Men’s Mixed Messages

July 26, 2011 § 31 Comments

The Snowman has not been the only one.  In three years there might have been as many as eight or ten men who have sent out mixed messages.  Please God, spare me mixed messages.  They are head destruction.

Men other than the Snowman have talked to and confided in and laughed with me all evening but I have never seen or heard of them again.  Yet more have taken my telephone number and never fucking called.  (Oh, do I have a story to tell on that score, but I’ll leave that for another day).

There is one at the moment who emails me, invites me to stay.  I have just seen the film Beginners and there’s this line in it, I can’t remember it exactly, something about how we envisage a lion and get a giraffe.  This guy’s a giraffe but I like him.  He sends me emails which make me laugh. I am surprised, all alone in my house, by how loud.  I speak to my mum most days – because in the absence of someone significant and male to listen to my minutae, my mum’s the only one remotely interested – and I hear myself again and again saying things to her like, “I just got an email from X and it made me laugh”, or “I just had a cup of coffee with X and he was so funny he said…”   He’s not the lion I had in mind but all the same I have told myself that that does not matter and I guess he has become a smidgen on the horizon, of hope?

I email back, friendly, witty, enthusiastic – but not too enthusiastic, Lord, no – thinking we’re starting a conversation here, and things might move.  But then… silence.  A few weeks pass, as they did with the Snowman, and I give up the idea in my head.  I didn’t really fancy them anyway but was interested because in my circumstances beggars and all that, and because I thought I mustn’t discount anyone who is funny and nice and doesn’t look like a Melanocetus johnsoni (look it up) and because I could or would, if things were to inch on a little, to shift slightly… if the Snowman had kissed me on the night of the snow, or the night of the theatre, then who knows where my head and heart might have leaped to?  But because of the puzzling silence, I think, no, forget it.  Put a stop to any thoughts you might have had.

Then a good while later they email or text again, just as all is about forgotten, and it sets my head in motion again, and I respond.  I compose something just right – I know I can express myself to communicate precisely what it is I wish to get across, a mixture of clever and funny and flirtatious, as well as concise and devoid of gush but also not clever-clever and scary-offy or demanding or up my own arse.  I can write so it’s right.  I’ve been writing all my life.  I am not fingers and thumbs when it comes to writing.  Or leaving a message on his telephone (in response to his on mine: I know I said I never ring a man, but I do respond to them, that’s different, that’s allowed).  I think I am articulate enough.

And you know what, again?  Sodding silence.

Girlfriends are kind and speculate that these mix-y men might be out of range or their internet is down or they are ill or in a week-long meeting or have just had their teeth pulled or a suffered a breakdown or have lost their i-phone or Blackberry or… or…?  This speculation was ever thus, though in my younger days it was that his phone was out of order and BT were taking nine months to fix it, or his answering-machine might have broken, or he might have scrubbed off the message by mistake, or that my witty postcard must have got lost in the post?

It’s funny how I think I understand men – my father, my half-brothers, my uncles and brothers-in-law and all my male friends to whom I talk as I do to my women friends, as openly and honestly, and who are all pretty open about how they operate and think and are typical examples of the gender I would have thought.

And yet I don’t for the life of me understand men who may or may not be interested in me.

I want to get inside their heads and shout, what the fuck are you on about?  If you don’t fancy me, ditch the mixed messages; and if you do, ditch them too.

Just be straight-forward.  We are too old for shenanigans.  We don’t have so much time.  Just make your intentions, or lack of them, clear.

That is all I ask.

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§ 31 Responses to Men’s Mixed Messages

  • Sarah says:

    I reckon they are having a fling in the meantime. When the fling stops, they get back in touch.

    If one of them emailed, I’d leave it a week before I replied tepidly (if at all).

  • The minx says:

    Hallefookinlujah!! It’s not just me!
    They chase you, you get to like them, they go cold. You get upset, get over it… Then they do it over again!!

    And… When you say to them ‘be honest, what do you want’?… They can’t give you a straight answer, if they did you might not answer their calls when they are looking for someone to call in a lonely moment.

    We are all grown ups, surely it’s not too much to ask for honesty about why they do it??

    • It’s because they love you, Minx!
      Be generous, be giving, be loving.
      The problem is just a most terrible draining chase that will be not be because a catholic without faith will not listen nor be persuaded, but heard something which unbeknownst struck home and now is a preconceived notion and set! It is an impact upon the subconscious through the conscious that blinds us to being open or receptive to honest, open communication and persuasion! I say “Rome was not built in a day”. Are we not building Rome, men and women alike?

  • dpawson says:

    I’m uneasy with this mixed message idea being one way? Some part of the confusion could be that two people put out mixed messages and the other is plain confused and backs off not really knowing what is going on? Some men are trained psychologists… but not many. We all get confused with our interpretations of what’s happening, more so when filtered by how we’re feeling?
    Some leaway might help along with the straight talking, but that’s hard with relative strangers.

    • This is a good point. Thank you. Personally, I think it helps to have read widely. Of course we need a sense of proportion. We need to be able to have confidence and believe and have faith. We need to be happy. We need to have friends, we need to have space. We need lovers, not women who walk away from us because of some preconceived idea or notion or because the money is no good. Why can a woman not talk about something conceived by somebody else, but only judge according to a strict and fast rule.(Women who run with the Wolves-Clarissa Pinkola Estés)
      I heard one good remark by a celebrity recently married, when queried by the press about the state of her marriage say “marriage is a relationship between two people”! How many marriages do you know that do not introduce the ideas, perceptions and conceptions of third parties? Cannot we be quick to judge and impose our opinion on others where it can do harm and does not belong? I firmly believe in our Lord’s moral to “Judge not, lest ye be judged”. No doubt then we are all found wanting!

  • mel says:

    speaking as a man there can usually be only two reasons for mixed messages……….
    1
    if you proceed at a mixed- massage- leisurely- pace it limits the psychological damage done from outright rejection, if we have been damaged in the past we seem to be a LOT more ” gun shy ” than the tender gender ( if i can put it that way ) i know i am
    2
    the out and out cads will have a string of potential ” conquests ” ready and pick and choose at his leisure ( i have a male acquaintance like that ) he might be “keeping a spare interested ” with sporadic contact.

    • Thank you, Mel. I think the problem with this is that since the swinging sixties when I myself did not swing we have entered a new age of Aids.This has paralyzed love. Women particularly are too afraid of the genuine article. I think looking at young women blind drunk on the street today, you “reap what you sew”. “Love seeketh not itself to please”. I love Plankton and I think she writes like a troubadour. Three cheers for Plankton. Hip Hip Hooray, Hip Hip Hooray and Hip Hip Hooray

  • How do you respond if you never ring? What will you do, Plankton? Change your life? Live in a shallow abode? Meet in a home far overseas? Criticize the way someone lives when you find that you cannot live the same way? Will you come to a man when he calls? Visit a man? Leave a man? Love a man? Do a man’s bidding? Take your children? Change your life? Meet your mother in law? Love someone who can sometimes be inept? Will you do all of these things, writer? Where are you? Are you a neighbor? Do I know you? Please come for dinner. Why do you hide yourself? Will you talk, or just plain love? Do you know about the iron curtain? Can you change a fortune? Can you do all or just some of these things? You are dared!

  • [sigh…] I tried…

  • Redbookish says:

    Have you been spying on me this last year? I have had a very similar set of exchanges with a lovely man. Emails and texts exchanged up to 3 times a day. Dinners which we never called dates, because they remained chaste etc etc. Then after a few months of this, nothing. “Pressures of work.” My foot, they were. I get it. He was just “not that into me” after being intensely into me for several months. But he should not have played with me like that. Such emotional fuckwittage is just not fair.

    • Be fair, honestly!
      Judge not, lest ye be judged!
      Do we really understand each other?
      Look at Baron Cohen’s book: The Essential Difference. Have you done the tests?
      I say there is an essential difference and sometimes the battle of the sexes I think can become a wide and forlorn abyss. There is no “not that into me” I think, unless you are in a chasm.

    • Joost says:

      If a guy spends so much time on your for so long, he displayed interest. Either he was waiting for you to take initiative or he wanted to test the waters.

      So yes, maybe he is not that into you anymore, but he was. Be bitter about it, but at least you got a chance and some romance to spice up the loneliness. Do you think he invested all that time in you thinking that he would pull back at some point and leave you depressed?

      He was simply dating. You were simply dating. It did not work out. It sounded like you had fun during the dating. Crushed hopes always hurt.

      and this sounds suspiciously like all the younger men I know, who get the friend-zone treatment.

  • Forget about taking a class- Would you consider possibly teaching one? Perhaps an amateur writing or poetry class somewhere…

    You are very obviously a very talented writer, and you almost certainly do know that about yourself-

    And after a while, perhaps a handful of your students may become interested in getting to know you a little bit better, personally I mean- And perhaps one or two of you male students might become interested in getting to know you more than a little bit closer…

    You never know…

  • Here’s a more recent photo of me- The photo that I sent the link to in response to “Snowman, Part I” this past Sat. 07/24/11 was taken in July of 2010-

    Here’s a picture that was taken last month, in June of 2011- http://www.flickr.com/photos/50071060@N03/5930789615/in/photostream

    That’s what I look like when I’m wearing a neoprene triathalon and snorkel suit- Again, hope I’m not frightening you…

  • Nina says:

    in my experience, after the initial flirt (be it a drink, calls or emails) 99% of men know – if they are interested they do something about it, if not, then, at risk of repeating the cliche, they are simply not that into you…I don’t think there are mixed messages…and yes, it’s harsh, but in the cases described above it’s simply a case of a guy keeping his options open

  • Nina says:

    Scott, are you for real?

  • Joe Ehrlich says:

    Scared of being rejected again is more like it. We cannot ask for what we want “Dinner with a bit too much wine and then can we maybe fool around on the sofa?” because there will surely be an automatic rejection. And it hurts to get rejected.

    So we put a lot of effort into it initially and then after the third or fourth date (with the mandatory ‘good night hug’ we say “aw, forget it then” and we go back to reading online motorbike forums and wondering why, if we are so goddamn wonderful, women always seem to be holding out for some tall man who likes to dance?

    If we were ever to say what we wanted (a steady relationship where we get to fool around on the sofa, sans underpants) women would immediately reject us, even though rumor has it that they are as lusty as sailors and just as lonely for companionship and intimacy as we.

    • Susan says:

      I like your honesty Joe. I know that’s what alot of men want too and I can sense the one’s who want that, and the one’s who just want a one-nighter bit of female closeness. It’s a good skill to learn, and can be learned. I think you need to learn that same skill with women – there are some of us out here who are very pleased when a man is honest about his intentions, ( it means we can make a good decision about you) and you just have to be able to pick those women more often. Emotionally mature women who like men will hear the humour and affection in your honest approach and will more likely than not honour it.

  • @ Ms. Plankton- You seem A LOT more interesting than the women that I seem to be meeting these days…

  • Leftatforty says:

    I know EXACTLY the type. I even know one that texted me: would you like to meet for coffee today? I answered: Sure, what time?… He answered with some sorry ass excuse three(!) days later… True story. Now, the men replying to this blog might say that they hug trees in the weekends but I know they don’t. You know it too.

  • Joe Ehrlich says:

    We do hug trees on the weekends, but we make sure not to eat the bark. That would make us too bitter on the inside.

  • Hi
    I have probably said this before but men over a certain age get very set in their ways and can’t operate outside of their comfort zone- I have 2 grown up children and have left them instructions to shoot me if I ever end up like that!
    Be positive – one day you will meet your soul mate and your ex and everyone else will be history. Just think how JK Rowling’s first husband feels right now…

  • I have thought about JKRowling’s first husband too which is why I would say again I do not buy an “not all that into me”. I think it just reflects a failure to understand what an individual is about and where psychologically in space-time they are coming from? I say every individual has their own space, quality, philosophy and policy however strange or disagreeable it may be! There are not no two sides to every coin and even if you think Bin Laden is where he belongs according to British legal systems he was entitled to life. Is your relationship with people generally happy or just a complaining misery. Think about your expectations. Scientists are taught to deal without any expectations and from Newton we have moved on to Einstein and beyond! Plankton, try it!

  • dan says:

    I dont know where ur going with this one!
    I have been both honest and truthful,even on a first date, only to find that all the excuses you are saying guys use to you ,i have found were used to me from females.
    why!
    scared them away straight away!!!
    I think women like the wait, the tease, the maybe’s and the maybe nots!
    The chase ! Now thats what i think ye like,along with the mystery of not knowing.
    when yere told up front, the mystery is gone and you know you have him.so ye either dump him or try to figure out how yere going to change him into what ye think he should be, dress and act like.
    so from my experiences of being as you say open,honest and making your intentions know,it just doesent work.
    as my freinds say to me, ALWAYS KEEP THEM GUESSING, THEY STAY AROUND LONGER!
    anyone agree with me?

    • Susan says:

      “ALWAYS KEEP THEM GUESSING, THEY STAY AROUND LONGER!”
      Only if they don’t know what they want. If a woman wants a steady committed monogamous relationship and is emotionally mature, she won’t play games. She will spell out her needs for happiness in a relationship and leave it up to the man to deliver, as he now knows what she wants. If the man does not deliver, she understands that he doesn’t care for her that much, so why would she want a man who doesn’t care for her? End of Story.

      Ps – if a woman wants you to chase her, she’s playing games and is not emotionally mature – you decide which sort of girl you want.

  • toyman says:

    This topic is addictive……………..

    I really like reading what you women write…….

    I will try and explain what is happening to me as a man and maybe it might shed light on what is taking place……….
    My last girl friend got married, with my blessings, when we met she was 23 and I was 39 and I felt like a real man, tits were on my mind all day……….

    Today I am 49 and I know I need a new girl friend, but I keep finding excuses or logical reasons rather to put it off. Sometimes I meet someone and I automatically go into hunting mode, the chat up line, the conversation and then nothing, no phone number, it’s as if I just enjoy the hunt……..

    For the record, English women can really hold a good conversation.

    I feel bombarded with female imagery all day long; my senses feel numbed by all this…………

    It is as if I know I should be in the company of some woman at this moment; but for some strange reason I feel quite content fiddling with this dam computer……

  • Susan says:

    Plankton, about being straight forward – are you straight forward with men? Do you tell them what you need up front, so that they can decide whether they are up for it? Once I sense that my magnetic pull is drawing them in, I give them the chance to bail with dignity by stating up front what I require, in a caring loving way of course, don’t want to scare them off unnecessarily, but I have my standards and I hope he does too, so hopefully our standards are similar and we just talk about what we both want and I know pretty quickly if they aren’t up for it, so they get jettisoned by me immediately, so there’s no more attachment going on which can lead to nasty breakups. It works very well with most men, only a few crazies who get shitty with the idea that I’m in control of the emotional component of the relationship in the beginning. Most men seem to like the fact that I know what I’m doing and seem very happy to let me plot the course for a while – they still make lots of decisions about our time together, but based on the information I give them. So everyone feels happy about the deal.

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