Question: Yangki, what if your ex, although now in friend mode, is still not allowing you to “see them” and despite numerous different emotional bid attempts, they are turning away by ignoring most. He is FA and broke it off saying he wanted time and space and not be a couple. He said we could be friends, but we just needed time apart for a while. This is our second time breakup in 3 years. We broke up this time around after getting back for 14 months. I didn’t contact him for 2 weeks then just casually reached out with advice from you dating ex book. Some contact is warm and polite but no response to questions. I’m not asking questions about the old relationship, I know better from reading your book. Mostly asking about his job, he’s a teacher and loves what he does. I also ask about family, especially his niece he has a very close bond with. He plays basketball, so I asked about that. Interestingly, it was the only question he answered, but when I asked a follow up question, he didn’t respond.
At this stage, what should be the strategic plan – mine is to stick to building engagement and slowing the pace down – does this seem appropriate to you?
Great articles for practical and realistic advice, the art of patience and living with uncertainty has been my biggest gains to date from your work.
Yangki’s Answer: Building engagement and slowing the pace down is a good plan. It is exactly what you should be doing at this stage.
There are several that could be contributing to him not responding to questions, but willing to engage in contact.
1. It may be the questions you ask or the way you ask them
2. It could also be that he is still guarded for some reason and needs more time to open up.
3. It is possible, but likely to be far off since he is responding, that he feels he still needs time and trying to slow things down by avoiding in depth conversations.
4. He may be sensing your use of “emotional bids” as your attempts to get him to see you and turning away not just from your efforts to see him but also from your efforts to move to meaningful and emotion-provoking conversations.
The two could be tied together. He may also be thinking that you’re now just friends and has decided that seeing each other at this point may create a situation where you want more than a friendship.
The best plan of action in my opinion at this stage is to stop trying to see him and focus on building engagement. Only step back from active building engagement when he is showing more interest/is more engaged.
Pay attention to when he is warm and when he ignores or turns away from emotional bids. Is there a pattern? i.e. nature or tone of the conversation, time of the day/night etc. (this is all in the book)
Without some background on your relationship and an idea of the type of questions you are asking, I can’t be of much help in terms of getting him to answer questions. What I do know is that, if someone is not answering questions, they are very much still emotionally closed down. It’s one way to keep people at a distance.