You’re having a great texting conversation with a guy you just met. He’s answering back right away, he’s funny and thoughtful with his responses, the whole nine yards… and then he just bluntly stops responding. Your mind automatically jumps to the worst possible conclusion. Did I say something wrong? Was I too forward? Did I scare him off?
Guys do weird things, and we girls typically worry about them when we don’t need to. Just because a reaction means one thing in girl code (c’mon, ladies, we all know the silent treatment is deadly), doesn’t necessarily mean a guy feels the same way. We’re revealing the true meanings behind the odd antics that guys are often prone to!
1. He’s quiet when you hang out together
When a guy is quiet around us, we tend to assume it’s because he’s upset. He might be, but chances are, he could also just be thinking about other things.
“It is maddening for girls when a guy is quiet, because it can mean so many different things – really good or really bad,” says Carole Lieberman, M.D., psychiatrist and author of Bad Girls: Why Men Love Them & How Good Girls Can Learn Their Secrets. “It could mean he’s feeling that he loves you so much and hoping that you love him, too. Or, he could be feeling intimidated by you, or worrying about his upcoming poli sci test or what movie he wants to see this weekend. But we girls jump to the worst conclusions –thinking he’s quiet because he’s angry or because he’s figuring out how to tell you that he wants to break up.”
The easiest thing to do is to simply talk things out. If a guy isn’t talking, ask him what’s wrong. As long as you do so in an open manner, he won’t feel judged, and he will be more willing to answer truthfully.
Lieberman recommends not making him feel trapped. “You never want to say, ‘What are you thinking?’ because you are unlikely to be happy with his answer,” she says. “If you must say something, you can say, ‘I notice you’re a little quieter today than usual. If you’d like some time to yourself, we can stop what we’re doing and get together another time.’ This takes the pressure off of him immediately. If he says, ‘That’s a good idea,’ you can follow with, ‘I have studying to do anyway,’ or ‘I’ll go check out what my friends are doing.’ It gets him to wonder whether you’re going to have more fun without him.”
2. His texts are blunt
As girls, we like to use text messaging as a form of self-expression. Whether it’s through an emoji or an exclamation point, you always know we’re absorbed in the conversation (unless you get the dreaded “K.”). Guys, on the other hand, tend to be much more straightforward texters. While girls may interpret this as lack of interest, it’s not necessarily the case.
Geoffery Greif, a professor at the University of Maryland School of Social Work and author of Buddy System: Understanding Male Friendships, says that when a guy is a cold texter, “it means he hasn’t been socialized to be a warmer texter or he is not interested in the person he is texting. With both these questions, some guys may have difficulty communicating and may need to be taught how to do it in a way that it will be received better.”
This could, however, carry another meaning, according to Cory Leschel, a freshman at the University of North Florida. “I send direct text messages for one of two reasons: Either I’m not interested but don’t want to be mean, or I am interested but I’m acting like I am not so you become more interested,” he says.
The important thing to remember is that you can’t base the status of a relationship off of one means of communication; you need to put his behavior into a broader context, Greif says. “A bad texter who also doesn’t call or show much interest in someone is… probably NOT interested,” he says. “A bad texter who is interested when with you may just be a bad texter or busy at the time or a bad speller.”
The best way to assess this type of situation is to see how your relationship stands on multiple means of communication!
3. He acts differently when his friends are around
Have you ever been hanging out with a guy and it’s going great, then the next thing you know, his friends show up and he’s a completely different person? For example, he says romantic things to you while you’re one on one, but when his bros enter the scene he’s cold and unaffectionate. Hey, give us a heads up next time!
Patrick Wanis, a relationship and human behavior expert, dishes that the key to figuring this odd behavior out is asking yourself, “Is he more comfortable around me and less comfortable around other people? Or vice versa?”
“That’s going to give you the clue,” Wanis says. “If you see he is more comfortable in a group setting than with you, that action is telling you there is a problem in the relationship between you and that person, and he puts on a mask and he acts differently for certain people.”
Cory says that a guy might act differently because “he might be insecure and feel like he has to act a certain way to fit in or look cool in his friends’ eyes. It all depends on the specific situation and the people involved. People use different tactics to hid their insecurities; it doesn’t always mean he isn’t interested.”
In this situation, Cory says you should reconsider the relationship you’re in. “Anyone who does that is immature and you should have more self-worth than to be with someone like that unless it’s there is a good reason behind it,” he says.
4. He prefers bro time to being with you
If a guy doesn’t want to spend all his free time with you, it can make you feel like he’s not interested in you anymore.
“Girls tend to overreact if a guy doesn’t want to spend every minute with them. We take it as a sign of their cheating or [that] they’re losing interest,” Lieberman says. “Guys want ‘guy time’: time to be with their friends or to be alone doing something they enjoy or studying. When a girl overreacts to this, the guy feels smothered. His natural instinct is to free himself from the trap.”
Wanis says that the idea of guys needing ‘guy time’ might just mean he wants time for himself. “[It] could mean that he has been spending so much time with you that he is losing his identity or individuality and he wants to connect more with the guys,” he says. “His male friends might be complaining he’s not spending enough time with them.”
When a guy makes an effort to hang out with his friends, it doesn’t always mean he is distancing himself; he might just need some time with the bros. Wanis advises girls to not be ambiguous in what they want, but rather to be direct and make a point to acknowledge the fact that you want to hang out with him more. Try picking one day a week (like “date night”) that is reserved for the two of you to hang out. This way you can each spend time with your own friends but make sure to have time for each other.
5. He gets defensive about little things
Have you ever been making a small joke or seemingly harmless remark and a guy takes it way out of proportion? Your initial reaction might be to think he has something to hide. However, it depends on the circumstances.
“If someone is becoming highly defensive, you know that it is coming out of insecurity,” Wanis says. “Another reason of defensiveness could be we are challenging someone’s ideas or beliefs, which we can argue still comes from a place of insecurity.”
Wanis advises that the best thing to do is to let your guy know in a softer manner that it wasn’t your intention to make him uncomfortable. “Make sure your tonality becomes less threatening so your voice becomes much more accepting,” he says.
Greif says that “sometimes taking a minute and letting something harmless pass is the best move. But if the odd behavior is not harmless, she should reevaluate her relationship with him.”
When it comes to decoding guys, your best bet is to not let your anxiety get the best of you. Guys can say things and do things they don’t realize can be confusing. Talk it out, and soon enough, you’ll find out what his behavior means!