What your love interest says and what they truly mean can be two completely different things. Find out why you misinterpret what they’re saying, and uncover the real meaning behind these popular dating phrases.
They’re ticking all the boxes.
The only thing missing? Great communication.
Modern dating is a modern minefield. As soon as you find someone you truly connect with the dynamic changes, they’re sending mixed messages, and your confidence you’ve finally found ‘the one’ starts rapidly dwindling.
From ‘we need to take a break’ to the classic ‘it’s not you, it’s me’, they begin hitting you with the classic dating one-liners. But what do they truly mean?
Read on to finally understand:
- The importance of good communication when dating.
- The influence of social media and texting.
- The red flags and warning signs.
- Why you could’ve missed them.
- How to ensure your needs are met
- The ‘what they say vs what they mean’ dictionary
So you can finally:
- Communicate with your love interest confidently
- Decipher what they say and what they really mean
- Spot red flags faster
- Form better connections
THE IMPORTANCE OF GOOD COMMUNICATION WHEN DATING
The truth hurts. Which explains why it’s hard to be direct when you care about the person you’re with. But if you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times – communication is key to helping any relationship flourish. Eventually, effective communication helps relationships flourish as both parties develop a more profound respect for one another. They begin to understand the other on a subtle level and can tell if something’s wrong without telling you telling them directly.
After all, if you can’t speak to the other person, what’s the point? When you date, you’re looking for your confidante; someone you can open your heart to, and feel vulnerable with. Which means if you don’t feel comfortable sharing your feelings with your partner, it’s a sign to cut your losses and move on.
From a bad day to a big win, when you’re deeply connected to your partner they can tell how you’re feeling simply by the way you move, react and act – no words necessary. That said, great communication means verbalising your feelings and sharing them with the people you care about. This is because being unafraid to honestly share your feelings helps strengthen your bond, build respect and trust, and eliminate the ‘guesswork’ and ‘passive aggression’ that frequently results in arguments.
THE DYING ART OF CONVERSATION: SOCIAL MEDIA MAKE DATING COMMUNICATION HARDER
In an era where we’re relegated to dating through our phones and must form connections at a social distance, it’s unsurprising our communications skills have taken a big hit.
Dating apps, DMs, and texts – as instant and convenient as these channels are, old-fashioned face-to-face conversation still reigns supreme in terms of effectiveness. While we can overcome barriers of time and distance with online communication, we miss the immersive, all-important non-verbal cues, touch, energy, and environment around us when we spend our social lives completely online. Additionally, we can hide our true emotions, detach more easily and turn simple mistakes into a massive fight with the misuse of just one emoji!
So with the majority of modern dating communication online, one-dimensional, and downright confusing, how can you tell when someone is not quite being honest about how they’re feeling?
COMMUNICATION BREAK DOWN: THE WARNING SIGNS
For outsiders looking in, relationship and communication red flags seem so obvious. But when you’re immersed in the excitement and ‘utter perfection’ of a new relationship, it’s easy to dismiss what would ordinarily be big warning signs.
With our judgment clouded, we can miss clear signals of disinterest, unhappiness, or dissatisfaction. This means learning to objectively understand and identify what someone is really saying is crucial.
To begin, here are some ground rules for two types of communicators you might date:
1. The quiet one
If your partner is a reserved communicator, refrain from jumping to conclusions initially. Simply take what they say at face value before jumping to negative, ‘worst case’ conclusions.
That said, taking things at face value is much easier than looking into the sub-text of everything your lover says. After all, why should you have to think about the meaning of every word they say? But remember: early on, this often means we avoid looking at the bigger picture of the conversation.
2. The clear one
Comparatively, if your partner is characteristically clear about their needs and wants, don’t let romanticised hopes of a future together stop you from active listening.
You may not like what they have to say, but try seeing things from their point of view. For example, have you been neglecting them recently? Were they, “okay” but visibly upset when you go out for drinks with the girls for the third time this week? Perhaps they’re trying to act like they’re ‘cool with it’, but deep down, would you feel the same way if the roles were reversed?
UNLOCKING GREAT COMMUNICATION: EMPATHY IS KEY
Understanding your partner’s point of view can bulldoze communication barriers and lay the foundations for a healthy relationship. And no – it doesn’t require mindreading. Just the traits of empathy and intuition already within all of us!
It doesn’t matter how perceptive you think you are – understanding the emotions of others is not an easy task. While in a dream world we could always finish our partner’s….sentences, every couple experiences times where they just don’t ‘get’ what each other want – no matter how compatible you think you are. You might feel upset, they might be passive-aggressive, and you’re on the brink of a fight. These are the moments where open, raw, honest communication is critical.
HOW TO: COMMUNICATE BETTER WITH YOUR PARTNER
When YOU are speaking:
- Limit interruptions and distractions. Turn off the television, silence your phone, close the laptop.
- Think before you speak. Consider the key message you want to get across.
- Be clear and strong in the way you communicate. Use statements starting with ‘I feel, I need, I want’.
- Talk about the situation factually, then discuss how this makes you feel.
- Begin and end with positivity. Ensure your partner doesn’t feel overly criticised or attacked.
- Measure your tone. Be aware of the words you use and the way you say them, and refrain from yelling (elevate your point, not your voice).
- Don’t lecture. Allow your partner to interject, discuss and share their perspective, and remain open to negotiation.
When THEY are speaking:
- Maintain eye contact to show you are listening and value what they are saying.
- Lean in or direct your body toward them in a relaxed way to show interest.
- Sit or stand on the same level as them to ensure equal power balance.
- Avoid tapping, touching, or playing with distractions to maintain focus.
- Do not interrupt, and wait until a valid pause to share your perspective.
- Be prepared to put some space between the two of you for a few hours if feelings of anger or frustration boil over.
In addition to the above healthy, open communication techniques, there is one rule of thumb when interpreting what your partner says, versus what they mean.
RULES OF ENGAGEMENT: THE 10% RULE
The words we speak represent less than 10% of our communication – we respond with words, but they often have little to do with what we really feel.
Suppose you tell your partner you have to work late. In this case, let’s assume they are both upset about this fact. Chances are, they will respond in one of two ways:
- “You are always working, and you never have time for me.”
- “Okay no problem, I understand.”
When they choose Option A, they feel confident to communicate this fact. When they choose Option B, they choose to hide what they really want to say, such as “I am disappointed”, “I missed you today”, or “I’m annoyed you are staying back and not able to give me a hand with the kids”.
Regardless, this partner’s needs were not met. Chances are a fight will simmer and intensify out of Option B, while Option A will see the situation discussed and diffused immediately. This example proves mastering and implementing the art of open, confident, honest communication can save the energy and heartache of a fight borne out of an inability to communicate your needs.
WHAT THEY SAY VS WHAT THEY MEAN DICTIONARY
- “I’m not looking for a relationship right now”
“I want to keep my options open OR I’ve been hurt in the past and want to avoid it”
- “I’m fine”
“I’m not okay; the s*%t is about to hit the fan”
- “I don’t want to ruin our friendship”
“There is no chance I am ever going to be with you.”
- “ Sorry I haven’t called, I’ve just been so swamped”
“You are low on my list of priorities, I’ll call when I have nothing better to do?.”
- “We should hang out sometime”
I’m attracted to you, but I’m sick of waiting for you to ask me out.
- “Do whatever you want, truly I don’t mind”
I’d much rather you do what I want. But I’m testing you to see if you ignore what I want.
- “We need to talk”
I am not happy and you are the cause.
- “It’s not you, it’s me”
It’s actually you, not me. I’m just trying to make you feel better.
- “I am not sure what my plans are right now. Can I let you know?”
I’ll wait until the last minute and see if something better comes up.
- “You’re like a brother/sister/friend to me”
Don’t even try to make a move on me.
- “Why can’t you make a decision? I want someone who can take the lead”
You need to read my mind and know what I want.
- “You’re everything I want, but I’m just damaged”
I’m not prepared to work through my past traumas to be with you.
- “We need a break”
I want to shop around and see what my options are before ending it with you.
- “I think we want different things?”
I’m just not feeling it so I’m adding up all the reasons we shouldn;t be together.
- “Sorry I haven’t been in touch; I have a lot going on right now”
My needs are more important than your feelings.
- “I didn’t mean what I said; I was having a bad day”
I have no control over my emotions.
- “I don’t want to hurt your feelings or lead you on”
I’m just not that into you.
- “I’m not usually a jealous person”
I feel insecure around you and have trust issues.
- “Maybe one day we could…”
I don’t want to hang out but can’t tell you straight so will lead you on instead.
- “I know exactly what I am looking for and don’t play games”
It’s my way or the highway
- “I just don’t want any drama”
Drama follows me wherever I go
- “I don’t need a man but I would like to have one”
I don’t want to make room in my life and I’m too scared to admit I am lonely.
- “Any guy would be lucky to have you, if only I was single I would definitely chase you”.
I am throwing out the comment to see if you are open to me going behind my partners back
- “I don’t deserve you”
I have guilt and shame from a past relationship
- “You are such a nice guy, I wish I could find someone like you’
I am not used to a healthy relationship, all I know is how to be treated poorly
- “Let’s keep everything low key between us”
I am seeing someone and don’t want anyone to find out
- “I really feel I need to work on myself right now”
I’d rather be on my own than try with you.
- “You’re not like other girls”
I’m out of my league
- “I’m too old for this S%*T”
I’m avoiding responsibility for my past relationship breakdowns and use my age as an excuse.
And now? Great communication.
With these helpful insights, practical tips, and handy meanings, you’re now equipped to form better connections, speak openly and confidently, interpret what your love interest is really saying, and spot communication red flags instantly.
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