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. You know, one that made available men unavailable. I saw it as: I’d meet guys, incidentally, who I probably didn’t even like that much, and they’d blow hot. 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. I figured that the same relationships that I’d assumed or been led to believe they were offering would still be on offer.
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 to gradually or very sharply cooled down.
Signs that a romantic partner is blowing hot and cold
- They chase(d), you respond(ed), they back(ed) off.
- They’re not as eager and in pursuit as they were before.
- You might feel like it’s switched to you chasing after them.
- Suddenly you’re hearing excuses, including about how busy they are.
- Whereas you used to hear from them 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 this person breezing in for an intense ‘set’ and then them breezing out again for a while. It’s a pop-up relationship. And it’s often without hearing from them and suspecting or even knowing that they’re involved with others, but being okay with being their ‘appointment’.
- This might be a well-honed routine. When they pull away and you stop chasing them, they chase you back. Then when you respond, they pull away. And lather, rinse, repeat.
Inconsistency in relationships is unhealthy and destabilising
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. 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). Your relationship, though, does not have the landmarks of a healthy relationship: balance, commitment, consistency, intimacy and progression.
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. 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.
Overestimating their interest and willingness to commit leads to underdelivering
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. 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. You’ll become desensitised to 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. 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. 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. It feels much hotter than its true temperature 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’s a code amber alert that you need to stop, look, listen and evaluate what the hell is going on. It’s question-asking time (if the situation calls for it), but blowing hot and cold is highly likely to signal that it’s time to exit the relationship.
The moment that you allow someone to be inconsistent, you are allowing them to manage down your expectations.
It can be very tempting to play in the Hot & Cold Casino and keep betting on potential. It’s a false economy, though, that will eat away at your soul. Once you end up playing games in your relationship and realise 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 playing games to get attention from them? It’s only a matter of time until they recognise the pattern, and then they will become half-hearted in chasing after you. They realise you’re not really that serious about being in a serious relationship.
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? This person blowing hot and cold has nothing to do with you being not good enough. It’s certainly not because they need to retreat from the relationship to renew their desire. They are blowing hot and cold because they’re emotionally 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. What they shouldn’t have a license to do is to keep messing you around, so don’t give it to them.