Decoding Mixed Signals From A Guy: 9 Examples + What To Do

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You think everything is going great, you’re really starting to like the guy, and then you’re left on ‘read.’

What does it mean? The answer is, none of us really know – not even him sometimes.

The simple truth is, mixed signals from a guy could mean a whole number of things. But the most important thing to remember and hardest to do, is not to jump to conclusions before you have the facts.

Assuming you know what’s going on in their head just because they haven’t replied to your last message for a few hours is the easiest way to end a relationship before it’s properly started.

Below are some more of the most common mixed signals you’ll face in the dating scene and how best to handle them.

1. He’s acting hot and cold.

One minute he’s all over you and the next you can barely pin him down.

It’s frustrating when you don’t know where you stand and it’s natural to want to confront him or pull away. But don’t be dragged into playing mind games by not replying to his texts or calls and ending things before you’ve given them a chance.

If you’ve just started dating a guy, remember to give things time to develop. In reality, you’re two relative strangers just getting to know each other and this won’t happen overnight.

Everyone goes about things differently and maybe he’s just working out how he feels about you by taking things slow.

In these early days, it’s okay to give him the benefit of the doubt as you both work out how you feel. But if he’s stringing you on and you’re finding yourself more booty call than beau, it’s time to cut your losses and move on.

2. He’s not affectionate in public.

Some guys avoid showing affection in public, but are totally different behind closed doors.

As much as you don’t want to take it personally, it’s hard not to when it’s someone you like.

The issue probably isn’t you. Some men just don’t like public displays of affection. It doesn’t mean their feelings for you aren’t sincere, just that they could be shy or the idea of being openly affectionate isn’t something they’re used to.

If you feel like you need more from them, tell them. Men aren’t mind readers and if you aren’t getting what you need from him, you need to help him out by communicating this with him.

Take the time to understand his character and work out if these really are mixed signals or if he just does things differently to the way you do them.

3. He doesn’t want to put a label on it.

When you’ve been dating a guy for a little while and things seem to be going well, the inevitable ‘what are we’ chat starts weighing on your mind.

You’re trying to decide when to bring it up, but at the same time, wondering why they haven’t already. It’s then that you start overthinking, convincing yourself something’s wrong.

It’s even worse if, when you bring up the ‘what are we’ conversation, you get a less than enthusiastic answer.

If he tells you he doesn’t want to put a label on it or wants to ‘see where things go,’ you start to think you’ve read the signs all wrong.

But don’t despair. Yes, it might seem like he’s giving you mixed signals, but he could just need longer than you to get used to the idea of a relationship.

He might have been hurt in the past and be wary of getting hurt again. Whatever it is, he may have perfectly valid reasons for wanting to take things at a slower pace.

Try taking the conversation in steps. Suggest exclusivity first and see how he responds. If you need the label of boyfriend and girlfriend to feel secure, talk to him about it and see how you can both find a way to be comfortable around the subject.

But be careful not to give into his preferences for the sake of your own. You deserve the respect of being openly acknowledged as his partner. If he can’t find a way to give that to you soon, then he doesn’t deserve you.

4. He won’t open up.

It’s confusing if he’s is asking one thing from you and not giving back the same. Expecting you to be open and transparent with him but keeping his own emotional barrier up is a classic mixed signal we have to navigate. 

The fact that he wants to get to know more about you shows an interest and willingness to explore this idea of vulnerability with each other. He might just not be sure how to go about it himself.

If he is asking a lot of you emotionally, don’t feel pressured into sharing anything you’re not comfortable with, especially if he isn’t giving you the same liberty back.

It doesn’t hurt to bring to his attention in a constructive way that he’s keeping his own barriers up. Often, a little encouragement is all people need. As the trust between you grows, it’s likely his ability to open up will too.

5. You’re left on ‘read.’

Another classic, you text him and to your horror, you’re left waiting for a reply; or worse, left on ‘read.’

We’ve all been told the same things when it comes to dating – don’t be the first to text, don’t reply too quickly or you’ll seem too keen, wait at least 3 days after your first date to message… the advice goes on.

Does any of it work? Most likely not.

It can seem confusing, when you’re mid-text-conversation and they abruptly stop messaging. Or, when you have what you think is a great date and have to wait days to hear from them again.

But don’t read too much into it. If you haven’t heard from them right away, they could just be, you know, busy?

It’s ok to get on with your life and text back when you have the time. Don’t sit watching your phone waiting for a reply; carry on as normal and let them fit to your schedule.

You’ll know the difference between someone who doesn’t text back right away and someone who isn’t interested.

It’s difficult to really know what anyone means when you’re talking through a screen; an emoji can only communicate so much emotion. Spending time with each other in person is where it really counts.

If you have a great time when you’re together and they make the effort to schedule dates with you, who cares if they aren’t great at replying to messages right away.

6. You don’t see them as much as you’d like.

When you like someone and get on well, it can be hard to understand why you can’t spend more time together.

The more you fall for someone, the more you want to see them. But if he’s always too busy, you might start thinking you’ve read the signs wrong.  

Give it time before calling it quits or confronting him on it. People have their own pace and he may just need more time than you to get used to a relationship.

It can also be a good thing. You need to keep a sense of balance, especially when dating someone new, between spending time with him and making time for your friends and hobbies.

If things become more serious between you, you’ll both find a way to work your relationship into your existing lives. Push things too fast, and you could risk scaring him away.

7. It’s all takeout and sweatpants.

No longer spending hours glamming up before going out to fancy restaurants? Worried that he’s not as into you because he’s stopped bringing you flowers? Welcome to the next stage of dating.

We like to impress when we begin dating someone new. You make an effort to dress up, go to fun places, and treat each other. But just because he’s suggesting Netflix and a takeaway instead of a Michelin star restaurant and the theatre, doesn’t mean he’s not into you any more.

Being comfortable just being yourself when you’re around someone is essential for a relationship to work. You can’t always have a full face of makeup and a new outfit when he sees you.

It’s not mixed signals; it shows that you’re both getting to a place where this could turn into a real relationship, one where you are happy to be authentically yourself.

If you are worried you’re losing the spark too early, don’t wait for him to suggest a solution. Take it on yourself to organize dates, glam up once in a while, and show him you’re not ready for it all to be just Netflix and chill.

8. Your sex drive is in neutral.

He’s gone from hardly being able to keep his hands off you to rolling over at 10pm telling you he’s tired. You’ve even shaved your legs for the occasion and he doesn’t want to hear it.

Going from one extreme to the other can be disconcerting and it’s natural to question if something is wrong and if he’s just not into you any more.

The truth is, for most relationships, the early days are still the most exciting. As good as the sex may be, you’ll never be able to recreate the thrill of getting intimate with each other for the first time.

That’s not the only reason that things might have slowed slightly in the bedroom. He could genuinely be stressed or worried about something and just not be in the headspace for it.

Try to find out if there is anything going on with him that you can help with and be supportive before you start thinking the worst.

9. He cancels on you.

The first time this happens might seem like the end of the world. You thought you had a good thing going and now he’s standing you up.

In reality, it could just mean exactly what he says it does. He genuinely could be stuck at work, have accidentally double booked, or be feeling under the weather.

Give the guy a chance and try not to get upset; instead graciously wait for him to rearrange.

However, there is a problem if he is dragging his heels in setting another date or has cancelled multiple times. Once or twice you can forgive, especially with an apology from him and an effort on his part to rearrange. If it becomes a regular occurrence and he’s not putting in the effort to see you, have some respect for yourself and call it quits.

How to cope with mixed signals.

Hopefully, by now, you should have a better understanding of some of the mixed signals a guy might be sending you. But what should you do about it?

1. Don’t jump to conclusions.

First and foremost, do not jump to a conclusion just because a guy hasn’t text you back for an hour.

Half the problem starts when we make up scenarios in our heads. If you react by sending your own mixed signals, you’re only making the problem worse.

If it’s the first time he’s acted odd, just give it time. It could be something as innocent as him being exhausted or busy with work.

Don’t sit watching your phone, keep busy and make yourself distracted. If he’s still acting strangely and it’s bringing you down, then just be open and honest and ask him if something has changed. You’ll know if he’s worth holding onto or if its time to move on.

2. Communicate.

If you’ve been dating a while and you still aren’t sure where you stand, just ask.

If you need more from the man you’re dating, you need to tell him. Men aren’t mind readers, and he might not realize that you’re feeling ignored or unwanted when he forgets to call or doesn’t make as much effort with dates.

Think of small, constructive changes that would make you feel more secure in your relationship and see if he is open to adopting them.

By communicating in a constructive way rather than reacting negatively, you can help build a more solid relationship going forward. If he isn’t open to making changes, then it’s time to re-evaluate if what you have together is really what you want.

3. Set boundaries with yourself.

To recognize the difference between jumping to conclusions too fast and being strung along by a guy, set yourself some personal boundaries of what you’re willing to put up with before you feel you have to speak to him.

It could be something small to help you through the early days, like deciding that you won’t let yourself get upset if he hasn’t text back for a few hours, but if it’s been a day, then you’ll message to see what’s up.

Maybe don’t start planning your breakup after the first time he has to cancel and rearrange a date, but if he has to do it a second or third time, talk to him about it.

Small personal boundaries will help you to keep a balanced perspective of the situation. They will also serve as a reminder that you should only have to put up with so much and to put your own happiness and mental health first.

4. Know your worth.

If you’re dealing with a man who seems full of mixed signals, the most important thing to hold onto is your own sense of self-worth.

As much as we might jump to conclusions when we don’t hear from them or they’re acting differently, we are just as quick to make excuses for them.

Your self-respect and sense of worth should always be your top priority. You can give a guy a chance to prove you wrong once or twice, but if you’re feeling continually confused or frustrated and it’s bringing you down, he’s just not worth the trouble.

It’s true that if someone likes you, they’ll make the effort. If it’s a struggle just to keep his attention, he’s most likely not that into you.

Remember you deserve more than this, so if he’s not making you happy, it’s time to be strong and walk away.

When you’re dating, it takes time to fully get to know each other. You both deserve a chance to work out if there’s really a future there before you get caught up in something more serious.

What comes across as mixed signals might just be the process of working out how to fit a relationship into your lives and figure out if it’s what you both want.

If you feel like he’s sending you mixed signals, don’t add to the pressure by overthinking them. Instead, see this as a wake-up call to take back control of your thoughts and emotions and stop allowing your happiness to depend on how often he messages or how long you get to spend with him.

Life is too short to be waiting around for a man to make up his mind. But don’t give up too quickly, give each other the time to settle into dating and see if the mixed signals stop as your feelings grow.

Still not sure what to do about the mixed signals you are receiving? Chat online to a relationship expert from Relationship Hero who can help you figure things out. Simply click here to chat.

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