The Unedited Truth About Mixed Messages And What You Can Actually Do About Them


Ever make yourself dizzy trying to decipher a man’s mixed messages? Good, you’re in the right place and this is the article for you.

Here’s the thing about mixed messages. They don’t actually exist, they are completely a female creation.

It’s not that guys send mixed signals, it’s that we hone in on the signals we want to receive, and ignore everything else. A puzzle can mean anything when you look at the individual pieces. But they are meaningless when pulled apart. You need to look at the full picture.

“Mixed messages” happen when your interpretation of the individual piece doesn’t align with what the picture is ultimately supposed to look like.

When you like a guy, you obviously want him to like you back. This want is so strong it colors over everything and you can’t see clearly. You invent your own narrative, one where he really does like you, he’s just throwing mixed signals out there because he’s confused … because his ex-girlfriend was a nightmare … because his parents had a messy divorce … because his dog died recently. You come up with any excuse to explain away why he’s being so confusing, but really, he’s being crystal clear…

Allow me to illustrate with a personal story.

Years ago I met a really awesome guy. I was out for drinks with a friend and some of her guy friends came to meet up and he was one of them. He was tall, hot, hilarious, and we hit it off instantly.

Our eyes remained fixed and locked the entire night, the conversation flowed effortlessly, and I had that magical bubbly feeling brewing inside, the one that says something special is happening. He got my number and we stayed in frequent contact via text and G-chat. And then he started calling me like just to talk! What guy actually calls a girl unless he’s really into her?

We flirted heavily anytime we talked and he made it clear he found me attractive and that he liked a lot about me.

Our scheduled were pretty hectic so hanging out one-on-one was tricky. He also lived in NJ, while I was in NYC, and while it’s not so far, it’s just so far. The not being able to meet up was just as much my fault as it was his so I didn’t read too deeply into it. But there was one other thing…

He would talk to me about other girls he was dating. The first time he called me for girl advice I felt like I had been sucker punched. What??? He was just so casual and nonchalant about it. And I was baffled. But I thought I was the girl you wanted to be dating! (I didn’t actually say this, but my mind was screaming it). But then I realized what was happening … he’s just trying to make me jealous!!

He’s into me but he doesn’t know how I feel about him, and this is how he’s trying to find out! He’s clearly threatened by me or something and he needs to show me what a stud he is by telling me about all these other girls who want him. Ha! I’m onto his game and I’m not falling for it!

Then he started asking me to come over to his place for sleepovers, which he assured me would remain “platonic.” Yeah right, I think. He obviously wants me so bad that he’s afraid to just come right out and ask me on a date, so he’s using this “platonic sleepover” excuse to gauge my level of interest and then make his move. Wow, he’s just so transparent!

Whenever he would make this suggestion, I would counter by saying maybe we should grab a drink instead, somewhere equidistant to both of us. And he would always come up with an excuse as to why that won’t work, and I didn’t really stop and think about how little sense that made.

These exchanges occur almost daily until he’s at the point of practically begging me to come over to his house for a sleepover. “It’ll be so much fun, I’ll cook you dinner, we’ll watch a movie, and you can even sleep in my spare bedroom.” But no, no, no, I will not relent. I see the game he’s playing and I will not relinquish my power here.

But then I can’t deal anymore. The mixed messages are driving me crazy. He’s talking to me about girls he’s dating one minute and begging to see me the next. I need to know what’s what. So I make the journey to NJ to hang out at his house just to see what the deal is with this guy.

We eat, we hang out, we talk, and whaddya know, he makes a move. We make out for a bit and before things really start taking off, I warn him that there is no way I’m going to have sex with him (didn’t want to send him any “mixed signals” there). We kiss a little more and then he informs me that I actually can’t sleep over after all because he has to be up super early in the morning. Oh. My. God. I did not let myself fall for this.

So I leave, feeling like an absolute idiot. But also so confused. He really seemed like he liked me, this just made no sense. Why are men so confusing?

A few days later he messages me saying he had a great time hanging out with me but doesn’t think we can “hook up” again because things are starting to get serious with the girl he’s seeing (a girl he had spoken to me about a lot, mind you), and he doesn’t think it would be fair to her.

At first, I felt deceived and duped and betrayed. How could he? And as you read this, you’re probably on my side. You’re probably thinking, what a scumbag! How could he do that?

And I don’t blame you because it doesn’t look so good. (Or maybe you’re thinking, “wow, this girl is an idiot,” and to that, I would agree. But that’s what your early twenties are for!) But here’s the thing. He never lied to me or deceived me. I deceived myself.

All along he treated me like a friend that he wanted to have sex with. He never made it anything more.  I’m the one who did because I liked him! He couldn’t have been any more clear or obvious about his intentions.

Once it hit me over the head, I couldn’t even be angry anymore. Embarrassed, yes. But angry, no.

That fact is, he did like me as a person and he did find me attractive, but he just didn’t want to be in a relationship with me and that’s totally fine! The reason it was hard to see if because I had put him in the potential boyfriend category. I was not in his potential girlfriend category, though, and this is why it seemed like he was sending me “mixed messages.”

He and I remained really good friends, and for a time he was actually one of my best friends. We talked every day about everything … and for years he kept trying to turn our relationship into more of a “friends with benefits” situation (never happened).

I’ve been there for him through all of his many relationships, and he’s been there for me as I settled down, got married, and started making babies, so it’s been a wonderful almost decade-long friendship. But I digress…

The point is: There are no mixed messages! It’s not a thing. It doesn’t exist. Men are usually completely clear and transparent about their intentions. What’s the issue then? We ignore what we don’t want to see.

I’ve gotten variations of this message from readers and my friends more times than I can count: “I’m SO confused! I’ve been seeing this guy on and off for a while now. I really like him, we have fun together, we connect, and the sex is mind-blowing. But he says he doesn’t want to be “official.” But he still contacts me all the time and he introduced me to his sister and his best friend and he said I’m the hottest girl he’s ever met and he took me out to brunch and he always texts me first and he is so affectionate with me so clearly it’s not just a booty call. What does it all mean????”

It means he likes hanging out with you and having sex with you but he doesn’t like you enough to want to be with you. When a guy wants to be with you, it’s clear and obvious. He doesn’t say he can’t be in a relationship or doesn’t believe in relationships or likes things the way they are. He doesn’t set you free to go and date around. He doesn’t leave a crack of open space for someone to swoop in and snatch you up. That’s just not how it goes.

If he wanted to be with you, he would be with you. If he wants to be with you but he can’t for significant reasons, then that’s also really not your problem because there’s nothing you can do about it.

When a guy is sending confusing signals it means one thing: he’s somewhat interested…. but not enough. And in these cases, nothing you say or do will change that. You cannot convince someone to want you, and no amount of wanting them will make them feel the same. If he was iffy about you from the start, then nothing you said or did caused the relationship to end….there just wasn’t enough there, to begin with.

If you need to analyze his behavior, if you obsess over it, if you gather up your tribunal of girlfriends to figure out how he feels … then you know how he feels. You just don’t want to admit it because it’s painful.

The second you find yourself trying to decipher all his mixed messages, immediately stop yourself and remember that mixed messages are one very loud and clear message: he doesn’t want to be with you.

That’s all you need to know!