Wondering why guys are so confusing? What does it mean when he flirts then backs off?
If you feel like you’re getting mixed messages from a guy you’re interested in, then you’ve come to the right place.
There’s almost nothing more frustrating than wondering if someone likes you and not knowing how to read their mixed signals.
OK, let’s cut right to the chase here … there is no such thing as mixed messages. And if you’re getting “mixed messages,” the message is clear: he doesn’t like you the way you were hoping.
Like I always say, if you have to ask, you already know the answer. But it can’t be that simple, right? If it were, then why is it so confusing?
Take The Quiz: Is He Losing Interest?
How Do “Mixed Messages” Happen?
Here’s how these “mixed message” scenarios end up happening so often. A guy meets a girl and he thinks she’s attractive and cool and wants to get to know her a little more.
She’s fun to talk to and he enjoys hanging out with her, but he can kind of take her or leave her. He’s open to exploring and seeing where things go, but he isn’t gripped by a feeling of, “I’ve gotta make her mine!”
So they have some interactions and in time he realizes he just doesn’t like her enough to pursue a relationship. This is where the mixed feelings about someone end up happening.
He’s still being nice and sweet to her so she holds out hope that a relationship is possible. After all, why would he still be hanging around if he wasn’t interested?
Well, for whatever reason he’s just not interested enough to make the effort and give it a real shot. It could be that she doesn’t have certain qualities he’s looking for in a girlfriend or he realizes his interest in her was fleeting and is fine with just being friends.
Either she will waste her time analyzing his behavior and trying to figure out how he feels, or she will beat herself up, wondering what she did wrong and why she’s not good enough.
Or she might settle for a friends-with-benefits type of situation or, even worse, a non-relationship where she acts like his girlfriend even though she isn’t, in the hope that he’ll come around once he sees how amazing she is.
(Spoiler alert: he won’t)
Now she’s at the point where she’s just spinning her wheels trying to figure him out like he’s a puzzle to solve. She’s thinking “If only I could solve these confusing signs, I’ll unlock a relationship with him…”
The more she invests emotionally in him, the more her sense of self-worth will become entangled in his opinion of her. If he’s nice and affectionate, she’ll feel worthy and like she’s doing everything right.
On the other hand, if he’s cold and distant, she’s suddenly gotten it in her head that she’s worthless and screwing things up. This leads to inauthentic behavior where she’s trying on different acts to morph herself into what she thinks he wants so that she can win him over.
It feels like mixed signals, but it’s not. He is acting like a guy who isn’t fully invested because he IS a guy who isn’t fully invested. The more you invest in him, the more you start to care about him and make it a lopsided situation that’s completely unbalanced.
If he doesn’t like you enough to date, he’s not going to put in the effort, make the move, or invest in the relationship you might see as having “together.” The reason it feels confusing is that you’re trying to mold his behavior in a way that fits with how you want things to be.
Now that we’ve broken down how mixed messages come about in the first place, I want to run through a couple of quick examples of mixed signals from guys, the why and how these are really common sticky situations.
1. He Likes You… But Doesn’t Like You Enough
I already touched on this earlier but we’re going to dive into it really quick. He likes you but he just doesn’t like you enough to have a relationship with. This is the #1 most common reason guys send “mixed messages” about wanting (or not wanting) a relationship.
Looking back at my own experiences, the majority of the time I felt a guy was sending mixed messages and wondering what it meant, it was really that he just didn’t like me enough. He liked me a little and liked hanging out but not enough to commit or be in a relationship with me.
If this is the situation you’re facing then there’s very little you can say or do to change his mind. It’s not worth obsessing over because a lot of the times it’s stuff that’s simply out of your control to change. It’s a fundamental mismatch that he’s just not feeling a connection with you.
I’m sure you’ve met guys who were great on paper. They checked all the boxes: nice, smart, good looking, etc. But something was just missing. You just didn’t feel super excited by him or attracted to him and you could intuitively sense this just wasn’t a match.
Chemistry can’t be forced. It’s either there or it’s not and it’s created by factors that are oftentimes beyond our control so it really isn’t personal.
2. He Just Doesn’t Want A Relationship With Anyone
Some guys just don’t want a relationship – but at the same time, a lot of men just move at a different pace in life. I’m sure you’ve seen instances where a guy is single for years until he finally gets to a place in his life where he thinks, “Ok, I’m ready to settle down now”.
Most women (and I’m speaking in broad generalities here), can make room for a relationship in their lives no matter what’s going on. Guys, on the other hand, tend to want everything in place before moving on to the next step (in this case, a relationship).
A lot of guys say, “I don’t want a relationship until I’m at this stage in my life” and even the most amazing girl won’t change his mind if he’s not in that headspace yet.
That’s the fact of the matter. Some guys simply don’t want a relationship. But, that’s also a lonely space to be in. So a guy might meet someone; she’s great and fun and he likes hanging out with her.
He doesn’t want to be in a relationship but he also doesn’t want to be alone so he keeps her hanging around without ever really committing and this is where a lot of “mixed messages” come in and confuse the girl.
Now, she’s driving herself up a wall trying to decipher the “hidden meaning” of his signals and wondering what their relationship status is and she’s probably not actually listening to him.
He’s most likely said in some way at least once that he’s not looking for a relationship or he doesn’t want to commit to anyone or he’s not at that place in his life right now.
When a guy says this, it’s not a challenge for you to bend over backward and try to convince him otherwise. He’s not trying to trick you. The answer to this is that when a guy says he doesn’t want a relationship, believe him!
3. Passive Reciprocation
This is a major trap that happens a lot. It usually happens when you do most of the initiating and he just passively accepts your advances.
Maybe you’re always the first to text or call him. You suggest things to do together. You’re the one putting in the effort to make plans, etc. He always responds – and he’s really nice when he responds! He shows up, he’s a gentleman.
But if you’re not doing the reaching out, he’s not doing it either. You find yourself always being the one to initiate things. And it’s so confusing because he always seems game and up for whatever you put out there, right? Talk about mixed messages!
What’s really going on is he’s simply being polite. He’s agreeing to things because he likes you enough to spend time with you but doesn’t like you enough (remember point #1) to initiate anything or take charge because he’s ultimately not interested in dating you.
He likes you a little bit and enjoys hanging out but he’s not making any moves on his own because he just simply doesn’t like you a lot. If he was really into you, he would be making at least half the effort (if not a whole lot more) to see you and spend time together going on real, legitimate dates.
The best way to assess this is to pull back and see how he responds. If you feel like you’re getting mixed messages and doing all the work, just relax for a while and see if he reaches out or makes the effort. If not, you have a clear answer.
4. He’s Just A Flirty Guy
This last point really applies to a guy you’re not dating. Maybe you’re just friends or even acquaintances but you’re wondering if there’s something more there. If there’s all this flirting happening and yet nothing else going on under the surface, it’s not mixed messages. He’s just a flirt.
Some guys out there just have flirty personalities. They’re charming, charismatic, and make you feel great … but they have that effect on everyone. It’s just their personality no matter who they’re talking to.
I used to know a guy just like this and you wouldn’t believe the wake of confusion he left in his path with any woman he interacted with. He was so charming and flirty that it was very easy to mistake it for something much more than that.
If you feel like he’s in deep and flirting with you, take a step back and look at how he interacts with everyone else in his life. Is he treating you differently?
Also, the way to know if he’s actually flirting is whether something comes of it. Meaning, he takes the next step and gets your number or asks you out. Flirting in and of itself is meaningless. Real flirting is a means to an end, not an end itself.
So here you have my breakdown about the truth of “mixed messages” and the 4 most common situations they spring out of. I hope this shed some light on your situation so that you don’t waste your time trying to analyze a guy’s behavior when the answer is right in front of you.
Speaking of confusing male behavior, ever wonder why guys pull away? And do you know how to respond when it happens? If not, read this next: If He’s Pulling Away, Do This...
Also, I know how confusing it can be to figure out how he feels and to know what truly inspires a man to commit. Read this for answers: The #1 Things Men Desire in a Woman