Getting Mixed Signals From Him: 7 Ways To Reply

February 16, 2024
▪ 16 mins read

Urgh it was all going so well until his hot signals of interest faded, and suddenly he’s gone cold over messages. What’s happening and why is he sending you mixed signals?

I’m dating coach Hayley Quinn and in this blog I’ll share:

  • 7 ways to deal with a guy who sends mixed signals
  • Why his messages have gone from hot to cold 
  • 6 examples of mixed signals and how to respond
  • How you should react to his mixed signals

7 ways to deal with a guy who sends you mixed signals 

1. Don’t over analyze 

You may never know the exact reason why his messages have cooled off, and you shouldn’t spend too much time Googling the reasons why. I know it can be really disappointing when a man sweeps you off your feet, only to drop you a few weeks later; but you will never truly be able to get inside his mind to know his reasons. Trying to figure them out may end up further depleting your emotional resources. 

2. Accept you are where you are 

This isn’t easy but instead of trying to get back to how things were when you first met, accept that his cold messages are the status quo of the relationship. 

3. Don’t blame yourself 

If a man you like has gone from hot to cold, it can be tempting to chalk this up to something you said or did that turned him off. Or worst of all, you can start to believe that you’re simply not attractive enough. Take a more empowering mindset here: You thought he was one kind of guy, he turned out to be another, that’s not enough for you. 

4. Is this enough for you?

It may be impossible to work out his exact reason for his mixed messages but you can clearly decide if this new status quo is working for you, or not. If you’re happy with the pace of the relationship, or he’s just one of a few options you’re considering right now, you may be able to let this interaction with him play out. If his lack of communication is jarring to you, then this may be a deciding factor for you that you’re simply not compatible.

5. Mirror his energy levels

Men will often be quicker to interpret a loss of interest from you, than a barrage of angry messages. So even if you feel disappointed, try reducing your effort in him first. This shouldn’t feel punitive, you’re not trying to ‘teach him a lesson’ you’re simply taking the feedback loop that he may not be able to meet your needs and focusing your energy elsewhere. 

6. Inquire in a non-judgmental way 

If you decide to check in with him, don’t assume what his intentions are. Instead of sending a “what’s with the mixed signals, do you not like me anymore??” style message, send a message instead that shows you’re secure within yourself, whilst acknowledging a drop in communication from him:

“It’s been a minute - how are things going with you?” 

Notice that he’s been in less contact, gently inquire about it, but give him space to tell you what his reasons are.

7. If he can’t communicate that’s your answer 

Some people are better placed than others to tell us why they’re feeling and acting in a certain way. If he’s not pursuing you, if his effort level is zero; whilst you may never get an explanation, you will have an answer that this just isn’t the right guy for you.

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Why is he hot and cold over text? 

1. First of all - check in with yourself. 

Are you sure he’s being cold? Is it possible that you’re simply over analyzing? If this man has been consistent so far, and it’s only been a day or two of cooler messages from him don’t jump to conclusions. If you do, you could be letting your anxieties about the relationship cloud your judgment, and worrying unnecessarily. 

Particularly if you have an anxious style you may find yourself ‘preoccupied’ with your relationship, and looking for reasons why this isn’t going to work out. If that sounds like you (and don’t worry, that was me too) take 24 hours, have a bath, call a friend, and see if his mixed signals still exist tomorrow morning. 

In relationships aim to come from that deep space of trust within yourself: You’re attractive, you’re awesome, and any available man with his head screwed on right is going to be in touch. 

2. Not all things in his life are to do with you. 

Plenty of his actions in a relationship, whether that’s a message that comes across as cold, or a drop off in his libido, may be much more to do with his state of mind than his levels of attraction towards you.

Work stress, bad sleep, health issues… There's a long list of other areas of his life that he may be preoccupied with, which are causing him to drop the ball in his relationship with you. Messages are particularly easy to misinterpret as it can be hard to determine the emotional intent he sent a message with. 

For instance, he might hastily type a “hey, how’s your day?” message so he’s at least checked in with you, as a massive problem unfolds at his work: Which to you reads as a loss of interest compared to that nice long voice note he sent two days ago. That’s just one simple example of how his good intentions can be easily misread as a mixed signal. 

3. No, this U-turn from him feels personal. 

Okay so your intuition is telling you (firmly) that this isn’t because ‘he’s busy’ and it’s not your anxiety going haywire, but there’s been a perceptible drop in his interest levels. Maybe he’s gone from messaging you all day every day and seeming desperate to see you, to barely being in touch and not suggesting any dates at all? What’s going on?

After years of coaching men and women I’ll say this: Men often rush into dating. He meets you, he’s attracted to you, he’s excited, he wants to see you, and he doesn’t think much further ahead than that. This initial burst of enthusiasm from him is so easy to misread as “he’s chosen to be in a relationship with me” rather than what it really means, which is simply that he’s attracted to you right now. 

Based on his initial excitement and investment in the relationship you may develop expectations that this is ‘going somewhere’, before you’ve got to know him well enough to make that judgment call. 

Him investing much less into the relationship could actually be a much truer indicator of what he’s like in a relationship than his first attempt at wooing you. Maybe he has an avoidant attachment style and is taking some heat out of your new connection, as it’s started to feel overwhelming. Maybe he’s realized you’re looking for something serious, and he’s emotionally unavailable, so is quickly backtracking out of boyfriend mode. 

Maybe he’s feeling more secure in the fact that you’re attracted to him (which means, he feels less motivated to chase you) and has grown complacent? 

You may never know the exact reason why he’s pulling away, but you can decide how you want to deal with it. 

6 examples of mixed signals and how to respond

So now let’s look at how to respond to these common (and annoying!) 'mixed signal' messages men sometimes send. The kind where you're not sure if he's pulling away, and that generally leaves you stumped as to what to say next. We're going to start with six very specific examples of messages that you may well have received before, and I'm going to show you exactly how to respond.

(If you want to get to the advice faster you can also watch the video below)

I want you to pay attention to the context around the messages. Some of the responses I'm going to be suggesting for you to send are a little bit sassy and powerful. But they are appropriate considering the context given when he’s being hot and cold. 

1. The "What are you up to later?" mixed signal

The context for this is, he’s not your boyfriend, he’s not your husband. It's not someone that you are in the flow of dating. Maybe you’ve had a great couple of dates, and on the last date he said something that indicated that he wanted to see you again, “'Let's go for brunch this weekend. I'll organize something.”

But the week has gone by and he hasn't messaged. You feel disappointed that he hasn't made any definite plans with you. It's late on Friday night, and you get that message. Now, you are feeling a bit disappointed because you were expecting a proper date this weekend. And instead, you got a "What are you up to later?" message.

How would I advise you to respond to this message?

Well, first of all, I want you to notice how you're feeling about it. You're not feeling great, if anything you feel let down and disappointed. You also want to recognise here that those feelings mean you have hit a personal boundary. Perhaps you don't feel 100% comfortable with his suggestion for a last minute date. It feels low effort. You want to go on a proper date! 

You also want to show him that it's Friday night and you're not sitting around waiting to see who messages you. Even if you are sitting at home watching reality TV (we've all been there) some quality time with yourself should always trump a low-effort date with a guy.

I wouldn't say: 'Oh, I'm out with my friends having such a great time.' This is trying too hard. I would sub-communicate that you're having a great time and show that you have a boundary against last-minute dates. Simply archive that message and respond to it the next day saying:  

Mixed signals text exchange via Messages

This will communicate to him you don't go out on dates last minute. It's not something you are interested in. It will also show you are still open to a meeting which will give him the prompt he needs to make a real plan with you.

You’ll notice that my advice here is all about showing him what you want, and will tolerate; as opposed to directly telling. Yes clear communication is a valuable asset to a longer term relationship, but early on men will be much better at responding to a drop in your attention levels, than a long message about where he’s going wrong.

2. The "Let's catch up sometime." mixed signal

Now message number two is a really common one. It's an annoying modern dating message that we get a lot, an indefinite suggestion to catch up “sometime” but that time is never defined. He also might message you, “let's hang out soon.”

Without context, this sounds okay. Right? Someone is expressing an interest to see you. But be wary of anyone who expresses you must catch up soon, but then never goes on to make *actual* plans with you. You know this is your scenario when every time they send a message like that and you reply genuinely offering your availability such as: 'I'm pretty free on Wednesday and Thursday next week', you get tumbleweeds as a response.

So how do you respond to that message? 

I would mirror back the intention and say, “Sounds great” or “Sounds fun :-)” Again, you will show that you're open to the idea of meeting, but you leave the ball in his court to make the arrangement to see you. 

Try not to worry, ‘what if he thinks I don’t like him??’. If you’ve replied, and your response was warm, you’ve done enough. Any man who is sincerely open to dating you will follow this up by suggesting a time and a place to meet: Without that there can be no date! 

A woman looks incredulous as she reads her phone message
Ana couldn't fathom how The New York Times described this as the "only thriller you will need to read this year"

3. The "How's your day going?" mixed signal

Now this message, again, in and of itself is not the most exciting message to receive but it's not a bad message. It's quite normal when you've been with someone for a while that you chat and exchange pretty banal details of your day. That can feel quite comforting and nice. But the killer context for this one is, that this person will ask you how your day is going, or how's your morning going, but they never ask you out. It's bizarre.

In this scenario, my mindset for you would be to ask yourself, 'is this aligned with what I want?' If you want somebody to date in real life who's making an effort to see you, you may want to start to think about creating space in your life for them to come along. People who text this may want some attention, but they're not in the right space in their lives to be able to move things forward. They like to chat, but they're not moving things forward.

If you are done with responding with a genuine (and detailed!) break down of your day, only for him not to reply to that, and you know his pattern, just stop responding. This isn’t as harsh as it sounds. You only have a limited amount of time and energy for dating and if you’ve seen on a number of occasions that this man, for whatever his reasons, isn’t moving things forward you need to refocus on other options. 

You’re not anyone’s penfriend. You can’t chat all day. You don’t want to talk endlessly online, you want to connect with men who are focused on building a real world relationship with you. 

4. The "Hey, it's a bit hectic over here. Can we do it tomorrow instead, I'll cook?" mixed signal

So message number four gives is a last-minute message asking to reschedule your date.

"Hey, it's a bit hectic over here. Can we do it tomorrow instead, I'll cook?"

So again, the message at first glance may not sound bad. But listen to the context. You had a nice Friday date night plan. You turned down some other stuff because you wanted to make that date. Then at the last minute, there's a change to the plan. It's no longer going out and doing something together, it's much more about meeting him on his terms.

You may also simply not be ready to meet at his house yet. Don’t second guess your gut instinct you’re allowed to take this relationship at the pace you want to take it at! 

Here’s another great opportunity to express an intention that you’d like to see him again, but that you have a preference that it’s on different terms. 

“Ah I can’t make tomorrow. Maybe we go back to dinner out at some point next week :-)” 

Another mixed signals text exchange via Messages

Don’t be afraid to communicate your preferred date option, rather than going along with his new and revised plan. This isn't about you being obstructive. It's about you sticking with a pace for the relationship that feels safe, bearing in mind how well you know one another. Let him come to your side of the table and agree a date that suits you better. 

5. The  “What’s good?” mixed signal

Add this to the list of low effort messages from him. Here he’s doing the bare minimum he can to stay in touch. Here you could choose to respond in a way that’s tongue in cheek, “Errr idk, me?” Or you could leave that message hanging. 

Often simply pausing before you reply will prompt him to look again at the message he’s sent you, realize it lacked effort, and then he will follow it up with a message that’s more well thought out. 

Next time you get a “Hi.” Or a wave. I double dare you to not respond. See how a lack of response and effort from you sends a clear signal to him that he needs to make more effort with you. 

6. No message at all

Message number six is the hardest of all, confronting that he hasn’t messaged you. If you’ve just had a date and he always normally follows up right away this can be unnerving. Maybe the days are ticking by and you’re no clearer as to what’s caused this sudden drop in his interest levels. 

First of all, I wouldn't assume that his lack of message is because of something you've done. Before we know a person well, there could be so many reasons why someone isn't maintaining regular contact. Something could have happened in his life that you don't know about. He could not be that much of a messenger. He could be sitting there on the other side of things worried that he's gonna put you off. Or that he's smothering you by messaging too often.

She considered giving the AirBnB 2-stars given the shockingly uncomfortable sofa

So don’t immediately jump to the conclusion that this is a sign that he is not interested in you. You may want to wait it out and go on and enjoy the rest of your life and not put too much importance on why he hasn't messaged you in a while.

The second thing you might want to think about is, is this suitable for you? Is this in line with how you want to date? Does this fit with how you like to message people if you're someone who likes a bit more communication? If you're looking for something a bit more serious, and that's important to you, this might start to signal that they might not be able to give you the level of relationship that you want.

It doesn’t always feel rewarding but you’re building and developing a relationship with him, even when you’re not in touch. Sometimes having moments of independence and not being in constant contact builds trust; at others you’re left with the harsh reality that he’s simply not giving you enough to hold your interest. 

Know your worth

In the end, what's important isn't how attracted he is to you. It isn’t why he’s suddenly cooled off. What’s important is how you’re feeling as this relationship with him continues to develop. Are you feeling more security and connection? Or is he simply unable to match your needs? If it’s the latter, then letting go of someone that isn’t right for you isn’t a failure. It’s a gateway to meeting someone who is far better equipped to be a fantastic partner to you. 

How to reply to his mixed signals: FAQs

What is hot and cold behaviour?

Hot and cold behaviour means that you receive mixed signals from the person you're interested in. Perhaps they're chasing you up for a date one minute, and aloof the next. Dating someone who exhibits hold and cold behaviour will feel emotionally confusing.

What does it mean if a guy is hot and cold?

If a guy is hot and cold he may be unsure how much he likes you, be emotionally unavailable or simply not seeking the same level of relationship that you are. You may never know exactly why a guy is hot and cold, but you can understand that you need to build a relationship with a man who is consistent.

How do you treat a hot and cold guy?

If a guy is hot and cold it's wise not to try and 'beat them at their own game.' Don't think that by changing your behaviour, that you'll suddenly make them desire you more. The most attractive way you can behave, is just to recognise that these mixed signals don't align with what you're looking for and move on.

Is hot and cold behaviour a red flag?

Hot and cold behaviour is a red flag, as you need to focus your time and energy on partners who are able to be consistent. The only caveat to this is how long you've known someone, if it's only been a couple of dates it may be too early to tell what kind of relationship someone is able to offer you.

What does it means if I’m getting cold replies from my boyfriend?

Before you jump to the conclusion that your boyfriend has lost interest, stop, you know this man well. Is it possible that he’s stressed about another area of his life? Could you take a step back and see if he naturally comes back around? Could you inquire if he’s feeling okay? And if his cold responses to you are chronic, do you have the confidence to walk away to find someone better? 

What to text a guy who has gone cold 

Before you consider chasing up a guy who has gone cold, consider what’s making you want to chase up someone who isn’t meeting your needs. Even if you had a great few dates, there’s a lot more to building a relationship with you than that. Resist the temptation to try and prove your worth to him. Instead consider if he’s worth it. 

What to do when a guy takes hours to respond 

It’s normal for people to sometimes take a few hours to respond, particularly at the early stages of dating. Even if he’s made a great first impression on you, don’t move him into pole position in your life prematurely. Give your phone a break, and refocus on your work, friends or wellness. 

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He’s slow to reply to you but active on social media 

It’s so hard but avoid checking up on his social media! If you do, your mind could construct a story that he’s just not that into you. Instead bring this question back around to yourself: Is he messaging you enough to build this relationship with you? And if not, what’s keeping you open to the possibility of it? 

He’s online but not responding 

When a guy’s online but not responding you may jump to conclusions about what he’s up to and how much he likes you. Deep down you may be checking up on him because you want to feel in control of the relationship: You want to know today where this is, or isn’t, going. Accept instead that you can’t know (at least not today). Get back into the real world and quit checking up on him. 

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