When a Guy Sends You Mixed Messages

mixed messages

What should you do when a guy sends you mixed messages? Check out this advice from our dating coach.

When a Guy Sends You Mixed Messages

Reader Question

There is a guy that has been sending me pretty mixed messages, one minute he's acting like he likes me, the next I might as well be dirt. I didn't know if I could trust him when he asked me out last year, so I said no. Then, when one of his friends told me he was truly into me, I asked him, and he said no! This year, he's only made things more complicated by going around saying he pretended to like me last year, yet when he's around me, he acts sweet and kind to me. What should I do about all this?-- Contributed by: Ariel

Expert Reply

Dear Ariel,

It sounds like your guy is worried that his friends will tease him if he has a girlfriend. So, he acts tough and like he doesn't care when others are around and when it is just the two of you, he is all soft and sweet. He does this because he is not mature enough yet to like a girl and have others know about it. He may be worried about what others will think or maybe he likes you as a friend but not as a girlfriend. Someday, things will be different and he will want everyone to know that he has a girlfriend or a friend that is a girl, but until that day comes, he is likely not to change his thinking. That doesn't mean that you can get him to change his behavior and not be so mean when others are around.

To do this you're going to need to talk with him alone. The next time you are together and he acts all sweet and kind you can something like, "You seem different when it is just the two of us. You're a really nice guy and I like how kind you are to me when no one else is around. But, what I don't understand is why you're not like this when other people are around?" By talking to him when it's just the two of you, he is likely to not put on a front for his friends and tell you why he treats you differently.

Once you let him know how you feel when he is mean to you, you can then ask him to stop. You can let him know that he doesn't have to tell people he likes you, but he doesn't have to be mean to you when others are around either. Than ask him if he is willing to change his ways. If he is, great, and if he is not willing to change, then it is time for you to end the relationship. It is never OK for anyone to treat you mean.

~~Lori

Divorced Dating

Reader Question

I am a 36 year old that has been divorced for over 3 years. I recently started dating a man that is 44 years old. He just became divorced after being married for 20 years. He was separated for nearly 6 months before the divorce. In the beginning, he heavily pursued me. Everything was passionate, affectionate, and we always had a great time. He could not wait to get the next phone call from me. After dating like this for 3 months, he suddenly turned cold and distant. He does not answer my phone calls right away. He will call back 2 or three hours later or late in the evening. If I stop calling him then he eventually calls me. When I asked about whether he wanted to see me or not he said he did not know what he wants. He gets uptight and says things like "Do we really have to talk about the rest of our lives right now" I am confused. He was so jealous of everyone around me and so involved in my everyday life. Then to not need me at all, seems very odd. He spent a lot of time in the beginning really worrying about whether I would continue to like him for very long. Do you think he has a commitment phobia or just lost interest? -- Contributed by: Cindi

Expert Reply

Dear Cindi,

Wisdom is what we get after making a mistake and learning from it. You are gaining wisdom about dating someone who is newly divorced. What you are learning is the reason many people won't date a 'newbie'. Newbie's tend to be a very exciting and passionate group. One reason they have so much energy to focus on the new apple of their eye is that they are trying to avoid the anger, grief, disappointment and/or loss of their marriage.

You really can't blame a newbie, who of us wouldn't want to avoid pain and seek pleasure instead? It is much more pleasant to keep attention directed on a person who makes us feel good about ourselves and about the future. This is what happened when you started dating your guy. He was so infatuated with you that it was easy to suppress his bad feelings from his marriage and subsequent divorce. It is why he was so passionate and affectionate in the beginning of your relationship. Nevertheless, feelings can't be denied forever and as they start coming to the surface, they have to be addressed, which also explains why things have changed in your relationship.

Your guy is working through all his emotions and most likely will vacillate between dealing with them directly and denying them all together. In the meantime, you can best help him by remembering your own experience with divorce. What helped you work through your emotions? How did people show you support? When you felt bad, what did you do to deal with those feelings? Who were the most important people in your life that helped you through this rough patch and what did they do that worked and didn't work? Then, when you didn't want to date or be with a person who put demands on you, how did you feel when someone suggested that you were commitment phobic? The answers to these questions will help you to understand what you can do for the guy you like.

While you may become a good friend and support to your guy, you may not be the woman he chooses to be his partner in the future. This isn't because you aren't wonderful; it is because he won't be the same man he was when you first met him. Similarly, you're not the same woman you were when you were first divorced.

~~Lori

How Do I Get Him Back?

Reader Question

How do I get my boyfriend back? We broke up over a little thing about me asking him about sex. Now he says he doesn't want to go out with me because I wasn't Catholic since I talked about sex. But he still talks to me on msn. And he just said maybe he will go out with me again but don't get my hopes up. What do I do?-- Contributed by: Becca

Expert Reply

Dear Becca,

Breaking up is never easy. Sometimes a person doesn't have the words to explain why he feels what he feels. Sometimes he just wants to soften the explanation and in a misguided attempt offers up what seems to be a good reason. Then there is the person who doesn't care about hurting you and will say anything mean to make you walk away. Regardless of the style, all are a variation of two reasons. "It's not you, it's me." or "It is you and it's not me".

Your guy chose the latter reason. As if that weren't hurtful enough, he then made matters worse by justifying his reason and offering you some hope for a possible future. When he said the breakup was because you weren't Catholic for having talked about sex, he lied. This excuse served two purposes. First, that you did something wrong and second, it implied that had you not done this one thing wrong then the two of you would still be together. The truth is that asking a sexual question or discussing sex does not make someone more or less of a good Catholic.

He offered you some hope for the relationship to continue in the future when he told you that "maybe he will go out with [you] again but don't get [your] hopes up." Here, he implies that not all is lost between you. Creating this window of opportunity allows him to get you to stop pressuring him to go out again without totally closing the door should he become bored, lonely, needy, or some other state of being. The truth is people know when there is chemistry and when there isn't. The reason people offer hope when there isn't any, is just a misguided attempt at lightening the pain of a breakup. See 'variations' listed above.

I can see why you are confused by your guy's explanation for the breakup. You are holding on to the belief you did something that can be corrected. This is not the case. You can't change the way this guy feels about you. What you have to do is look beyond his words to his behavior and realize that not every guy is going to feel about you the way you feel about him and vice versa. The best thing you can do right now is not blame yourself and walk away with grace and style.

~~Lori

When a Guy Sends You Mixed Messages