The flashing red light on your phone tells you you have a new text. Your heart skips a beat hoping it’s him.  He asks to get together, and though you’re ecstatic to hear from him, you remember that just this past weekend, he was completely unavailable and unresponsive to you.

So what do you do when you hear from him sporadically, and what’s really going on?

Case #1: He’s keeping you on backup
Some men can’t be alone.  Perhaps he’s pursuing someone else who's giving him a run for his money.  As much as he likes the chase, he knows there’s a chance he might not get to see her at the end of the night.  If you are hearing from him late at night or at odd times, it could be because he wants to keep his options open.  The guy who keeps his options open messages you frivolously, doesn’t get into any conversations beyond "hey, what’s up?" and can disappear at any moment when the main person he’s talking to is finally available.

Case #2: He’s using you as an ego boost
Texting and communicating privately via social networks is an easy way for him to feel like he has the attention of a striking young woman (namely you) while having control over the situation by keeping you at arm's length.  Perhaps he has a girlfriend and they just got in a fight and he’s feeling lower than low, he knows that by messaging you, you will likely indulge in some back and forth banter, and boost his ego with your convenient attention.  When you hear from someone on their terms, at random times, it likely is because they are feeling insecure and need a pick-me-up.

Case #3: Something better came up
If he sets a time to meet you, then suddenly bails (more than once) chances are something better came up. It might not be another woman -- it could just be hanging out with the boys or hitting up a late night greasy spoon diner, but it’s important to see that someone who shows this kind of behaviour isn’t interested in commitment or settling down.  In fact, he's keeping you hanging by giving you his word, then breaking it last minute.  When looking for a partner, you should never settle for someone who runs everything on their schedules.  Relationships work best when the balance of power is equal.  If a man is truly interested in you, not only is he booking you in advance and keeping his word to meet you, but he’s also working around your schedule to guarantee he’ll get to see your pretty little face.

Jen Kirsch is a relationship expert, columnist and blogger. For quick tips and tricks, follow her on Twitter @jen_kirsch. Read her posts every Tuesday on Slice.ca.