Why Do Guys Go Hot And Cold: What Does This Behaviour Mean

Why do guys go hot and cold

The emotional rollercoaster that we go through when someone gives us all of their attention and then shuts us out will leave us questioning our own self-worth, and question; why do guys go hot and cold?

When you experience this type of behaviour from someone you’re seeing, it could be due to a number of reasons. Worst case scenario, you could be dating a person that has narcissistic tendencies. Otherwise, a male who keeps giving you mixed signals could be unsure of what he wants, or, enjoys having you around when it suits him.

In this post, we’ll delve into why do guys go hot and cold, and how we, as humans, respond to this type of behaviour. We’ll also expand on how you can deal with this so you can protect your own wellbeing, and keep your value in the relationship.

What is hot and cold behaviour?

Why do guys go hot and cold
Why do guys go hot and cold

Hot and cold behaviour is when an individual withholds their attention from you after they’ve made themselves available over a period of time. This can be a form of uncertainty in a relationship, as well as a cycle of control and manipulation over someone’s emotions. 

If a person is insecure in dating, acting hot and cold is a way in which they can protect themselves from getting hurt. Dating a man with commitment issues may become cold, and distance himself when he feels he’s becoming attached or too close to you.

An example of hot and cold behaviour is if you consistently speak to someone for a couple of days, or even weeks and he’ll then disappear for days on end. After which, he’ll get back into contact with you, and act like nothing happened.

It’s important to know that it’s a man’s actions that are hot and cold, and not his feelings. Someone who truly likes you won’t put himself in a position where he might lose you. So, if someone is being hot and cold, this may be a warning sign that he likes having access to you, instead of actually liking you.

But, how can you determine if a man truly likes you? Dating coach, Elliot Scott advises that there’s two types of dating approaches when it comes to men, and how they think when they’re attracted to a woman.

These are;

1. The offense approach

With the offence approach, he will take the natural path to date you. This is the; ‘I like you, you like me’ mindset. You won’t be left feeling confused about whether or not he likes you.

If only it was always this simple in the dating world! Opposite to the offense approach, we have the defense.

(Did you know; when a man first approaches a woman, 55% of her first impression of him will be from his appearance and body language. The remaining 38% will be the way he talks and 7% is what he’ll actually say).

2. The defense approach

The defense approach will involve a gentleman to have the opposite mindset than a man who’s in offense. He will think to himself that he needs to take the girl he’s dating ‘off the market’ otherwise someone else is going to get into a relationship with her.

Here, a man will realise that you’re a high value woman, and that he will need to commit to you.

When you experience the hot and cold behaviour, he’s neither of the two dating styles. He won’t be offense because he won’t like you that much that he wants to commit to you. And, unfortunately, he won’t be defense because he won’t feel any urgency. There will be no threat for him that he’ll lose you because he’ll know you’re not going anywhere.

What happens to us when someone is hot and cold?

Why do guys go hot and cold
Why do guys go hot and cold

When we submit ourselves to hot and cold behaviour, we can slowly start to become unconsciously addicted to the uncertainty of how someone is going to act towards us. Similar to the gambling effect, your brain will release dopamine when you’re rewarded, and give you a rush of positive emotions. 

Along with dopamine, two other chemicals; cortisol and oxytocin will be released in our bodies. These neurochemicals will occur at different stages, and be the reason why you’ll keep going back to the person who’s toying with your emotions.

What is dopamine?

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in your brain that releases chemicals in your body. It’s known to influence an individual’s mood and make us ‘feel good’.

Dopamine gets released when a person is expecting a reward. In this circumstance, it will be when a guy acts ‘hot’. When someone is predictable, less dopamine will occur in the body, which is why we tend to lose interest in someone who gives us all of their attention straight away.

What happens to our bodies when he’s cold? This is when cortisol will become highly present in your bloodstream.

What is cortisol?

Cortisol is our bodies natural steroid hormone that gets released when we’re stressed. It’s created from our adrenal gland which is right by our kidneys.

The bodies natural response to withdrawal from another person is  Why has he suddenly gone cold? What have we done wrong? This is when cortisol will be released. Once this occurs in our body, other functions of our brain can shut down which is why our logic can sometimes disappear.

During the phase of when a guy pulls away, we will try and rationalise his actions. Sometimes, you can become too self-absorbed trying to figure out what you may have done wrong, which is why we tend to miss out on any signs of manipulation.

But why do we keep coming back for more after a guy has gone cold?

What is oxytocin?

Oxytocin is a chemical that becomes present in our bodies when we feel love for someone. It’s what drives our social behaviours like empathy and bonding to other individuals.

This neurochemical is otherwise known as the ‘love hormone’ because your brain will produce it while you hug, kiss and cuddle. Because of this, it can cause you to forget about the negative things a person has done to you.

Oxytocin is what motivates a person to keep going back to someone who is hot and cold.

If you succumb yourself to this type of behaviour, it can be detrimental to your wellbeing. Women who require emotional safety can be left feeling anxious and insecure.

Why do guys go hot and cold?

Why do guys go hot and cold
Why do guys go hot and cold

An individual who has narcissistic tendencies will act hot and cold with the person they’re dating. Narcissistic personality disorder will cause someone’s actions to be motivated by their emotions instead of logic. This is why he’ll be able to go from hot and cold depending how he feels in the moment.

Even when your relationship is in a good place, if you’re dating a man with a narcissistic personality, he will have the ability to shut you out as soon as someone else will make him feel good.

Added to this, acting hot and cold is a way for him to keep the control in the relationship while still being able to distance himself from you.

How can you differentiate hot and cold behaviour from a narcissistic?

During the ‘hot’ phase, a narcissist will need all of your attention to fuel his energy. He will shower you with affection, and make you feel like you’re the only person in his life. They will come across as though they are desperate for your attention.

When they’re in the ‘cold’ phase, they will punish you. He will shut himself off from you either because you’ve asserted a boundary, or, simply because there’s someone else that’s boosting his ego.

A way in which a person with a narcissistic tendency will punish you is by deliberately making you feel a certain way before they become cold. This could be to invoke jealousy, fear that they’re going to break up with you, or, make you feel inferior.

Ultimately, the cold phase will be to teach you lesson, and show you that he has the negotiation power in the relationship.

Not everyone who acts hot and cold is a narcissist. We’re not insinuating that the guy you’re seeing has a personality disorder. This is just one of the many reasons why a person may treat you in this way.

Hot and cold behaviour could also be a sign that there’s a lack of attraction, and he’s taking you for granted. A person with this mindset won’t worry about losing you because he knows you like him more than he likes you.

Other reasons why hot and cold behaviour will occur are;

1. He has internal conflict

He may really like you, but have internal conflict that he struggles to deal with. The attraction could be there, however, something such as commitment issues, or fear of rejection could be holding him back.

Relate did a survey with New Men’s Heads and Heart. In their findings, 60% of men said they felt insecure when it came to dating. Mainly because they fear rejection, their age or appearance.

2. He’s testing you

Men can be very intuitive individuals when it comes to women. When they think they’ll be able to get away with it, they’ll test how much you’ll take.

He may act hot and cold as a way to control your emotions. Because of this, there is a possibility that you can develop Stockholm syndrome.

What is Stockholm syndrome in a relationship?

Stockholm syndrome is when you bond with a person who mistreats you. You form a loyal attachment due to the imbalance of his power (acting cold) and kindness (when he’s hot).

This psychological response generally occurs between a hostage and their captive. The victim forms a positive emotional connection. This is known to be a coping mechanism to help you deal with the amount of stress and fear that is felt during the ordeal.

You can develop Stockholm syndrome because your partner hold all the authority and control. You may start to believe that how they’re treating you is normal is acceptable. When someone tries to reason with you, and tell you it’s wrong, you’ll defend him.

How do you deal with a hot and cold guy?

Lady leaving
Why do guys go hot and cold

Don’t over invest your time and effort into someone who’s blowing hot and cold. The best way to react in this type of circumstance would be to stay autonomous. Refrain from chasing him, and focus on doing your own thing. One of the many mistakes that a woman may make when a guy goes cold, is to try and pull them back into the ‘hot’ phase. 

This, unfortunately, will only push him further away. Men want to be with someone with whom they perceive has high-value. Once you begin to chase, and show him that he has all of your attention, your value will decrease in his eyes, and you will no longer be seen as a challenge.

Instead, the more you leave him to do his own thing, the better. If he’s cold because he’s not able to deal with his emotions, but he likes you, this can help him figure out if he wants to be with you.

However, if the man you’re dating is showing signs of narcissistic traits, it might be safer for you to remove yourself from the relationship. Here are a few signs to look out for that can help you determine what your next step should be;

  • He takes advantage of you
  • Does not consider your feelings
  • Shows signs of envy towards others
  • Believes he’s better than everybody else
  • Always makes you feel like you’re to blame

If these traits resonate with you, it will be worthwhile to create some distance. It may feel difficult at first, but once you remove yourself from a toxic situation, you’ll be able to realise how you’ve been treated.


Why do guys come on strong then pull away?

One of the common reasons why a man will pull away after he shows you that he’s attracted to you is because he’s unable to modulate his feelings. When you start to feel very close to someone, it can sometimes make a person feel uncomfortable. This when he’ll begin to distance himself. Otherwise, it could be because he doesn’t know what he wants, or, he’s met someone else.

Is hot and cold behaviour normal?

A guy will be hot and cold towards you if he’s attracted to you, and wants to make sure you stay interested in him. In this instance, it would be used as a way to you court you, and could be deemed as normal behaviour. However, if you experience this as a personality trait from the person you’re dating, then this may be classed as a Red flag.

In 1970, a book by Eric Weber, named ‘How to Pick up Girls’ was issued. This was the beginning of pick-up artists. The community that was formed was a group of men who would teach other guys how to attract women through strategies and tactics. One of these tips was the hot and cold method.

This hot and cold behaviour is a way to keep the interest alive between a guy and a girl during the first stages of dating. Acting ‘too hot’ or ‘too cold’ can cause a person to lose attraction. Once the medium between the two is found, it can help initialise a relationship.


When we experience hot and cold behaviour from a person we like, it can leave us feeling deflated, emotional and uncertain. We start to question if they’re stringing us along, or whether they’ve met someone else.

Some men do have difficulty regulating their emotions, and may distance themselves from you when they feel like they’re becoming too attached. Or, you could find yourself in this cycle because you’re seeing a guy who is not entirely sure of you.

Whatever the reason may be, when someone acts hot and cold towards you, you should refrain from chasing them. Focus on yourself, and don’t allow them to make you feel inferior. If anything, sticking to this mindset will help them (or you) realise what it is that they want.

(Quiz Question; how important is a man’s appearance and body language when he first approaches a woman?). Send us your answer in the comments box below.

Why Do Guys Go Hot And Cold: What Does This Behaviour Mean

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