How To Decode Mixed Signals (It's Easier Than You Think)

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He’s hot. Then he’s cold. Then he’s hot again.

It’s enough to drive even the most grounded woman insane.

There are many reasons you might want to decode a man’s signals.

You may have just met the guy but found his communications on and off, and you’re wondering if you should continue to invest.

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How to decode his mixed signals — it's easier than you think

You may have been dating him casually, and want to know what his intentions are.

Or, maybe you’re in a relationship already but are getting a funny feeling about where his head is at.

In any case — knowing what to do pays. You’ll know exactly how he feels and can build the kind of relationship you want — with a guy who wants it too.

We’ve been given the ability to misread situations like never before. Mixed signals today have a different meaning from 5 years ago, which has brought new challenges to the dating realm. The problem isn’t that we’re getting the wrong information — the problem is that we’re getting too much.

For example, he/she doesn’t text you back.

Ten years ago we all said to ourselves “He/She must have gotten tied up at work or been out with friends.”

Now, its crisis stations.

We’ve got an increasing number of impersonal communication forms – all of which are notorious for being misinterpreted – even if you don’t reply!

So with all this static, how do you find out what he’s really feeling?

Even though mixed signals come in many shapes and sizes, there is a very simple rule you can apply for that works in all forms of ‘mixed signals’ situations.

Step 1: Give him one clear, positive signal of your interest.
Step 2: Do nothing further.

That’s it. That’s all you’ve got to do.

It’s scary to give someone a clear signal of your interest these days. Most of us suck at it. It means being that little bit vulnerable (god forbid), opening ourselves up to someone that, ironically, we would love to open up to us.

But it’s courageous to show your interest, and it clears up mixed signals like nobody’s business.

A scared woman will never invest in a man with a clear signal. She’ll be too worried about seeming desperate. “A woman should never chase”, she’ll say.

A needy woman will invest in a man over and over, irrelevant of his response. “I know he’s perfect for me, I just have to show him”, she’ll say.

A strong woman can invest clearly in a man once, giving him a chance to invest back. If he’s silly enough not to, she dials back her investment(s) in him. “I like him, so I’ll give him a clear chance”, she’ll say.

The answer to your mixed signals dilemma is dictated by his response. Does he invest back, or does he not?  It’s really that simple.

What are examples of a clear positive signal? Let’s apply it to some common situations:

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Example One:

You’ve met a guy at work you think is cute. He seems into you on the occasions you get to chat, but it’s been going on for a while now, and you’re finding it hard to tell if he just likes a flirt or has a genuine interest.

Clear positive signal: Next time you chat and the conversation is flowing, you ask him if he’d like to get drinks or coffee outside of work.

Example Two:

A guy asked you out and you went on one amazing date, but he hasn’t followed up for a second. The thing is, he’s still texting regularly; it’s just disjointed, and has now been a week since you met in person. You feel like the energy is starting to dissipate.

Clear positive signal: You send a text saying you enjoyed last week and have (a time 3-5 days from now) free if he wanted to join you for (an activity).

Better yet, give him a call and tell him over the phone.

Example Three:

You’ve been seeing a guy on and off for 8 weeks, sleeping together for most of that time. No mention has been made of exclusivity, but you feel like he may not be seeing other women. Still, he has nights where he seems to disappear and doesn’t respond, so you’re a little suspicious. Other times, he treats you like his girlfriend. You would be interested in moving things forward?

Clear positive signal: You sit him down and have a proper conversation. You let him know that you’d like to know where he’s at (no pressure, just asking) and that you like him and would consider, if he was up for it, being exclusive (that’s your positive signal).

If he’s not keen and is unfazed by the thought of you seeing other men, you have your answer. You’ve given him a “yes”; he’s replied with a “no.” Fair enough. Act accordingly.

Common questions I get relating to this advice:

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What if you make the positive move, ask him out (and the date goes well), but then you hear nothing again and the situation repeats itself?

Dial back your efforts.

Remember — invest in a man who invests in you. You can’t be doing all the heavy lifting for him. Men don’t respect women they don’t have to put in an effort. If you made it clear at the end of the previous date you would like another — and he hasn’t come to the party — don’t ask him out again (the unusual exception might be if he’s really shy!).

What if I’ve already shown a positive signal? I like him. Can I show another?

Unless, again, the guy is really shy, I wouldn’t recommend it. It’s not a good idea to make a habit of doing all the work because you’ll set the tone for your relationships by ending up with men who don’t lift a finger for you. Too many bad relationships (and very few good ones) have started this way.

If you’re absolutely starstruck keen, give it a fortnight before giving him one more chance.

Shouldn’t it always be the guy’s job to ask the girl out?

In an ideal world, perhaps. But men have anxieties, too. Sometimes, you getting the ball rolling is that little nudge he needs to feel safe moving things forward without risk of rejection. A courageous woman can invest in a man and put herself out there to get what she wants. She just respects herself enough not to keep doing it for men who don’t appreciate it.

In summary, mixed signals are easy to handle. It takes you being a little vulnerable and putting yourself out there.

Once you do, anything that isn’t a “yes” constitutes a “no”. If he responds well — congrats! You got the ball rolling. If not, you know you can stop wasting time hoping.

Make a habit of only investing in men who invest back in you. Not only will you foster amazing relationships, but you’ll also naturally weed out every guy who is only half sold on how amazing you are.

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Mark Rosenfield is a dating coach who writes to help women find love within and without. He is the author of Make Him Yours: Beating The Odds Of Modern Dating.

This article was originally published at Thought Catalog. Reprinted with permission from the author.