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Why Does He Keep Coming Back If He Doesn’t Want a Relationship?

February 8, 2024

Whether you were casually dating or in a serious relationship, it’s always at least slightly sad when a guy you liked doesn’t seem to want to be with you anymore. What’s even more confusing and uncomfortable is when he keeps leaving and then coming back again.

We’re going to look at why he keeps coming back to you, what it means, and what you should do about it. 

What Does It Mean When a Man Keeps Leaving and Coming Back Again?

Before you can make a good decision about what to do when a guy you like keeps leaving and then coming back again, it’s helpful to understand why he might keep coming back and what he’s thinking.

Here are some of the different reasons why he keeps coming back to you.

1. He doesn’t know what he wants

he doesn't know what he wants

We’ve probably all had the feeling of not knowing exactly what we want, trying to make a decision and then realizing that the choice we made was the wrong decision. He might be in this position.

He isn’t sure whether he wants to be with you or not. He might not know how to deal with the situation. Rather than being honest about his confusion, he tries to deal with it alone and so he runs hot and cold with you. 

2. He likes you, but he doesn’t see a future for you together

He might really like you and love the idea of dating you, but he sees major obstacles to you actually building a life together. Maybe he really wants children but you don’t. Maybe your career keeps you in one city and his keeps him in another.

If this is what’s going on with him, his heart is pulling him towards you but his head is pulling him away. 

3. You relieve his loneliness

Sometimes, he will come back to you because he was feeling lonely and he knew that you would be there to make him feel better. This isn’t exactly a flattering or happy realization. It means that he’s not really interested in you as a person. He’s only really thinking about what you do for him.

If he’s only coming back because he feels lonely, that means he’s not thinking about you or caring about what is going to be best for you.

4. He’s a player (and you’re great in bed)

There’s a chance that the guy you’re attracted to is hugely attracted to you but he doesn’t want to be tied down into a relationship. He wants to be able to play the field, but you have such great sexual chemistry that he keeps wanting to come back to you.

This might be enough for you if you’re able to enjoy his physical qualities without your heart getting involved.

5. He thinks you don’t want anything serious

There’s a chance that he doesn’t actually want to leave, but he doesn’t realize that you are up for anything more than a casual fling. As a result, he’s holding back and giving you the space he thinks you’re looking for.

6. He hates the idea of you being with anyone else

Some guys don’t actually want to be with you when you’re available, but they hate the idea of you dating anyone else. As soon as you show interest in someone else, they waltz back into your life and try to capture all of your attention.

As soon as they’re sure that you’re fully focused on them, they disappear again. It can be hard to resist this kind of guy. Your shared history means that he knows exactly how to drive you crazy.

7. He gets scared of commitment

he gets scared of commitment

If the guy you care about falls into this category, he actually cares about you really deeply. The trouble is that deep down, he’s scared of just how much he cares about you. He realizes that he’s starting to fall for you and he doesn’t think he’s ready to “settle down.” 

He runs away, but that doesn’t stop him from wanting to be with you. So, he gathers up his courage and comes back for a while, before he gets scared again and runs away. This is a really common pattern in men with an avoidant attachment style1.

8. He trusts you

Ok, so this one might take a little bit of explanation. Sometimes, a guy will want to be with you but he’s struggling with something. It might be the lack of commitment we’ve just talked about or it could be something else. He might be dealing with old trauma, a current problem in his life, or some other challenge.

He doesn’t want to talk about it to anyone, but he still trusts you implicitly. He knows that you’ll be there to support him, but his low self-worth or emotional difficulties make it hard for him to accept that support and care.

Knowing that you’ll be there when he’s ready means that he can leave and work on his issues. Of course, this is a long way away from ideal. He should tell you that he’s struggling, and it’s not ok to hurt your feelings by just expecting you to be there when he’s ready.

Even if this is what’s going on with him, that doesn’t mean that you have to take him back. You deserve to be treated well, no matter what else is going on with him. 

9. He’s manipulating you

We’ve talked about some of the more positive reasons that a guy might keep leaving and then coming back, but there are some more sinister reasons2.

Guys who are abusive can use this as a technique to keep you off balance and make you feel nervous and insecure. Often, they will say that you’ve done something that led them to leave, and portray themselves as generous for coming back. They might even say that they’re the ones giving you a second chance.

For example, he might say that he’s leaving because you gained weight but then come back a few months later. This then makes you feel insecure about your body and anxious about your weight.

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He might even use a different excuse every time so that you’re constantly alert and worrying about what will be the next thing to push him away.

This kind of manipulation often escalates and can also become increasingly erratic. For example, he might “break up” with you and come back several times in one day, then have a period of calm, only to leave for a month the next time.

If you find yourself tiptoeing around him or constantly feeling anxious that he’s about to leave, it’s very possible that he’s leaving and returning as a way to manipulate or control you.

How to Deal with a Guy Who Keeps Coming Back? Accept or Reject?

how to deal with a guy who keeps coming back? accept or reject

1. Decide what you want, before you ask what he wants or will give

When a guy comes back to you, especially if you really liked him before he left, it’s natural to concentrate on him. Why he left, what he is willing or able to offer now. Although this is understandable, it’s the wrong way around to think about things.

Try to start by thinking about what you want. Do you actually still want a relationship with him? What would that relationship look like? How much commitment are you looking for? And what would it take for you to be able to trust him?

Women, in particular, are often taught to put others’ feelings and needs above our own3. That’s not healthy and it makes it much more difficult to have a relationship that actually meets your needs.

Taking the time to think about your needs before you even start to consider his' gives you a solid position to start from and can help you make a better decision.

2. Be upfront about your needs

Once you know what you are looking for from him, it’s important to make sure that he understands what you are and aren’t ok with. This is almost like you’re asking him what his intentions are, which can feel awkward. It’s worth that brief awkwardness to create a healthy, honest relationship, however.

You might be tempted to minimize your needs at this point. You might say “well, ideally I’d like us to be exclusive, but it’s ok if you want to keep things casual for a while” when you’re actually thinking “I want us to be exclusive and to work towards making serious commitments.”

Often, we minimize our needs because we’re worried about scaring a guy away. Try to remind yourself that if he’s scared off by you stating your needs, the chances are that he was never going to be able to meet those needs. Be brave enough to be honest.

3. Don’t accept less than you actually want

As part of this, don’t accept less than you actually need to be happy. Compromise is an important skill in relationships, but it shouldn’t apply to your own boundaries and personal needs4.

Remember that it might not always be you looking for more commitment and him hanging back. Sometimes, he’ll be looking to pick right back up where you guys left off but you want to keep things casual until he’s shown that he deserves your trust again. That’s completely understandable.

If he left you, you’ve seen that you can live without him. Try to remind yourself that you deserve a happy relationship where your needs are valued and met. If he’s not able to give you that, you’re better off being single and looking for someone who can.

4. Stick to your guns, especially if this becomes a pattern

Sometimes, a guy can leave and then come back to you several times. If you’re ok with that, that’s great. You can keep deciding to take him back and try again. For most people, however, this pattern becomes more hurtful and difficult every time it repeats.

If this treatment hurts you, that’s totally normal. You don’t have to accept it. He might choose to come back to you, but you don’t have to take him back. If you do decide to take him back, tell him how much it hurts and explain that you’re not willing to do this again… and mean it.

If he does it again, remind him about what you said and stick to your guns. You might find it helpful to have a list of reasons why the relationship isn’t working and why you shouldn’t take him back. This can make it easier for you to stand by your decision.

5. Work with a therapist 

work with a therapist

When a guy leaves and comes back to you repeatedly, and you take him back, that’s often a sign that you struggle with boundaries, self-esteem, or that there’s some other problem deep down. Even if there wasn’t before, being treated like this can damage your self-confidence.

It’s often worth working with a great therapist or coach to help you understand where the problems are. They can also offer you valuable support in terms of helping you to see things clearly and rebuilding your sense of self-worth.

FAQs

What should you do if a guy keeps leaving and coming back to you?

Only you can decide whether you’re willing to take a guy back if he keeps leaving and coming back to you. It can often damage your self-esteem and leave you feeling insecure. If so, it’s important that you set boundaries to protect yourself.

How many times should you allow a guy to leave and then come back?

Every situation is different. How many times you should allow him to come back depends on how he left, why he left, what he said when he came back, and your needs and boundaries. You’re never obligated to take him back, especially if the trust has been damaged.

I still love him but he hurt when he left. Should I take him back?

You are the only person who can answer this question. Loving someone doesn’t excuse him for hurting you. Ask yourself whether you can trust him again. If not, taking him back is unlikely to work. If you can, make sure you set strong boundaries for the future.

Conclusion

If a guy leaves you, it’s hard to understand why he keeps coming back, and even harder to know what you should do about it. Although there are many reasons why he might leave and then come back to you, it’s incredibly difficult to know which one applies in his case.

There’s also no single answer to whether you should take him back or not. There are two main questions to ask yourself. What do you want out of a relationship and do you believe that he is willing and able to provide it? If he can, you might want to give him a second chance.

What do you think? What would make you give someone a second chance? Let us know in the comments, and make sure you share this article with any friends who keep taking the same guy back. 

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4 Sources:
  1. Birnie, C., McClure, M. J., Lydon, J. E., & Holmberg, D. (2009). Attachment avoidance and commitment aversion: A script for relationship failure. Personal Relationships, 16(1), 79–97. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-6811.2009.01211.x
  2. Davis, K. E., Swan, S. C., & Gambone, L. J. (2010). Why Doesn’t He Just Leave Me Alone? Persistent Pursuit: A Critical Review of Theories and Evidence. Sex Roles, 66(5-6), 328–339. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-010-9882-3
  3. ‌Swim, J. K., Eyssell, K. M., Murdoch, E. Q., & Ferguson, M. J. (2010). Self-Silencing to Sexism. Journal of Social Issues, 66(3), 493–507. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4560.2010.01658.x
  4. ‌Bagnoli, C., & Greenspan, P. S. (2015). Morality and the emotions. Oxford University Press.
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