from him…and I believed him (sometimes still think I do).

      He would also turn all happy or exciting occasions for me into a nightmare. Whether it was my birthday, where he would cancel 30 minutes before and not show up to my birthday dinner, or break up with me before graduation, he was always sure to ruin a great moment in my life.

      It’s a struggle to move past everything he put in my head and I feel sad that I stayed in that for my entire 20s – which is such an amazing time in your life for self discovery. I left that relationship not knowing who I was, what I wanted, or how I even felt about myself (and what I did feel wasn’t good).

      I am now struggling to get out of a relationship that is not nearly as verbally hurtful – but he certainly blows hot and cold and can’t decide if I am worth committing to despite his avid commitment in the beginning.

      Good for you on your NC and glad you are feeling free from the emotional burden. :)

  4. wren says:

    Thanks Lillian, thanks very much for replying. It actually lightens my burden to know that you went through a similar thing (that sounds heartless, but you know what I mean). Interesting that he conceded you could be found as cute. The only thing mine could say confidently was that I was cute. He said he didn’t see me as sexy, although he didn’t doubt other guys did (weird to admit that!). Then later, he turned it all around and denied he’d ever said I wasn’t sexy, just that he didn’t find me sexy at that exact point in time (if that had been the case, and he was a normal man, he’d have said of course I find you sexy, just not right now. But he didn’t say that). It is very crushing because he is the person you most want to find you attractive, and he seems to find others so wonderful (looking back now, some of the women he said were beautiful weren’t even that great. Certainly not as lovely as me 😉 ) So although I took it at the time to mean I wasn’t very attractive, I know realise it was all about lowering my own view of myself, possibly because he thought that if I felt good about myself then while he was away I could have the confidence to meet/flirt with other guys. Or, it was just part of the grander scheme of devaluing me.

    SO INTERESTING as well that he told you other women were attracted to him, like the waitress and women at the bar. I think our ex’s were very similar in their nasty game plan. I remember one day we were walking out of the house and a young woman was standing in the hall talking on the phone. After we passed, he told me that she’d given him the glad eye and said “nice man” to her friend on the phone. I didn’t hear because they spoke a different language (we lived in Holland). When we came back from the shop she was still there and I glared at her, thinking “can you not see I’m with him and he’s my boyfriend?” At home he started to go on about it, how she looked at him like she wanted to jump on him, and why didn’t I look at him that way. Why did I never initiate sex, maybe we weren’t sexually compatible!! All this because of some girl on the phone and WHO THE HELL KNOWS if it even happened or if he was just dreaming the whole thing up. He worked hard to create an atmosphere around us in which it seemed young attractive women were never more than a few feet away, trying to steal him away from me.

    What a complete jerkoff. So glad I’ve gone NC.

    Oh and also – Lillian, after all you’ve been through, do you really want to wait for a man to decide if you’re good enough for him to commit to? How strongly can he feel if he’s so unsure? Don’t you want to feel confident knowing that your man did all he could to be with you cause he wanted you that much? It doesn’t sound good to me :( I’d hate for you to be wasting more of your precious life (especially the prime of your life as you are in now) on someone who doesn’t sound all that worthy of your love. Look after you! NC!!!! 😉

    • Lilian Lauderdale says:

      Wren – It’s amazing how I can read your story and know immediately that it is not a healthy place for you to be and would advise anyone to get out. And yet I stayed for 9 years. I knew I wasn’t happy but I also felt so low about myself that I believed every word he said and didn’t think anyone would want me.

      So yes, it’s just as hurtful to be in a situation where I love someone and they can’t decide if they want me and would do all he can to be with me. He’s always telling me what he would lose if he were with me and never what he would gain. And of course his fear of what he might lose is never as great as his fear of losing me. I am hitting a tipping point where instead of dreaming about being together I dream about the day I can finally tell him to never contact me until he can decide. Thanks for your response and supportive words. I don’t want to waste any more time.

      • Fearless says:


        I said this on another thread but it may be worth repeating: When we are waiting for a man to ‘decide’, we really need to realise that he has already decided (even if he can’t admit it to you or to himself); that we are not waiting for him to make up his mind, we are merely hoping that he will change his mind.

        It’s demoralising and soul destroying. No wonder you are in turmoil. Please stop waiting for him to change his mind and take a decision for yourself. Do what you expect him to do. Choose. Do for yourself what he cannot do. Choose You.

        Nat often says, rightly, that we are either in or we’re out. We know which he is. Which are you? And if you are ‘in’, what exactly is it that you are in? Cos if you are ‘in’ then you’re in all by yourself. What use is that to man or beast?

        I say again, stop waiting (and grumbling) for him “to decide” what’s happening to you and your life (he’s made his decision) when you can’t do it for yourself. I did this too with the ex EUM. What I realise now is that I had a bit of a cheek to call him “undecided” about me when I couldn’t make a decision either about me! You are doing exactly what you are complaining to him about (so did I; no judgement here – just the benefit of my hindsight if it’s any use to you). Take control of what happens to you next.

  5. teachable says:

    Yr welcome scarlett. Nat has a name for women like us. Florence nightingales. If you get her ebook you can learn a little more about how to give up the idea that trying to help or rescue others in an intimate r.ship is ok (it’s not)

    And Grace, I couldn’t agree more. Toxic r.shit’s are just like rotting limbs. The sooner we lop them off the better. I still sometimes think of my deceased ex AC, mostly as there has been no time for proper grieving due to studying. My primary thought is RELIEF that I managed to get 6 mths of NC before getting the news of his death…

  6. Unsure when says:

    Wow, this was him exactly to a T. I just ended it last night. I’m so glad I read this today so if he does think about trying this out again, I will know what is going on. I love you Nat. Thank you again for all you do for us. It’s good to be able to see and read clear headed thinking when in the midst of crazy town.

  7. Unsure when says:

    Thank goodness for these words of wisdom. I came very close to texting him last night. Had half a text written out while crying my eyes out…then I came here and read this again and again….and deleted that stupid text without sending it, dried my tears and stopped putting more value in him than he is worth. I am the one with value. He is the one with a penis for a brain.

  8. Lulu says:

    I haven’t had a meaningful relationship for aa couple of years. I’m 25 years, independent but emotionally unavailable and I attract unavailable men; this post hit me hard. Only because the feeling is too familiar. Its like I’m stuck in a rut. I don’t know how to overcome.

  9. anonon says:

    So glad to be able to read this and know I am not the only one. If you don’t mind, I would like to share my story just because I need to tell it. The guy I was living with for 14 months, packed when I was asleep and left the next day with no explanation. I had no contact for over a week and was just looking for a reason why. He came over to visit after a weekend camping trip he went on with friends and said he left because he felt like we rushed in in the beginning and he didn’t want to live together but was willing to work on it living apart. I agreed he moved in too soon and wanted to try. So a week later he informs me we are just dating and I am trying to move too fast and that he is going on a fishing trip for 12 days and we are on a break during that time. I didn’t hear from him the whole two weeks and then when he came back he texted me to ask me how a job interview went. (you have no idea what I went through those twelve days and was hurt by him not even sending 1 how r u text or anything) When he left he knew I was going through a rough patch. I was recently diagnosed with PTSD, just lost a job and was looking for a new one. I asked him how fishing was and he said I don’t feel like telling u so I told him I didn’t want to discuss my job interview because if he really wanted to know he should have asked while he was away. I then did tell him later on that I got the job and was happy and he didn’t even congratulate me. I ended my evening tonight by texting him that if this is how it is going to be I am done and that I am half sorry I missed him while he was gone fishing and that I don’t deserve this treatment. Is this a hot and cold guy or does he just not love me because I have PTSD?

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Tired of dealing with family drama or waiting for them to spontaneously combust in to changed people? Need to find ways to step back and take proactive steps to redefine the relationship from your end? This 30-Day project will help you do just that.