Today I want to talk about a strange and confusing topic for a lot of guys - namely, getting mixed signals from a girl.
You know what mixed signals are: one moment, she's flirty and warm with you, and you get excited, thinking you're getting somewhere with her. The next moment, she's cool and aloof - and you're really not sure what happened.
Then, out of nowhere - BAM! You're back get warm, flirty behavior
So does that mean she likes you, or does that mean she doesn't?
In "How Girls Show Interest," we discussed one of the causes of mixed signals from girls - women's need to often couch their interest in aloofness or disinterest so as not to risk their images or ego by putting themselves out there too far and not getting the response they were looking for.
Because the fact remains that - in spite of the occasional commenter
or two on here lamenting, "Why
can't women just come up to us guys
and ask us out?" - men do the approaching and the asking out, while
women do the waiting and the weighing of those choices among men
who've asked them out. These roles in the initial approach to mating
mirror the final roles in the bedroom - men aggress, women receive.
There are a few other reasons why a girl will send you mixed messages, however; the complete list is this:
She's deliberately not sticking her neck out too far - in case you don't bite
She's just naturally a flirtatious girl and likes flirting and/or she's leading you on to capture your interest and keep you around her
She's legitimately switching her mind like crazy - one minute into you, the next minute not
Here's quick one-over of each of these potential reasons for this behavior from her.
#1: She's Protecting Her Neck
You know, of course, how embarrassing it can be as a man to go up and have a girl reject you after you try and fail to get her on a date. Most girls will try to be nice, or give you a "maybe" as a way of letting you down easy without a flat-out rejection - they know it's tough, and really don't want to make you feel bad.
Well, as hard as it is for men to be rejected by women, it's even harder for women being rejected by men.
Men have fairly widely-known lower standards than women. It isn't true for all men, and it isn't true for all women, but if you ask the average woman what she looks for in a man, you'll get something like this back:
- Good in bed
- Makes me feel good
- My friends like him
- Good sense of humor
- Good job
- Makes good money
- Cares about me
Meanwhile, if you ask the average man what he looks for in a woman, you'll get something like this back:
- Long hair
- Not too fat
- Hasn't hit menopause yet
... and even some of those might be open to negotiation.
This has two effects on women:
It makes the average woman bolder than the average man, at least in terms of flirtation - she knows a man won't reject her or call her out on pure flirtation
It makes the average woman more timid than the average man in terms of approaching and asking out - while her odds of rejection are lower, women also tend to experience that a rejection stings a great deal
There's another reason women who like you won't be very aggressive with their signals much of the time, too: the majority of men are more attracted to women they need to chase than women who chase them.
People want what they can't have, and most men simply value women they need to pursue and spend time on and obsess over late at night more highly than women they don't. Women know this - if they haven't experienced it themselves firsthand, they've heard about it from girlfriends or read it in women's magazines and advice columns.
For all those reasons, most women will never aggressively pursue you - instead, they'll just ping you here and there with some mixed signals, that perhaps they think are clear enough for you to pick up the hint and take action... if you're so inclined, that is.
#2: She's a Big Flirt (and Likes Men Around Her)
All women like having men around them who are interested in them and chasing and pursuing them. As a man, wouldn't it feel good to have lots of (attractive) women chasing you and texting you and flirting with you and trying to spend time with you? Same deal for women.
Some women prefer this more than others, though. While some women really just want to find one guy and attach themselves to him and have it be just the two of them for all eternity, there are other women who enjoy having their cadre of adoring fans orbiting around them, sending them text messages and calls and date invitations and presents and jokes and everything sweet and nice and flirty and fun imaginable.
Typically, girls who are big flirts will only do just enough necessary to keep a particular man in pursuit. They tend to have good, well-honed instincts for how much they need to give a guy to keep him coming after them - the mirror of what we discussed in "Get Girls Chasing: Give a Little to Get a Lot."
You can identify a girl who's a big flirt by the facts that she:
Always has plenty of male attention
Never gets angry at your or ever seems to be emotionally affected by you
Is very good at making you feel like she might want you, without anything tangible ever happening between the two of you
To her, it's all a game. She either enjoys flirting with men and the attention they give her a lot, she likes having men around her (for emotional validation or for the feelings of security this gives), or both.
Worth pointing out for the newer guys: women aren't doing this to spite you. They also don't see this behavior as "harmful" or "bad" - i.e., they don't see themselves as distractions to you finding a "real" woman who's actually into you, anymore than men dating women they aren't serious about view themselves as distractions to those women trying to find "real" men to settle down with.
They're simply doing it because it's fun, it feels good, and they assume because you are being so warm and friendly and nice back, you must enjoy it too.
When I was relatively young and still inexperienced with girls, I blew up at a girl for "playing games" like this with me. I wasn't the only guy she did it with - she was doing it with lots of them. But they were never going to blow up at her, just keep being nice and hoping she'd throw them a bone. I realized she was toying with me, and I got nasty. I ended up apologizing for the emotional venting - she wasn't being malicious, she was just following her programming - and I cut her off after that. I'd run into her from time to time thereafter, and she'd always be conciliatory and ask how I was doing and tell me she was single now and tell me I could call her sometime and things like that - I'd laugh and say thanks, but better if I don't. I don't think she had any idea she affected me (or any other guy) that much until that incident.
A girl who's a big flirt is a big flirt because the feedback she gets from men is positive. Just like what a lot of guys new to meeting women end up doing when they pursue reactions over results - someone does something, gets a good response, and does more of it.
#3: She Legitimately Can't Make Up Her Mind
Not all mixed signals are women being coy or women being flirts. Sometimes a girl really cannot decide if she likes you or not, and she keeps changing her mind.
This is most likely to happen when you're still newer and less experienced, and she is as well. Many newer guys move slow with girls, miss escalation windows, and let attraction expire, and then go work their tails off to try and win back what they've lost. This leads to all manner of emotional ups and downs for both themselves and the objects of their affection as things seem like they're going to happen, then don't, then do again.
As women become more experienced with men and dating, they tend to figure out that the guys who don't move fast and don't aggressively go after what they want are just inexperienced with women and haven't really figured out what they're doing yet. So, you won't usually see women past 27 or 28 flipping out and going crazy one way or the other about a guy.
The younger you get though, the more you can see this frustrated flipping... where one moment she's flirting, the next minute she's cold, and the minute after that she's flirting again.
How can you tell the difference between a girl who can't make up her mind and a girl who's interested but protecting her neck? Simple:
The girl who's being guarded about her interest won't go cold on you... she'll just act a little aloof. The girl who's repeatedly changing her mind will sway from hot and bothered over you to cold and deep into auto-rejection over you to (sometimes) hot and bothered over you all over again
The girl who's being guarded is generally sexier and more subtle. The girl who can't make up her mind will often have bursts of showing you lots of blatant interest followed by bursts of blatant coldness and disinterest
The girl who's being guarded will be receptive when you try to move things forward; meanwhile, the girl who can't make up her mind will usually agree, then disagree, then perhaps later agree again, or vice versa
The important thing to remember here is that most of the time when a girl's acting like her decision making has gone spastic it's coming as a response to how she's perceived your actions and intentions toward her - she thought you liked her, then thought you didn't, then thought too bad, you moved too slow, then thought, well, maybe I do like him, then wrote you off again for not taking action... and so on and so forth.
It's a frustrating thing to be on the receiving end of a girl's mixed signals. Fortunately, carving through these is easy enough - provided you're taking the steps necessary to move things forward.
That means pushing ahead for investment, getting girls contributing, and continually escalating an interaction.
If you aren't doing - or aren't willing to be doing - the step-taking you need to be to find out if you've got a girl who's legitimately interested in you or who's just playing the flirting game, though... well, those mixed messages may last just about forever.
The Easy-as-Pie Solution to Mixed Signals
... is taking action and following your process, of course.
There's no verbal jujitsu required here. No social acrobatics. No under-the-radar maneuvering and positioning.
Just plain old fashioned no-nonsense moving things forward and seeing if she goes with you... and that's it.
How's that solve the problem of mixed signals? By making your intentions clear as day, and by telling girls loudly and clearly that it's put up or shut up time.
Mixed signals only work with you - or are a problem for you - when you're moving too slow and when you aren't actually doing anything with a girl.
Sure, you'll occasionally get mixed messages from a girl you've
traded numbers with. She's available, then she isn't; she sets up a
date with you, then she flakes on that date.
Even with girls like that though, the solution is pushing things forward.
Taking the next step forward works for all three categories of crossed wires:
If she's genuinely interested in you and simply showing her interest without sticking her neck out too far, she'll be glad you started moving things ahead
If she's a big flirt and a tease and really only wanted to have you around in her friend zone or as a backup plan, you'll screen her out fast by trying to move things forward - you will be, essentially, calling her bluff - you push for progress, and she has no option but to refuse to give it to you if she isn't truly interested
If she honestly can't make up her mind, moving things forward forces her to do so - either she chooses to move forward with you, or she jumps ship
I'm aware sometimes you'll find a guy who "doesn't want to risk losing her" by taking action, and he'd rather wait for "the right moment." If you have any thoughts rolling around your head like that, make sure you read this article first: "How to Get Girls: The Last Post You'll Ever Need."
Tools for Moving Things Forward
So what are your main options for making headway - or at least figuring out if she's actually interested or she's just a big flirt - with a girl you think is into you, maybe, but who never does anything with you?
Step 1: Get investment from her (get compliance, move her, etc.)
Step 2: Ask her out
Step 3: Take her to bed
That's it. Three steps... and three steps alone.
You'll notice that:
... are not on the list.
Why not? Because while all of them are necessary steps most of the time in any given seduction, they are not ways of moving things decidedly forward.
They aren't milestones. They aren't accomplishments of any kind. And they don't make her decide to go along with you and proceed down the road toward becoming your lover or girlfriend. Rather, they're the same things she does with every other guy she never goes to bed with or has anything meaningful with.
If you want headway with a girl, you must get investment, ask her
out, and bed her. Once you've reached one of the first two plateaus,
congratulate yourself, then immediately get to work on making the next
one happen very soon - the clock is always ticking.
Nailing Down Slippery Women
If the girl sending you mixed signals is in Category 1 - she's genuinely interested in you, and just playing a little coy - you won't have to worry too much about "figuring her out," because as soon as you start taking steps to progress your relationship with her, she'll come right along with you.
If, however, she's in categories two or three - she's more in love with flirting than she is with you, say, or she can't make up her mind whether she wants something with you or not - she's going to slip and slide around and deflect your efforts to escalate things.
What that looks like is this: you'll try to get investment from her, and she'll deftly outmaneuver you.
You'll try to ask her out, and she'll never quite be available.
You'll try to take her home, and some last minute excuse will come up every time.
Even if she likes you, she has competing objectives - she may be somewhat attracted to you, but also value you as a friend, say, or not want to risk any rumors spreading in school or at work. Or, she might like you a little bit, but she also likes the attention you give her, and she doesn't want to risk trading one for the other.
Now, what normally happens here is that the guy on the receiving end of mixed signals will hem and haw and make excuses for her. "Well, I can see that she'd be busy," he might say, or, "That was kind of an awkward way I asked her out - she'd probably be more open to going out with me if I came in more smooth."
If you catch yourself doing this, it means you're being out-gamed; she's more experienced at dating than you are, and she's giving you pause (the better you get, the more you give pause to girls rather than them give pause to you - in the mating dance, one person is usually more certain and in charge than the other, while the other is more confused and thoughtful and reflective).
Instead, you want to be the one giving her pause.
That means you:
- Call her out on her deflections and refuse to let her give a non-answer
- Work on nailing things down to the point where you get a solid "yes" or "no"
- Insist on compliance until you get it or it blows up in your face
Caveat: most women won't like being forced to be totally honest about their intentions and getting called out on their game. For this reason, it's usually better to avoid nailing down women at work, in school, or in your close social circle. In these cases, if a girl continually slips away from you, it's better just to chalk her up as a loss and move on.
However... if you're free of social consequences from calling women out on slipperiness... I recommend you try nailing them down (as smoothly and socially graciously as possible).
Here's an example of how this'd go, with a girl who's always been flirty with you but noncommittal:
You: Natalie, what say we grab a coffee or an ice cream this week or next?
Her: Oh, thanks for the invite! I'm not sure what my schedule looks like... let me let you know.
Already from the tone you probably ought to realize this girl is less than thrilled you asked. It may be she liked things just the way they were, if she knows you socially, or she simply isn't feeling it with you.
The next time you see her, assuming she never gets back to you on coffee/ice cream:
You: How're this week's adventures coming along, miss?
Her: Huh? Oh, really good! How's everything with you?
You: Peachy as always. I'm grabbing brunch at the Waffle House in about 20 minutes - it'd be delightful if you came along.
Here, you don't press her about the same date - the assumption is, if she was really interested in coffee or ice cream she would've gotten back to you.
If you press about coffee or ice cream again, you look socially awkward - here's a guy who "doesn't get it."
So you change something - she either doesn't like coffee/ice cream, or she doesn't like you. You assume she's fine with you and it's the date she doesn't like - so you change that and ask again.
Every time you ask, she's
either going to be more likely to say "yes" if she likes you, or she's going to get more uncomfortable with being asked if
Are you fine with making women who flirt with you but don't actually have any romantic/sexual interest in you uncomfortable for the sake of finding the women who flirt with you and who do have romantic/sexual interest in you? I know I am.
At some point, if you keep getting deflections, you can write a woman off as not "serious," and move on. For me, this is generally between two and three deflections - but I've had women tell me stories about men they worked with or went to school with that they initially had no interest in and only ended up dating after the guy asked them out 10 or 12 times. So, anecdotally at least, it does seem to be possible to "wear girls down," at least some of the time... but you've got to actually be asking them out when you to do this.
You won't make headway by sitting around hoping and praying and waiting for "the right moment," because chances are that moment will never come - and even if it does, you'll have built it up so much by that point that it'll fly right by without you ever doing anything about it.
If you work to nail things down with a slippery woman and she evades
you enough times that you're convinced she isn't interested, it's at
your discretion whether you'd like to continue flirting and bantering
with her or not. If you do, do it just for the fun of it - not because
you think it's getting you somewhere with her (it isn't; she's a pro at
Fun with Mixed Signals
Once I had enough confidence and experience with women that I was accustomed to acting quickly on signs of interest, my own dynamic with women giving mixed signals changed quite dramatically.
I stopped worrying about mixed signals altogether, really, because as soon as I'd get any kind of signal from a girl, I'd pounce. (I'll stop and stress here that this "pouncing" is done in a smooth, suave, charming, attractive way - it's not me jerking my head around suddenly and saying, "Oh - you wanna go out?")
What happened was, I started getting two very distinct kinds of reactions:
Women who were absolutely delighted I picked up on their signals and took action, and
Women who were stunned and awkward that I did
It took me a few months to figure out what was causing the different reactions, but I soon did: the girls who actually liked me were refreshed to find a man who, for once, noticed and acted on their signals of interest... meanwhile, the women who just wanted to flirt for flirting's sake and get a little male attention were taken aback to find themselves confronted with a man who would seize on those signals and push things assertively forward.
The girls who liked me were thrilled... and the ones who just wanted another male attention giver were dismayed.
I haven't worried about mixed signals for years because of this. As soon as I get any kind of signal, the girl and I are either instantly working on being together, or she's called on her bluff and goes into retreat. (You'll sometimes get women you've called a bluff on retreating, then coming back to you later in a more submissive way - sometimes still trying to have you as a friend, sometimes now wanting you as a lover - my recommendation is proceeding the same as before: move things forward and see if she'll go with you)
If you really want to put some delight on the faces of the women who are interested in you, try taking strong action as a response to any mixed signal situations you encounter - the women who aren't receptive you'll quickly forget, but the women who are you'll have some amazing experiences with that you may never have had otherwise.