Why Guys Send Mixed Messages And Lack Consistency

One of the hardest parts about dating is trying to fully understand your guy’s intentions. Trying to decipher what every action means can be tiresome, but it’s also important if you want to make sure you’re both on the same page. Sometimes, a guy sends mixed messages because he really doesn’t know how to respond. Here’s what they mean when you’re really confused about their intentions.

  1. If he asks you for dinner and then cancels, it might be innocent. If he works long hours or has a kid, those are both reasonable explanations. But if he cancels on you and then you check his Instagram and see he went out with his friends, then that’s a snub. This guy isn’t serious about you and is using you as filler. If you want to have a friends-with-benefits relationship with him, you’re on the right track. But if you want something more substantial, this isn’t it.
  2. He acts like he’s into you but then treats you like nothing but a friend. This is a particularly tough limbo to be in. Your guy may be trying to hide his own emotions for you to avoid getting hurt, or he could be testing the waters. If you like him, you need to reciprocate flirtiness. Otherwise, he’ll think he may be crossing a boundary. It’s also possible he did like you but is now trying to get over you. Now’s the best time to ask him out and see what he thinks.
  3. He sleeps with you, but then tells you he’s “not ready for anything serious.” That’s guy-code for “you’re marriage material, and I’m not ready to get married.” It hurts if you really liked this guy, but he’ll never commit. Enjoy the relationship for what it was and move on.
  4. He could have gotten really hurt in the past. We all come with baggage. It’s possible he was in a serious relationship before and got hurt. If she cheated on him, he may be sending mixed messages to avoid getting hurt like that again. Or, it’s possible he knows that texting a lot and prying into your life is a bit intimidating, so he tries to back off and is creating uneven and worrisome communication patterns. Just know that a lot of his actions are likely shaped by his last relationship.
  5. It’s possible he has little to no dating experience. Don’t assume that he knows what he’s doing and saying just because he’s a certain age. A lot of people aren’t used to suddenly getting attention from women, and it’s possible he doesn’t want to mess this up. He might be getting bad advice from his friends or even the internet. The best way to handle a guy like this is to be straightforward with him. Don’t let him waste your time. Say something like, “I like you, but I can’t handle these mixed signals.” He’ll be happy that you’re straightforward and honest.
  6. He starts love-bombing you and then cools off. Either he’s into the chase, or he heard something that made him scared to proceed further. Do you have a bad reputation with his friend group? Did you meet his parents and say something that might have set them off? If you didn’t act differently around him in any way, it’s possible he was more into the idea of falling in love with you than he is you.
  7. He wants a casual relationship, but he’s not a casual relationship guy. If you’re the type of person who thrives in long and lengthy relationships but wants to try something new, of course you might not know how that all works. This guy is probably having a tough time trying to find the right words to state his intentions with you. If you really like him, make it easier by taking control of the situation and saying something like, “I’m looking for a partner and not a fling.”
  8. He’s chatty with you in person but runs cold through text. Not everyone is attached to their phone, and not everyone feels comfortable texting back and forth. You need to learn his text style. But if he’s always happy and welcoming to see you in person, it’s likely something you shouldn’t take personally. It’s possible he’s just not keen on expressing himself in that way.
  9. You absolutely scare him. Sometimes, guys fall so hard for someone that they really build them up in their minds. Not that you’re not a catch — you definitely are. But pretend this guy has put you on a pedestal and now doesn’t know how to proceed. He might overthink everything he texts. He may beat himself up over saying the wrong thing. If this relationship was meant to last, he’ll likely ease up with time. But for now, it can explain why he’s sending so many mixed messages.
Karen Belz is a New Jersey native who is currently living in Maryland. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Speech Communication with a focus in Broadcasting and Print Media Studies from Millersville University of Pennsylvania. Since graduating, she has written for sites like LittleThings, HelloGiggles, and Scary Mommy and is currently an e-commerce editor at Bustle.

When she's not writing, she enjoys making her phone run out of memory after taking too many photos of her dog. You can find her on Twitter @karenebelz or on Instagram @karenbelz.