Mixed Signals: Why A Guy Sends Them And What They Really Mean

Is there anything more frustrating than talking to a guy who clearly doesn’t know what he wants and sends mixed messages because of it? It’s a bit like chasing clouds — useless and disappointing. You can analyze his behavior until you’re blue in the face and try to guess at what’s going through his mind at any given time but you’ll always come up short. However, here are some possible explanations for his inconsistency.

  1. He’s confused. Sometimes, it’s just as simple as that. It’s not an excuse, more an explanation for his behavior. That said, he’s human just as we all are. We don’t always know what we want and that’s okay, in principle. You just have to acknowledge that. Be upfront. It’s always a show of cowardice to not talk frankly about one’s emotions. We all owe each other honesty, so when people lie and obscure the truth it’s a sign of disrespect. Confusion is not moral reasoning, but it might help you see their side of things.
  2. He’s emotionally unavailable. Occasionally, mixed messages are a result of the guy lacking emotional availability or intelligence. This guy is consciously toxic and makes no effort to clean up his act or get in touch with his emotions. He’s the type of person you have to steer clear of. He might think he’s just troubled, but when he starts impacting other people negatively, you have to quit cold turkey. What he really means is that he values his own ego more than the welfare of the people around him. There’s no excuse for that.
  3. He has mommy issues. Or Daddy issues, depending on which way he swings. Everyone is impacted by their parents and this comes out most commonly – and disconcertingly – in our romantic relationships. Talk about getting the ick. Either way, it means that his mixed signals might result from him dealing with some underlying issues. Again, he probably has lots of personal stuff to work through, but that doesn’t mean that you should bear the brunt of that.
  4. He doesn’t know what he wants. This is the most common reason a guy sends mixed signals. Again, the train of making excuses for other people while sacrificing you’re on feelings is not a good one to be on. More than that, it trains your brain to put yourself second, or even last. No matter what relationship you’re in, you deserve to be your first priority. No question, no explanation. Without exception. Learning these boundaries can be difficult when you’re receiving mixed signals from your partner. I don’t care what their reasoning is, if it interrupts your personal growth, drop them.
  5. He’s seeing other people. This is a simple and cruel answer. If you caught feelings too early, you risk getting hurt by this behavior. Make sure you communicate your expectations with your partner clearly to avoid further heartache. Mixed messages can be a result of a guy juggling lots of people at the same time. He’s either trying to figure out what he wants or he’s just a player. Either way, be honest and tell them what you need, and assert boundaries. Get out of there if you aren’t getting what you want. Or if they stress you out more than they bring light to your life.
  6. He runs hot and cold. Inconsistency is death to any relationship. Not in a fun spontaneous way, but in a way that makes you feel unwanted. If you don’t feel secure or comfortable, it means you don’t trust him or his affection. That doesn’t make for a good relationship. You also risk compromising your own mental health as a result.
  7. He feels too much. Maybe he likes you too much and he’s scared and that’s why this guy is sending you mixed signals.. That’s why he’s backing off and trying to keep himself safe. Ask what he needs. Meet him in the middle.
  8. He’s afraid of vulnerability. Guys weren’t taught how to be vulnerable and intimate in the same way women were. Hear him out if the mixed messages convey his own fear. Relationships should be mutually beneficial and you both have to put in the work.

Go in with an open mind and listen to your partner, but if the mixed messages persist, make sure you know how to get what you need out of the relationship. Don’t settle.

Hannah has a Masters degree in Romantic and Victorian literature in Scotland and spends her spare time writing anything from essays to short fiction about the life and times of the frogs in her local pond! She loves musical theatre, football, anything with potatoes, and remains a firm believer that most of the problems in this world can be solved by dancing around the kitchen to ABBA. You can find her on Instagram at @_hannahvic.