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Caree Brown L.C.S.W. Psychotherapy

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Striving for Normalcy in a Hot and Cold Relationship

The, “I hate you; don’t leave me,” relationship is well documented in books and movies. The 2014 French film Love Me If You Dare is a great example. In the film, Julien and Sophie take a childhood game of truth or dare to its revengeful extremes. Each feels so passionate about the other that they can’t live with, or without, the other. To learn how therapy may be able to help you uncover some difficult truths, reach out to Caree today.

Your relationship may or may not be as dramatic as Julien and Sophie’s. You may feel your partner draws you in only to push you defensively back out. If this is the case, you might have a “hot and cold relationship.”

An Age-Old Issue

Jeremy E. Sherman, PhD, writes in Psychology Today, “[The hot and cold relationship] is rife especially by middle-age, among people who have mounted the horse of romance and been bucked and thrown, remounted and thrown over and over, people, in effect, shell-shocked by all their rushings to the front line of love and being blasted back again and again.”

It’s true that people who run hot and cold can be true romantics. They may also be hurt in a way that makes them recoil from the thing they want most: your love and affection.

A ‘Good’ Routine

Maybe you had your partner’s full attention at the beginning of a relationship, only to lose it. When you ask “what’s wrong?” he or she answers, “nothing.” If you aren’t aware of what causes this pattern, you could end up creating a problem where there was none.

A man tends to run hot at the beginning of a relationship. This is when he is performing ‘the chase.’ Once he feels secure enough to let his guard down, it often seems like he is cooling off. You respond with the panic that you are losing him. You try to rekindle the fire with urgency before it’s too late and he’s gone forever. This is where the perceived problem becomes a Big Relationship Issue. He thinks you are creating drama where there is none. He may feel stifled. And it all started because he accepted you as his partner and started to settle in.

Your partner hasn’t lost interest at all. He has gone from trying to win you over to get comfortable with your established routine. After all, how many people do you know who text all day and shower their partners with affection after work? Eventually, real life takes over and you are happy spending time together. That doesn’t mean there aren’t sparks, it just means they are part of a burning ember now.

When They Are Just Not into You

Sometimes, wishy-washy behavior is a sign of indifference. Sabrina Alexis discusses this in her article for ThoughtCatalogue, “Five Signs his Hot and Cold Behavior Means He Doesn’t Want to Be With You.” She has some interesting ideas to share. Here are two of the highlights:

He Doesn’t Ask You About Yourself and Your Life

If your partner never wants to know anything about you, it should raise red flags. Even the most self-absorbed among us have at least a few burning questions we can’t wait to find the answers to. A person who does not care about who you are and what you do clearly is not interested in you. Move on.

He Doesn’t Reveal Things About Himself

Investment in a relationship involves opening up our inner worlds. If your partner keeps everything a mystery, there’s a chance he has something to hide. The more likely reason for his tight-lipped stance is he is not sure he wants to stay around for long. He may be shy, but when forming relationships, people tend to want to get to know each other. And there is a difference between knowing about someone and knowing them. If you can find everything he tells you in an online search, question why.

Hot and Cold Gives You Freezerburn

The effect of dating someone hot and cold — man or woman — is it makes you feel bad about yourself. When it’s hot, you feel on top of the world. When things turn cold, you’re down in the dumps. That being said, the important thing to realize is your partner’s temperature issues have little to do with you. They could be unhappy, insecure, or in the midst of a crisis.

Don’t try to be the fixer in a hold-and-cold relationship. The bottom line is that the person is not ready, or not willing, to be with you right now. Unless you want to live in a state of freezer burn, accept it and move on.

A good relationship is warm and loving all the time. You may have your differences, but you agree on how you feel about each other.


Caree Brown is a licensed individual and couples psychotherapist with 50 years of experience in marriage counseling. Caree is a highly regarded counselor serving Walnut Creek and the Bay Area. Her capacity to inspire creative breakthroughs makes her unique among her peers. Caree’s clients testify to her exceptionally warm and caring personality and her depth of wisdom. Contact Caree Brown for a therapy appointment today.