Beware the Yo-Yo Dater: A Personal Account

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In the middle of my sophomore year of college, a tall, charismatic boy with a shock of blonde hair confessed to me that he thought I was intoxicating and very pretty. Unfortunately, this assertion came in the wake of a poorly hewn explanation of his current opposition to dating anyone, despite having expressed days before, after a dinner date, that a relationship with me was his ultimate goal.

I met Jacob* at the beginning of the school year, but didn’t get to know him until early November. He was forward but gentlemanly from the start — getting my number, inviting me places, telling me he liked me, asking if he could kiss me (I declined for reasons to be discussed), taking me out on a date, baking for me — all in the space of about two weeks. I told him repeatedly that I liked him and liked getting to know him better, but that was all I knew. I didn’t want to entertain ideas that might not come to fruition. The attention was nice; however, as someone who’s prone to crushin’ hard, I try to appraise dating situations objectively. Others sometimes misrepresent themselves (some don’t even have your best intentions at heart) and trusting too easily means getting hurt later. This was the right perspective to have, but I didn’t realize soon enough just how much I didn’t read into his exclamations enough.

The first time Jacob asked if he could kiss me came two days after a discussion we’d had about our dating histories. His ex-girlfriend had interrupted a movie we were watching together in a dorm lounge, and he’d decided to give me the long-winded story of their relationship. Jacob and I live in the same dorm, and so does his ex-girlfriend. She’s already dumped him twice for the same guy, and he told me he was over her, but that he was ‘weak.’ I should have known then and there to get up and leave, but I wanted to believe that I was enough to keep him from going back to her — I wanted to win him over. I’m not a flirty person, and I’d only ever kissed one other boy. Effectively, I suspected that anything that happened would mean more to me than to him. He asked if I thought I’d get attached, but I didn’t like his phrasing and stated that I just didn’t know how I’d react to being close to someone, period. Despite my best efforts, I ended up liking him, and ultimately did get hurt.

Two weeks of late-night studying, baking, and even a formal date later, I got crushed. Jacob told me that he’d like to talk about something over dinner, and wanted me swipe him into the dining hall. I was curious and infatuated, so of course I complied. When we got there, he sat down, declined to get food, and began to brood. When I asked what was wrong, he told me simply that he’d just woken up that day and decided that he didn’t want to date anyone, and he hoped I’d understand. I swiped you in so you could break up with me? I thought. What a jerk. Still, he made sure to let me know that it wasn’t personal and that he was ‘totally into me.’ He just didn’t feel like dating. I went home and wrote some angsty song lyrics, and that was that, or so I thought.

We were supposed to see the last Harry Potter movie with some friends the next day, and masochistically, I hadn’t called it off. After all, I still liked him, and hoped I could get him back. When I got back to the dorm after a day of studying and saw him with his ex-girlfriend, however, I snapped. Needless to say, we didn’t go to Harry Potter together. He went with her.

Ladies, if a guy is still talking about his ex-girlfriend, your brain should go into full alert mode. Don’t let his dazzling smile fool you; a guy who has gone back to his girl before — not once, but twice — and can still say only positive things about her is totally whipped. What’s more, if she’s still in his life, or if he’s busy planning out your lives together without really knowing you yet, he’s trying to make you a surrogate for something he wants and can’t let go of but also can’t have.

This is not to say that Yo-Yo Daters are spineless jerks; they’re definitely jerks, but unintentionally — there’s always something deeper going on. Jacob was a guy who needed to learn to stand up for himself, who was a people pleaser, and who didn’t like conflict. He couldn’t tell me his real reasons for breaking things off because he didn’t want to hurt me and more importantly didn’t want to feel bad about hurting me. In the end, I realized that he was a broken-hearted and desperate and trying to be diplomatic (i.e. responsibility-avoidant), but I still got hurt regardless.

Jacob and his girlfriend are still together, for now. While I’m glad I know better than to get in the middle of something now — no matter how cute the guy, how much you want to believe you can win him over (that’s NOT your job), or how much he insists he’s changed — it’s best to see the warning signs of a Yo-Yo Dater and not let yourself get involved.

* Name has been changed for privacy purposes.

Submitted by CollegeCandy reader, Hannah Weinberger. She’s currently studying abroad in Xiamen, China and has a blog where she documents her thoughts and experiences.

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