To put it simply, it's HIM, not you... he's a jerk.
Before I met my wife, I was a “Dating Jerk” in college—I mean for the first three years of my undergrad degree I dated a lot of women and was a jerk to most of them.
I’m not proud of that fact, but I’m owning it.
During those dating days I usually saw someone two or three times, then stopped pursuing or engaging with them. Back then there was no texting or email, just telephones—and I rarely followed up with the women I casually dated.
In hindsight, here are the five main reasons for my jerky behavior.
1. General Immaturity
Like most guys, I was very immature during my late teens and early 20s. The vast majority of the instances where I didn’t call a girl back after a great date, were mainly driven by my lack of experience and understanding of relational dynamics. There was no malicious intent or purposeful nastiness, I just didn’t know any better at the time.
I didn’t think it was a big deal, which as I write it, seems incredibly rude, insensitive and clueless—which is best summed up in the word “immature.”
At the other end of the spectrum were the instances where I was grossly selfish. Whether it was my incorrect perceptions of boredom, lack of chemistry, attraction, compatibility, or whatever—it was selfish of me not to extend the courtesy of a phone call to provide closure to another human being. Again, I’m not proud of when I acted that way, but I have to admit when I behaved badly.
3. Poor Follow Through
This was an issue I had throughout high school and early college. While I was great at starting projects, jobs, chores, assignments…etc., I was not great at actually completing those tasks.
Regrettably, that pattern of behavior also flowed seamlessly into my relationships and dating habits.
However, once I started receiving similar feedback from a variety of sources that included professors, employers, friends, and casual dates—I started to recognize that I had a behavioral issue that needed to be addressed.
Thankfully, I worked with patient guidance counselors and professional mentors who helped me value the need to finish something rather than just starting it. Slowly, that positive habit manifested in my relationships as well.
4. Too Much Time Passed
One of the reasons I had poor follow through in college was due to the fact that I also had substandard time management skills.
Juggling two part-time jobs with a full-time student academic workload was challenging enough, but any additional relationship or dating requirements tossed into that mix were more than I could effectively manage.
Because I was paying for college myself, I tended to focus more on my jobs and academics rather than the women I dated. As such, it was very common for three or five days to pass before I realized that I hadn’t spoken with my last date in several days. At that point, I was scared to pick up the phone and try to explain why I hadn’t called in so long.
Each day that passed added to my inactive inertia—it was simply easier not to call. Whether that was actually driven by fear or laziness, I attributed it at the time to the mere passage of time rather than a personal character flaw.
5. Self Doubts
Of all the reasons why I never called a girl back, this is the one that hurts the most.
On several occasions I had great dates with some really awesome women—each time I was almost euphoric when we parted, anxious for the next chance to spend time together again.
But then I’d somehow manage to talk myself out of it.
Usually, my internal talk track would make me doubt myself with negative thoughts such as, “She’s out of your league,” or “She’ll dump you once she really gets to know you,” or “You don’t deserve to be in a happy relationship” and so on.
I was prone to believe those kinds of self-defeating lies.
So to avoid from being hurt or rejected by a great woman—I would effectively nuke the relationship before it even started. I’m sure it was a combination of low self esteem and unhealthy defense mechanisms but avoidance seemed to “protect” me from both unhappiness and happiness.
Of course this list is not exhaustive and it intentionally excludes the cliched “…I’m just not that into you…” — since I’m trying to provide insight beyond those six words.
In virtually all instances where I didn’t call a woman back—it was more an issue with me than with her. I clearly see how those potential relationships died at the hands of my own jerkiness.
Lucky for me, my last experience dating a woman—whom I intentionally pursued and called back—occurred 20 years ago. She and I have been happily married ever since.
This article was originally published at The Good Men Project. Reprinted with permission from the author.