Are You Confusing Mixed Signals For Something Else?


Daniela Tempesta, LCSW

Ever notice how the relationships that are the most confusing and unpredictable seem to be the ones that spark the most intense attraction? We tell ourselves where there’s smoke there’s fire. But sometimes, it’s just smoke, with no sustainable flame. That’s because we’ve mistaken our own anxiety about the relationship for passionate chemistry.

It can be easy to mistake the anxiety or mixed signals generated by an unhealthy relationship for passionate chemistry. For example, when you are crushing hard on someone your body responds in certain ways. You may get butterflies in your stomach, feel your heart beating faster, or you may become hot and sweaty when you’re around that person. These physical sensations can be the sign of something wonderful to come, but they are also the same symptoms our body experiences in the face of fear or anxiety (also known as fight or flight).

Making matters more complicated, if we’re dating someone who is unpredictable and inconsistent, we can start to confuse the chronic cycle of pre-occupation followed by relief with the euphoria of a magical love.

When unclear signals are sent we frantically try to sort out how the other person feels and how we can keep them close. When they finally send some reassurance our way, we’re relieved and something that might usually just be perceived as common courtesy is experienced with euphoria. The feelings of elation are so intense compared to the fear and doubt that the experience becomes confused with intense passion.

And it makes sense that the crumb someone throws you when you’ve been starving is far more exciting than a balanced meal you eat everyday. But who wants to spend their whole life waiting for crumbs? The answer is no one.

If you’re finding yourself in a situation like this know that you’re not alone. I once broke up with a very handsome, successful, and kind man because he was “boring.” But in reality, he wasn’t boring at all. The problem was me. I found the lack of drama and the fact that he was very clear and consistent about how he felt about me to be boring. I had mistakenly fused excitement and passion with unavailable and inconsistent partners who always kept me on my toes, wondering where I stood in the relationship.

The good news is that you can turn this pattern around, and this is precisely what I’ll be covering in my Mend Class “Decoding Mixed Signals” I’ll help you discern if you are confusing chemistry with mixed signals, discuss the common reasons why we do this, and discuss how we can change this pattern so that you can find the happy and fulfilling relationship you deserve. See you there!

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