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Decoding His Texts: Find Out What They Really Mean

Learn to decipher his texts

Texting is confusing. Dating is confusing. Put the two together, and you have the perfect recipe for miscommunication.

It's tough to just read the words that someone types into their phone, without seeing their face or hearing their voice. Plus, texting often happens when someone is in a hurry, so it's doubly hard to understand what someone is trying to say.

Here are ways to decode what his texts mean and what he's really trying to say when he sends a vague "good morning" text.

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Decoding His Texts: Find Out What They Really Mean

Miscommuniation is rampant

Text messages can be easily misinterpreted, said Daniel Amis, professional matchmaker.

"It depends on what’s being said in those text messages. But generally speaking, some people have a hard time determining what others may mean when speaking in person and communicating via text makes things a bit harder to determine," Amis said.

"One way for women to find out what a guy truly means when
messaging is to simply ask. Ask what he meant by what he said so there’s no confusion. If it’s a brief message such as 'I really like you,' that should be self-explanatory. But if it’s a message such as, 'I don’t know what to do from here,' depending on what prior conversations were about, it's a bit too broad and require a bit of an explanation," he said.

Don't read too much into a text

Anita Chlipala, a marriage and family therapist with Relationship Reality 312 in Chicago, said, "Every guy is different, so decoding what a man really means can cause more harm than good. For instance, if a guy sends a brief message, he may not be much of a texter or has a busy day but still wanted to respond, or he needs space. If he sends something off the cuff, it may mean he's thinking about her, he sends interesting texts to his friends too, or he's lonely and texts a few women to see who responds back. Reading into texts can create anxiety, hurt and disappointment when what a woman perceives the meaning to be isn't actually the case."

Chlipala said, "I tell my clients to take things at face value, especially in the beginning of dating a new guy. When there's uncertainty, it's better to ask than to assume. A woman can ask, in a very laid back way, 'What's with the random texts...?' Keeping it light and playful (as opposed to serious questioning or an interrogation) can shed insight as to her guy's intentions and his personality."

Decoding His Texts: Find Out What They Really Mean

Don't overthink it

Texts are fraught with potential for miscommunication, it is true, said Mark Sharp, Ph.D., a licensed clinical psychologist. 

"This is for a number of reasons. You lose many channels of information (visual, tonal, etc.) and they also tend to be quite brief. The best way to not misinterpret a text is to not interpret it in the first place. There are not hard and fast rules to interpret texts correctly because the things that provide for miscommunication are embedded in he individual differences between people in how they think and communicate," Sharp said. "So, the same words in a text from one person might mean something totally different in a text from someone else. I always coach couples I work with to never have any serious conversations, positive or negative, or make any important decisions, via text message. Misunderstanding is the rule rather than the exception and conflict in particular tends to spin out of control quickly."

"Bottom line is it would be best for a woman to not put too much emphasis on the messages that come through text. If a text ends up being very intriguing and they wonder at its meaning, they should ask. If they don't feel like they are at the stage of a relationship where they can have that kind of conversation they should back away from putting too much meaning on it and try to have a different kind of communication with the man about the same subject to get at what he means," Sharp said.

Don't try to read his mind

Rather than send a copy of the text to every one of your girlfriends as you try to interpret what his casual "hey" text might mean, instead you should be careful to not read anything extra into the text, said Tina Tessina, Ph.D., psychotherapist and author of Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting about the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage.

"Be very careful you're not reading into the text. Take it literally, and don't try to read his mind. If you don't understand what it means, then ask. 'What are you doing?' is not necessarily an invite to do something with him. 'Busy tonight?' may not be a request to get together," Tessina said. "Think before you respond. If he seems to say something critical or hurtful, don't jump to upset: check to make sure he's not joking. If he tends to tease inappropriately, you can deal with that when you're face to face 'Do you know it hurts my feelings when you call me Hey, you or Fudgeface?' But give him the benefit of the doubt unless you know for sure what he means. You can always text back: '??' if you don't understand something; or ask a question, 'I'm sorry, I don't understand.' As long as you don't go from zero to upset instantly, he'll be fine with the clarification."

Play it cool

Wait a beat or two before answering, Tessina said.

"Remember, he doesn't know what's going on with you when he texts you. You could be away from your phone, for all he knows, or you could have gotten an interrupting phone call, so don't feel he needs an instant response. Take time to calm down and think clearly about what he's texting you. A slow response is probably a more thoughtful response, and that's a good thing. See above about clarifying. Also remember his phone may auto correct and say something he didn't mean, especially if he's doing it fast or while distracted," she said.

Beware of sexting

Just as in person, don't let him lead you anywhere you don't want to go. If sexting is not for you, just sidestep anything that seems to be heading that way, Tessina said.

"If you don't want him to get a bad habit of texting you for a booty call, don't respond to those texts. And don't answer every text. If he doesn't get answers for a couple of days, and he's really interested in you, he'll call you up, and that's a much better way to communicate than texting," she said.

"Remember, with texting, you have a choice about whether to respond to the message or not. If you don't respond to it, a text message waits to be read. Texting is useful if you're somewhere where silence is necessary, such as a boring meeting or on a train when you don't want your call overheard, and you want to connect. Think of texting as a quick way to send a message when you're out and about; but don't let it become a major source of communication. It will drain all the intimacy out of your relationship and let him take you for granted. If you don't respond all the time, and you take your time, you'll make him want to speak to you in person or by phone. That is a big advantage, and means he'll value you more," Tessina said.

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