5/24/11
Wise Guys: Why Do Men Get in Touch with Past Flames?

Advice from three of our guy friends. This week a straight woman asks,”Why do guys get back in touch with old flames? Booty call? Rekindle the romance? To prove they’re over the woman? Just to say hi? Just got dumped and need an ego boost?”

Straight Married Guy (James Glazebrook): At the risk of talking myself out of an advice column, men and women are essentially the same and act/think identically in 95% of all situations. So any reason you can think of for getting in touch with an old flame, the same goes for guys and their exes. I’ve never stayed in contact with anyone past the break-up, because I can’t imagine getting past the bitterness and resentment, or the leftover love and lust, and being Just Friends. As such, I’ve only ever been the get-in-touchee not the, um, -toucher. But in my limited experience, guys — and girls — never get in touch with former lovers “just to say hi.”

For instance, I recently accepted a Facebook friend request from an ex. We were together for a couple of months over a decade ago, and even in that short time I managed to cheat on her, so I felt sufficiently distanced by time and my old, cold lack of concern to safely socialize with her. I was curious to know what she’d been up to (roller derby!) and to catch up with her and the town in which I had grown up — and grown up fast after making mistakes like that particular infidelity. The wall posts went back and forth amicably enough… until I revealed that what I’d been up to: getting married and moving out of the country. I haven’t heard from her since! So, innocent intentions on my part — but she was on the prowl, right?

Gay Single Guy (Jay Dyckman): I find that most guys get in touch with old flames when they are at “rock bottom” moments in life and need to convince themselves that (a) at one point someone had feelings for them, (b) that unlike the stinging rebuke of a recent ex they are actually capable of affection or (c) they are truly horny and have no other options on the menu.  All three are a complete mistake.  The only reason you should ever get back in touch with an old flame is the “you might have contracted an STD” call or the “I’d like my T-shirt back please – it’s my favorite.”  That’s it.

Straight Single Guy (Tyler Barnett): The reasons for men to visit the ghosts of girlfriends past are numerous. Our exes already know us intimately, they understand us, they have seen us at our worst and best and they can usually make us feel better, fast. We all have days where we feel insecure, out of shape, out of the game, heartbroken or (and more often the case than not) just bored. After a breakup especially, we tend to think about every girl who has ever thought we were amazing, probably to reassure ourselves that we are! We want to be reminded that there ARE others out there that love us, desire us and miss us. We need to be reminded that there HAVE been other girls who thought we were the sexiest, smartest, most perfect men on earth so we can say to ourselves, “It’s her loss for breaking up with me.” And you know what? It works.

Our “wise guys” are a rotating group of contributors, some of whom wish to remain anonymous and some of whom like the attention. This week’s Straight Married Guy is James Glazebrook, a British writer/illustrator working in Berlin with his photographer wife on their cool blog, Überlin; our Gay Guy is Jay Dyckman, an LA copywriter; and our Single Straight Guy is Tyler Barnett of Tyler Barnett PR in LA. To ask the guys your own question, click here.


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14 Comments on "Wise Guys: Why Do Men Get in Touch with Past Flames?"


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Sofia
3 months 6 days ago

I need a male advise please. I had a long distance relationship almost for a year, short story, he freaked out about the commintment and broke up with me. It’s taking me almost 2 years now to finally put all the pieces together and understand why we broke up. In the past 2 years we didn’t stop talking until last april, after that he would stop talking to me, responding emails, text any contact, it was hard but finally let him go, this past sept on my birthday he texted me with beatiful words, I said thank you and we… Read more »

Sofia
3 months 6 days ago

“Lord, is it mine” *correction

Shirleyann
4 days 19 hours ago

Jothe discI have a guy Johnny in San Diego that used the same line after doing the same thing, used momma at age 64 for an excuse. You deserve someone that adores you respects you.

Shirleyann
4 days 19 hours ago

Join the discu

Shirleyann
4 days 19 hours ago

Join the discussion

Nicnak
4 years 7 months ago

I agree with figleaf about OLD FLAMES being different than an EX… I have exes that I have no interest in getting in contact with, they are all exes for very good reasons.. But I also have an old flame,(just the one) which I look at very differently. I WOULD LOVE SOME MALE ADVISE PLEASE… We were together 11 years ago, we spent 9 inseparable months together, very happy,passionate & we would of been together for a lot longer, but he had a seasonal job in the town I lived in,& we both knew it HAD to end when his… Read more »

DB
5 months 3 days ago

Hi Nicnak, would love to hear if you got together after these last 4 years or so…

frank howard
7 months 20 days ago

Being in contact with an ex. This would be the hardest thing. My ex became an ex for a reason. My reason was that we were too far from each other and that my parents did not agree to the relationship. Today after 20 years, she is married with four kids and I married with three kids, I still have feelings for her. I was immature then and did not pursue her enough. I think she has moved on but I am still in the past. She was a great girl and I really do miss her very much. Any… Read more »

Shane
7 months 16 days ago

I am wrestling with the get in touch with the ex situation at the moment. We have not been a couple in almost 10 years and haven’t spoken in person or via the web in at least 4-5 years. She was my first intimate girlfriend and I loved her more then anything. The way it ended though was so anticlimactic as initially she said she needed a break from us. Then 4 months passed and officially it ended with a whimper. I still had strong feelings so I tried to stay friends but it was just to awkward. I didn’t… Read more »

4 years 8 months ago

Straight single guy’s response is my fave, not just because it’s honest but because it reminds me that men, like women, can be heartbroken and vulnerable too. Funny coincidence that I posted am almost identical topic on my blog, around the same time: http://cougel.blogspot.com/2011/05/when-it-comes-to-our-exes-what-can-we.html
I like this blog.

ljay
4 years 8 months ago

At my wedding, I had three of my old flames. I liked ALL of them or I wouldn’t’ve invited them. Of course there were EXES I DIDN’T invite. They chose to come to proving to them that I was took, but I still LIKED them! Nothing could happen with them in the future and I would care about them as PEOPLE! And they are and I wish(ed) them well.

Mr L
4 years 8 months ago

Good grief, I must be the most “whacked” of them all. (or I agree with Fig!)

Think about it ? which side you want to be on ? I am going to the party tonight, if I see Exe, Old Flame ? do I want to be in the most awkward of situations or worse, hiding ? or do I say hello to her, … Just like you do to a friend and move on… to that one you have your eye on ?

Lets just say I try hard to avoid having to avoid an old flame.

Johnny
4 years 8 months ago

Wow, I think between them the Wise Guys hit on every reason.

4 years 8 months ago

Clarification: The question says “old flame,” most answers are about “exes.” I think there’s a pretty big difference. Exes aren’t so much old flames as much as they’re someone you went down in flames with. Exes are the people you’ll probably never reconcile with. Meanwhile old flames are more about sort of “loved and lost” relationship — ones where it just didn’t work out, not because it burned out. I don’t see anything necessarily ominous about contact with old flames. In fact it’s kind of healthy. And in fact if your partner isn’t comfortable having contact with an old flame… Read more »

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