Hot and cold relationship meaning

Why Is He Hot And Cold? Hot & Cold Relationships

Katy Perry helped us all understand on-again, off-again relationships in her hit single Hot n Cold. But you may still need some advice on how to handle one. So, if you think your partner is playing hot and cold, read our take on it to help you get on top of the situation.

Am I in a hot and cold relationship?

You’ve met someone, you really like them and they seem to feel the same way. You chat all the time… then one day, radio silence. They don’t text, don’t call. This kind of thing can leave you feeling really confused. Here are some typical examples of hot and cold behaviour to look out for:

  • 20 texts a day have whittled down to three a week.
  • The texts you do get are straight to the point and sans kisses.
  • They’ve stopped trying to impress you. Instead you feel like they’re playing games.
  • You’re doing all the chasing. Eventually, you end up feeling like a stalker.
  • You have no freakin’ clue when you’ll see them again.
  • When you do see them they pretend, or actually believe, that everything’s okay.
  • You avoid talking about anything remotely serious for fear of losing them.
  • You’ve settled into a pattern of getting drunk, having sex. Then you wake up full of remorse when they walk away and don’t contact you for several weeks… and so it goes on.

Why is he hot and cold? (applicable to ANY gender)

Analysing their messages or reliving dates won’t give you the answer. The reality is, it’s probably not your fault they’re flaking like this.

“It actually says more about them than it does about you,” says The Mix’s relationship adviser, Matt Whyman. “It’s easy to obsess if you’ve been left with a question mark hanging over the relationship. But don’t let yourself fall into that pattern. Get some friends to give you relationship advice if need be.”

“It could be down to the simple fact that they might be lacking maturity, or for some reason they’re just not getting the message,” he says.

Is blowing hot and cold acceptable behaviour?

No – especially if it’s making you unhappy. A healthy relationship is about mutual respect. You should both have fun and feel comfortable enough to speak if something isn’t working. It’s not about being ignored, treated badly. And it’s certainly not about being left in limbo wondering what the hell’s going on, only to be called when they feel like it. 

Should I end my hot and cold relationship?

Not necessarily, but you do need to have an honest conversation with them. Figure out what’s driving this hot and cold behaviour “It could be anything: bereavement, stress, they’ve gone off you, found someone else… but only they can say what’s going on,” says Matt. “Don’t drain your own energy trying to guess.”

We’re definitely not saying you should put up with it. If their behaviour is making you question your  own sanity, is all this stress worth it? “Focus on the impact this is having on you,” says Matt. “If it’s making you seriously unhappy then you need to let them know how you feel. ASAP. You deserve to have peace.”

If you’re seriously considering breaking up, you might find our article ‘should I break up’ helpful.

How to deal with a hot and cold partner

It may be tempting to hit send on a passive-aggressive message, or scribble f**k you on a post-it note and stick it on their car. But, we promise, it’s not gonna solve anything.

Try and resist the urge to play them at their own game. They’re unlikely to realise the error of their ways and beg for forgiveness if you take that road. Instead, pause for a minute and ask yourself, ‘Is this what I want? To constantly be wondering ‘Why is he hot and cold?’’ If it isn’t, it’s time to have a serious chat about the future of the relationship.

“When you approach the subject, try and communicate your feelings without making them feel bad,” says Matt. “Remember, focus on the impact it’s having on you. That way they won’t feel like you’re trying to attack them. You also shouldn’t go in with the expectation they’ll change, or pin your hopes on fantasy.”

When to walk away from the relationship

Unfortunately sometimes there’s no explanation for their behaviour, it’s just the way they are.

Remember this is NOT your fault, and you do NOT need to fix them. You just need to calmly take control of the situation if you’re unhappy. “If they’re not giving you what you need, ask yourself, ‘Do I want to build a relationship with this person?’” says Matt.

“If the answer is no, know that you’ve tried your very best. It’s OK that it’s not happening. At some point you have to draw a line. That line often comes when you’re committed and they’re not.”

Need some more help figuring out your relationship? Read articles on a range of relationship topics on The Mix’s Relationship Support Page, in partnership with Click.  

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The Dating Game of Hot and Cold

Is your partner playing hot and cold? One minute you're high on the warmth of their attention, the next minute you're frozen out and left wondering what happened. You begin to question your actions. Did you say the wrong thing? Did you make the wrong move?

It's long been the rule that when dating someone whose behavior is marked by hot and cold reactivity, you're standing on shaky ground. Behavioral extremes indicate a power play is being employed. Whether you call it push/pull, on/off, or hot and cold, the end result is the same. You're left feeling confused and frustrated.

Whether done consciously or unconsciously, this type of behavior activates longing and pursuit. It's utilized because it works. If we don't understand the game of hot and cold, we can find ourselves pulled into a drama of confusion.


Knowledge is power. Modern dating is tricky. Once we have the ability to see hot and cold for what it is, we're less likely to suffer its negative effects. Understanding this type of behavior is crucial even for those of you committed to not playing games.

"Flee, and they follow. Follow, and they flee."

This is the core thinking of the partner who initiates hot/cold, and serves as their safety net to vulnerability. Why? Because relationship uncertainty makes human beings yearn for stability. Our automatic response is to chase when the "other" pulls away. What was once readily available is suddenly gone, and no matter how hard we try to regain our partner's former affection, it now seems beyond our reach.

No, your partner's not confused. They don't need more time to figure out their emotions. They're not sorting out their last breakup, and they're not swamped at work. Although that may be your hope, it's not the case.

The hot/cold scenario typifies much more than a lack of certainty on a lover's part. It's a pattern. And it's crafted for control.


The phases of Hot and Cold:

The "hot" phase begins with a bang of overwhelming recognition. Your partner has placed you firmly on their radar. Bathed in newfound attention, flattery and flirtation spark a strong attraction for this person. You quickly find yourself craving more of this delicious new feeling.

This phase lures you into the hopes of the possibility of romance. Contact is reciprocal, time is made to see each other, and forward movement is evident. There's an easy, open connection. The hot phase is designed to get you in the gate that leads to the corral, where you'll later be harnessed.

Then comes the "cold" phase. Your partner begins to pull away making you long for their previous attention. Whether initiated by a cold-shoulder, avoidance, or lack of communication... the sudden disconnect rattles your confidence.

This phase activates loss, making you yearn for them and wait with bated breath for their call or text. You wonder what happened and begin to question every move you made. Without realizing it, you've submitted to their need for emotional and psychological control.

The Hot/Cold cycle:

Hot. Cold. Repeat. These are the basic dance steps to this type of behavior. Each step is a phase, and each phase has a cycle. This formula is predictable and consistent even when your partner's reactions are not.


Simply put, when you pull away, they'll re-engage you. When you advance, they'll pull away. After a cycle or two of this routine you'll be so confused you won't know which way to move. The pattern repeats itself for as long as you're willing to play this game.

The beautiful truth is that this has nothing to do with you. You're not at fault. There's nothing you did, or didn't do, that's causing this. Don't let your friends analyze your situation and convince you otherwise. Just notice where you are in the cycle and don't let it disempower you. Understanding what comes next puts you back in control of your own reactions.

About your Hot/Cold partner:

There's a marked difference between a relationship hiccup and the game of hot and cold. Relationship hiccups occur because your partner is emotionally invested, but scared. There's open communication about their fear. Once stated, the hot phase normally reboots and continues with forward movement. A hot and cold player reverts to cold as the norm, with bursts of hot that don't result in forward movement.

The root cause of this behavior is a desperate attempt to gain control over the uncontrollable; love. It's a way to feel love without getting hurt. But the partner, who's committed to playing safe, will never allow himself or herself to experience love. They'll toy at it, dipping their toes in and out of the water without ever getting wet.

The cycles of hot and cold may make you feel like the powerless one. It appears as though as though your partner has all the strength. But it's just the opposite -- real power is the ability to maintain intimacy. Real STRENGTH is the ability to maintain contact. Power and strength of this caliber have no fear of being honest and direct.


Games are an ego default when being "real" feels too scary. Authenticity takes tremendous courage. Being open and honest is a gift that's born of inner confidence and self-worth. Here's where the tables turn in your favor. Once you recognize this pattern, you've already gained your freedom from the automatic response instigated by your partner's game.

Handling the Hot/Cold partner:

The best way to handle a hot/cold tug of war is to proceed to honest questioning. Be direct. There's nothing to lose. Authentic communication reveals your partner's fears, allowing their concerns to be voiced and worked out while maintaining connection.

Does your questioning meet hostility, defensiveness or resistance? If so, you've gained valuable information. This is a partner who's in the game for an ego boost and doesn't possess the skill set required for a relationship with you.

Cut your losses and walk away. Your time's better spent with someone who is capable of honesty, intimacy, and consistent behavior.

After questioning, does your partner react with concern or guilt? Do they reveal their inner conflict? If so, then you may have stumbled upon a highly sensitive and fearful individual. Evaluate your partner carefully. Do they have the capacity for trust? Do they want to explore the possibility of a relationship with you? These are easy questions to ask when you know what you want and what you deserve.


Games are used in lieu of the ability to be real. For those who are straightforward, there's little interest in anyone who plays games. But knowing of their existence and recognizing their predictable patterns will allow your dating to be a rewarding, rather than confusing, experience.


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21 signs that your relationship is going to hell

September 21, 2021 Relationship

No one promised that relationships are easy. But this does not mean that meeting or living with another person should resemble an endless hell.

Iya Zorina

Author of Lifehacker, athlete, CCM

Knowing when to quit and when to move on is the key to emotional survival.

Until we are 200% sure that the relationship is over, we continue to believe in it. This is understandable, because in a few years (or months) we become so attached to a person, we can say “grow into” him, that it is very painful to part. It is clear that you are trying to save the relationship: there is always hope that they will change for the better. nine0003

Not everyone has the courage to break up a relationship the moment it really ends. Here are 21 signs that "finita la comedy" if it has not yet arrived, then it is already very, very close. If at least four points out of all you say: “This is about us,” think about parting more seriously than usual.

1. Resentment

You are constantly offended by your partner, but do not say anything. You think that this is how you save your relationship, but in fact you only delay that unpleasant moment when all the accumulated negativity breaks out and your relationship ends in a painful break. nine0003

Resentment does not go away, especially if the factors that cause it do not disappear. If it does not splash out, then it accumulates inside, and this causes stress and illness. And, of course, destroys relationships - slowly but surely.

2. Disrespect

If you and your partner have reached the point where you show mutual disrespect, it's time to destroy your illusions. There is nothing easier than to stop being attached to someone who shows you disrespect.

People can continue to live together without respect and awareness of the value of each other, which leads to absolute indifference about the needs and desires of a partner. Well, what kind of continuation can we talk about? nine0003

3. Contempt

It doesn't matter what motives caused contempt, be it a failed career, a change in appearance or something else. Partners should support each other in any situation, because isn't this warmth we need so much under any circumstances, and especially during some personal problems.

If you start treating each other with contempt, you no longer get warmth from relationships and you live not with a friend who understands, but with a cold being who condemns you, why continue this? nine0003

4. Lies

I'm talking about that lie when you tell a person "I love you" without experiencing any feelings. You are afraid of hurting him, but you are not really protecting him, but only making it worse. The truth will come out: you cannot lie all your life and at the same time not spoil it for yourself and your partner.

Well, if you say to yourself: “We are happy, I am happy, everything is fine with us”, when you feel that everything has already ended for you, this is also an escape from reality.

Check 🤥

  • 7 signs by which you can catch a liar

5. Distrust

If you do not trust your partner, then there are reasons for this. If they are so serious that trust cannot be restored, why stay with this person? All my life to check, worry and waste my nerves?

6. Swearing in public

Anything good you can say about your partner can be said in public. And all the bad things are better left for personal conversations. To scold a person in public means to achieve only a negative response or hidden resentment.

In addition, if you scold your partner in public or even just allow yourself unpleasant jokes about him, it means that dissatisfaction is growing inside, which has already begun to spill out.

7. Withdrawal

If you often look for a way to be away from your partner and consciously try to avoid contact and intimacy, it's time to get rid of it. nine0003

You have already severed the emotional connection with your partner and thus gently let him know that it's over. Maybe it's better to do it right away, and not to produce suffering and doubts?

8. Demanding evidence of love

“If you love me, you…” It is very tempting to manage a person's life in this way, and if you hear this phrase from time to time, then something has gone wrong.

The only person who can change his feelings is himself, and some of your actions have nothing to do with it. nine0003

Well, if you yourself say so, think about whether you really need this person, will he become loved if he does something? And is it possible to manipulate someone you really love?

9. Public humiliation

If your partner has humiliated you in public once, he will most likely do it again and again. And it does not matter that he drank a lot that evening or he was in a bad mood.

Public humiliation of a partner speaks only of deep self-hatred, and no matter how much love you give to this person, it will not fix the situation without his firm desire to change and work with his self-esteem. And this is difficult not only to correct, but even to admit. nine0003

Watch out 🙅🏻‍♀️

  • 10 signs you are dating a psychopath

10. Obsession with another person

sooner or later it will lead to a break.

Of course, this does not mean that partners should completely immerse themselves in each other and give all their energy to only one person, but obsession with someone else is fraught with suspicion, jealousy and resentment.

Yes, your partner is obviously missing something in your relationship if he is so attracted to another person, but you can hardly give him that. And certainly you should not change yourself for the sake of another person.

11. Obsession with pornography

There is nothing strange or wrong with partners watching porn together. Some kind of voyeurism helps to get turned on and find something new to try later in bed with a partner. nine0003

But if one of the partners is obsessed with pornography, complete satisfaction will always elude him: in pursuit of the Grail of multiple orgasms, he may end up on the path of sexual perversion.

So, if you are not satisfied with such scenarios, think about both the root cause of this obsession and the possible consequences.

12. Emotional infidelity

Some people believe that monogamy is the only possible relationship, for others it is difficult and almost impossible. nine0003

If you cheated for the sake of a variety of sexual experiences, the relationship can still be saved, but if there is an emotional attachment to the person with whom you had an intimate relationship, it is time to end the relationship.

The first question people ask when they find out about their partner's infidelity is: "Do you love him/her?" Because it is the emotional, and not the physical connection, that is the core of the relationship, and if it is gone, then you have nothing more to do here.

13. Inability to end the conflict

It starts as an endless struggle without consensus, which gradually develops into "as you wish", when the partners no longer care about the results of their struggle.

There is a rule: never go to bed offended by each other. And there is definitely something in it.

If none of the partners can pacify their pride and desire to always be the winner in the dispute, cannot agree to a truce without achieving their goal, these relations have no continuation. nine0003

Take note 👿

  • 7 ways to properly resolve conflicts in relationships

14. Subconscious

If you unconsciously do things that harm your relationship, it is your psyche that tells you what you really need.

You can think whatever you want, but your actions speak of real desires better than all your assurances and hopes. nine0003

15. Obsession

If your partner has an obsession with, for example, alcohol or substances, he/she is a shopaholic, gambler, workaholic, or obsessed with sex, you will always be in second or even fifth place and will not get the emotional connection that I would like to.

If you don't have an obsession with something, your partner's addiction can ruin not only his life, but yours as well. Not a very pleasant prospect.

16. Painful attachment to former

If your partner is still more than close to a former lover or husband/wife, it destroys the relationship.

Former partners should be respected, especially if you have common children, but the first role is still assigned to the current partner. If this does not happen, it is easy to feel secondary and unnecessary, and this is a direct path to a breakup.

17. Threats and emotional blackmail

This is a clear sign of an unhealthy relationship. Emotional blackmail is often presented as intense love, but it is actually control. And control, in turn, is an abuse of feelings. You have to run as far away from it as you can see. nine0003

18. Constant comparison and ratings

Does your partner compare you to those who look more attractive, earn more, are smarter and more interesting than you? This is one form of humiliation. If someone thinks that the grass is greener in someone else's yard, let him go there.

People are unique beings, although they are similar in many ways. You shouldn't compare yourself, let alone listen to it from your partner.

19. Indifference

Why stay together if you don't care about each other? nine0003

20. Loss of attachment

There's nothing wrong with wanting a roommate, but if you want more from a relationship, don't stay with a partner who isn't your one and only. Don't just stay because it's convenient for you.

21. Physical violence

There are no excuses, no explanations, circumstances and promises do not matter. You just have to leave.

In general, conflicts in relationships are a way to get rid of pain, but their causes may vary. It can be a way to open the boil of dissatisfaction and resentment that has arisen in a relationship in order to clean out the wound, remove what is in the way, and save the relationship. nine0003

But it also happens differently, when conflicts are a way to break off relationships, to tell the other person that they are over, that it is no longer worth tormenting each other.

And it is better to learn to distinguish one conflict from another, otherwise it will be painful and bad for both partners.

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    Numerous psychological trainings and glossy women's magazines offer to turn an ordinary woman into a real bitch in the shortest possible time.

    At the same time, “bitch” does not mean a rude curse, for which in a decent society it is supposed to ask for an apology, but a certain state of the female soul that allows her to rise above the world. It is assumed that after this miraculous transformation, a woman's life will become many times happier.

    Is bitchiness really necessary to achieve happiness?

    She walks through life laughing

    In the last few years, the word "bitch" has turned from a frank curse into a symbol of a successful conqueror of hearts and wallets.

    I remember, at the next bachelorette party, our friend Tatyana told how she turns her new boyfriend - and he gives her rings with diamonds, and drove to an expensive resort to relax, takes her to work in the morning, picks her up in the evening, and at the same time terribly jealous. nine0003

    Tatyana is in no hurry to assure him of her own loyalty, because she herself has not yet finally decided whether she is going to connect her life with him or will wait for a more worthy candidate: “Still, I deserve more…”

    – Tank, you are a bitch ! one of the girls exclaimed with delight.

    Tanya smiled triumphantly in response…

    Bitch – today it actually sounds almost like a compliment. Many people mean by this concept a strong, strong-willed and independent person, capable of achieving any goal. nine0003

    “A bitch is self-confident, free and strong, arouses envy and admiration, knows how to maintain her dignity,” one of the leaders of the courses in brief stervology enlightened me. Knows what she doesn't want and doesn't do it. She always achieves her goal, failures do not break the bitch, she is far from conventions, allows herself to be what she is. But this is what allows her to achieve success both in her career and on the love front.

    Many agree with this statement.

    - Bitches are self-sufficient individuals, - a 25-year-old neighbor explained her vision to me, - independent (not completely, of course, everyone always depends on something), they are difficult to confuse, it is difficult to find an approach to them, they themselves usually choose who to be friends with, whom to love, where to work.

    “They are smart, self-confident, have a sense of humor, intuition, understand people,” writes one of the Internet users. - They know how to be friends with men. To conquer such a woman, a man must be rich, handsome and interesting to her every minute. nine0003

    It is believed that men are ready to endure anything from bitches for the happiness of being around and satisfying all their needs.

    Direct and conquer

    It is no wonder that numerous stervology courses are very popular among the weaker sex.

    At such courses, young ladies are helped to gain confidence in their abilities and attractiveness - an indispensable feature of any self-respecting bitch. They are taught to understand that “own interests are always more important than the interests of other people,” and therefore their achievement should always come first. nine0003

    – Such egoism is inherent in us by nature itself and is absolutely natural and normal, – the head of the course is sure. – Bitchiness implies a rejection of altruism.

    Interacting with others, a bitch should strive to get what she wants, to achieve her goal. Therefore, special attention in such courses is paid to the art of manipulating people - and men in particular.

    - You must be able to direct a man's behavior in the direction you need so that he does not even understand that he is the executor of someone's will, - the head of the course instructed the future "bitches". nine0003

    The eyes of the course participants lit up with joy at the promise of such prospects. The painted perspectives were intoxicating, the cherished happiness seemed to be almost achieved.

    Lonely Swimming

    However, as many experts assure, in fact real bitches are as far from the cherished happiness as Sergey Zverev from Paul McCartney.

    “A bitch is an unhappy woman,” says a Moscow psychologist, head of the Center for Psychological Support for Business and Family “5 YES!” Marina Morozova. - The main goal of the bitch is to swindle a man and use it for his own mercenary purposes. But, even having learned to use a man, having achieved a certain material level from him, she is still unhappy, still yearns for love, for equal relationships. She still feels lonely. Because there is no emotional fulfillment in a relationship. nine0003

    As a rule, a bitch has behind her the experience of unsuccessful relationships, for which she subconsciously tries to take revenge on all men. She asserts herself by humiliating her suitors, thus trying to raise her self-esteem.

    By the way, one of the main postulates of stervology, that a true bitch must believe in her superiority over the whole world, in no way contributes to the development of self-confidence, which the masters of such courses talk about so much.

    - Inflated self-esteem has nothing to do with self-love, Marina believes. - Such women often have low self-esteem, which they mask with a superiority complex. nine0003

    Self-affirming at the expense of others, a woman seems to rise up, puts herself on a certain pedestal, arrogantly and contemptuously treating everyone around her. But such a position sooner or later leads to loneliness. Because a woman who has a superiority complex considers all people below her. A person can be happy only in equal relations.
    Of course, there are men who are attracted to bitchy women. But there are not many of them.

    “A normal man gets tired of bitchy women, he is afraid of them,” psychotherapist Andrey Mashtakov assured us.

    Learn more