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One day, the guy you’re getting to know is telling you that he likes you, and then the next three weeks pass and he hasn’t made any effort to see you.
Or maybe your partner says she wants space, but continues to text you daily to make small talk.
"She stood there silent, glass of wine in her hands, with a look of puzzlement on her face," he recalls.
"As the doors closed, it hit me like a ton of bricks that she was shocked that I hadn't followed her back to her room.
The next day was awkward between us." According to researchers at Indiana University and Yale University, Tardif isn't the only man flying blind.
Women are better than men at interpreting facial expressions and body language, at least when it comes to images of women, according to a study published in the April issue of the journal "Psychological Science." In the study, researchers tested 280 heterosexual male and female students at Indiana University in 20, asking them to sort 280 photos of women (all pictures were full-length shots of fully clothed subjects) into one of one of four categories -- friendly, sexually interested, sad or rejecting.
"They pay more attention to what is said, not how it's said." Case in point: If a woman is giving "I'm interested" signals -- touching a man on the arm, for example, or maintaining eye contact and smiling while talking -- but then talks about how she's not really interested in dating, the man's going to believe her words, Stafford says, not her actions.
"I think a girl on the subway is checking me out," he says, "but then I realize she's watching the guy next to me while he's stealing my wallet or something." The Brooklyn, New York, resident -- who writes about his dating life on the blog Single-ish -- has one signal down, though: "A telltale sign is when she laughs at all of my jokes, because I know I'm not that funny." It all boils down to men and women's communication styles, says Charlotte, North Carolina-based relationships coach Kathy Stafford, author of "Relationship Remorse: Mistakes Women Make When Shopping for a Man." "Men are more direct," observes Stafford, who also runs the dating and relationship advice Web site Dear
Men who viewed images of women misidentified 12 percent of the images as sexually interested, the study found, while women mistook 8.7 percent of images.
Researchers chalk it up to women's more developed ability to read others' signals, and men's tendency to oversexualize social situations or miss the message entirely.
Last year, the college administrator from Waterville, Maine, met an attractive woman at a conference and was having a great conversation over a glass of wine. "I told myself to get real and put it aside," he says.
Then something unexpected happened: "She undid the plastic clasp holding her hair in a bun, letting her blond hair fall, then flipped it side to side." Tardif was confused. And so when the evening was over, there was no lingering, just a polite good night.
"I definitely think women give guys mixed signals, and it is almost always because our niceness in trying to let them down easy is confused with interest," she explains.