Mixed Signals: Signs He’s Falling In Love But Scared

Medically reviewed by Paige Henry, LMSW, J.D.
Updated May 1, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

While healthy relationships may be forged on the foundations of trust and communication, flawless communication may not always be obtainable. People are often complex, and we may face the challenge of interpreting contradicting signals from love interests, such as signs he's falling in love but scared. You might feel that someone in your life blows hot and cold, and acts differently in various situations. Depending on the behavior, you might wonder if the person is interested in you romantically or not.

Navigating your confusion may cause you to go into a guessing game about the inner motivations of others, potentially leading you to believe they are hiding their true feelings because they fear rejection. Confusion may be due to a partner's lack of self-awareness, attempts to hide their feelings out of fear or shame, internal conflict, or difficulty labeling emotions. Navigating these doubts may require you to consider the healthiness of your prospective partner's behaviors and the future of the relationship. Additionally, effective communication and talk may help you discern what someone is feeling.

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Signs a guy has fallen in love but feels scared

Knowing if a man is interested in you can feel challenging. You might feel frustrated having feelings for someone but not knowing whether they reciprocate your feelings. Although there might not be obvious signs to guarantee someone loves you, there could be common signs to make an educated guess or open up methods of communication.

People can fall for each other differently, and every man may be different. Some individuals experience fear of rejection, commitment, or vulnerability, while others may exhibit hero instinct. Others may not be interested and are trying to be friendly or form a platonic connection. Ask yourself what feels most plausible and consider talking to the guy to find out more. The following are signs a man may be interested in you but feels scared. 

He is hesitant

Research supports the theory that love and fear can connect when negative experiences or trauma occur.

If you are experiencing trauma, support is available. Please see our Get Help Now page for more resources.

While you may not have much information about your love interest's dating history, there may be a reason for his hesitance, which could be a sign. For example, one of his ex-partners may have acted unhealthily or issues with family, and he may want to discern the situation further before making a move. Additionally, hesitance could come from fears of making the first move or uncertainty about compatibility. This may be a good sign that he's taking things seriously and approaching your connection in the same way he would with any other meaningful relationship.

He is afraid of rejection

Men may feel vulnerable when loving someone if their heart has been broken before, and they might not easily admit their feelings. They could be afraid of facing rejection from another individual, which could be a positive sign that they care about the relationship. He could fear heartbreak unless you're the first person he's been involved with. If you are currently friends, he may fear losing your connection if you were to break up. Rejection sensitivity can deter individuals from moving forward with a relationship or communicating.

He went through a breakup

If this individual has been through a recent or painful breakup, he may guard his heart to avoid further pain. Additionally, he might have feelings for you but is not ready to date again. This response can be normal. Try not to push someone to rush into a relationship before they're ready. It may make them feel you do not respect their time or boundaries. Try to offer space and understanding. 

How to know he’s interested in you

To get an insight into how a man feels, observe their behavior without confronting them immediately. 

He stares, then looks away

People who are interested in you may often make eye contact before looking away. You may see them staring at you from across the room or notice that they're holding eye contact longer than in the past. You might ask a friend to notice whether he is looking at you in moments when you aren't paying attention. Increased visual attention can be a sign of attraction. Looking away could indicate embarrassment or a fear of vulnerability. 

How someone looks at you may give insight into how they feel and whether they're attracted to you. Depending on whether they love you or feel lust and attraction toward you, there could be a difference in gaze. Loving or affectionate feelings may accompany a softness in their eyes or prolonged eye contact. Lustful feelings may accompany deep-set eyes, winking, or smirking. 

He acts eager before acting distant

If a man is interested in you romantically but pulls away after being open, they may be hesitant to pursue a connection. For example, he might go on a date with you and act enthusiastic and open. However, after the date, his level of communication might plummet, and he may tell you he's busy. If the distance continues to grow, you might assume he's losing interest. However, he could reach out again when you start to take distance. 

This behavioral pattern may indicate fear of commitment or rejection. It may also indicate an avoidant or disorganized attachment style, both of which are insecure attachment styles. Although you can choose to give the person space and time to communicate their feelings, these patterns may prove unhealthy, and it can be normal to cut off the relationship due to these behaviors. 

In some cases, a man could be busy for real, and they might not be pulling away for any reason other than necessity. If this is the case, decide whether you can commit to a relationship with someone who cannot offer much attention. If you're not comfortable with the dynamic, it could signify that the relationship would not be healthy to pursue. 

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The psychology of mixed signals

Communication can be essential to relationships. However, many individuals struggle to communicate their feelings accurately or interpret other people's intentions. Individuals may look for body language or non-verbal signals to understand how someone feels. We often rely on subtle cues like facial expressions and tone of voice to understand the emotions and motives behind words and actions. However, at times, our summary may be incorrect. 

In his book Thinking Fast and Slow, psychologist Daniel Kahneman identifies two systems for interacting with the world, which he calls System One and System Two. System one is fast, intuitive, effortless, and effective at making snap judgments. In some cases, system one's ability to "judge a book by its cover" can be beneficial. In other situations, it can be prone to mistakes. System Two is more logical and deliberative, allowing us to look at the bigger picture to reach conclusions. By nature, System Two is a slower form of thinking, requiring time and effort to process information from multiple angles.

The interpretation of mixed signals may cause a battle between systems one and two. Problems can arise when our intellect holds one perception about someone, but our intuition reads the opposite. Realistically, we may not comprehend every possible interpretation of other people's actions. 

How to handle mixed signals

If you want to know whether a guy is interested in you, try the following techniques. 

Ask direct questions

Extend some empathy when first attempting to understand mixed signals. Some individuals are trying their best and may make mistakes. Communication is often a two-way street. Do your best to interpret the person's actions and words before assuming the worst.  

The person giving you mixed signals may think they are being clear about their feelings. In this case, they may be experiencing the "illusion of transparency." This psychological illusion is created by the belief that other people can see our intentions as clearly as we can, even though that is often not the case.

In these cases, consider attempting direct communication by asking open-ended questions. A few questions you could ask include: 

  • What did you think of our date last Friday?
  • Would you like to go on a date with me? 
  • How do you feel about furthering our relationship?
  • I would love to go out for drinks; how does that sound to you? 
  • Would it be okay if I kissed you? 

If there is a miscommunication, asking direct questions may give you the answer you seek. However, the person you ask may not answer you directly or give you the answer you're looking for, so prepare yourself for potential rejection. If you struggle with rejection sensitivity, consider speaking to a mental health professional or someone you trust before or after the conversation. 

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Be open about your emotions 

It can be challenging to be vulnerable with another individual. Admitting that someone has hurt your feelings may feel like exposing a wound or discussing something taboo. However, telling someone how you feel can leave an opening for the other person to tell you how they feel. You may advocate for yourself in your relationship by being open about your feelings. 

Tell the person how their mixed signals impact you. If they ignore you or go back and forth about dating, let them know how it makes you feel. Perhaps they've been having a bad day, week, or month. Maybe they misread your signals as well. If they reject or invalidate you, consider letting go of the relationship. It may not be a healthy connection

Know when it’s time to take a step back

If your attempts to understand mixed signals do not yield results, it may benefit you to step back from the relationship. In some cases, individuals may not offer the response you hope for. They might not be working on their interpersonal connection skills or could be acting unhealthily. When that's the case, consider defending yourself by stepping back. 

Stepping back from a relationship does not necessarily mean ending that relationship. It may mean deciding to stay platonic friends or taking a break from communication. Additionally, taking a break might provide clarity about confusing behaviors. Ultimately, you might decide that cutting off the relationship indefinitely is the healthiest option. Consulting a therapist for advice may be valuable if you're struggling to cope with someone's mixed signals or deciding to leave an unhealthy relationship.

Seek clarity in online therapy

Getting mixed signals from a love interest may cause you to doubt your judgment. You might question whether you're reading too much into the subtext of their words and actions. This self-doubt could make it challenging to connect with the person or may cause distress as you try to start a connection that is not always reciprocated. 

Counseling may benefit you if you are distressed due to these interactions. A counselor may help you discuss your feelings, thoughts, and behaviors and make a healthy decision based on those aspects. Online counseling is an option if you're unsure where to start. Online counseling is often available, as you can attend therapy from home. 

Additionally, research has shown that online therapy is highly effective in treating common mental health symptoms and conditions, such as anxiety and depression. It may be more effective than in-person methods in some situations. If you're interested in getting started, consider signing up for a platform such as BetterHelp. 

Takeaway

Decoding mixed signals can feel challenging and emotionally draining. When faced with contradicting words and actions, take charge by being as direct as possible and letting go if the situation becomes unhealthy. By asking precise questions, being honest about your feelings, and knowing when to let go, you may understand whether someone else is in love with you or scared. If you seek professional support, consider reaching out to a counselor to get started. 
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