Ugh, mixed signals. One of the dreaded things we all deal with at one point or another in the dating world. And, no matter how many times we’ve been confronted with them, they never become easier to decipher when we’re left to our own devices.
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So, we’ve compiled this write-up on all the ins and outs of mixed signals and the ways to deal with them so that you’re never left to your own devices again.
Oftentimes, the people who are sending out these mixed signals have internal turmoil going on and things they need to figure out. Being on the receiving end of these mixed messages can be hurtful and disappointing but remember, it’s no reflection of the type of person you are. It’s him, not you.
Getting to the bottom of what these mixed messages mean will likely require some great communication skills, time, and patience. But getting to the bottom of them is important if you want to understand what the future of your relationship looks like…
We’ve all been there before, going on dates with someone we really like, and then out of nowhere our messages are left on read for hours, or days, on end with no explanation.
What does this mean? Are they confused about how they feel? Is he a poor communicator? Uninterested? Or, just busy? Let’s find out.
One of the most likely reasons he’s sending you mixed signals is because he’s not sure how he feels about you. It’s harsh, but it’s true. In this scenario, you’re likely to find that he takes one step forward, one step back when it comes to showing you affection or interest of any kind.
Keeping you at an arm’s length gives him time to figure out how he feels while also keeping his options open to meeting other people.
Perhaps you’re misinterpreting him taking things slowly as mixed signals. If he’s a cautious person, or he’s been badly hurt in past relationships, he might take things more slowly than you do. This way he’s able to make sure about the person he’s with, and attempt to avoid heartbreak.
On the contrary, if you’ve been together for a while and he’s still taking things very slowly i.e. avoiding commitment, it’s time to have a serious conversation with him. If things don’t change, it might be in your best interest to move on or you’ll find yourself dragging dead weight for the rest of the relationship.
People who’ve been hurt or abandoned in the past may have an intense fear of commitment. He might be interested in you but the fear of committing might be the cause of the confusing messages he’s sending out.
People with a fear of commitment usually want to keep things casual, self-sabotage, don’t open up, find faults in others, and have an intense fear of getting hurt.
One of the reasons people send mixed signals is because of problems they foresee in the future of a relationship. He might be interested in you but because of things like differences in religion, age, views on having a family, his job, or moving cities, he might be holding back.
This conflict between his feelings for you and the problems he foresees on the horizon will cause him to send mixed signals and potentially, hold back.
Having an open and healthy line of communication will enable both of you to unpack and work through these potential issues and, hopefully, find a happy way forward.
One minute he wants to be single and devoid of any responsibility and the next he wants to be in a committed relationship with someone whom he has a strong emotional connection with. If he’s not sure about what it is he’s looking for, or he feels the two of you are on different pages about what you want, he’s going to send out mixed signals.
These mixed signals are a direct reflection of what’s going on internally.
A man who blows hot and cold will be super affectionate and into you one minute and next thing you know he’s acting like the two of you are just friends. Or, he’ll text you flirty texts for days on end and next thing you know, you haven’t heard back from him in a week.
He might even verbalize how much he likes you but at the same time tell you he’s not sure of what he wants. Confusing, I know!
When a guy acts like this you can do one of two things:
1. If it’s still early on in your dating escapades, I would suggest responding in a non-verbal manner i.e. give him some time and space and don’t play into his games.
This way, you’re subtly letting him know that you don’t want to play games. You’re allowing him to come back to you, instead of you chasing him. If he doesn’t come running back, it’s a clear sign that he doesn’t want anything serious.
2. If you’ve been dating for some time and he’s still blowing hot and cold, verbalize the way this makes you feel. Sit him down and have a conversation about the effects and consequences of his behavior. This will also give him a chance to express his views on the situation.
Inconsistent communication is one of the common mixed signals you’re more likely to come across in the early days of dating.
In my dating experience, the use of apps like Tinder and Bumble has caused a rise in inconsistent communication.
People are able to match and chat with a host of possible suitors at once and jump from date to date as quickly as they like. This seemingly endless pool of options causes people to abandon ship/cut communication as soon as they become bored.
So, you might find you’re chatting happily to a great match one day, and the next day he’s lost interest and the conversation is dwindling. Be mindful of the fact that this probably has nothing to do with you. It’s simply a reflection of the world we live in.
The truth is, if he’s interested in you the communication will be consistent. Or, he will at least let you know why he has been inconsistent i.e. he’s been super busy at work.
If he’s canceled plans for the second or third time without a valid reason, it’s possible that you’re not a priority to him. Canceling plans just before a date, without a good excuse, doesn’t set a good tone.
If, however, he has a good reason for canceling, is apologetic, and tries to reschedule, it’s definitely worth giving him a second chance. Sometimes, life happens.
Research suggests that it takes anywhere between one and three months, on average, before someone makes the relationship ‘official’. If you’ve been dating for a while and your partner seems to avoid labeling what you are, you might want to have a conversation about where they see things headed.
Perhaps, it simply hasn’t crossed their mind to formally ask you out. Or, maybe, you’re on different pages about what you want.
If making the relationship official is important to you, let them know. This way you’ll be able to gauge what they want as well – either he’ll run or he’ll ask you then and there.
If he behaves differently in public than the way he behaves at home or in private, it’s not a good sign. He might be shy to show massive amounts of affection in public, which is normal, but if he shows zero affection in front of others it’s a red flag.
It’s likely that he might be trying to hide the relationship, which will probably leave you feeling like you’re just an option.
In the early stages of dating both partners should be going out of their way to try and make a good impression on each other. If you’ve had a great date or two and then he suddenly stops putting in effort or only invites you around for Netflix and chill sessions, he’s either no longer feeling it or he wants something casual.
When you’re in an intimate relationship with someone who doesn’t open up emotionally it may feel like things are stagnating. If you’re the only one opening up and being vulnerable in the relationship you might want to question why. Why is he holding back?
If you’ve just started dating and your sex life has gone from hot and steamy to dull and non-existent in a matter of days, it could be a sign that something is up.
If there’s good chemistry between the two of you, you’ll hardly be able to keep your hands off of each other. This early phase of dating, called the honeymoon phase, generally lasts between six months and two years. Couples in the honeymoon phase will usually have an exciting sex life.
If your sex life has suddenly experienced a massive dip, you might be left feeling disconcerted and unsure of where you stand with your partner.
Keep in mind, a drop in libido can be the result of many different factors including stress, different medications, a lack of sleep, or a poor mental state. Communicating your observations/concerns with your partner may help you get to the bottom of these issues.
If you’re the one initiating contact and hinting at going on dates most of the time it might be a sign that he’s got mixed emotions about whether or not he wants to date you. Give him some time and space and see if he suggests hanging out. If not, move on.
If he flirts with you and hangs out with you regularly but is still in communication with his ex, it’s a mixed signal that’s sure to leave you feeling confused and uncertain about things. It can be especially confusing if he relies on his ex for emotional support or confides in them.
Being friends with an ex isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Perhaps, he’s genuinely moved on but the two of them have a good friendship. If, however, the way he communicates with his ex makes you feel uncomfortable, I would suggest raising the issue with him and listening to his side of the story.
All relationships experience ups and downs. It’s a normal part of any successful relationship. If your partner only seems to be present when things are good but disappears, physically or emotionally, when things get tough, you may want to question your partner’s behavior.
Emotional consistency is an important part of any relationship. If your partner truly cares about you and your well-being, they will be present when you need them or when the relationship needs work.
Emotional inconsistency is a classic mixed signal that you’re likely to find when someone lacks emotional maturity, or they aren’t 100 percent invested in the relationship.
This is another one of the common mixed signals you’re likely to come across when he’s playing games… he’s noncommittal but displays jealous behavior when you as much as talk to another male (cue eye-roll).
Being upfront and honest from the get-go about what you’re looking for may help you avoid this sort of behavior. Let him know that you aren’t into playing games and what it is you’re looking for. If he still displays the same behavior, even after talking to him about your expectations, move on.
Talk is cheap. If he says he wants to see you but doesn’t make the time and effort to, chances are he’s not that serious about the relationship. People will always make time for things that are important to them.
Don’t feel despondent, these mixed signals might have nothing to do with you. He might be genuinely busy. He might still be into an ex. Or, he might be confused about what he wants at this point.
This mixed signal is also commonly referred to as ‘ghosting’. In short, ghosting is a way of saying “no” without having to say it. It’s a way of slowly disappearing off of the dating scene or out of someone’s life without explaining why.
People usually ghost someone because they feel it’s a less hurtful way of breaking up with a person, or because they’re afraid of voicing their true feelings.
If you’ve been ghosted by a potential partner you might feel rejected and disappointed. The quickest way to move on in this instance is by accepting that you might not receive the closure or explanation you hoped for. You might also want to consider sending a short text explaining that you feel you deserve better and are moving on.
Adults with an avoidant attachment style generally avoid developing any sort of emotional or physical intimacy with people, usually due to their pasts. As a result, they struggle to form healthy relationships.
Relationships with avoidant type individuals rarely become deep and intimate. People with this attachment style will usually seek to end a relationship as soon as they feel things are becoming too serious.
Communication in any relationship is key. I highly suggest communicating what you’re looking for in a relationship from the start. This way you’re more likely to find someone with the same values and needs as you have.
If you enter a new relationship without talking about your wants and needs you run the risk of falling for someone incompatible. This is when you’re more likely to come across mixed messages and red flags.
Setting healthy boundaries in any relationship demonstrates your self-worth. It shows your potential partner that you won’t tolerate being messed around. If you feel your partner is overstepping boundaries let them know by communicating with them. It’s also important that there are consequences should the same behavior occur more than a couple of times.
Unfortunately, ongoing mixed signals can mean you and your partner aren’t on the same page. Knowing when to walk away is essential in prioritizing your self-worth and protecting your own feelings, as difficult as it may be.
Walking away from an unhealthy relationship might pave the way to a happier, healthier kind of love in the future.
First and foremost, before diving into any relationship, it’s important to figure out who you are and what you want.
Entering a relationship when you’re confident enough to be your true self and express your true desires means you’re less likely to get messed around and find someone who wants what you want. You’re also more likely to find someone who loves you for who you are.
Jumping to conclusions can be dangerous, especially in the early days of dating when you’re still getting to know someone. Give the situation time to unfold and see what comes of it. If you’re still unhappy with the way something is, communicate.
If you receive mixed signals time and time again, even after having a talk with your potential partner, I would suggest walking away. Mixed signals signify that he needs time to iron things out and figure out what he really wants. Make yourself a priority in your life and leave if a relationship isn’t making you happy and adding value to your life.
He might like you but be strapped for time. He might like you but still have lingering feelings for an ex. Or, he might like you but foresee problems in the future. You might receive mixed messages for several reasons, regardless of whether or not someone likes you.
Decoding mixed signals is difficult. Mixed signals don’t necessarily mean someone is not interested, perhaps not interested enough, though. Mixed signals may be apparent when someone is interested but they have other things on their mind that are preventing them from getting closer to you.
If commitment and consistency are what you’re looking for, someone sending out mixed signals might not be the right match for you.
If you’re looking for a serious relationship, mixed signals are a red flag. It generally is an indicator that a person isn’t sure about you or what they want. It can also be an indicator that a person is playing games or has a problematic attachment style. All of which won’t make for a happy union in the long run. Unless, of course, they dramatically change their behavior once you raise these concerns with them.
Decoding mixed signals can feel exhausting at the best of times. It’s important to remember that often these mixed signals have nothing to do with you, they’re merely a reflection of someone else’s emotional state.
In order to try and avoid receiving mixed signals from a guy, communicate what it is you’re looking for in a relationship and be brave enough to walk away if the two of you aren’t on the same page.
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