Among the many reasons for sending mixed signals, ‘attachment’ styles may be one reason. Some people wish to be connected but have difficulty expressing emotions.
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“I don’t know what she wants.”
“I don’t know what she expects.”
“Why is this girl giving me mixed signals?”
Have you ever thought of such questions while dating a woman?
Forget dating, even in a regular conversation with a woman. Have you ever felt that you couldn’t understand what she actually wanted? If yes, then continue reading.
A lot of men need help understanding what a woman really means. Like the book ‘Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus’ covers – there are a few confusing differences sometimes!
Perhaps, some people are not very good at “getting the point;” sometimes, the woman might not be too comfortable or experienced at expressing her point. And sometimes, it’s no one’s fault!
Yes, you read it right. It’s NO ONE’s fault. Sometimes it is simply a miscommunication, not some sinister intention by the parties involved.
Before discussing miscommunication, let me tell you something some people may prefer to avoid admitting –
“People generally aren’t good at expressing what they mean.”
When someone is unaware of an appropriate way of expressing themselves, problems can ensue.
It can all result in false expectations, arguments, and even conflicts. It can stem from many reasons, including someone’s upbringing and social environment.
And with Social Media and online conversations, words, actions, or signals that suggest “true feelings” or intentions can easily get lost in the “noise.” The result is often communication errors and “lost in translation” moments. The simple misuse of an emoji frequently misrepresents a person’s tone and other aspects of communication, leaving one person smiling and another scratching their head!
What actually is Mixed Signals?
Well, well, well – how many men spend significant parts of their lives trying to solve this question!
They might go back through conversations in their mind, check forums, ask their friends, and even read books to understand what a woman meant by her words.
As most of us aren’t good at expressing ourselves, we aren’t good at understanding the expressions of others. There, I said it – we might have to start with ourselves! Check out Men’s Guide To Communicate Better In A Relationship
This lack of ability to express can quickly become a lack of ability to comprehend others.
Communication is a skill to express, and lack of it can lead to wrong “signals” or at least “mixed signals”. And often, these signals get distorted. That means you aren’t receiving the message the sender intended to give in its “truest” form. This is called a “Mixed Signal”.
Mixed signals mean you need help understanding the various communication elements and intended messages.
And Mixed Signals can also mean you recognise ‘innocent’ words or actions as signals, but they aren’t.
Human communication and conversations often occur in two basic forms: Verbal and Non-verbal (Many people have ‘mixed signals’ about these, too!).
What if it is Misinterpretation altogether
Now, when you get mixed signals from a woman, remember this: A guy can easily misinterpret words.
Also Read- 13 Signs a Girl secretly likes you
And the same applies to non-verbal communication, which could include body language, visual, written communication etc.
A man can easily misinterpret a woman’s body language or, indeed, any number of non-verbal forms of communication.
A woman might not want your attention, but due to distortion in communication, it can lead to the wrong conclusion. Have any of you been shocked when someone reacted the opposite as you expected? Getting caught in a web of mixed messages and signs is so easy.
Also, another thing. This might sound like a surprise (not!) –
“A woman might not even be giving you any signal, and you might misconstrue it, even a simple action or gesture, into a non-verbal signal.”
The last statement is often taken as a “mixed signal” – but isn’t a signal in the first place! If you remember this point alone, you might avoid many of these “mixed signals”.
Takeaway Tip– Before taking something as a mixed signal, ask yourself, is it actually a signal, or are you interpreting it as one?
The Cause of Mixed Signals
As explained earlier, mixed signals are essentially miscommunication. To understand what causes mixed signals, we can explore what causes miscommunication.
Communication, in simpler terms, involves the sender, medium and receiver.
So, miscommunication can happen when there is an error in any of these three elements. You might send a mixed signal; the means of communication or medium might cause it, or as a receiver, you might wrongly interpret it, resulting in a mixed signal.
There have been various studies conducted over the years that have tried to understand common miscommunications between men and women.
This study explains what many of us already kind of know –
Men are more likely to think a women’s friendliness means she is sexually interested in them. In contrast, women often misread men’s attempts to connect as partners as attempts to be friends instead! So, basically, the opposite!
Reasons to “Why this girl giving me mixed signals?”
Among the many reasons for sending mixed signals, ‘attachment’ styles may be one reason. Attachment styles are learned coping mechanisms and ways of attaching to people.
Some people wish to be connected but have difficulty expressing emotions and dealing with physical closeness. It can lead them to give out mixed signals. Their words and actions don’t match their intentions.
They create a “wall” that needs patience and emotional energy to break through.
Takeaway Tip– Take mixed signals as a lack of healthy communication skills. Don’t rush to judge the meaning or blame yourself (or someone else!).
Types of Mixed Signals
Below are a few scenarios some of you may relate to –
1. When she doesn’t reply to you when you expect
Suppose she delays answering messages or ignores your messages while being completely conversational some time ago. In that case, that might be a mixed signal. Not answering specific topics is also a mixed signal. A lot of people, women too, may have difficulty dealing with certain kinds of conversation, and they tend to avoid the topic, which can cause distress or anxiety.
2. When she doesn’t show up when you have planned for it
Suppose she agrees to a plan and chooses not to show up. In that case, that is also a mixed signal that she might not feel comfortable in the physical presence of the relationship. It is easier to have a conversation behind a wall of digital devices than to conduct a face-to-face conversation. (Not showing up could apply to meetings both online or offline).
3. When she talks in double meaning but doesn’t realise
Most of the time, she might not even feel her words have another meaning, which might be why she might not admit it. It can also happen if she wants to avoid being called out about her mixed signals.
4. When she doesn’t show a connection with you in front of others but wants things hidden
Some women may be uncomfortable acknowledging their relationships in front of others depending on societal norms and behaviours. Let’s face it; women often face judgements from others when it comes to behaviour and relationships.
5. When she doesn’t tell you what she wants but expects you to read her mind.
This aspect is true in any relationship. Many people expect mind reading, which can easily lead to wrong expectations from each other.
6. When she openly says to read between the lines, she essentially sends mixed signals voluntarily.
Some women may have difficulty admitting their real feelings and emotions and often talk in ‘code’ language. It might be due to inherent insecurity and fear that can make them employ such “signalling”.
7. When she says you don’t get me or not listening to what she is saying
It happens due to the “mind reading” expectations from guys. But sometimes, due to different expectations, value systems, listening habits and conversational styles, a man might need help understanding the intended message of a woman. Hence, this mixed signal.
Look closely. It means it has much to do with expectations – Yours and hers. Also, it shows a lack of trust and fear, which might influence them not to convey their real feelings.
What should I do? – How to deal with mixed signals from a girl
- Pay attention to Actions, not just Words
A practical way to deal with mixed signals is to compare a person’s words with their actions.
If a woman you know seems distant in words but shows care and affection in her actions, then focus more on her actions and efforts – This is a common mixed signal.
- Take time out to improve communication.
When you feel she is giving a mixed signal, take that as a sign that some vital communication is missing. How to deal with it?
Ask for a detailed conversation.
Try and make yourself available to what she has to say and make her comfortable to allow her to reveal her real intentions. Handle how you communicate to make yourself understood and help clear the mixed signal.
If you slow down things, take some more time and observe closely, you can efficiently work through missed signals. You will start to see real intentions, if there are any. It also helps you ignore words or actions that aren’t even signals!
- Observing the behaviour
Another way to deal with mixed signals is to look for tell-tale signs that lead to mixed signals about a particular topic. If you focus on the conversation or actions, you can find out what leads to a mixed signal.
Being compassionate can help people move into a comfort zone and feel secure. It can help her communicate what she wants to say instead of sending those pesky mixed signals. Also, it will reduce your reactivity, which might scare them off.
- Draw your boundaries
Of course, some women may deliberately send mixed signals and cause confusion.
It may be a dysfunctional communication style or adaptation, but all the same, it can cause significant distress.
If you sense someone is actively engaging in mixed signals, that’s not a behaviour you have to tolerate. Set your boundaries.
Don’t let someone cause you to react or draw you into their troubles. Stop the conversation if there are mixed signals. Being compassionate is admirable, but not to the extent that it affects your mental peace.
- Work on yourself
If you see a lot of mixed signals, the other person may not be the problem.
Entertain the possibility that you might be reading too much into everything.
So, if you encounter too many mixed signals from a woman, ask yourself, is she sending you a signal, or is it just in your mind? Sometimes, a guy might become more prone to misinterpreting signals due to a lack of experience or good communication skills with women. In this case, you can learn to observe the conversation and understand the purpose of the discussion before rushing to a conclusion.
Communication remains to be at the foundation of human development.
It fosters new relationships and shapes society. However, miscommunication can do just the opposite. So, when dealing with mixed signals, remember that one of the best ways is to ignore the signal before blaming someone or even the mode of communication. If you can’t ignore it, then at least don’t prioritise.
And last but not least, EVERY word, action or gesture is not necessarily a signal! Remember, this point alone can help you deal with the sometimes hazardous world of “mixed signals” and communication.
Hopefully, now you know what to do when a girl gives you mixed signals. Let me know in the comments what you think.
Harsh is the founder of menPsyche. He enjoys using his extensive research and writing skills to communicate ideas and concepts, with the aim to improve people’s lives.
Harsh trained as a Communication Engineer and published a MSc (Research) thesis, as well as worked in a variety of marketing and consultancy roles.