Wednesday, November 30, 2011

How To Ask For Feedback From A Guy

In another post I advocated asking for feedback from a guy that breaks up with you. Here is how to go about doing it and what to say:

DISCLAIMER: This approach only works with men that have already demonstrated some degree of a sincere interest in you - guys that have shown good will towards you by taking you out, sharing a real conversation, being genuinely affectionate, etc. A guy that you had a one night stand with does not count. A guy that flirts with you all the time, was texting with you a bunch but then stopped and never took you out does not count. A guy that you only meet up with in bars or clubs does not count. You can only expect an honest answer from a guy that has already demonstrated honesty towards you in some form or another.

Wait long enough to make sure he isn't going to pursue you anymore. This will vary depending on the relationship, so you will have to gauge it yourself. There isn't a magic number of days or weeks after you hear from him last. In fact, you may even still be in touch with him regularly if you haven't made him initiate contact or haven't cut him off yet. You just need to be honest with yourself. This is most easily done by thinking: "if he was acting towards my friend the way he is acting towards me now, would I think he'd stopped pursuing her?" If the answer is yes, you're good to proceed.

Contact him. Yes, this is technically "initiating contact," but it is OK when you have already given up on the idea of a relationship with him (so make sure you really have - go back and repeat the step above if needed). The best methods of contacting him are as follows:
  1. Text - This avoids awkwardness and allows you to lead him into the conversation gradually. See below. Also gives him time to think about what he will say.
  2. Internet Chat - Basically the same as texting. Good for the same reasons.
  3. E-mail - Use e-mail only if he is a conscientious/polite guy and you know he will answer, since e-mails are very easily ignored. If he will answer, e-mail has the advantage that it allows him time to really reflect.
  4. Phone - Not a great option since he is likely to avoid your call or give you hasty answers. Not recommended.
  5. In-Person - It is almost certain that you won't be able to get him to invest the time it would take for this (though it is a little more likely after long-term relationships). It is also awkward for both parties and forces rushed and therefore inaccurate responses. Not recommended.
I will assume for the rest of these points that you are using text, chat or e-mail. If the latter, you need to condense this "conversation" into written paragraphs. Try to keep it short, but make sure you convey the main points that I lay out below, with the exception of the lead-in.

Lead him into the conversation. Although guys will ultimately be willing to give you advice if you really want it, they will be extremely hesitant until you assure them that it is important to you and that you can handle whatever you tell them, no matter how harsh. Otherwise they will be worried about offending you. If it's been a while since you've been in touch, you will also need to make sure he realizes that this isn't an attempt to get another date or  re-initiate contact for relationship purposes. So you need to start with a message that (a) gets his attention and (b) communicates your openness. Prefacing a question by asking permission always indicates gravity and raises intrigue. So I see the conversation going something like this:

YOU: "Hey, can I ask you something?"
[If you don't get an answer try following up with "It quick, but important." Quick is the key word here.]

HIM: "Hey, yeah OK, what's up?"

YOU: "I'd like to get an outsider's view of what I am doing wrong with guys. I know its a weird thing to ask, but I feel like you would be pretty objective." [Note: not "your view" and not "what I did wrong with you"]

HIM: [probably no response, but if he gives you a negative answer, continue anyway with the following...]

YOU: "I need someone to be really honest with me. It's probably about time I heard it. You seem like a safe learning experience."

YOU: "And I swear I can take it. I only want the complete truth."

[Then you should throw out at least one example of something he would be unwilling to tell you for fear of crushing your ego. This will make him more comfortable with being honest, though it assumes that you are ready to accept whatever he throws out there.]

YOU: "Do I need to work out more? Maybe lighten up a little bit?"

HIM: [At this point he should give you some kind of response. Probably it will be positive. If you get nothing or a negative answer, be persistent: reiterate your need for the advice and that you can handle whatever he tells you.]

Encourage the conversation. If he gives you only one reason, try to elicit more with comments like "was there anything else?" followed by suggestions that you suspect may have influenced his decision, as well as a couple you don't. For example "are you sure I wasn't looking as good as than the night you met me?" or "was I too serious for a first date?" or "is it because I am not young enough?"

Don't belabor any single point. You really just need an overview, so don't try to dig for too much detail. Once you get the general idea of what he didn't like, move on. For example, if he says you weren't dressed well or wore too much makeup, don't ask what look he would have preferred or what would have been the perfect amount.

Don't object to anything. By asking for his unabashed advice, you are in no position to argue. And really, you shouldn't want to - you are merely collecting facts about his opinion. You can process them later. And while I would dissuade you from dismissing any of them, it won't get you anywhere to convince him that they aren't true.

Push past Mr. Nice Guy. If he starts giving you the typical bullshit about "we just didn't click" or "I didn't feel chemistry" it is only because he is not convinced you can handle an honest answer. So respond to those comments with reassurance that you can handle it, and tell him that you need concrete responses. Try this:

HIM: "I don't know, I just didn't feel it."

YOU: "Mike, I am not saying my feelings won't be hurt, but I need to hear the truth so that I can improve. I need to know the concrete things that were off. There must have been something."

[and if that doesn't work]

"Even if a lack of chemistry was the underlying reason, can you tell me some other way I could improve? I know I am not perfect." [Then throw in a few "tough" examples like you did at the outset, and assume that his answer is the real truth, not "chemistry" - because it is. Chemistry is just the cumulative effect of many small things; it isn't magic.]

Give him time to think about it. If he is still hesitating, and you've tried reassuring him that you can handle it, ask if he'd like some time to think about it. Be persistent about following up. Ask him if he needs "a few days," and then get in touch again in a few days.


  1. Thank you, this is gold.

    And leads me to ask if you have or plan to have something on women's age.

  2. This is tough, but good practice.

    I tried out your suggestions for how to ask for feedback on a guy I was interested in a couple of years ago, and we are still socially and professionally connected and I trust him. I actually asked him for feedback then, in person (awkward) and got "I'm just not feeling it" (when I know he had been at the outset months earlier - he initiated/approached, and then backed off).

    All I'm getting back right now, using your examples of easing him into the conversation is "X is a tough city to date in, lots of single women. It is different elsewhere I find, nearly everywhere else. Don't let it get to you. There is likely nothing wrong with what you are doing".

    I think phrasing the beginning of the conversation too obliquely, with

    "I'd like to get an outsider's view of what I am doing wrong with guys. I know it's a weird thing to ask, but I feel like you would be pretty objective." [Note: not "your view" and not what you "did wrong with you"]"

    is getting too objective a response. I'm not getting from him what turned him off me, just some "there there, dating is tough, you're doing fine, it's not your fault" (I did also say the bits about wanting the complete truth, and that I can take it, and I want to truly improve", and suggested some examples.

    Just thought I'd share a result for what it's worth. I figured he was a really good one to try this out on, because I completely gave up on him back then.

    I persisted as you suggested, and got more specific and asked him what made him discontinue pursuing me (reiterating I can handle it, I want to improve, and I can follow up in a few days if he wants some time to think about it. This guy is also a heavy dater so he's exposed to a lot of Female Game.

  3. OMG, if a guy did this with me, I'd think he is a complete psycho. If one of my female friends did this, I'd say she is acting psycho. It's a great idea in theory, but a girl needs to be at least on talking terms with the guy. You can't just re-emerge out of the blue with those questions, and then push and push and push for answers. I'd say this is crazy behavior, though I agree, if we all gave each other feedback, how much better would this world be?

  4. Anonymous,

    I can see how the fact that you are still in touch with him (especially professionally) would make him resist more. I would not pursue his feedback any more in that situation. If I were still in touch regularly with a girl through work, etc. then I know I would definitely be more hesitant to tell her the truth.

    As with any of these posts, there are always exceptions, but they do explain the norm.

  5. Yes, good point about him being reluctant since we are still connected (he thought I was texting to ask about my mortgage at first and then was really taken aback). Perhaps he wasn't a good one to follow up with after all. He ended up saying he'd rather not even go back there, that nothing good will come of it. I said I wanted to be clear that I was not trying to start something up with him again, just looking for honest feedback so that I could improve, but that I withdrew the request because I could see he was really uncomfortable. And apologized and wished him well. He did say after that "You too. Sorry..."

    I felt a bit guilty about starting it out with "it's quick", as it turned out not to be. (I also said a couple of times that I could follow up in a few days if he wanted some time to think about it). Honest feedback via text is pretty heavy and awkward, but I guess any way you slice asking for feedback is going to be awkward. I think email might be best, but as you say, it can be easier to ignore.

  6. You might remember that I tried a similar version of this some months ago, not to ask for feedback, but for my number on the 10 point scale. And my "focus group" wasn't made up of any ex-boyfriends, but with close male friends I've known for years. That totally goes against the rule in the disclaimer, and now that I've read your post, I realize why the rule matters. For while I can be certain I got honest answers from them, I was probably never their "type" to begin with, which does compromise what I had hoped would be useful data.

  7. Good God, I would never do this! I would instead ask my honest friends and family for advice, or come to blogs like this one to figure out why things aren't going well for me. But things are going good, I just discovered your blog yesterday Andrew and I love it.

  8. I really like this post. I would never even have thought of doing this before I read it.

    A close friend of mine had been dating a guy for a few months. He seemed utterly keen, they have mutual friends, were together almost every day, had been sleeping together for a long time etc. She's a quite cute girl (a 7) with a cool, easy-going personality - and I was convinced perfect for a guy like him. One week he was away for work, and she didn't hear anything for 7 days (usually hear something every or every other day). She got a bad gut feeling, and decided to contact him to find out what was wrong. They continued to date, but his attention felt more half-assed and she eventually cut contact without explanation. I showed her this post and she contacted him one last time to find out what happened (she didn't have the patience to wait). He said "I suppose just bad timing". Obviously she's still very upset, trying to move on. Is his reply something she should just accept then?

    I have been in a similar situation. I've been dating a guy and had the two most wonderful months. He's initiated every time, we've met up about every second day right from the beginning, he contacted me when we were apart just to chat, I was introduced to friends, he did the emotional escalation, initiating conversations about family, religion etc. He's relationship-oriented and well-mannered. He often gave me the impression he thought I was out of his league. We both moved home after this, and live two hours apart by train. During the next few weeks he contacted me every 2-3 days saying he wanted to see me, missed me and needed me. He called me and was loving and genuine on the phone. I was unable to meet due to work. Now that I have finally gotten back to him, I'm afraid he's drifted. He still says he'd love to see me, but his attention seems less affectionate and he's lacking his previous "craving" in his messages. I have cut contact but not officially told him to stop contacting me. I will do this, but I am curious if I should ask for feedback at the same time. We don't use email to one another, I could do it over internet chat, but then I'd have to re-add him on facebook. I feel awkward about it, it may seem exaggerated to ask for this kind of response for such short time spans? If he has met another girl or is dating his ex again, it would help me SO much to know right now - it would be closure and feedback all in one. However I am sensing he won't be that honest with me. I'd feel stupid for asking about it months from now.

    1. Your friend might try pointing out how ridiculous the "bad timing" excuse is, by telling the guy she dated "If I were [insert name of a really hot celebrity he likes], it wouldn't be bad timing" - in other words, it's only "bad timing" in light of the fact that he didn't like certain things about her, and she wants to know what those things were.

      Yeah I think you can ask your guy now for feedback. I still think that later would be better, but now could work too. If you really can't wait, you have nothing to lose by asking now.

      Again, all this should be done in writing if possible.

  9. Bwhhwha, oh man, are you for real? This is the most stupid and sabotaging post I have ever read! Why the heck, after building myself up as the woman that I am now, I would go all of a sudden mental and crawl before some buck? "For feedback"? Come on! I thought you can bring to the table more than that! We are speaking about sexual bonding and human relationship, this does not work like a feedback form on some insurance or shoe website "the customer wash unhappy and he points your mistakes" hahah Oh dear, I suspect you either as the misogynist of the century or a bitchy female, either one trying to sabotage the female specie for his/her own fun and satisfaction. You know what? The guy at, that became clearly full of male ego after his "flower2flower gliding" and who even was convicted for racist views, in fact he writes in logical manner and in good sense. This, I'm afraid, tells a lot about where you are situated hahahha :) Gee, and i thought i was the _most mental using Stendhal strategy to 'deconstruct love' once in my youth. I was a pale baby compared to the mental you hahahhah

    1. Wow, this sure was hard to read through. I bet it falls into the "no reply necessary" category -- As many do.

    2. You are taking this post entirely the wrong way. Most importantly, in this situation there is nothing to lose, only something to gain. The feedback is asked of someone you are not pursuing for a relationship, so think of it as getting honest advice from a close friend. It really does not make you less of a person to have a little humility; rather, only truly confident and secure people have the courage to consider genuine feedback. I'm sorry to say that you are only hurting yourself and your prospects with your attitude, when clearly you could benefit from being open-minded to self improvement.

      Anyway, I have not been rejected yet by a man, but when the time comes I will most certainly ask for feedback without a chip on my shoulder, and will most likely earn additional respect from the person by doing so. And, the following relationships will be all the better after working on the weaknesses I can control. After all, Why settle for being a stagnant and petty person, when you can evolve into the best form of yourself? -M

    3. The only place where humility and pity are totally displaced is in romance, in male-female relating to each other. Dignity and sexual integrity are the foundation of this kind of relationship. What's the difference then between sexes? And where is left the sparkle, the adrenal and sexual-hormonal whirl and all the hotness of relating to a so different-from-us person yet so complementary-with and appealing-to us, then?
      Anonymous, aka blog owner, you speak as an experimental-eunuch, who has never related sexually to a woman, or like a man with a twisted short experience and lot of luggage. We come programmed epigenetically with the intuition of how we should behave with the opposite sex, all we need is listen to our instincts and get the experience. And so we grow. You try to make formulas and charts from something you don't sense, because, with all due respect: you were not there! A man with any trace of seduction experience would never blunt like this. It is admirable though that you haven't erased the post (even if it shocked you by the time, I observed the 'technical' crysis). Get in real life. Blogs are not real life. No one can get oxytocin and PEA through blogging. And ladies, "a blind man cannot guide a blind man, can he? Will they not both fall into a pit?"

  10. Didn't work. Still waiting on a response.... Fail

  11. I can't imagine doing this with a guy who broke up with me and him not interpreting it as I want him back. Even though I know that's not the case (couldn't date someone with his conservative sociopolitical views), the fact that he may think so after he dumped me would be a little embarrassing. I also feel this way because I initiated contact as friends (since we are truly on different pages for issues close to my heart, I was not invested in the possibility of a relationship). Yet my initiating contact plus asking for feedback seems to be a bit much. Thoughts?

    1. Never do it. If you need documentation, read enlightening books on the subject, on seduction and on the behavioral differences between sexes.
      You know, Amerindians had this view: they related to a wolf for example with the term "the wolf". So, an individual of a a specie represented the whole specie in their eyes. It's the same in here. I think that once you start to see men like comrades that can be asked for "romantic advice", you have chances to remain in that kind of relationship with all their specie, inside your head. And it's like trying to undo one of the gorgeous gifts given to us in this realm: the sparkle of relating to the opposite sex.

  12. Dated a guy for 5 months...said goodbye to him on Sunday, woke up to an email on Tuesday saying if I was looking for a relationship it was "most likely not going to be [him]."
    um...super lame.

    I gave it some time and asked him what made him change his mind. Two days later, he said "I'm not ignoring you, I will get back you to end of the week."

    One week came and passed...nothing. I don't know why if he never intended to write back he would say he was going to follow up.

    Fact of the matter is he dropped me via the email to begin with so it probably shouldn't surprise me that he wussed out on this, too. Maybe I really don't want to know after all and this is a blessing in disguise. Its just a shame though...all of it.

    1. Don't listen to Andrew on this one. He is contradicting his own reasoning for cutting off contact, and acting like a woman, not one the guys. You can do better in relationships by learning to love yourself before seeking a new relationship. Follow his other advice to make yourself as fit and attractive as possible, and learn to be more receptive to a man's thought and ideas when you first start dating him, not after.

  13. Andrew! Are you kidding? Do you work in HR or management? You're confusing business advice with relationship advice. I find your blog rather insightful, for a 28 yo, maybe more amusing. You are on the right track regarding masculine and feminine roles in romantic relationships. But this is just BAD advice. This would not be feminine behavior, because a feminine woman should stay away from anyone who hurts her, not seek him out for friendly advice pertaining to her weaknesses. And it contradicts your (correct) premise that a woman should cut contact with anyone who rejects her. To then turn around and seek feedback contradicts the reason you cut contact - to hold yourself in esteem. If a woman wants to learn from her experience with a man, she can look to feedback already given - his words and actions. Logical, masculine men tend to be fairly simple and direct in their communication. So whatever he did say, and whatever his actions indicate, should give fairly accurate insight as to what he was displeased with. I would think most masculine (gentle)men would be confused, and offended, to be asked to treat his former love as a 'guy' and man-up about what she did wrong. Think about it...


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