Can You Predict When a Guy is Going to Bail? post image

Can You Predict When a Guy is Going to Bail?

Can you isolate the exact moment on a date or in a relationship when you know–perhaps on a subconscious level–that it’s not going to work out? That the guy is going to vanish into thin air, in a not-so-magical swirl of dust? I call it the moment of “imminent poof.”

The signs are always there for the taking. So why do we ignore them?  Does our desire to convey that we are “open” and easygoing, or to be in a relationship, blind us from listening to our gut?

Two years after my divorce, when I was ready to get back out there and meet Mister Right, I met a guy through a friend whom I wasn’t interested in at all. He wasn’t my type physically, and our brief conversation held no spark. But when my friend told me afterwards that he was into me, and that he looked at my Facebook photos often (creepy?), I was flattered. And that flattery, along with the boost to my ego, kicked up some sparks that disguised themselves as interest. Flattery does work, whether we want to admit it or not. Besides, he was a nice Jewish boy – smart, funny, and “only” six years my junior.

In retrospect, the “check list” items (the kind I could boast about to my mother) wooed me and impaired my judgment. We eventually began a dialogue and went on a date. Three hours of talking plus two hours of over the top PDA equals a good date, no? My friend confirmed this: “He had an amazing time. He’s so into you.” Cut to date two, where I was pleasantly surprised to learn that physically we connected too. When he left my apartment, I was humming to myself, hopeful…

So I didn’t find it unreasonable to text him the following day (cringe), “Last night was fun.”

It took him six hours to respond with three words: “Glad you enjoyed.”

Excuse me?

Needless to say, my imminent poof detector was out of whack. While I knew that this comment signaled something was wrong (and I didn’t write back), I felt slighted.  And when I didn’t hear from him again, I felt deflated and confused. Had I been so blinded by my desire to click with someone that I hadn’t been able to see this coming from the get-go?

MORE: Why Guys Disappear and How to Deal

But I learned my lesson, or so I thought. On the next slew of dates, my gut was speaking to me more audibly.

For example, I met a tall handsome man at a concert (he looked 36, but I found out later he was 29). He showed promise  – when he asked me out, he used the telephone. Drinks at the bar were flirty and friendly and so was the first half of dinner. Conversation was flowing. And then the alcohol was too. He was drinking two glasses to my one, and then ordered another bottle. I noticed it, but it wasn’t until he started overtly flirting with the female manager right in front of me that I realized, this guy’s gonna go poof. It took an actual physical sign, him literally grabbing the manager around the waist and cooing her name, for me to get it. When the date ended, he hastily kissed me on the lips and said, “I’ll call ya tomorrow!” and then ran off (aka fled). I wasn’t surprised when I never heard from him again.

But only later did I realize that the real defining moment was more subtle – when he dared to ask me mid-dinner, “So how old are you exactly?”

“Older than you,” I replied.

“Well I know that!” he remarked with an arrogant toss of his head.

And then what did I do? To my disgust and shame, I lied. I told him I was 37. A whole year younger than my actual age.

I mean, if you’re going to do something as base as lie about your age, you might as well make it count. I realized later that his question had made me feel small and insecure enough to feel flustered, and it was in that instance that I knew there would never be a second date. It was in that moment when the dynamic and chemicals in the air shifted, and where my insides felt yucky, that contained all the information I needed.

I knew it with my previous boyfriend too, at least on a subconscious level. In the month before our breakup, I could sense it before he did. It was an accumulation of all the tiny intangible changes in his behavior and attention, as well as the change in pattern and frequency of his affections – both physical and virtual – that telegraphed that the end was near. Looking back, I must have known deep down that the relationship didn’t have the ingredients to graduate to the long-term stage, and my gut was there to spare me. Spare me from wasting precious time with a guy who was already planning on going poof, even if he didn’t know it himself. So I broke up with him. At first, he was stunned, but his frozen face and wide-eyed shock morphed into relief and resignation only a few moments later.

The point is that sometimes the underlying reason isn’t discernible, nor is it important. Sometimes things just don’t click – no matter how much you want them to – and why doesn’t matter.

Sometimes it’s worth just listening to yourself – and trusting that the intangible shift in the air is real – to see the signs for what they are.

MORE: How to Listen to Your Gut  

Oritte Bendory is a Manhattan based writer and blogger at The Cougel Chronicles: Tales of a Jewish Cougar (Or, If Carrie Bradshaw was Jewish and divorced Big). Her remarriage memoir, “To Love, Cherish & Disobey,” is forthcoming. She is also a former screenwriter and film producer.

Twitter: @Cougel


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I’m imespsred. You’ve really raised the bar with that.

Reply March 9, 2017, 6:16 am


I’ve been together with my guy for a year and couple months now.However we had a break and recently started talking again, he used to call and text me everyday before the break,now he hardly does.I realize whenever I try to give him his space he always ends up contacting me.He does show signs of being attracted to me still because we have been intimate only through video chat and pics.But he doesnt make effort to see me in person unless hes giving me something i asked him for.So why doesn’t he want to see me in person?

Reply March 18, 2015, 8:35 pm


Hi Shana, You may have resolved this by now, but if not, to me it sounds like (and this may be hard to hear) that he is a commitment-phobe who gets off on the fantasy of who you are – the illusion. Not the real thing, not the real you. Unless he has some big epiphany or changes suddenly, I can’t see this relationship graduating to the next level. There doesn’t seem to be anything YOU can be doing differently. Good luck.

Reply March 22, 2015, 4:05 pm


I’ve been seeing a nice man for a few weeks and he has been everything I’ve ever wanted in a man, but recently the texting has died down and the sweet remarks have aswell. After our first date I told myself he was never going to text back, to my surprise he thought it went great. After every date we have had I’ve told myself he wouldn’t be around after. Now i feel like he is going to poof, but what do I do, could this be another situation where he thinks things are going great and My anxiety is getting the best of me ?

Reply February 28, 2015, 11:56 am


Hi Nicole, Unfortunately I don’t think there is anything you can tangibly DO to influence his feelings or how he chooses to communicate with you. If he thinks things are going well, you’ll know soon enough. If he doesn’t, you’ll know that too. It’s understandable that you’re anxious, but trust that things will play out the way they are supposed to (he’s either the guy for you, or he’s not. It shouldn’t be forced). Also, remember that the texting game is unwinnable. Him texting you sweet things or not is irrelevant – the question is whether he will ask you out again and how things flow in person. Good luck.

Reply February 28, 2015, 12:58 pm


I can pin it down to nearly the second. He came to my door to pick me up and something seemed off. I even said something along the line of him being distant. There were times at dinner where it seemed he couldn’t even make eye contact with me. Ye there were other times during the night when he was unbelievably attentive and loving. That was New Year’s Eve. He ended it January 3rd. I wasn’t surprised at all because of the way he was four days earlier.

Reply February 24, 2015, 12:01 pm


I’ve been seeing a guy for 3 months now granted we have only been on 9 dates over the course of this time due to holidays, etc. We have spent the night together a few times but he has not tried to sleep with me. He is going through some personal issues now and focused on not losing his job, a family member’s health, etc. Anyway we are generally in touch every day in some capacity although we may skip a day a week. He was away on a business trip for nearly a week in which we were not in contact at all. Once he was back he called me and left me a message. I didn’t have a chance to call him back until the next day. It has now been almost two days and nothing. What the heck is up? I assume he just isn’t interested and has treated me as an option for these few months and now that I am not jumping at the chance to talk to him he’s backing off? Any intel?

Reply February 17, 2015, 12:28 pm


Hi Kate, Seems there isn’t actually anything “wrong” here, nor do I see any evidence that something is going awry yet. It takes a lot of intangible factors for a relationship to graduate from casual and spontaneous to the next level, and seems this one doesn’t yet have the ingredients to do that. Him: A lot of other more important things weighing him down that require his attention, no matter how great he may think you are. You: Passivity, behavior that conveys you’re in take it or leave it mode. Waiting a day to call him back bc you didn’t “have a chance,” really? Or were you trying to match his efforts and not wanting to show you’re eager? I was in a relationship where I really liked a guy but I didnt show it, I held back because he wasn’t doing the chasing, and the relationship was never able to take flight. One person always needs to be putting their foot on the gas, however gently, for things to take flight. If you continue to coast you’ll end up in the river. If you like him, make an effort. If he doesn’t respond in kind after a while, you’ll know you tried, that you were clear. Confidence in a woman can be very attractive, but you have to actually mean it and not do it to play a game or to test his feelings. Just reach out because you want to, period.

Reply February 18, 2015, 8:15 am


I don’t know what to do. I met my boyfriend through an online dating site last year. We dated for a few months then broke up because he got cold feet. We’re back together now and have been dating exclusively for a while. Everything has been going great. We had the talk about taking our online dating profiles down and I had done that. Except a couple of weeks ago I discovered that he hasn’t. When I confronted him about it he just laughed it off but did say he would take it down. I let it go. Then tonight I thought I would just check he’d taken it down. He hasn’t. And he’s been in there within the last couple of hours. I called him and talked to him about it and he got really annoyed and accused me of checking up on him and now it’s really making him rethink things. I think he’s going to break up with me again. And this time I’ve really fallen for him hard and I just don’t want to lose him because of my snooping behaviour. How do I fix this? I’m upset and scared and confused. Help.

Reply February 16, 2015, 4:37 am


Hi Danielle, If you lose him, it won’t be because of your snooping behavior, or anything you have done or will do to try and “keep” him. It will be because he is either not ready to settle down with one person (no matter how great) and probably won’t be for a while, if ever. He still needs multiple forms of flattery to give him a boost, when the love of one woman (you) should be enough. To me it’s an obvious sign that he isn’t built to sustain a long haul relationships, no matter how much freedom you give him. Remember that you can’t influence or control how much someone will like you; all you can do is control what YOU do and feel. And feeling bad, or apologizing for asking him to be accountable for his part of the deal, is only going to make it worse. He promised he’d take his profile down, and he hasn’t. That’s his bad, not yours. If you feel you want to hang in there because you really like him, then perhaps give it a try – be patient and hope that he comes to his own senses on his own, but don’t be surprised if later, this defensive behavior of his is a sign of a guilty conscience and reluctance to commit. If in a few months, you sense he is still not totally present, then maybe you’re the one who has to take a stand. He can’t have his cake and eat it too.

Reply February 16, 2015, 8:17 pm

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