Mixed signals are part of the reason that the dating scene is such a mess. There is a grey area between the first date and defining what you are and it is like trying to read directions in a language that does not always make sense. What does it mean if your new interest has not responded to a text, but did watch your Instagram story? It can be completely confusing. This is because people are not perfect at saying what they mean or even what they need while dating. You have no way of knowing how a new person communicates and sometimes are not sure of your own communication style. True intensions and feelings can get lost in translation, so to speak. Add to this, things like asking about your week after never responding to your text even though you know they read it and you are left with all types of confusing emotions. At the end of the day, we are left with the same question: Should I stay or move on?

The truth is, mixed signals are negative signals in disguise. We must focus more on actions than words. You are not to blame for being the recipient of confusing and often conflicting messages. It simply means the other person has to figure things out for themselves and their mess is affecting you. Some mixed signals are simple miscommunications, but others are an excuse to hold you at arm’s length because they are not ready for a commitment. Usually, it is the latter, but this is not true for everyone. Often, those who give off mixed signals have an avoidant attachment style in which they shy away from intimacy and closeness because it feels uncomfortable. This type of person may appear very interested, but then sabotage the relationship in a way that causes physical and emotional distance. It is up to you if you want to see it through with this type of personality, but if you do, know it takes patience and emotional energy if you hope to break through their emotional wall. Now that you understand why mixed messages are sent, let’s review the most common ones.

  • Not Getting the Call You Expected – We have all sat around waiting for that call from someone special to respond to or plan something fun. A missed call on occasion is acceptable, but when it happens often then you are allowed to get a bit upset. Maybe they do not follow up after a great date or text only when they feel it is convenient. This is shorthand for the fact they are not fully invested in you.
  • Post-Breakup Behavior – If they have you, but are still seeking attention from an ex, then something likely feels off. This behavior may be fine if they are seeking real closure, otherwise they may be creating a back-up plan for when you are gone.
  • Too Busy for Plans – We are all busy and must juggle priorities, but if someone wants to spend time with you, they will make the time. If they say they cannot wait to see you, but are then too busy to make any plans, they are not ready for a commitment. You may get along perfectly, but they are just not ready.
  • Creeps Your Instagram – If they are creeping your Instagram, but rarely respond to DMs and always seem to busy to make plans even when they are marked as “at home”, then they do not really want to make an effort and you are being played.
  • Refusal to Open Up – They may want you to open up and share everything about yourself, but when it comes time for them to be vulnerable its total silence. If you are the only one expressing your true self, then they have something to hide.
  • Flirts with Others – If they are flirting with others, but with you, then you may be confused. Bring it up with the other person and see how they respond. If they get defensive, leave, you are just around until something better comes along. If they try to understand where you are coming from and change the behavior, then it may be worth sticking out.
  • The ‘What are We’ Conversation – If your other half is avoiding this conversation or ghosts you when you bring it up, then they may not be as interested as you are for the long-term. Any noncommittal response can be a red flag.
  • No Public Affection – This is not the person who is not yet comfortable making out with you while in line at the store kind of public affection, that takes time. If the person acts like you are not together in public or that he does not want to be seen with you, then they are not truly interested. Introducing you to those in their life should be priority, not something they fear after you have been going out for a while.

Should You Stop Dating?

If you are dating someone who sends mixed signals, you may be wondering if you should stay or go. The best advice is to give the other person time to settle into the new relationship, but do not let them get away with constant mixed signals. You are investing emotional time and energy, so the favor should be returned. When the mixed signals become too much, speak up and see if you can find common ground. This can be a scary conversation, so set a deadline for yourself if needed. Sometimes, confronting the feelings head-on can let you know quickly what to do. Express how you feel calmly and gauge their response. To the right person, this will be wonderful and they will step up to keep you, but if they continue to act the same after you say something, then cut ties. Walk away proud that you are doing what is best for you.