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“I want to be with you all the time!” – the person says, and on the same evening, instead of appointing you a date, he meets with his friends. Or in private he declares his sympathy and offers to be together, and in the presence of other people he introduces you as his friend or girlfriend. If this happens, then the partner is sending you mixed signals.
What are mixed signals and what are they
These are any conflicting and inconsistent messages. For example, when words and actions diverge, or when a partner says one thing, but his intonations and facial expressions scream about something completely different. Here are some examples of such messages.
The partner is in no hurry to call the relationship a relationship
You date for a while: go to cafes and movies, hold hands, kiss, have sex. But here’s the catch: you already call your new crush your boyfriend or girlfriend and have told your friends about the relationship. But she is in no hurry to indicate your status and does not seem to consider you a couple. If someone asks about your communication, the person may even say that you are just friends.
You are being rolled on an emotional swing
Today everything is fine: a romantic evening, tenderness, warm words, fabulous promises. And tomorrow the situation changes dramatically: a person behaves aloof, gives cold monosyllabic answers, or generally disappears from the radar for a while.
Partner continues to flirt with others
You seem to be together, and the relationship was not conceived as open. But your partner behaves as if he is still in search: flirting with others, looking for new acquaintances, not in a hurry to remove the profile from Tinder.
You are hidden from friends and family
Are you sure that you are in a serious relationship? But friends and relatives of your passion do not even know about your existence.
You are planning a future together, but nothing happens
The partner talks about the wedding and children. Or maybe he expresses a desire to move in together or go on vacation together. But words remain words: no one is looking for an apartment, no one turns to wedding organizers, no one chooses a suitable tour. And so it is repeated from time to time.
The partner says that he will change for you, but does not even try to do it
He promises that he will stop drinking, smoking and swearing, that he will play less consoles, get a normal job, and solve health problems. But things are still there.
Man talking to ex
Moreover, this communication is not episodic, but quite dense. Constant messaging, phone calls, maybe even meetings.
Partner does not show feelings in public
Doesn’t kiss you, doesn’t hug you, doesn’t even take your hand. From the outside, you look like just friends or buddies, nothing more.
Why such messages are sent and how to interpret them
Mixed messages can make a relationship very confusing. They make you pretty nervous and spend more than one hour trying to figure out what your partner means. Maybe everything is very bad and he is not interested in you? Or are you being manipulated? What if you’re just kidding yourself and the person didn’t really mean anything terrible?
Here lies the main difficulty: mixed signals can mean anything. There is no dictionary that will help you find the only correct interpretation of each action. But psychologists allocate several reasons for this behaviour.
Everything is really bad
Your partner has no feelings for you. Or he uses you as a fallback until he finds someone more suitable. Or maybe the truth is manipulating you, playing with your feelings in order to bind you to itself and pull you deeper into an abusive relationship. None of these scenarios can be ruled out.
Not everyone knows how to express their feelings in an accessible way.
Or they are shy. And the partner may also be afraid that openness will make him too vulnerable. It is for these reasons that he can be overly restrained or even cold.
The Internet distorts communication
If we see in front of us not a living person, but only letters on the screen, it can be difficult to understand what the interlocutor really means. A real scope for misunderstandings and erroneous interpretations.
So you propose a meeting, and the answer comes to you: “It won’t work: a lot of work.” What is rudeness and indifference? Or is the person really very busy and unable to write large detailed messages?
Another situation. You write long affectionate messages with a bunch of emoticons, joke, send funny stickers. And they answer you sparingly: the messages are short and only to the point, without a single bracket or emoji. Is this an innate restraint or a sign that you are not interested in a person? Without seeing the facial expressions of the interlocutor, without hearing his intonations, it is almost impossible to understand this.
It’s all about attachment
By opinion psychologists Cindy Hazan and Phillip Shaver, attachment is formed in our childhood under the influence of loved ones. Already in adulthood, her type determines how we will build relationships.
Avoidant attachment is one of the reasons why a person is in no hurry to express his feelings, hides, pushes away those he loves, sends conflicting messages to them. Such people are distrustful and afraid of close relationships.
What to do if you can’t decipher your partner’s signals
There is no universal recipe here. The only way to find out what a person means is to talk to him. Even if he avoids a direct answer, his reaction will help you understand what he has in mind.
- Talk about your feelings and concerns. Describe the situation, explain what worries you and why.
- Don’t attack or blame, don’t jump to conclusions. Use I-messages: “When you’re texting an ex, I’m afraid you still have feelings and feel unwanted.”
- Listen carefully to the other side. Events may develop in different ways. Perhaps the person will go to an open dialogue and explain what his behavior means. This is definitely a good sign: both of you are ready to resolve conflicts and are not going to hush up problems. Or maybe he will attack you, try to move the arrows, show aggression. Or he will assure you that everything seemed to you and that you yourself came up with something there. These are all warning signs: perhaps the person is prone to emotional abuse.
- Be honest with yourself and with others. Sometimes a partner behaves inconsistently, because he cannot understand you and your attitude towards him. For example, if you are trying to show only your best side or trying to keep your distance. Mutual honesty will help make relationships closer and communication clearer.
Have you ever been in a situation where a loved one sent you mixed signals? Share stories in the comments.