It was Maya Angelou who said, “When people show you who they are, believe them.” Nowhere is this advice more true than in romantic relationships. Human beings are not that mysterious. We convey through spoken and non-spoken communication what our intentions are all the time. We are literally broadcasting ourselves to the world 100% of the time. Probably the most important thing you can do to have an awesome relationship is to listen and observe. Being observant is such a rare skill these days that it could almost be termed a super power. Three words I repeat over and over again to my clients are “listen, learn, love.”

Human beings use two forms of communication, verbal and non-verbal. To understand a person’s motivations, you need to be able to read non-verbal cues as well as listen for key meanings in verbal statements. Many of us might not be able to articulate directly what we want, but our actions will do the talking for us. Then again, we might just come out and reveal our desires in an off the cuff statement that the other person doesn’t take seriously because it comes across as a joke. Half of what I do as a dating and relationship coach is encourage people to listen to what the other person is saying both verbally and non-verbally.

Reading motivations in human interactions is a valuable tool. Something we can all strive for is to become more conscious of our own motivations and actions, because this gives us valuable insight into the behavior of others and it helps in a new relationship when you are trying to understand whether the other person returns your affection. Watch how they behave. Listen to what they are saying, because more often than not, the person you are interested in will tell you in not so many words exactly where you stand.

And people don’t only show you who they are with words. We also use non-verbal behavior to explain ourselves, and many times in relationships, the two forms of communication don’t add up. This causes the most heartache and confusion, when our date tells us one thing and does another, but if we are able to be honest with ourselves, we can usually see that we knew in our hearts what the truth was all along but were afraid to see it.

“We have become a sloppy bunch of people. We say things we don’t mean. We make promises we don’t keep. “I’ll call you.” “Let’s get together.” We know we won’t. On the Human Interaction Stock Exchange, our words have lost almost all their value. And the spiral continues, as we now don’t even expect people to keep their word; in fact we might even be embarrassed to point out to the dirty liar that they never did what they said they’d do. So if a guy you’re dating doesn’t call when he says he’s going to, why should that be such a big deal? Because you should be dating a man who’s at least as good as his word.” Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo write in their book He’s Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Truth To Understanding Guys.  This concept, “He’s Just Not That Into You,” was first presented to us on the show Sex and the City in an episode titled “Pick a Little,Talk a Little,” in which the main character’s friend Miranda goes on a date with a man who declines her offer for him to come up to her apartment. Carrie’s boyfriend, Jack Berger, explains the date’s behavior by saying, “”He’s just not that into you”, adding, “When a guy’s really into you, he’s coming upstairs, meeting or no meeting.”

Here’s a classic case. A woman is dating a man and he says early in the beginning of their time together that he’s not into having a relationship. She hears this, but because she likes him and they are having a great time together, she assumes that he didn’t really mean it. After all, they are having sex non-stop and spending lots of time together and when they aren’t together they are texting or calling each other. The fling continues and she begins to want more. She pressures him for a commitment and he balks. She has just stepped face first into a meat grinder. She is surprised. She shouldn’t be, because he told her right from the beginning what his intentions were and had her ear been tuned to the content of his words rather than his actions, which were saying something different, she would have listened. From Behrendt and Tuccillo’s book again: “Guys tell you how they feel even if you refuse to listen or believe them. “I don’t want to be in a serious relationship” truly means, “I don’t want to be in a serious relationship with you” or “I’m not sure that you’re the one.” When people show you who they are, believe them.

Or say that potential mate with whom you have a flirtation never seems to invite you out directly but casually mentions that you can meet him sometime around 11:00 pm at a bar somewhere. Watch how people treat you. Are you treated as a casual afterthought rather than a priority? Chances are, you are the back up. Behrendt and Tuccillo write :”Oh, there seem to be so many variations to dating, particularly in the early stages of a relationship. So many gray, murky areas of vagueness, mystery, and no questions asked. Dudes love this time because that’s when they get to pretend they’re not really dating you. Then they also get to pretend they’re not really responsible for your feelings.  When you ask someone out on a real bonafide date, you’re making it official: I’d like to see you alone to find out if we have a romantic future together…In case you need more clues: There’s usually a public excursion, a meal, and some hand-holding involved.”

But how do we read someone’s behavior when their verbal statements don’t jibe with their actions? Big red flag that something is up. When we are genuinely interested in something or someone, we don’t send mixed messages because our mind and body are in agreement. If someone is telling you one thing and doing another, that is a message from their subconscious mind that they don’t know what they want and are hesitant to make a commitment. In other words, they are just not that into you. When people show you who they are, believe them.

You don’t have to be a great detective to figure out human motives, you only have to be a great observer and listener. These are skills that take practice to develop, but it needn’t take your whole life to learn. The main point is that someone who wants to be with you will want you to feel good when you are around them, not confused and upset. If your inner compass is telling you something is off and you don’t feel right, it is time to take a step back and just observe for a while. Soon enough it will become clear to you how to proceed. If you need help, don’t be afraid to consult a relationship and dating coach such as myself because after all, you wouldn’t buy a car without getting some expert opinions, nor would you buy stocks without financial advice, so you shouldn’t have to manage a relationship alone.