what they say

What they say vs what they mean: relationships decoded

by Eharmony Editorial Team - March 25, 2011

Men and women alike don’t always say what they mean, and when it comes to relationships things can get even more cryptic. Here’s a handy cheat sheet to help you decode what your date’s saying.

While most of us are pretty honest, sometimes we say things we don’t mean. We’ve chosen eight of the most popular phrases uttered on dates and in relationships, and decoded their real meaning 

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. 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.