How Men Think: Do Men Play Sick to Avoid You?

How men think can be quite perplexing. If you have dated a man who early on cancels a date due to feeling poorly, you’re probably wondering, is he really sick or blowing me off?

Keep reading to find out what that’s about.

how men thinkUnderstanding Men and How They Think

Maybe this has happened to you. You go on a date or two with a great guy. He’s funny, seems like a great catch and appears to be interested.

You’re excited to get to know him. He sets up the next date and then…cancels because he’s under the weather.

Then a strange thing happens…he slowly stops texting, calling and disappears without further explanation. And you are left wondering what the heck happened.

How could this be? Didn’t you just have a great date or two? You could tell he enjoyed himself right? So what’s the deal?

You find yourself wondering how men think and what is going on. You question how men communicate. Why did he change his mind?

Could you have done anything wrong that pushed him away? Would he fake being sick – that seems so strange doesn’t it?

Maybe you start asking friends what they think and gathering opinions. Or you read blog posts and seek experts for answers.

So as a dating coach for women and experts, let me share what could be going on behind the scenes.

So let me address this and open your eyes. Would a man feign illness to get out of seeing you again? Yes, absolutely.

Even though it seems hard to believe, this is just one of the many ways men rely on to slink away when they feel done and don’t want to continue dating you.

The Illness Excuse – Is He Really Sick or Blowing Me Off?

Example #1 – Sally Had 11 Dates

Is He Really Sick or Blowing Me OffOne of my clients, Sally, who is 54 and divorced, met a guy online.

They emailed a few times and then switched to phone calls. Over the one week period, they spoke several times for hours.

Sally had to cut things short because Dave was a talker. She didn’t mind; in fact, Sally really enjoyed these conversations.

Finally, their first date arrived and everything went really well. They had such great rapport after all those chats. Appetizers became dinner and then they decided to go back to his house.

This was the first night of 10 consecutive dates that made Sally’s head spin and her feet leave the floor.

She was floating on air and wondering how this whirlwind love could be happening to her.

Day 11, Dave gave her the heart-shattering news that he was ill and had a dismal diagnosis.

At this point, Dave explained how he had to sadly put a stop to things so he could focus on his medical condition.

I’m Sick & Can’t See You Any More


He said he had to cut things off completely – it was the only way. Sally was emotionally devastated for two massive reasons:

  1. She was concerned about Dave’s situation which sounded serious
  2. She was brokenhearted to think her love story was coming to an end

She reached out to him by text for several days, offering support. She sent him notes and a little gift, hoping to entice him into communication.

She got nowhere. Sally was incredibly sad and honestly a little frustrated and confused.

How could he just cut her off cold turkey like that? Didn’t he want to support and someone loving to comfort him?

Well, maybe not.

Months later, Sally discovered that while Dave did have a medical situation, it wasn’t dire. But it sure was an excuse that she couldn’t argue with. So he used illness to get out of dating her.

Example #2 Tricia Had One Hot Date

I'm Sick & Can't See You Any MoreTricia, who is 42 and never married, met Jason online and had a magical first date.

He asked her out again and on the second date, she felt such a strong connection, she decided to go for it and sleep with him.

He stayed the night (which was really wonderful by the way) and then in the morning said he didn’t feel well.

Maybe it was something he ate, but he had to rush home.

Tricia checked in with him over the next few days and was surprised that he didn’t engage much with her.

In fact, the texting dwindled down to no response at all in just two days. She wanted to know what that was about.

Was he really sick or did she do something wrong that turned him off?

In both of these cases, my dating coaching clients were left wondering about how men think. These women did nothing wrong. Here is the difficult truth:

Dave and Jason enjoyed the romance and
connection too. They just didn’t have
the same desire to keep it going long-term.

The “I’m sick” excuse is similar to the, “I’m too busy at work to see you” excuse and the ever-popular “I’m traveling so I can’t see you” excuse.

If you hear your date talk about not feeling well, he might be sick, or he might be on his way to ghosting you. Pay attention because this might be a sign things are over.

How Men Think about This Excuse

Now, I’m not saying anytime a man says he’s sick that he’s lying to you. That would be ridiculous.

But look at why he might choose to say this if he doesn’t want to see you again. As a polite and kind-hearted woman, you would never dream of forcing the issue when a man is sick.

What woman would argue or plead and ask too many questions about illness? You offer sympathy and drop it because that is the appropriate response to someone not feeling well.

Can you see how great this works from the man’s point of view? He’s counting on your kindness and knows this is the perfect excuse and “get out of jail free” card to not to see you that night or make a quick exit.

Then he can disappear knowing you won’t push it too much because…you feel bad for him since he must be really sick.

Otherwise, he’d reconnect, right? You’ve got to admit its a brilliant strategy.

What Can You Do to Safeguard Your Heart?

how men thinkAre you the type of woman who gets attached quickly? If that’s the case, don’t sleep with men right away!

If your heart will break when the guy doesn’t call again, hold off until he proves his interest consistently for several weeks and dates.

This dating advice is all about guarding your heart. When you date with your head first and not your heart, you will save yourself from unbearable heartbreak time and time again.

The good guys don’t care so much if you sleep with them quickly. If a guy likes you, he likes you.

Trouble is there is no way to know how a man thinks before you sleep with him.

That’s why the best solution is to hold off until he proves himself worthy over several weeks with consistent weekly dates and good communication not just texting between dates.


Single for too long, Ronnie wanted to find love. She put her skills from personal development and her spiritual path to work, dating 30 men in 15 months to meet her adorable husband Paul. Discovering the keys to manifesting and midlife dating, she founded It’s Never Too Late to help smart, successful women find love or live an empowered and magical life. Ronnie Ann Ryan, MBA, CCC, is a Certified Coach who has helped 1,000s of midlife women with her Love & Magical Life Coach services. She’s the host of the Breathe Love & Magic podcast and has been featured on NBC, ABC, & Fox News, NPR, BBC, eHarmony,, and Connecticut Magazine among others. Also, Ronnie is the author of 6 books which are available on Amazon.

60 thoughts on “How Men Think: Do Men Play Sick to Avoid You?”

  1. This is a gay relationship question. All 3 times we have met up has involved sex. I texted a guy (that i had seen 3 times prior) one week in advance if he would like to meet up on July 4 to attend the festivities. He responded he would let me know since he doesn’t know yet what he doing. I went ahead and made my own plans ! At the parade, he saw & approached me. I mentioned the text to him and he said that he had forgotten about the text and got busy with other things like taking care of his elderly roommate. I told him i felt ghosted and he tried to assure me that didn’t happen. I asked him if i was going to see him again and he said “yes.” After 4 days of no talk either way, he initiates contact with me that he has a cold and we could have done something over this weekend had it not been for this cold. I replied with only sympathy, i made no mention of the weekend part. What prompted this text? Is he trying to avoid the ghosting appearance without setting up any plans -or- is he following up on his “yes” answer to me seeing him again? Does he really have a cold?

    • Hi Scott, while I’m no expert on gay relationships, this situation does sound the same to me. Seems like he’s putting you off with excuses and proven to be unreliable. If you are looking for a relationship and not just a hook up, my advice is to move on from this person.

  2. Hey me and the guy we have been talking since high school its been 3 years now we never really dated but we would hang out a lot and we would kiss and spend time Netflix and chilling but we stopped talking for like a year and we recently reconnected and we have been talking about linking back up again for like a couple of weeks but this time he told me he thinks he love me and wants to work on being together so he paid for a hotel for us to go to and catch back up like old times but than last minute he cancels like 5 hours before check in time and now I’m just sad its makes me feel like he doesn’t like me does anyone have any advice ?

    • Hey Brianna, When a man backs out, there’s a reason. This is when you find a way to shift your perspective and say thank you (in your mind only) that he showed his true nature. Now, if you are willing to pay attention to this message from him, you will let go and move on so that he can no longer disappoint you or break your heart. He’s not ready for whatever reason, so that means he’s not the guy for you. This is when I tell my clients to count their blessings because he’s a guy who doesn’t know what he wants and that will never bring you the happy love you hope for.

  3. Dude called to postpone second date – a little unusual because texting is the primary form of communication not only with him, but with 98% of people I know. It is distressing that my first thought was “He isn’t sick and pretended to sound sick because he didn’t want to go out with me.*” Either I’m a naïve idiot and believe he is sick or I’m a bitter chick and think he is lying. Neither of these feels healthy. What is the middle ground? *I like who I am and don’t need to be right for everyone. Sometimes this is uncomfortable: “How can he not see I’m perfect for him?” But I’m learning to cry for an hour, let go of what could have been and move on.

    • Hi HB, First, know that it is human and natural to think the worst. That doesn’t make you a bitter chick, but one who has been disappointed several times. Second, I’m quite impressed that you know both extremes (naïve or bitter) are not healthy. And proud of you to seek the middle ground, understanding every man is NOT YOUR man. Well done!

      The real truth is you have no idea why he canceled. He might think he’s not good enough to get a woman like you, not know what he wants, has emotional issues, was in a bad mood over work, is unsure of himself, is sick, tired, or had a hangover. Who knows!

      Here’s the next step up to help you handle rejection from a man, skip the crying and taking it too hard. “If he were the right man for me, he’d never ditch me! No way! So who is next?” This is about growth, knowing your worth, and having healthy self-esteem. You might pause when a man cancels a date, but then move on quickly without tears. There are plenty of men out there, just keep meeting new ones.

      My husband was sick on our second date although he didn’t tell me that. He was low energy, not that talkative and we were done within 90 minutes. I was a little freaked out since our first date had gone so well and couldn’t figure out what was different. Several weeks later, (we were still dating) I found out he hadn’t felt well but, DIDN’T WANT TO CANCEL THE DATE WITH ME. He sure was the right man.

      It’s time for you to BELIEVE in yourself, in love and in men. Follow this advice, keep your spirits up, and I’m sure you will find that special guy for you.

  4. Hi , I’ve been dating a guy for two months and he’s gotten really il with covid . I spoke to him a few times and he sounded bad. Then he wasn’t communicating as much he said he was sleepy and the weak. I send him a message and he hasn’t even seen it im worried he might be in hospital. I don’t know what to do it’s awkward because it’s only been 2ish months.

    • Hi Louise, Your good heart and kindness make you worry for him. But he’s a grown up. Don’t think the worst, letting your mind run adrift. His lack of communication might be his way of disappearing. Or if he is really sick, when he’s better, he’ll reach out. But its been my experience that a lack of communication is unfortunately and most often related to ghosting vs. illness.

  5. Hi Ronnie! Someone had a similar story to mine and your responses for each really nail it in me. I was talking to a guy and we decided to meet, we had lunch. He asked to see me again. We were messaging a lot, never a dull moment. Second date came, went well, he didn’t want the date to end so we grabbed hot drink and continued. He asked to me see again. We kept messaging and when the day of the date came, he said he woke up with cold/pandemic symptoms and cancelled. He seemed honest to me as he sounded pissed not being able to work, having to get a test and all that. And I know how men are when they’re sick. I showed support, updating him on my temperature to rule myself out as “maybe she gave it to me”. It’s been 3 days in total that he’s been sick, and our convos have been minimum. I’m not sure what to think. When I’m sick, I don’t want to communicate with anyone, I just want to recover. We had a video chat planned tonight, and he cancelled saying he’s sleepy. Maybe I attached when I should have dated multiple men, but during the pandemic I wasn’t feeling up to it. I don’t know what I’m really wanting from this message to you, maybe a state of mind?

    • Hi Laura, I know dating can be disappointing and it sounds like that is where your head is at. Maybe he is really sick – COVID can know you off your feet. Maybe this is an excuse. This is the perfect reason why it’s time to talk with other men. Even if you didn’t do it before, you can do that NOW. Distraction to keep you from prematurely attaching is essential during dating. Plus, you never know who will ask you out again so you want to keep your options open until you see consistency over 6 or 8 weeks.

      Another suggestion is not to message as much in between because that also makes you feel like there is something really building. Unfortunately frequent messaging is not an indication of anything except that the guy likes to text. It doesn’t mean he’s seriously interested. When you allow yourself to focus on one man before you know he’s the right one, that leads to disappointment and heartbreak over and over again. I know it’s easier to settle in and see what happens with one guy, but that doesn’t really serve you.

      Dating more than one guy protects for your heart. It’s the smartest dating strategy if you are serious about finding the one. I know it might seem hard, but it can be fun and exciting too! Give it a shot even during the pandemic. This is the best way to know who is worth the risk!

  6. Hi! I have been texting/snap chatting this guy for a couple of months. We were never able to hangout because he left college to go back home due to the pandemic. He told me to keep in touch and we did. A couple of nights ago he asked when I could hangout. I told him Sunday. We continued to Snapchat and I responded boldly to one of his photos. I said “Woah I love your blanket, but I love you more.” Yes. I know. Kind of strange. He responded with “woaahh, hahaha.” I texted back “Joking – I guess my jokes don’t really work over text.” He said, “Yeah, I joke and am sarcastic too, but only when I get to know people, what if I didn’t know you were joking?” Honestly. I didn’t like his response so I did not respond. A couple days later. Sunday came. I asked him if we were still on for a park walk and he responded exactly, “Hey, I’m sorry I’m not feeling great today so I don’t think I can.” I responded “Aw. Feel better.” He responded “Thanks. Also have a lot of work starting to pile on.” I responded. “Totally get that. Feel better, again.” Could this be a sign that he is turned off by our last conversation? I can’t help but to feel like a weird creep even though I am so not.

    • Hi JoAnna, I’m sure your not a creep. But yes, I think he is avoiding you. Maybe because of your comment, maybe other reasons too. Telling a man you love him via text as a joke probably isn’t such a good idea. Kind of too big a statement especially since you never even “Hung out”. Nothing wrong with joking or sarcasm, but that word gave him the impression you were too into him for how much time you’ve spent together. A good rule of thumb is to wait to reveal your feelings until the guy does first. It could push a guy away too early. After dating for a few months, if you feel it, that would be a different story.

  7. Hello, Ronnie. I recently met a man on a dating app. The first day we chatted through the app, but finally exchanged phone numbers. We texted all day until 3 am. Finally, I told him we should stop for the night since we both had work in the morning. Later that morning, while at work, he texted asking me how work was going. I told him fine and asked how his morning was going. He said he woke up with a sore throat and wasn’t feeling well. We continued texting on and off during the day. Once I got off work, I texted asking him how work was going. He never responded. I figured maybe he was busy and an hour later, he apologized for not responding. Told me had a head cold and that work was fine. He asked about my day, then said he’d take Nyquil to help knock out the cold. Later that night, I texted him again. He never responded. The next morning, I texted at 11am, asking how he was doing. Nothing. It is now near 4pm and still nothing. Ronnie, I just don’t know what to think. We do have plans to meet up this Monday, however I’m worried he may be blowing me off.

    • Hi Amber, So you read my post before writing this note to me right? He had fun texting you but now he’s done. He’s not THAT sick that he can’t respond. He’s GHOSTED you, first by setting you up with the “I’m Sick” story. Now you know more about him – he’s flaky and unworthy of your time. Don’t even bother meeting a man like this! He’s already treating your poorly. Be smart, block his number and delete him from the app.

      My recommendation is to NOT text all day ever even if it’s fun. Women get attached and think the texting means the guy is interested. Not true! He might be bored and lonely so you were good in a pinch. Clearly he had no long term or serious interest or he never would have disappeared so fast. You might want to read this post on texting or this one on why men string women along with texting.

  8. Hi Ronnie, I met this guy online about 3 weeks ago. Since matching, we have texted all day every day—initiated by him. I’m not a big texter. We went out to drinks, then he came over to my place to watch a movie. When he came over, I was getting over a cold, and so we didn’t kiss or anything. Just cuddled. A few days later, he took me to dinner—drove, paid, everything. We finally kissed for quite a while to the point where we laughed as he was leaving because we couldn’t stop ourselves. Since, he’s texted every day, but today (2 days since last date), I asked if he wanted to hang out and he said he was coming down with a cold. To be fair, he’d mentioned earlier that he’d taken nyquil the night before, but I figured it was just to help with sleep. I’m getting nervous—is he lying and trying to make a run for it or did I give him the cold I had the week before? He said we should do it another night, but for a lot of men, that means “see ya never”. I don’t know what to think! Am I overthinking it?

    • Hi Katherine, Having a cold saved you from sleeping with this guy on the first date! In this case, it’s too soon to tell if he’s trying to ditch you. If he doesn’t ask you out in the next week, you will know he’s moving on. I would caution you stay out of the home before you know a man better just for safety. it might seem old fashioned but better safe than sorry. And if you want to know if a man will stick around, hold off on intimacy.

  9. Hi Ronnie,

    I’ve been out with a lovely man 4 times in a month and we’ve been in contact for 6 weeks. Our 5th date was suppose to be this past Sat, but he canceled last minute stating he woke up ill and he’d feel better for our date. I know people get sick, but it set alarm bells off in my head. I asked if he needed anything and said he wanted to hibernate. He was apologetic and offered to call me later but I said he should sleep and to not worry about it. I texted the next day wishing he’d feel better and he replied thank you, that he’s feeling worse, and hopes by Sunday is well. Typically we have lively texting throughout most days. So far, he hasn’t demonstrated I shouldn’t trust his word, and I’m trying hard until it’s clear he does not deserve it. My question is how much time do I give him to recuperate before it become suspicious that he hasn’t rescheduled with me? Any other insights would be deeply appreciated.

    • Hi Hannah, This is the hardest part of dating – the waiting. I’d give him to this weekend. If he’s not texting regularly again and scheduling a date something happened on his end that changed his mind about you. It most likely had NOTHING to do with you, so don’t waste time taking it personally if he does disappear. Just get back out there and meet some new men.

      Here’s my insight for you – Date more than one man at a time when you are in the early “get to know you” phase before you agree to be exclusive. You never know which man will call again, so this is how you hedge your bets. When you have a few contenders, hopefully one of them will stick. But when you narrow your options prematurely, focusing on one man, you get attached before he’s fully vetted as being “the one”.Then you have have to get over him. When you date a few guys, you don’t get attached as quickly, so it saves heartache and recovery time. Hopefully he’ll schedule soon!

  10. Hi, I also have a boyfriend from online, though we never met. He seems to be a nice guy and we talked and videocall everyday for almost 2 years! Few months ago he acted strangely and always seems to be irritated by me, but then goes back to his normal attitude. Always reaching out for me, but then a week ago he developed a flu that has been going for a week and he even sent me of his arm having an IV drip. It’s been a week now and I haven’t heard from him – not even a text. What is this!? I’m so confused and depressed right now.

    • Hi Geneva, Sorry to hear you are confused and depressed. I can help with the confusion. Seems like your boyfriend is pulling away and using the flu as his excuse. More importantly, this is a problem because of your long distance relationship. I know you have invested two years and this may be hard to deal with, but your relationship is pure fantasy. How can he be your boyfriend if you’ve never met? He could be married, older than he says, or any other of a million lies you can’t know because you’ve never met him. Please read these two posts on long distance relationships which will explain a lot about why this is a problem. Stop hoping for this man to be your boyfriend and look please locally if you want real love.

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