Men Share the Most Confusing Texts Women Send Them
Isn't it crazy that a "Hey!" text message from the cute girl you've been talking to sends your heart aflutter, yet a "Hi." text has you packing your LeSportsac for a night in the doghouse without even bothering to ask her what you did now?
Honestly guys, I don't blame you for reading into things. As a woman, I can vouch for the fact that our cryptic actions (and messages) can be just a little confusing. Also, texts in general are ironically hard to read. Without cues from in-person body language and voice inflection, each typed-out word, phrase, and punctuation mark that pops up on your iPhone screen holds so much weight.
With all that in mind, I asked real-life men to spill the most stupefying texts that women have sent them. And for good measure, I've added some of my own professional (female) insight on each.
Who knew that one little consonant could stress a man out to such great bounds? Actually, women are quite aware of the subsequent anguish caused by ominous one-letter texts because we'd FREAK if a guy sent one to us -- we just assume boys don't think of it that way. Well ladies, here's a PSA: they completely think of it that way. And they HATE it.
"When a girl responds to me with only 'K,' so many thoughts race through my mind," says Andrew, 29. "I can't tell whether she's mad at me, unenthusiastic about my suggestion, or just busy at the moment; she's given me almost nothing to work off of."
A properly punctuated "K." creates even more devastation, especially in a serious relationship. "A period at the end is when you know you’re in trouble!" Andrew says.
"What are you doing tonight?"
Beware! This seemingly simple question could be loaded. For guys, receiving this text from a girl is like trying to decipher a road sign with eight arrows pointing in eight different directions. There are many plausible routes to take your answer -- though some are more treacherous than others.
"If I like the girl," says Robert, 27, "I'll respond in a way that subtly keeps my schedule open for meeting up. I don't want to sound too eager in the event she's just making polite conversation."
Well played, Robert -- presumptuously extending her an invite to your buddy's party can also result in a shutdown if she already has plans with her girls and is just blipping your radar for a booty call later on.
The lingering ellipses
That incoming chat bubble harboring the menacing dot-dot-dot is a technological blessing and curse. On one hand, you know when someone is in the process of answering your text; on the other... you know when someone is in the process of answering your text. And when your drawn-out wait time doesn't match the length of her reply, a big, grey raincloud of questions unleashes hell on your prematurely sunny mood.
"If a girl's texting bubble blinks for like 10 years before she replies with a super-short 'Oh, OK,'" says Gus, 27, "I still know she was writing and deleting over and over again. It means there's more on her mind than she's letting on, which is passive-aggressive."
Hey, it could be worse -- she could ignore you with her "read" receipts on.
Since texting offers no hints of inflection, a "Whatever" message from a girl presents itself as a terrifying game of Jeopardy -- one without Alex Trebek or any of the fun. "A text that reads 'Whatever' can be a light cue to change the subject before she gets annoyed, or a way to say I already screwed up," says Theo, 27. "You kind of just have to guess, but it’s rarely good news."
Ah, but a "Whatever" could ALSO be her way of admitting she was wrong before shrewdly brushing the topic under the rug. And that means you won! No, not the Daily Double cash prize. Just the argument.
A non-smiling selfie with no caption
If a girl sends you a photo of herself in any way, shape, or form, she is seeking one thing from you: attention. That’s obvious. But Mickey, 27, expresses bewilderment in regard to a specific kind: the non-solicited, stoic-faced, un-captioned selfie.
"I never know how to respond!" Mickey says. "When she's not smiling and gives me no context, I don't know what kind of attention she wants. Do I be supportive and ask why she had a bad day, or tell her she looks pretty? There's a big difference there."
Here's a guideline: if she took the time to filter the photo, she probably thinks she looks good. Use your reply to agree with her.
"I'm soooo buzzed right now"
So, the girl you’re seeing is parading around the city for Girls Night Out. And at 11:39pm your phone buzzes: it's a text from her informing you of her state of intoxication. Why the hell is she telling me this?, you ask yourself.
"I get it," says Wayne, 27. "She’s been drinking with her friends. But I never know if she's so hammered that she wants my help, or just wants my penis."
Truthfully, she wants your attention. Notice a theme yet? Plus, any of her uninhibited commentary or "Miss u, let's cuddle" texts will be less abashing for her the next morning if she let you know she was wasted upfront. Depending on your reaction, she can always pretend she was blacked out and doesn't remember sending it.
Also, she wants you to know that she's having fun without you.
This is how we know technology has doomed our society: in today’s world, a properly placed comma or period in a text message can cause emotional outcry. "When a girl writes out a properly punctuated text, I'm sure she's pissed at me," says Reed, 24. "I'll ask how her day is going, and if she replies, 'It's fine.' with a period at the end, I feel like I kicked her dog. She’s being short with me and I wonder what I did wrong."
I'm surprised the period is what tipped him off. When a girl says, "It's fine" -- period or not -- it's never fine.
"I don't know, you pick"
Maybe the girl is trying to be polite and let you plan the evening; maybe she's too lazy to make a venue suggestion; or maybe she genuinely doesn't care where you go. Oh, the possibilities!
Men are completely aware that all of the above are conceivable -- that's why they find it stressful to differentiate a blasé attitude from a lack of interest. "Throw me a bone!" says Chris, 24. "How do I know you're gluten-free or had a traumatic experience with '90s music as a kid unless you tell me? How do I know you genuinely want to go out at all? Don't set me up to fail."
"That other girl was totally hitting on you before lol"
"I was out with this girl who, in the middle of the date, mentioned that the bartender was hitting on me," says Zach, 24. "I thought [my date] was joking, but then she brought it up again over text later, so clearly it was a pressing issue. I didn’t know what to say because is there ever a good answer to that?!"
Zach’s uncertainty is warranted. Agreeing with her will make you appear pompous, and even worse -- you're admitting you noticed another woman on your date. However, if she's testing you (which is likely), outright denying it will stir up its own "yes she was!" shitstorm. Your best bet? Deflect her allegation with a slice of humble pie and a compliment: "Haha I doubt it! I was enjoying our conversation way too much to notice either way ;)."
"If I try to make plans with a girl and she gives me the 'Yeah, maybe,'" says Michael, 27, "I can't tell if she's working out scheduling logistics, or 'maybe' she doesn’t want to commit to the plans yet."
While I understand Michael's confusion, here's a woman's perspective: the "Yeah, maybe" text -- which can also come in the form of "I'll let you know” -- is a deflection mechanism used when she feels too bad to outright turn you down. I'm not saying it’s fair or rational, but 93.2% of the time, a "yeah" plus a "maybe" equals a "no."
Says Jeremy, 27: "I always tag extra 'i’s onto my 'Hiiii' to demonstrate my interest in talking to someone because it's hard to pick that up over text. So when I receive a short and off-putting 'Hi,' I automatically assume something is wrong and wonder if it's my fault."
So, you ask: is "Hi" a pleasant greeting or a "Hi jerk, we need to talk"? It's a case-by-case basis. The one time I ever sent a portentous "Hi” text was because I was pissed at a guy for blowing me off without an apology and wanted to make my pissed-off-ness known. If she's angry, don’t fret: you'll find out sooner rather than later. So, on second thought, you should probably fret.
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Brooke Sager is an NYC-based contributing writer for Thrillist who attributes her emotional well-being to "Hiiii" texts. Check out all of her non-smiling selfies with no captions (just kidding) on Instagram and Twitter: @HIHEELZbrooke.