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You Asked: He's Sending Mixed Signals

You Asked: He's Sending Mixed Signals

Dear Sugar,

My boyfriend of two and a half years broke up with me about a month ago. Before the breakup things were great; we were having a wonderful Summer. We talked of being together forever and we were so in love, but he had other things going on in his life. He didn't get into the school he wanted and is now taking a year off to work. It's a hard issue for him; I think he feels like a failure. But when he's home, all he does is play video games and he only works three days a week.

I do love him and he's very important to me, but it seems like he ended things just so he could avoid commitment. He said he doesn't love me the same way anymore but wants to remain friends, although his behavior has shown nothing like that. Recently I decided to stop contact with him, and I noticed that his phone calls started coming in more frequently. When we do see each other, which is rare, he tries to flirt with me. I'm sick of him calling me all the time and acting as if we're together when we're not. I've tried to talk to him and set boundaries, but so far all he's done is try to surpass them. My question is what else can I do to get the point across? How can I help him realize that he needs to be more responsible? How can I communicate these things and ultimately help him find his way?

— Over It Ilea

To see DearSugar's answer,


Dear Over It Ilea,

I've seen this situation before, and it's most assuredly a frustrating one. Fortunately, it sounds like you have a good head on your shoulders, and I'm glad to hear you're not up for allowing this behavior to continue. He does sound lost, and I'm sure his sense of failure in school, and life, is definitely a factor in his fears about continuing a relationship. However, regardless of the reason, you deserve someone who wants to be with you through good and bad. I mean, that's what relationships are really about. He's obviously afraid of losing you, which is why his phone calls picked up when you backed off. But that's the choice he's made, and he's never going to learn the consequences of that until he feels them.

Instead of trying to talk to him, get straight to your point. Be clear that you can no longer play the role of the de facto girlfriend. If he doesn't want to be with you, then he doesn't get to be with you and that's that. While you're at it, go ahead and mention that you think he needs to start taking some initiative in life. Encourage him to apply to schools for next year or start taking classes at a local community college. But once you've made your stance clear, you have to stand by it. Maybe he'll change down the line, and in that case, you guys can start considering a relationship again, but in the meantime, focus on your own future.


Join The Conversation
JaimeLeah526 JaimeLeah526 8 years
Sounds like he got scared off by the relationship when the rest of his life wasn't going the way he wanted it.
DearSugarLover DearSugarLover 8 years
i know it's hard but you have to walk away. if it's meant to be he'll realize it is and come back. whether you want to be with him then is your choice or not. for now you don't need to clue him in on anything. put your feelings first and if you're not getting what you want then leave. oh man this sucks :( and i can say that for sure because that was me once. and while getting advice is good it's always easier said than done.
Blackwood Blackwood 8 years
actually, his "mixed signals" come across with one CLEAR message: "I'm a bloody mess!" Don't bother with this jack*ss
bluestar bluestar 8 years
Cut off contact all together.
Janine22 Janine22 8 years
I think that when you set up boundaries with someone, you need to be very clear and specific about them. I guess I'm trying to say that you need to set boundaries and then follow through by enforcing the boundaries. I hate to say it, but I have to agree with blckout200 that he probably just wants sex. Either that, or now that he has lost you, he has realized what he has lost but is too stupid to try to 'get you back'. The thing is, he kind of has the best of both worlds because he can still talk to you whenever he wants. Bottom line: he sounds like a slacker who avoids commitment. Honestly, if I were you I would cut off all contact, I have found that the best way to get over an ex is to end contact and to start focusing on yourself a lot more. If he ever gets his shit together and realizes what he lost, then maybe you will be around to answer his call. Or maybe not, maybe you will have found a much better guy who actually appreciates you! Good luck to you and never settle.
blckout200 blckout200 8 years
Get rid of the loser. Sounds like he wants to be 'friends with benefites'. It seems clear to me that he is using you for one thing only. You deserve much better. I was in a similar situaton with a guy I dated for 3 years.I broke up with him for many reasons - cheating on me and using me sexually and financially....and then he would try to con tact me so I basically blocked him from calling me or IMng me.
lilCROAT03 lilCROAT03 8 years
1.) is this a dude or a chick in the pic? 2.) you're wasting a lot of time right now, time you should be spending on doing something for yourSELF for once. esp time for moving on with your life and getting a hobby to replace him ( i sweat to dog this is the best way to get over it) 3.) are you sure you really don't want him to be giving you this attention? it seems like you still bask in it at times. bottom line: you need to blow him off completely and if you DO end up running into him just act nonchalant and platonic.
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
i think that this advice is right on and you're definitely taking the higher road in realizing that you're not deserving of this treatment and that he needs to figure out what is going on in his life and that you're there for him if that's the role that you're to play but that you're not going to be 'abused' for your kindness. i think that a lot of the time with guys, they have things go wrong in their lives and they shut down. it could be just one little thing and it'll start a downward spiral, and that's not something that they know how to handle. my fiance gets like that a lot - he'll second guess EVERYTHING in his life including our relationship and his love for me, and then we'll have to really get straight to the point of what we're both feeling to see if it's something that we can get through. i hope that if you decide that you're going to write him off completely for now, that you find happiness somewhere. it's hard to be in a relationship for so long and have it turn off so quickly but you deserve someone who's confident in themselves and confident that you're the person that they want to spend the rest of their life with. you don't need to fight to convince someone of that...
RockAndRepublic RockAndRepublic 8 years
Eh, he's totally trying to use you in this situation. Forget about his friendship, you don't need it.
Alyssa9986 Alyssa9986 8 years
I know this is tends to make already complicated issues that much more overwhelming. I'd like to acknowledge the fact that you are an incredibly intelligent and put-together young woman (I'm sure you know that though! Be proud of this!) Ultimately, your (ex?) boyfriend realizes this on some level, which is the reason he continues to contact you despite your choice to distance yourself...couple that with the fact that at the end of the day, he's still a guy LOL, but you know what I mean. Truthfully, there's not really any "advice" anyone can give you on these matters. It's very easy for someone who's not involved in the situation to give an objective perspective and tell you what you should do, however sometimes you just gotta do what YOU need to do. Frankly, it sounds like you know what to do...I know it will hurt, but just let life do it's thing. You never know what could be around the bend...
Jammi Jammi 8 years
I don't think she's asking how to get back with him, lol, she stopped contact with him freely, she tried to set boundaries now that they've broken, and he's the one who's been acting as if they're still in a relationship. I agree with Dear, he's made his bed he needs to lie in it. He can't expect you to play at being his girlfriend without him being a real boyfriend. So do as Dear said but start seperating yourself from him so you're no longer his fallback and he needs to start moving on or at least giving *you* some space since he's the one who broke up with you. If he ends up wanting to get back together [which i think he'll say once he realises you're not waiting around] just remember it's mainly because he doesn't have you as a safety anymore. Good luck.
runningesq runningesq 8 years
Love is for the good and the bad... I know it's hard, but I think you should move on. "We talked of being together forever and we were so in love, but he had other things going on in his life." --- this is a big red flag to me. Your s/o should love you despite what is going on in his life. "Forever" is a long time and I promise you there will be bad times -- sick family, problems with children, lay offs, things you cannot yet imagine. If he can't make you a priority now, he never will. Good luck.
TheConsciousSnob TheConsciousSnob 8 years
I think you need to be more realistic about this guy... First, he broke up with you because he doesn't love you the same way anymore. Yet, he knows you still care about him and would still be there for him regardless of the breakup. I went through a similar situation before, I think you just need to move on and realize that the grass is greener on the other side... why not give someone else a chance to love you?
Marci Marci 8 years
Well, you can't 'make' anyone see anything they don't want to see. And frankly, if he's sending mixed signals then he has mixed feelings, and do you really want a guy with mixed feelings? I sure don't. You cannot make someone be what you want them to be, and he's entitled to live his life however he wants to. You don't have to like it; he does. So if you don't like how he's living, it's time for you to move on.
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