Consult with Krystal – Getting Mixed Signals From a Guy
I’m getting mixed signals from a guy I’m dating. I’m hoping you can help clarify the situation for me. I’ve asked my friends what they think but I’m still confused. I met this guy a couple of months ago on campus. We text all the time. He often tells me how much he likes me. Once, late at night, he even told me I’m the “perfect” woman!
During this time, we’ve only hung out a few times. We have gone to a few of the same parties but when we’re there he’s really distracted by his friends. I’ve told him that I respect his friend time but I am hoping to get more time with him myself. He told me that he wants to hang out too and wants to plan a “special” first date.
But when I tried to pin down a time for this, he said he’ll figure it out and text me back. This was two weeks ago with no word on our date. He’s still sending me texts in the morning and all day long so I don’t know what’s going on. I haven’t brought up the date again because I don’t want to be too pushy. He once told me his ex was “controlling” and that’s the last thing I want to be!
I can imagine having a controlling ex was awful. I’m trying to give him his space. But the more we talk, the more into him I feel. I know he likes me too so I don’t get why he hasn’t scheduled our date! Why do you think he hasn’t done this? Should I give him more time? Do you think he does like me? Or what?
-Getting mixed signals
Mixed signals from a guy (or anyone) are confusing
I completely understand why you are confused about the situation with this guy. On one hand, it sounds like he really likes you and makes a lot of time to text you. Yet, at the same time, when you’re in person he focused on his friends. He also hasn’t scheduled a date with you. But then again, he has said he wants a “special” date with you and you’re “perfect.” This is very romantic, intense language! And still, no date!
This is totally confusing behavior. Before I answer your question, I want to honor how awesome it is you have already spoken up to him. You were respectful about his friend time while sharing you’d like more time with him. That was so healthy to be direct with him about what you want. It takes a lot of courage to do that!
Figuring out his intentions
You say you and he are texting “all the time.” When he texts you, it sounds like he’s very complimentary and attentive. This must feel really nice and exciting! Yet, his follow through is lacking. Of course, you’re left wondering why he hasn’t followed up yet to go on a date. It can be so easy to wonder if he’s too busy, dating someone else, scared, or just a narcissist. While I appreciate this curiosity, ultimately, it is not healthy for you, me, or your friends to theorize why he’s not hanging out with you.
Yet one thing I want to throw out there is sometimes people text others a lot, in a very complimentary way, because they like the attention. It feels good to be validated and to see those notifications on our phone. This is immature behavior and different from what you may have heard of as “lovebombing.” The latter is when a person showers a person with attention, compliments, and gifts early to create a fantasy. This fantasy of the relationship, and the person, then leaves people stuck in emotionally abusive relationships. (By the way, while he claims his ex was “controlling” as a couples therapist I’ve learned that truth is often somewhere in the middle of what people perceive in a relationship.)
Empathizing with him
I think your ability to empathize with the fact he had a “controlling” ex is a beautiful quality. It’s really kind to not want to pressure him given his past experience. Yet, sometimes, when a person is as empathic as you they sometimes forget to give themselves empathy. You may be doing this in part when you are trying to minimize your desire to make this relationship more meaningful by taking it offline.
My biggest question to you is: Do you feel respected by his mixed signals? If not, this makes sense. It is disrespectful to have your actions not align with your words! Now, to feel respected, what would you need? Are you able to let him know this like maybe your need to schedule that date? If he still doesn’t follow through please consider how you’d like to proceed in a way that makes you feel self-respect.
Actions speak louder than words
The reality, for a fact, is that he is saying you’re “perfect” but his actions show a lack of interest. This hurts. But when we like someone, it can be so easy to want to believe their words more than their actions. There is no shame in this. Furthermore, if you grew up in a family that didn’t compliment you or was, worse, critical of you, these kind words genuinely do feel like I big deal.
Ultimately, we don’t know why he’s not following through. What we do know, for a fact, is his words aren’t backed up by his actions. Another fact is that actions speak louder than words because it’s so much easier to talk than to show up.
Getting rid of the confusion
When a person is second-guessing themselves, or a situation, the best way to eliminate confusion is to look at reality. This means, looking at the facts of the situation as objectively as possible. One fact is that his words and actions don’t line up. Another fact is that thus far he is proving he is not able to be a healthy partner to you.
In a healthy relationship, people are consistent and congruent. Being congruent means they say what they mean and mean what they say. When a person is consistent, and congruent, this leaves no room for confusion. It is true when they say that when a person is right for you (and healthy!), you don’t have to second guess it. While all relationships have hardships and difficulties, in a healthy partnership, you don’t have to wonder how they really feel about you.
Listen to yourself
Take some time to think about what you really need. If this situation were to continue like this, indefinitely, would that work for you? How do you feel giving some of your time away, every day, texting someone who is incongruent? At the end of the day, if you want a relationship, is it in your best interest to prioritize words over actions?
It is so important to listen to yourself – your needs and your intuition – rather than prioritizing empathy for him. This may sound harsh but I want you to have your happiest life possible. Personally, 11 years of my life were spent in a dead-end on-again, off-again relationship just because I valued words over actions. I want to support you in not losing even months to the trap of listening to words over actions.
Please know I have a lot of empathy for how confusing, annoying, and even painful it is to receive mixed signals. Ultimately though a truth I’ve learned is: Mixed signals are always a sign of an unhealthy relationship for us.
Again, a healthy partner will never leave you wondering where you stand.
About The Author
Krystal Mazzola Wood, LMFT is a practicing relationship therapist with over a decade of experience. Currently, Krystal sees clients at her private practice, The Healthy Relationship Foundation. She has dedicated her entire career to empowering people to heal from unhealthy relationship processes. She does this by teaching the skills and tools necessary to have a life filled with healthy and loving relationships.
This passion led her to write her best-selling books and create courses. Her books, The Codependency Recovery Plan: A 5-Step Guide to Understand, Accept, and Break Free from the Codependent Cycle and The Codependency Workbook: Simple Practices for Developing and Maintaining Your Independence have helped many people heal.
Her third book, Therapy Within Reach: Setting Boundaries, will be released September, 2023.
If you have any personal dating or relationship questions, Krystal is happy to provide advice using her expertise and compassion. If you feel comfortable, feel free to leave any questions in the comments of this post. Otherwise, you may send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or DM her on Instagram. Your name and any other identifying information will always be kept confidential.
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