Have you ever had your signals misinterpreted, or misinterpreted someone else's?

This thread got me thinking about the above topic. Looking back, I’m pretty sure I failed to pick up on a lot of signals directed my way (the kind of thing where you look back and say :smack: dude, she wanted you). More amusing, though, were the times when I thought I did pick up a signal, and it was wrong.

For example, when I was pursuing one girl (who I later married), we were having kind of a long conversation about relationships and stuff (including her current boyfriend). At some point she said to me: “Um, don’t take this the wrong way, but I think you’d be much more handsome if you lost a bit of weight.”

Me (internally): “She likes me! She cares about how I look! If I lose a bit of weight then she’s offering me a chance!”

Later, after we were together I mentioned this and she was :dubious: “No, all I was thinking at the time was that you were too fat.”

Signal I was sending off: “I am about fifty kinds of not interested in you. I am nodding and trying to end this conversation.”

Signal he was receiving: “She’s nodding! That means she agrees with everything I’m saying! She’s totally into me!”

Oh, a million times, I’m sure. Mostly I’m thinking of misinterpreting others’ signals, but years later I found out that a guy I had innocently offered to show Spirited Away to at home on our first date thought I was offering to sleep with him. I thought we were talking about movies!

ETA - these days he’s divorced and I’m attached and we’re friends, BTW.

I can’t wait to hear about someone who never misinterprets signals, and never has their’s misinterpreted. I’d guess they are the totally clueless type that always misinterprets and is always misinterpreted, or perhaps catatonic.

Oh yes, to both. The worst was a coworker/friend that I ended up not talking to for months and months because I couldn’t for the life of me understand how he’d taken my friendship vibes as a signal that I wanted more and wouldn’t back off until I told him outright to leave me alone. The thing that baffled me was that he was jealous of the right guy, so I couldn’t understand how he could see me treating him in a totally different way and conclude that I was interested in him. (of course, the alternative explanation is that he knew I was interested in the other guy instead and didn’t let that bother him…) We talk again now that he has a girlfriend and I don’t have to weigh every word against giving the wrong impression.

On the other side, I often comprehend signals from guys, but I don’t trust my interpretations of what they mean, so I wonder how many have given up on hoping I’ll figure them out. :frowning:

I know that I’ve linked to this story arc before, but here: http://www.nuklearpower.com/2001/05/03/episode-024-shes-a-white-magic-woman/ . Keep reading until she agrees to his second proposal.

I have a friend who is constantly calling me up to get my “take on the male point of view” regarding various situations she gets into with men, which I usually sense to be her misinterpretations of “signals” on their part. What she really wants to me to do is to somehow decree that a guy is interested in her based on her relating of the minutiae of some interaction she has with them. Essentially, she wants me to co-sign her willful misinterpretation of signals. It drives me crazy as she goes on and on analyzing all of the endless possible permutations of meanings that she can come up with, and then says, “So don’t you think that could mean he kind of likes me?”

But just to show that this kind of thing is studied very seriously–and at the risk being unbearably digressive–I’ll post a link of an academic view of misinterpreted signals, known as “crosstalk”…

Of course, when asking someone on a date can consist of utterances such as, “So, like, maybe we should hang out sometime,” I can see that the field is ripe for study.

Well . . . I must admit “you wanna come over to my place and watch a video” might have been misinterpreted on my part as well . . . based on historical experience if nothing else :wink:

God, yes. Just because I’m nice to you, doesn’t mean I want to have sex with you. It just means I’m being nice to you. My own misinterpretations are usually due to overthinking other people’s signals. Ironically, I’m overthinking them specifically because I don’t want to misinterpret them.

One of my more embarrassing moments in the NYC gay scene of the '70s.

I was in a bar on Christopher Street. I had had two beers. I normally don’t drink, so this amount of alcohol is something my brain wasn’t used to. There was a guy who was very much my type, and the two of us had been having a certain amount of direct eye contact. In that kind of environment significant eye contact means only one thing. So when the guy left, I followed him. He walked several blocks, and I kept my distance, even when he stopped to look in a store window. I figured it was sort of a cat-and-mouse game, not unusual in that context.

Finally, he stopped to look into another store window. My heart was beating as I continued walking and caught up with him. This is the point where normally the two guys would start some small talk before moving on to anything more meaningful. So he turned to me (my heart was racing) and said “Are you following me?” I answered, “Yes.” And he said, “Well, I wish you wouldn’t,” and he turned away and left, as I stood there like a total moron.

Whenever I read about the gay scene back in the day and all the subtle stuff like eye contact and all, I wonder…how do you know? I mean, how did they keep it from turning into a situation like the one that happened to you?

Normally, you just knew. After all, you would know that everyone in the bar was gay, and significant eye contact meant the guy was interested. My guess is that in this case, he was interested at first, but then became impatient with my hesitance. The beer caused me to follow him, but my lack of confidence resulted in my following him from a distance, and that was probably a turn-off for him. Most likely, if I had just approached him in the bar it would have turned out differently.