Monday, November 23, 2009

Reading His Mind

When a guy’s doing something you don’t like, it’s natural to want to figure out why he’s ignoring your texts or making out with your best friend.

Just take this conversation we overheard on the Red line last night:

Girl: So, last night I texted Brian, just, you know, to say hi—
Her friend: What did you say?
Girl: I was just like, “Hey, what’re you up to tonight?”
Her friend: What’d he say?
Girl: He never responded!
Her friend: What a dick!
Girl: No, like, I think the thing is, I think he might not be over his ex-girlfriend.
Her friend: Oh.
Girl: Yeah, like, I was looking at his Facebook, and there were all these pictures of him with this super hot blonde. She was, like, really cute, and looked like tons of fun. And I Googled her and she works for some big law firm, so she’s obviously really successful and stuff.
Her friend: Yeah.
Girl: And remember how I was telling you that he told me last weekend that he really wasn’t look for a relationship?
Her friend: Oh yeah.
Girl: I bet it’s because of her, you know? Like, I bet she totally broke his heart by dumping him for some hot-shot lawyer.
Her friend: Maybe…
Girl: And I wonder if, like, when I was starting to tell him that I liked him last weekend, if that maybe freaked him out.
Her friend: Could be…
Girl: So, maybe he’s trying to, like, play things cool so he doesn’t get too attached to me.
Her friend: Yeah.
Girl: I mean, also, he could have swine flu.
Her friend: You can still respond to a text with swine flu.
Girl: I’ve heard your fever gets so high you forget your own name.
Her friend: Really?
Girl: Well, he could just not be that into me.
Her friend: Ohmygod I’m sure that’s not it.
Girl: Yeah. You’re right. It’s probably swine flu.

This conversation made us cringe, for multiple reasons. But our first reaction was: these girls just wasted five minutes of their lives.

There are so many “what not to do’s” we could point out about this conversation, but the most striking of them is this: it’s not worth trying to figure out why Brian was ignoring her calls.

Most of us can’t read minds, a fact that frustrates scorned lovers to no end. After all, wouldn’t it be so much easier to move on if you knew why he was treating you like shit?

Maybe it would be, but no amount of Facebook stalking or drunk texting will ever reveal what’s going on in his head. Which makes any speculation on your part an utterly useless pursuit.

This applies to analyzing behavior too. If a guy tells you he doesn’t want to see you any more, it’s natural to wonder why he also told you he still loves you. And when a guy spends $200 on your first date, but then doesn’t call you for a month, you want to create the story that explains everything.

But even if you were to get him to “open up” to you about what went wrong, it’d be no more revealing than a suggestive wall-to-wall. People lie. They do things that don’t make sense. They tell you that they want to take you to Paris when they have no intention of ever seeing you again.

Actions may speak louder than words, but they still don’t tell you what a guy’s thinking. That’s why it’s not worth trying to figure out what a romantic first date or an intimate conversation “means:” you’ll never really know.

Once you start trying to read his mind, it’s hard to stop. You’ll probably never reach any conclusions you can truly believe, which means you’ll spend more and more time trying to “figure him out.” The closer he is to the forefront of your mind, the harder it is to move on if things don’t work out.

The key to healthy relationships and speedy breakup recoveries is thinking about the other person less, not more. If you spend too much time obsessing over a new guy, you build him up to something he can never be. And if you waste time thinking about what went wrong with an ex, you prevent yourself from moving on.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ever think about him/your relationship. In fact, you should spend time analyzing the situation and figuring out how you think things are going. But when your analysis turns towards his thoughts and feelings, you start asking questions you’ll never find answers to.

Instead of trying to figure out what he’s thinking (which you’ll never know), focus on what he’s doing. And adjust your behavior accordingly.

If he’s taking you on dates and calling to say hi, keep seeing him. If he waits three weeks to text you, don’t respond.

There’s no direct line to another person’s stream of consciousness. It’s not hidden in the next Facebook photo or his track times from high school.

You’re never going to know anything with 100 percent certainty, and that includes his motives, his intentions, and his opinions of you. And no amount of obsessive analysis will change that.

So stop trying to figure out what he’s thinking.


  1. I think this is the kind of mentality that sounds great in theory, but is hard to put into practice- at least for oneself.

    While I definitely agree that there is a strategy for playing the dating game, my own theory is that when it's the right person, none of these games and tactics will even come into play- it will just be easy.

  2. I'm really hoping that this was a made up conversation. How does "I don't want a relationship." every equal "I have the swine flu and that's why I didn't reply to your text."

    Yes, please stop trying to figure out what he's saying.

  3. Ugh, so sad - if he wants to talk to you, he will talk to you! Still, women are stereotyped as being flighty and irrational when really as many men share the same traits.

  4. Perhaps Brian was just naturally quiet and Girl's constant yammering drove him off. That could definitely be the case. Or, more likely, his phone was on vibrate or silent from the afternoon meeting and he didn't hear it when she called.

    If you're trying to figure out what any guy is thinking at any given moment your top three answers 80 percent of the time will be: Boobs (perhaps not yours, but probably the last set he saw); booze (When am I getting my next drink); and, of course, food.

  5. Foggy - You left out sports, big TVs and Barcaloungers.

    While I think it's annoying and cowardly when men 'fade out' instead of break off a relationship, there's a point where you don't need an 'answer.' He's not interested. That's your answer.

  6. Good point. I also agree with LiLu's comment -- that when it works, you won't HAVE to figure out what he's thinking. Because he'll tell you & show you. If he's not -- then he's just not that into you. Reverse is true for the opposite sex, this doesn't just apply to men. If a guy were pursuing me and I weren't responding too enthusiastically, well, don't take it personally dude. I'm just not that into you.

    It is nice to have closure though - like Shannon was saying, it sucks if ppl just fade out. But I guess confrontation is hard, no one likes to disappoint.

  7. I once heard a marriage counselor say, "When you try to be in someone else's mind, it means you're out of yours." A simple phrase, but one that stops overanalyzing in its tracks (at least for me).

  8. Just wanted to say that I recently started dating a girl and found out that she religiously follows this blog through her twitter account. I didn't return her texts because of the ridiculous shit I am reading on this blog and the possibility that she is an enormous bitch with crazy ideas in her head about men like the last paragraph of this entry. Cheers ladies, you'll never find a decent man because the guys that you are attracted to are enormous DC douchebags that should be thrown into the tidal basin.