Relationship Advice

Relationships decoded: What they say, what they mean


We see it all the time on eHarmony Advice; post after post asking what someone really means when they say or do something. Why didn’t she call me back when she said she would? Why haven’t I heard from him when he told me what a great time we’d had? And so it goes on.

The fact is that while most of us are probably pretty honest people, sometimes we say things we don’t mean. Maybe we say them to avoid an awkward situation or maybe we say them as the first thing that comes into our heads.

We’ve chosen 8 of the most popular phrases uttered on dates and in relationships, and decoded their real meaning. What do you reckon? Have you experienced any of these situations?

1.    “I’m really tired, I’m going to have to call it a night”
We’re sorry to say it, but 90% of the time when someone says this what they actually mean is ‘This date just isn’t doing it for me’. Sure, it’s possible that your date is dead beat from a tough week and wants to be fresh for the next day, but usually it’s an excuse.

Let’s put this into perspective. You know those great dates you have sometimes? The ones where you’re sparking off each other right from the start, and you get shooed out the restaurant because you’ve lost track of time and they’re closing up? However tired or stressed you might have been before those dates, once you’re on them you want them to go on forever. Something kicks in when you’re having an amazing time, and everything else – work, deadlines, early mornings – becomes insignificant. When you hear this phrase, the opposite is happening here.

2.    “Do anything interesting last weekend?”
On a first date, this isn’t just a general inquiry; it’s a probing question from someone working out whether or not you have a life. eHarmony founder, Dr Neil Clark Warren often says that the best way to make yourself attractive to dates is to show that you have a  great life just being you. If you indicate you’re just waiting for someone to come along and keep you entertained your dates will be turned off.

3. “I need time/space.”

This generally either means “I want to meet someone new” or “I think I want to meet someone new, let’s spend some time apart so I can figure it out”. Most of the time, it means the former.

Happy, healthy couples give each other enough time and space to be themselves without needing a special break. Often the person saying this isn’t brave enough to break-up with you and thinks distance will help them do it more easily.

4.    “It’s been nice, I’ll be in touch”
Nice? Really? A visit to grandma’s is nice. A piece of carrot cake is nice. A good date should be ‘lovely’, ‘wonderful’ or ‘brilliant’. If your date says this it’s pretty likely they won’t be in touch. They’ve probably had a perfectly nice time, but that won’t have them reaching for the phone any time soon. On the upside it’s important to remember that they’re judging you on just one date. So it really isn’t you, it’s just the way of the world.

5. “You’re beautiful/gorgeous.”
Guess what – sometimes people mean what they say. This isn’t something said lightly, so it’s almost certainly meant. Take the compliment!

6. “It’s not you, It’s me.”
A classic line, and such a cliché. As it’s said by the person doing the dumping it might be hard for you to believe that it’s true, but it sort of is. They’re breaking up with you, so technically it’s them but it’s also because they just don’t feel the same way about you. However you read it, it’s definitely nicer than a breakdown of all your faults.

7. “I’m just too busy at work to think about a relationship”
No one is ever too busy for a relationship. If that were true, anyone in a high powered job would be single. When someone says this they really mean “I don’t want a relationship with you”. It’s a good excuse because it’s hard to argue with when you’re the one it’s being said to. If you like someone you just make it work. Simple as that.

8. “I’m not interested in anything serious. I just want to have fun.”
Probably doesn’t take a genius to work this one out. This person wants a physical relationship, pure and simple. There’s nothing wrong with that, as long as you’re both on the same page. But don’t convince yourself you can change their mind and make them want something more, because it’s very likely you’ll end up hurt.

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6 thoughts on “Relationships decoded: What they say, what they mean

  1. West Kensington

    April 25, 2011 at 5:48 PM

    well, a guy said ‘it’s been nice, I’ll be in touch’ to me and he actually called and made the next date on the same day! obviously there is an exception to it!

  2. Oh not again.

    Some of us are seeking honesty, and we say what we mean. Surly it’s not the best advice to inform people that the people they meet are going to be lying to them, do you not think advice telling people to be honest would be better?

  3. sheila mitchell

    May 1, 2011 at 9:19 PM

    ine actually had 3 dates from same match thought it was going well and then it was :the distance he said was a problem, when it only took an hour to get to me, then another match we arranged to meet , and the evening before he sent me an harmony mail saying the distance is too far, from now is only local matches for me.

  4. “It’s not you, it’s me” is George Costanza’s classic break up line out of Seinfeld! But then, it was always him.

  5. Distance… really? If someone wants you they’ll go to the end of the world to be with you. I travelled to San francisco just to be with someone after all its only a few hours away..(Cheshire,man apt,Sfo,together!)

  6. Here it goes guys. I am one of those fairly attractive, independent women who generally does well with men. Guys that I go out with do not have to be gorgeous or super-successful. Your everyday, respectfully educated with a mid-level income is about all I require; someone that dresses well and has good manners. If I go out on a date and he hasn’t called in three days? Not texted, CALLED. I can assure you that I am already looking for guy #2. If guy #1 calls after three days I am also NEVER going to be available the first time slot he mentions and I am always going to say, “I’ll need to get back with you.” Date with Guy #2 will be worked in accordingly. If I go out with guy #2 and he does call back in three days? Guy #1 is never going to hear from me again because guy #2 has already tipped the scales in his favor by expressing interest. This is the “system” that I have followed for years. The only time I have ever in my life called a guy first is that if something semi-embarrassing happens to him on the first date (example: One guy forgot his wallet and I could tell it wasn’t a scam because he was about to get sick from embarrassment…I paid for the meal, called him and was treated ROYALLY after that..he more than made up for it).

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