Is Your Boyfriend A “Pity Partner”? Here Are 11 Signs

A guy who uses strategies like zombie-ing you is nasty, but what’s even worse is when that guy crawls back into your life as the “pity partner.” This is one category of the zombie worth keeping an eye out for. Here are 11 ways to spot him.

  1. He has a sob story. The hallmark of the pity partner is that he comes back into your life with a sob story. How else is he supposed to get back into your good books after disappearing on you, after all? This sob story could be a variety of things, but he’s going to lay it on thick.
  2. He’s a victim. Something bad happened to him and he’s the victim in the story, of course. Maybe his friend wrote off his car or he was unfairly fired from a job. Or both things happened within the last few days. Whatever the case, the pity partner knows how to make himself seem like a victim.
  3. He uses that as a reason for disappearing. You might be angry when you hear from the guy who zombied you, and rightly so. But the pity partner will likely try to prevent this from happening by acting as though whatever bad thing happened to him was the reason why he couldn’t get in touch with you.
  4. He preys on your kindness. You’re not the type of person who’ll kick a dog when he’s down, and the pity partner knows this. He’s hoping that if you’re kind enough to listen to what he has to say, it means you’re willing to do more than hear him out — you’ll give him another chance.
  5. He says he just wants to chat. He might say that he was thinking of you when this bad thing happened to him and he just wanted to hear your voice. Or, he might say that he didn’t want to give you the wrong impression but he just wanted to chat like old times. That sounds harmless enough, right?
  6. He pretends to need you. The thing is, what he’s doing isn’t innocent. He’s trying to make you feel like he needs you. Even though he hasn’t been in touch for the last eight weeks, he’s making it seem like he couldn’t get help and support from anyone else in the world. That’s the hook he uses to make you feel special. Sneaky.
  7. He has a lie-filled history. The pity partner usually has a past littered with lies and manipulation. If there were previously a few signs that showed this guy was a liar, then you shouldn’t feel guilty for wondering if he’s making up this story just to have a reason to get in touch. And you definitely shouldn’t feel guilty for telling him to GTFO.
  8. He wants more than support. It’s fine and well for a guy to want to share something with you and perhaps even just lend your golden ear for an hour on the phone. If you know he’s a good guy, that is. And, maybe he genuinely did think of you and miss you. But the pity partner doesn’t stop there. He will follow up with texts, and before you know it he’ll be asking you out again. It’s clear he was just using his need for support as a way to get you back.
  9. He hasn’t apologized. If you lost touch with a guy who then tries to come back into your life and this is under strange circumstances, like him wanting to confide in you about a tragedy he’s experienced, that might not be so bad. The pity partner isn’t a genuine guy looking to reconnect. For starters, he hasn’t even apologized for zombie-ing you! He thinks he can just come back as though he did nothing wrong.
  10. He was never serious before. When you guys were getting to know each other and maybe even planning a date, things never materialized. That’s classic behavior of a guy who’s zombie-ing you. So now, based on that, you have to wonder if things are actually going to happen. If he’d really been interested wouldn’t he have asked you out the first time?
  11. He acts like he’s changed. He tries to reenter your life as though he’s the nicest guy in the world, not the guy who treated you like crap by leading you on. Even if the guy has learned from his mistakes and changed, you have to ask yourself: is it really best for you to be with someone who treated you so badly once? Isn’t one enough? Absolutely.


Giulia Simolo is a writer from Johannesburg, South Africa with a degree in English Language and Literature. She has been working as a journalist for more than a decade, writing for sites including AskMen, Native Interiors, and Live Eco. You can find out more about her on Facebook and LinkedIn, or follow her on Twitter @GiuliaSimolo.