Mixed Signals In Dating: Many Lessons To Learn


He loves me. He love me not. How can you tell?

Dear Singles Coach:

If a man treats you like a queen but has a "friend" (he never calls her a girl friend) that he says he is not committed to, should I run? 

He seems wonderful and has helped me tremendously in the last two years, but his signals are very confusing. When I am around him, he is attentive, affectionate (hugs and brief lip kisses) and has done a lot of nice things for me in the last year. All things I was missing in my marriage. I feel like he is a soulmate.

He invited me and my brother and sister, who were in town, to go to a concert with him and a "friend." Turns out his so called "friend" was his girlfriend, much to my surprise. At the concert, he sat beside me and told me he really missed me, as we haven't been seeing each other as often.

I quit seeing him because of my growing feelings for him and knowing he had a girlfriend. I'm confused at his mixed messages. One thing I didn't do in my last marriage was communicate. There's a part of me that wants to talk with him but another that says I should just stay away and move on with my life. The last time this happened to me, I shut down my heart and ended up in a safe marriage. I don't want to do that again either but I feel like that's what might happen. Help me understand this!

— Viv


Dear Viv,

Thank you for sharing your story because we can all learn from it. First, if you keep doing what you've always done (not communicating with men) then you'll keep getting what you've always gotten (dead end relationships). It's a choice. If you want something new (fully alive, vibrant relationships), do something new. View this guy as an opportunity to practice and build some emotional muscle. Later, I'll give you the basic steps.

There are many valuable lessons in Viv's question — common mistakes that we make in the dating world. Let's take them apart one by one.

Making assumptions about another person's thoughts and feelings without checking it out. This is a biggie. Assuming, in Viv's case, that just because a guy is affectionate and attentive, it means he wants a romantic relationship with you. There are so many exceptions to this assumption. It's impossible to list them all, but here are a few:

  • His primary relationship doesn't meet all his needs so he gets some of them met with girl "friends."
  • Friends, to him, includes hugging and brief kisses.
  • He's attracted to you on more than a friendship level but still committed to his primary relationship.
  • He's not at all attracted to you romantically and so he feels safe being affectionate.
  • You're his "back up girlfriend" — the woman he can fall back to if his primary relationship doesn't work out.

Bottom line, you don't know what someone is thinking and feeling until you check it out. The only way to do that is to speak up about your confusion and ask questions. Date Lines gives you every tool you could ever need to open up communication in a relationship. 

Nina Atwood, M.Ed., LPC, is a nationally known psychotherapist, author of five self-help books and frequent expert media guest. Read Nina's transformational books for women: Temptations of the Single Girl: The Ten Dating Traps You Must Avoid and for men: Date Like a CEO: Leadership in Life and Love for Men. To successfully date online, get Nina's $0.99 cent eBook Internet Dating for the Savvy Single. Get loads of free advice at www.singlescoach.com.

This article was originally published at singlescoach.com. Reprinted with permission from the author.