Mixed Signals are Messy [Confessions of a Twenty-Something]

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Signals — we’re surrounded by them daily. Missed signals. Traffic signals. Even turn signals. And there is the one type of signal that we all love so much — mixed signals. Every one of us has been stuck in some kind of relationship where the signals and signs are so messy and unreadable that we have no clue where we stand or what the hell is going on. We kind of just pause there in a foggy daze, shrugging our shoulders wearing a face that screams “Hi! I’m completely clueless!”

I was watching the classic and absolutely amazing film, Grease, the other day and couldn’t help but feel for Sandy during the scene when Danny is being a huge douche to her. They are reuniting for the first time since they spend the summer together and he is just a complete ass to her. Over the summer, he fell completely in love and was sweet and attentive, but in front of his friends, he blows her off and acts like he’s not interested. Why was he giving her such mixed signals? Why do guys do it? Are they scared? Are they all just spawns of Satan? Are they just as dense as we are? I have so many questions and no answers. This limbo and perplexity gets so frustrating sometimes that I just want to tear all my hair out and then throw it in the face of the guy that’s making me feel this way.

Now, I’ve talked about playing games in relationships before and to refresh your memory, I basically yammered on about how it’s time to grow up and quit the games. Game playing takes a major toll on a relationship, and we shouldn’t even bother throwing our hat into the ring. But here’s a question for you guys: what happens when you don’t even know the rules to the game because they change everyday? Even if we want to opt out of the game, how do we do that when we don’t even know the game that’s being played?

I’ve recently found myself left a little dumbfounded and lost in that daze I mentioned earlier. Long story short, trying to be friends with an ex is proving to be impossible. This is especially true when you still tell each other you love each other and talk all the time and use each other for comfort because you “get” one another. How is either of us supposed to move on? I’ve also wrote about how I’m trying to make the whole “friendship with an ex” thing work too, and this is where the mixed signals come in.

We broke up and took some time off from talking to each other, but then suddenly gravitated back to one another like magnets. We got comfortable again just in time for him back away slowly. I’m not an idiot. I know him pretty well, and I could immediately tell that he was pulling away. We went from throwing  “I love yous” and “I miss yous” and “Please come here nows” back and forth to absolutely nothing then back to a little bit of something and now back to nothing again. And here I stand — confused, frustrated, trying to configure and read all the signals and signs — but I’m left with nothing. Does he want to be with me? Does he want me to leave him alone?

I’m being tugged and pulled and tossed up and down. I’m dizzy. I’m tired. It’s like once I’m finally adjusted to being without him, his radar goes off and there he is: back in my life. And just as I get used to having him around again…he’s gone. I’m trying to read my ex-manfriend’s signals (that are pretty much unreadable) only to be completely lost in the mixed signal mist.

Why do they do this to us? And how do we maneuver through the confusion without seeming “crazy” or “clingy”? Right now, I’m deciding to just go with the flow and take whatever comes. I’m not demanding any ultimatums or labels or explanations. I know nothing that he is doing is malicious or self-serving. I think he’s just as confused and conflicted as I am (at least that is what I’m choosing to believe for my own sanity). Loneliness is a hell of a feeling and sometimes, it makes us do desperate things — like call an ex and tell them you love them (even when you’re not sure that’s even true anymore). It makes us go back to people we probably shouldn’t go back to. It makes us send signals that are mixed and messy and unclear because we don’t even know what we want.

As we get older, relationships only get more complicated. We’re no longer prepubescent tweens with hormones raging and braces, writing notes about your crush to your BFF in study hall. We’re young adults who are looking for companionship and real love and sex on the reg. (Don’t lie. You are). We’re maturing, and as we mature, our emotions grow up and intensify too. In our twenties, I think we’re still trying to figure out how to get all these things and sometimes we don’t go about getting it in the right ways.  It’s all about trial and error for us twenty-somethings — thus the mixed signals. And I cannot write this without admitting a little fault as well, I know that I’ve probably dealt out as many mixed signals as I’ve received. We’ve all been victims, and we’ve all been the perpetrators. Can we just call a truce? I’m exhausted enough with final exams coming up.

Katie is finishing up her undergrad at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois. She enjoys wasting hours on Facebook and tweeting things no one cares about. When asked the question, “Do you do marathons?” She promptly responds, “Of course! Which show?” Follow her @KatieGarrity! Or read her personal blog where she talks incessantly about Ryan Gosling and hummus here!

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