“Why is my ex-girlfriend so cold to me? She never acted like this during our relationship. It’s like a switch flipped and suddenly she’s a new person”.
The first time my ex went cold on me, I was incredibly confused. I couldn’t reconcile how the sweet, loving girl who was all over me could suddenly treat me with what felt like a stunning amount of indifference. At the time, I had no idea what I had done wrong. Even worse, I didn’t see it coming.
And of course, I did what every man in this situation does.
First, I asked for an explanation. When she refused to give me one that made sense, I asked again.
And then I begged.
And begged some more.
Little did I know, it wasn’t the begging and pleading that was my biggest mistake though…it was something even worse which I talk about in my course The Fundamentals.
Maybe you saw it coming, or maybe it came out of nowhere. Either way, you’re left wondering: how did it come to this? Is she still the same person you knew and loved?
How could she go from carefree and warm, to cold, guarded, or even outright hostile?
Today, I’m going to answer this – and so much more. Even better, if you stick around until the end of the article, I’m going to show you what you need to do to give yourself the best chance to turn things around.
So take a deep breath, and grab your popcorn. You’re not doomed to have your ex-girlfriend treat you like you are a disgusting alien who is deserving of only scorn, hatred, and disdain.
What Exactly Qualifies As Her Acting Cold?
Everyone has their own definition of acting cold, so the first thing we need to agree on is what qualifies as cold behavior.
The Collins Dictionary offers us the following definition of the word cold:
adjective. A cold person does not show much emotion, especially affection, and therefore seems unfriendly and unsympathetic. If someone’s voice is cold, they speak in an unfriendly unsympathetic way.
This definition more or less nails it. Here at Men’s Breakup, I consider cold behavior to be any words or actions that are:
So, what gives? Why is she acting this way all of a sudden?
“Why Is My Ex Girlfriend So Cold To Me?”
Your ex-girlfriend acting cold might seem intentional and aggressive, but it’s often a defense mechanism to protect her in a situation where she feels vulnerable.
With most women, cold behavior is a defense mechanism!
If the woman you were dating or in a relationship with suddenly becomes a completely different person post-breakup, you either did something, or something happened to her to cause her to put up walls.
This tends to happen for different reasons in short-term (<3 months) vs long-term (3-6+ months) relationships.
In Short-Term Relationships (<3 months)
In short-term relationships, the kiss of death usually comes down to 1 of 3 things.
- She realized she wasn’t interested;
- You came on too strong;
- Another guy (or one of her exes) is in the picture.
Let’s get the obvious one out of the way first: just because a woman goes on 3 dates with or talks to you for 2 months doesn’t mean anything. It takes time to get to know someone. It’s possible that she decided she wasn’t interested, and her way of cutting the cord is to treat you coldly to push you away.
We live in a world of left swipes, where a better option is seconds away – and you’re expected to know and abide by these unspoken rules. If she vanishes into the ether and doesn’t respond to your texts, you’re supposed to know it’s over without her having to tell you. It’s nothing personal, even if it feels personal. The coldness is one way to tell you it’s over. Move on.
Another culprit is coming on too strong, too soon. I’ve worked with a number of guys in my email coaching program recently who are guilty of this mistake.
It’s important to let women come to you at a pace they are comfortable with. When you come on too strong, too soon, you can come across as needy, boring, or controlling. Boring men are usually ignored. Needy and controlling men are the ones who get the cold shoulder, because needy and controlling are both threatening – and coldness is often a defense mechanism to protect against threats.
Read More: How To Re-Attract Her After Being Needy
If things were going great, and then she suddenly dropped off the map, it’s likely that she met someone else, or made up with her ex-boyfriend. She may act cold in response in order to protect her new relationship.
If You Were In A Long Term Relationship, It’s More Complicated
Long-term relationships (generally 3+ months) aren’t as easy to diagnose.
If you want my help diagnosing what went wrong (so you can fix it) click here to get my help.
It’s not as simple to say that she’s acting cold because she’s not interested. While it’s possible she’s not interested in being with you anymore, it’s more likely she is acting cold because you wore her down over the course of your relationship, hurt her, or aren’t currently respecting her boundaries.
First things first, if you dumped her and now you want to get back together, you shouldn’t be surprised she’s acting cold towards you, no matter your reasons for breaking it off. Do you really think she feels secure enough to be the warm and affectionate woman from before knowing that it could all be taken away at any moment?
Related: I Dumped Her And Now She’s Ignoring Me
If that’s not the case, and she left you – her reasons for acting cold can vary.
Common reasons she may be acting cold include:
- As a defense mechanism. You hurt me, now I have to put walls up to protect myself.
- To inflict punishment. You hurt me, and I think I will feel good when I hurt you in the same way.
- To avoid conflict. If I act cold and distant, he will realize I am not interested and we won’t have to talk it out.
- Out of fear of your reaction. I don’t want to admit that I left him for someone else. If I act cold, he’ll assume I just don’t like him.
- She doesn’t think the situation can be resolved.
- To establish a sense of control. I need to find a way to deal with this that puts me in the driver’s seat.
- Out of confusion about feelings. I’m not sure if he’s the right guy or if it’s someone else. Should we get back together or not?
- A means to end the relationship. If I act cold he’ll get the idea that I’m not interested in getting back together, and then he will forget about me.
- She is an avoidant. Avoidants tend to act cold after a breakup.
All of these reasons tie back to the key theme I mentioned early: she is feeling vulnerable. More often than not, if you really step out of your feelings in the present moment you’ll realize that she’s feeling vulnerable because of something you did. Cold behavior is a defensive behavior, and like other defensive behaviors, it often comes from a place of avoiding hurt.
So I want you to ask yourself, did you do anything to hurt her?
- Lie to her?
- Not listen to her?
- Break her trust?
- Try to force her to do something she didn’t want to do?
- Take advantage of her?
- Promise to change, but fail to deliver?
- Take your frustrations out on her?
- Take her for granted?
In the unlikely case that you were a complete saint and none of this applies to you, it’s still possible she is feeling vulnerable based on her past experiences with other guys. She may feel guilty for hurting you. Or perhaps she is just sad and on the fence about leaving you and acting cold is her way of staying the course. She may also have an avoidant attachment style. Avoidant attachment styles can sometimes “shut down” in difficult situations – and I hate to break it to you – this counts as a difficult situation.
With that in mind, that doesn’t mean what she is doing is cold. People break up all the time – and some respond better than others. It’s possible that what you see as cold is actually her setting healthy boundaries.
There Is A Difference Between Being Cold And Setting Boundaries
There is a major difference between your ex-girlfriend acting distant and cold, and setting healthy boundaries. There are men in my audience who don’t understand this concept, so let me explain.
Previously we identified cold behavior as anything that is:
Healthy boundaries are clear, specific, and clearly communicated with respect. If your ex-girlfriend nicely asks you for space after the breakup and tells you that she isn’t interested in getting back together, that is a healthy boundary.
If she’s acting cold-hearted, she may tell you that she needs space in an indirect way, or give you what you interpret as mixed signals. She may continue to talk to you, but only give you one-word answers. She might act normal the entire time, only to vanish out of thin air.
Without knowing more about your personal situation, it’s often hard to tell which is which. If you want to know the difference (because it’s an important difference, as you’ll see in a second) give me some more details about your situation and I can help you understand.
It’s important to know the difference between boundaries and just acting cold and distant. A woman who is acting cold and distant is often feeling hurt, and vulnerable. With the right strategy, you may be able to mend things. Meanwhile, a woman who is setting healthy boundaries is often trying to move on with her life – without you in it.
Recognizing the difference can help you understand where her head is at, and how she is feeling about you. However, this can be difficult especially if your relationship was codependent or had loose emotional boundaries.
Mental Health America defines codependency as:
A learned behavior that can be passed down from one generation to another. It is an emotional and behavioral condition that affects an individual’s ability to have a healthy, mutually satisfying relationship. It is also known as “relationship addiction” because people with codependency often form or maintain relationships that are one-sided, emotionally destructive and/or abusive.
Co-dependents have low self-esteem and look for anything outside of themselves to make them feel better. They find it hard to “be themselves.” Some try to feel better through alcohol, drugs or nicotine – and become addicted. Others may develop compulsive behaviors like workaholism, gambling, or indiscriminate sexual activity.
Breakups are hard for codependents and can trigger feelings of grief that cause guilt, anger, shame, and fear. This toxic cocktail of emotions can lead you to feel responsible for her feelings and actions – which in my experience can lead to confusion between healthy boundaries and her being cold.
I suggest reading the article from Mental Health America if you are curious about learning more.
An Example Of Cold Behavior v. Healthy Boundaries
Let’s say she’s asked you for space but you continue to reach out.
Read More: What Should You Do If She Asks For Space?
No way you would ever do anything like that, right?
Even though you won’t, two readers in my email coaching program recently did.
While you are reading these emails, I want you to ask yourself: which email do you think is setting healthy boundaries, and which is cold behavior?
After several long talks about how much I wanted to change, she didn’t seem too interested in listening. She started crying at one point, before she switched to looking annoyed. She told me I wasn’t considering her feelings at all, and told me I was selfish for continuing to reach out. She even said at one point I only wanted her back to soothe my brusied ego, which made me feel like a bad person. At the end of the conversation, she told me she was glad to hear from me, but said clearly that I needed to try to move on, because she was not interested.
Compare this response to the response below. What do you think is different?
I was able to stay strong for almost 3 days, and then I cracked and reached out to try to get closure. I’m not sure what I was looking for. I realize she probably didn’t miss me, but I just couldn’t forget her as fast as she forgot me. We started talking about life and I got the idea that no matter what I said, she wasn’t going to give me more than 1 or 2 words back as a response. She didn’t ask any questions either. Suddenly, totally out of left field she tore into me and told me everything that was wrong with the relationship. I was shocked. She had never acted like this during the relationship. She mentioned how stupid she was for trusting me. She told me she already had a new boyfriend, and not to contact her again.
Both of these women were asking for the same thing – but pay attention to how they were asking for it.
In this case, email 1 is an example of setting healthy boundaries while email 2 is an example of mixed signals and cold behavior.
You might look at that second response and think “holy shit, what did he do to deserve that?”.
The second woman took the time to tear down her ex-boyfriend in what appears to be a sick power play on the surface. You might assume she wanted to hurt her ex-boyfriend – but the truth was, she was just sad and hurt.
How do I know that?
Even though she acted cold towards him at that moment, once he managed to stick to the no contact rule she reached out to him a few months later to talk. They had both reached a point in their lives where they wanted to get back together after they had learned to feel good on their own.
That’s the idea here – get to a place in your life where you don’t have to get your ex back. Then, if she comes back your life is already great. Most people make the mistake of assuming it’s the other way around – where you need her back for your life to be great.
How Long Until She Stops Acting Cold?
Cold behavior is often temporary, and usually stops when she stops feeling vulnerable.
How long is that going to take to happen? It depends.
I get it – it hurts to see her treat you like you mean nothing. It’s normal to wonder if she’s going to be cold and distant forever. I get asked this question a lot, and if you’re asking it as well, you’re probably looking to do one of two things:
- You’re hoping to get your ex back;
- You’re hoping to get closure;
And at your core, you hope that doing one or both of these things will help you deal with the knawing ache you feel deep down, which I know that part of you is worried will never go away. So you need to know how long to wait before you can contact her again.
If I told you that you only had to wait a month before she stopped acting cold, you’d probably spend a month waiting with bated breath to contact her.
The problem is – you’d be in the same place, dependent on her to move forward with your life. Does that sound like a good strategy to you? If what you are really searching for is relief from that emptiness and hurt you feel inside, waiting on her is not the answer.
If you want to feel better, or you want to get her back, you have to move on. If you don’t move on, and you spend the next few months focusing on her and waiting for her, you’re going to be in the same place. Stuck. Unhappy. Suffering. Lonely.
Do you really want to risk that?
One of the key principles I teach here is called outcome independence. Waiting on her mood to change is the exact opposite of that – it’s outcome dependence, and it’s dangerous to your happiness.
So instead of asking yourself “how long should I wait?” ask “what’s my next step to moving forward with my life?”
Focus on improving your life, and leave the door open for her to walk back in if she chooses. That way, you’ll be happy even if you never hear from her again.
How Did She Go From Sweet & Loving To Cold And Uncaring So Quickly? (Is She Even The Same Person?)
No woman wakes up and decides to break up with her boyfriend on a whim. Even though it feels like that’s what happened, it’s likely your ex-girlfriend was unhappy with your relationship for weeks, months, or even years before she made the decision to leave you.
By the time she left, she’s already had time to fortify herself with reasons to cut you off. She’s talked it out with her best friend, and she may have already grieved the end of your relationship. That’s why she may appear cold – she has closed herself down to you.
You can read more about this concept in the article below.
Read More: She Moved On So Fast Because For Her, Your Relationship Was Already Over
Is She Really Over You For Good?
Just because she’s treating you coldly right now, doesn’t mean she is over you for good. While nothing is guaranteed, if you were in a long-term relationship with her, chances are good (assuming you weren’t a complete asshole) she’ll stop being cold at some point – which can open the door to getting back together.
If you were in a short-term relationship (<3 months) I have some bad news. If the girl you were dating suddenly falls off the map, and when you reach out to her and only receive ice as a response – you need to assume she is gone.
It’s unlikely you are going to see her again, no matter how great you felt the connection was. The unsexy reality of 21st-century relationships is your time (and chances) are limited with each woman you date. Miss out on either, and you’re shit out of luck. This isn’t a romance novel.
The best advice I can give you is to assume she is setting healthy boundaries, and that she wants to move on with her life. If you are interested in re-attracting her down the road, it’s important that you give her the space to come back to you, especially if she initiated the break. Most people completely screw this up because they chase when they should be pulling back.
Read More: Don’t Chase, Let Her Go If You Want Her Back
Instead of worrying about what she’s doing, you need to refocus on what you are doing. Find the space and time to accept that you are moving on, and then ask yourself – where do you want to be in 3 months? What about 6 months? Focus on that – not what she is doing.
Related: How To Start Working On Yourself Today
If you were in a long-term relationship, there is still hope that you will be able to get your ex back. But you need to follow my instructions to the letter to maximize your chances.
Here’s what you need to do.
First, you must stop contacting her immediately. I don’t care what your excuse is. I don’t care if she hasn’t given you closure yet. Stop contacting her right now. Do not contact her for any reason.
Read More: The Definitive Guide To The No Contact Rule (Must Read)
Second, you need to get to the bottom of why she is treating you the way she is treating you. You may have earned the cold shoulder. It’s also possible she is treating you this way because of past experience, an avoidant attachment style, or some combination of all 3. Your job here is to identify what you can control, namely if any of your words/actions/relationship behaviors are what turned her off.
Read More: The 6 Reasons Women Leave Men They Love
Lastly, you need to make the decision that you are moving on in your life without her. I can’t stress how important this is. You can’t be one foot in, one foot out on this stuff. If you want her back, she needs to understand that you are gone unless she decides otherwise. If you aren’t committed to moving on, she’s never going to get to that point.
So make the commitment to yourself – because you deserve to have a woman in your life who loves you, and doesn’t treat you coldly. If it’s not going to be her, it will be someone else.
Talk soon my friend,