7 common mixed signals in dating and relationships

Let’s face it. We, as people, have a very difficult time understanding each other, especially when it comes to dating and relationships. Since we see the world through our own unique lenses, based on our story and what we’ve been through, each individual takes in information differently. We’ve all made assumptions and jumped to conclusions. We’ve all exhibited behavior that wasn’t unjustified. We’ve all fallen into mental trenches thinking about what the other person is thinking. Dating and relationships are hard enough even with great communication. Misunderstandings cause us to build on sand. Trust becomes difficult to produce and turns healthy and lasting love into a flipped magnet. Mixed signals leave two people reacting to false information. Add to that our ego and fear of being vulnerable and our dating experience or relationship can go south pretty quickly. And now with digital messaging like texts, social media, dating apps and emails, there is even more room to miscommunicate.

So let’s go through some common mixed signals and see if you can relate to any.

If anything, let these be reminders.

  1. Not responding to texts right away means they are no longer interested in you or something went horribly wrong.

I am totally guilty of falling into this trap. I still struggle with it today. When we don’t get texts back in a quick manner, and by quick I mean on our terms, our mind starts to race and we assume the worst. We start to play things back and wonder what happened, what went wrong, especially if this person is someone you recently met. Then of course you find out the truth: They were in a meeting. They were swamped at work. They forgot their phone. Their ringer was off. And the panic subsides until you send them a text and they don’t respond in your expected time window or their response time has change, and you spiral downward once again.

It’s not the obvious drop off that gets our mind spinning. If their response time goes from minutes to two days, yeah something has changed. Most likely feelings. You may not be happy about it. But you get it. Not giving someone an answer is an answer. But when the inconsistencies are subtle, like minutes turning into hours or the tone and energy has changed, it can drives us nuts. It’s the grays that cause us to spin. So what do you do when you notice a slight delay or change in tone? Don’t jump to conclusions until you get all the information back. Most likely, you’re pulling from your own insecurities or comparing this person’s response time to others in your past. Be patient. You will know. Truth always floats to the top.

I have a friend who will engage in lightning speed text banter for hours, then suddenly go dark and completely ignore a question I asked for days. At first, I was offended (hurt) and questioned our friendship. Without even talking to him or getting the facts, I made a decision to distance myself based on his text time. I thought if he’s not going to give me as much as I give him, why invest in this? I took it very personally. Then I got used to it and learned that that’s just the way he is. Because our in person relationship was great. He’s the same friend. He’s just an inconsistent texter. So I accept that and adjusted. We’re still good friends.

2. If they don’t try to kiss you on the first date, it means they’re not into you.

There are so many reasons why a kiss may not surface on the first date that has nothing to do with you or the chemistry. They may want to kiss you but the timing may be off or the activity doesn’t allow for that moment. For example, if you go hiking during the day on your first date, it’s kinda tough to go in for the kill on a trail. He or she is waiting for the perfect moment because they fear rejection. So if the environment makes it awkward, they’re probably not going to force it. Or maybe kissing on the first date isn’t an option. Maybe they don’t kiss someone until the third or forth date. So then it’s more about their patterns and comfort level and not you. Then there’s the fact that the first date may not ignite fireworks. It may be more of a slow burn. Some don’t feel the attraction until a few dates later. So don’t put so much weight on when the kiss lands. It’s not about when it comes. It’s about how it feels.

3. If they don’t show public affection, it means they’re embarrassed of you.

Many people just aren’t comfortable showing affection in public. It’s not their style. Or maybe it’s a cultural thing. Being Asian, I have never seen my parents show any public affection. Ever. I’m sure part of it has to do with their relationship dynamic. But public affection just isn’t promoted in their culture. They’re not used to it. But I get it. Not getting affection returned can be hurtful and lead to questions. I’m actually very tactile and enjoy public affection. But I’ve learned that many aren’t like me so I don’t take it personally. The bottom line is everyone has their own comfort levels when it comes to public affection. And it may not be tied to how they feel about you.

4. Not wanting to discuss an issue at the time you want means they don’t care.

I used to believe this. It was the fuel of many unwarranted fights. You see, I’m a talker and when there’s an issue, I want to talk about it immediately. It weighs on me if I don’t. And if you don’t want to talk about it, I feel like you don’t care or it’s not important to you. But through my relationships, I’ve learned that many are not wired like me. Many avoid conflict. Not because they want to but maybe they don’t have the tools or it’s how they’re wired due to upbringing. They may not be used to expressing themselves. Usually, people who fall into this category just need some time. They need to think about their thoughts so they’re responding and not reacting. Not everyone is wired like you. Or me. Today, I believe it’s actually healthy to take some time before tackling an issue. Time makes people less reactive. If someone isn’t ready to talk about an issue when you are, it doesn’t mean they don’t care. That being said, they do have to eventually come back to the issue to discuss or they’re avoiding.

5. If they don’t feel like having sex, it means they are not attracted to you anymore.

You would have a hard time convincing me in my twenties but now at 43, I know that not wanting to have sex doesn’t mean your girlfriend isn’t attracted to you. Not everyone wants to have sex all the time. We have long days that leave us mentally and physically exhausted. We have issues with our bodies. We have anxiety. We get headaches. So many of us instantly internalize when our partner shys away from our sexual advance(s). Usually the first thing we believe is that it’s us. They’re not attracted to us anymore. They don’t want to be with us. Or there’s something wrong with the relationship. They’re mad at us. They’re holding onto something. Find out what the real reason is and don’t make a big deal out of it, if it’s not a big deal. Just not being in the mood is enough. Because one day, you won’t be feeling like having sex when your partner wants. You’ll be consumed with life shit or maybe you won’t be feeling good about your body and you will hope your partner understands and doesn’t make it about him or her.

6. If they’re not ready to say I love you when you are, they’re not interested in the relationship anymore.

Many believe saying “I love you” should come after a certain amount of time in a relationship. So they start saying it when they feel like they should instead of when they actually feel it. Then when they don’t get it back, they internalize, thinking it’s them. Or maybe they actually do mean it. Either way, it doesn’t matter. An unreturned “I love you” doesn’t necessarily mean your partner is no longer interested in you. The thing about “I love yous” is it means different things to different people. For some, it’s an extremely big deal. They’ve only said it once or twice in their life. For others, it’s security. But here’s the bottom line. Would you rather they say it back because they mean it or because they feel like they have to? Give them space. This means don’t tie how they feel about you to when they say it. You say it when you mean it and allow them to say it when they do.

7. If they treat waiters, the valet, busboys, and people in the service business like shit but treat you well, it means they’re really an asshole.

No, this one’s true.

  • Angry

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