3 Signals You Might be Misreading

Just when it starts to seem like men and women are not really so different, he manages to utterly confound you – without the slightest notion that he’s being confounding! When it comes to relating to one another, we really do speak different languages. But he doesn’t have to be a mystery. With a little patience, it is possible to translate that baffling behavior and find some insight into the man behind the mask.

Pulling a Houdini
Everything is going great, and is headed for incredible, when he suddenly and inexplicably disappears. He backs off for a few days or weeks, calls infrequently and becomes difficult to reach. Sometimes he disappears before your eyes; he’s physically present but feels distant and unreachable. Then, just as suddenly, he’s back, and possibly more enthusiastic about you and your relationship than ever. Infuriating, right? Men have a tendency to retreat now and then, especially when things are beginning to get close. Since women tend to have the opposite reaction, they’re often (and understandably) confused or put off by his distance. It doesn’t mean he’s changed his mind or even that he’s uneasy about getting too close; just that he needs time to himself after sharing so much of his time and himself with another person. Be patient. He’ll come back around. The more accepting you can be of his retreat, the better (unless you think he’s lying to you/hiding something, in which case, see “Smooth Talking” below). You can take advantage of the chance to get some of your own “me time,” and let him be the one to realize he wants to be closer again. When he materializes again, he probably won’t even realize he was ever scarce.

Smooth Talking
He gives the best compliments, is open and articulate and whispers beautiful words about how he feels about you, but he somehow leaves you feeling less than essential when he spends time with other women and can’t seem to make any real time for you. Maybe smooth isn’t the right word, because this guy can just as easily be sweetly awkward about saying exactly what you want to hear. The dangerous part is that he probably isn’t even aware that he’s doing it. Many men deceive women because they’ve become masters at deceiving themselves; he may actually believe he’s the most sensitive and dedicated guy in the world, right up until he dedicates himself to someone else. So how do you know when his words are sincere? Don’t listen to them. Listen to his actions: they speak volumes, and they never lie – even to themselves.

Mr. Fix-it
You’ve come home from a difficult day, or maybe you’re grappling with an old dilemma. It could be frustration with a friend, disappointment at work or a more general insecurity. Naturally, you seek comfort in your significant other, but before you can finish, he launches into a 5-point plan on how to rethink, modify and correct all your woes. Was he even listening? You’re already upset; why the lecture? He means well, but his instinctive need to “fix” everything can come off insensitive and condescending.

Men hear your impulse to vent or share as a plea for help, and because he cares he wants to make it better. He doesn’t understand that what you really need is to be heard and understood. Communicating stressful situations accomplishes real purposes for women; it’s how we mentally process a problem and how we bond. It also triggers a release of calming hormones that prepares us to accept disappointment or decide on a course of action. When you really do just need an ear to lean on, it’s a good idea to preempt his suggestions with a preface like, “I’m not looking for answers; I just really need to talk to someone.” In the meantime, try to hear his advice as what it is: his way of reaching out to you.

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