Warning: You may be sending your guy friend mixed signals—and not even know it!
We’ve all been there: He wants to be more than friends, and you… well, don’t. To add to the awkwardness, he’s mistaken your friendliness as flirting, and you’ve mistaken his flirting as friendliness. Womp, womp. Blame it on evolution. No, seriously. A recent study published in the journal Evolutionary Psychology says so.
Researchers at the Department of Psychology at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology found that while both men and women find their signals are misinterpreted by the opposite sex, men misinterpret women’s signals more often (like, way more often). Women reported their friendliness was misinterpreted as sexual interest an average of 3.5 times over the past year.
While not surprising from an evolutionary perspective, what’s a girl gotta do to not accidentally send mixed signals? In my experience, even when you’re flat out honest about not wanting something romantic, there’s an inevitable elephant in the room from that point on: Did he really hear me or is he secretly waiting for me to change my mind? Cue more awkwardness.
1. Decide what you want
Why are you extra flirty or touchy with your guy friend? Is it because you dig the attention, are you just a naturally flirty person, or might you want something more with him? Actions speak louder than words, and if you haven’t had a gut check with yourself in a while, your mixed signals might not be all that mixed. Either way, the only way to set boundaries is to get off the fence and pick a side.
2. Hang out in groups
If you’re both single and hang out just the two of you—especially if you’re doing something that closely resembles a date, like grabbing a bite or seeing a movie—mixed signals are pretty much inevitable. Spend time in groups until boundaries are set, and keep one-on-one meet-ups few and far between.
3. Keep your paws to yourself
Touching equals flirting. Period. Nix any arm grabs, hair touching or playful slaps from your repertoire. If you don’t want him to get the wrong idea, then don’t give him the wrong idea.
4. Don’t forget he’s a dude
In other words, don’t treat him like you do your girlfriends. There are certain things, like holding your purse while you’re trying on an outfit, that should be designated BFF territory. He’s a boy, he’s a friend, but he’s not a boyfriend, so don’t take any chances that might make him think otherwise.
5. Just be honest
Like I said above, being flat out honest may still not work, and if he doesn’t get the message (or starts acting kinda creepy), it might be best to temporarily distance yourself until he finds a new love interest. Otherwise, he’ll continue stringing himself along, but you’ll be the one to blame for hurting him. Or, you know, so I’ve heard.
Have you accidentally sent mixed signals to a guy friend?
Related on EcoSalon
Image: Guy friend photo via Shutterstock