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Why Do Guys Mistake Innocent Gestures for Flirting

by Jessey Anthony 4 months ago in relationships
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If she held the door for you, does it mean she has a thing for you?

Ever being in a situation where you showed kindness to a guy, maybe you held the door open for him or gave him your seat in a bus- he gives you the creepy wink and wicked smile because he thinks you were indirectly flirting with him?

Yeah, women go through this almost every day, and it’s so annoying. You can’t show a simple, innocent gesture without it being misinterpreted as hitting on the guy.

This is one of the reasons I act mean towards guys. You ask a tall guy to help you reach something on the top shelf at the grocery store.

Next thing he thinks you’re into him and starts smiling stupidly. You walk away, and he’s still trying to get your number. You think, “if only your arms were longer,” “if only you could grow a few inches taller,” you could’ve avoided this mess.”

Some men are so incredibly insecure they take everything as flirting and paint you as the bitch when you turn them down.

But is this just about insecurity, or is there something else going on?

The science behind sexual overperception

Every time a woman so much as smiles at him, he jumps to promiscuous conclusions.

The sexual overperception bias relates to the tendency to overperceive another individual’s sexual interest in oneself.

Research shows that men are more likely to overperceive a potential partner’s sexual interest, while women are more likely to underperceive it.

Women hardly notice sexual interest through physical appearance and gestures, which may explain why women often play hard-to-get in these situations.

From all observation, men weren’t simply over-sexualizing their social environments, as popularly thought, but they were interpreting facial expressions and body language as a friendly gesture.

Significant gender bias can lead to incongruous social interactions with one person who mistakenly assumes that another is sexually interested in them.

If this assumption is followed, it can lead to inappropriate or uncomfortable interaction between individuals. In the context of the workplace, these misconceptions can hinder current and future relationships between colleagues.

Why men mistake friendliness for flirtation

Flirting involves intentional, if subconscious, changes in written or verbal communication or body language to create tension and deepen intimacy between people.

Changing your tone of voice to be more playful or sensual can be flirtatious, as is gently teasing someone to make them laugh or showering them with sincere compliments.

However, when men mistake women’s friendliness for flirting, it usually comes from a place of insecurity. Some of the reasons that cause misinterpretation of harmless gestures in men include:

Low self-esteem

Almost all men get a little nervous when they have to ask a woman out, make a move to kiss her or even talk to her for the first time.

But when a guy has low self-esteem, his nervousness is at a level where it usually prevents him from doing any of those things.

Men with low self-esteem can have a crush on someone for years and can never work up the nerve to talk to her. But when the crush starts acting nice to him, he will think she’s flirting with him.


When an insecure guy finds a woman he likes, his thoughts often aren’t, “She seems fun. Maybe we can hang out a few times and see where it goes.” No! He’s thinking, “She’s the one. My soulmate. I just want to spend every night in her arms.”

This line of thought contributes to their nerves because it puts too many expectations on things. When the woman he barely knows decides to bring him lunch, he immediately assume the universe is giving him a sign that she likes him too.


Inexperienced guys can get annoyingly nervous around a girl the like. They hesitant to make a move on a girl for fear of embarrassment and rejection.

Insecure thoughts often flow through his head in an effortless stream — “I’m hopeless,” “I’ll never get better,” “I suck with women,” “I’m a loser.” “I’m not good-looking enough,” “There’s no way that woman at work actually likes me.”

When he actually meets a woman who is warm and gentle and treats him as a friend, who buys him gifts and shares her personal life stories with him, he will think she must have a romantic attraction for him.

Parting words

Being friendly is different from flirting. If you find it difficult to know the difference, approach the situation maturely and verbally communicate with the woman to clear things out.

Men who over-sexualize are at a higher risk of sexually molesting women.

Misinterpretation can lead to feelings of frustration and rejection, potentially dangerous feelings for men. Their ego gets crushed, and at this point, they act irrationally.

Men who sexually harass women because they showed ‘no interest’ are mentally unstable people who need a serious reality check.

So next time a woman holds a door open for you or smiles at you, it doesn’t mean she likes you. She’s just a decent human being showing you kindness.


About author

Jessey Anthony is a motivational speaker, fitness coach and relationship expert who helps people become confident in themselves in any challenges they face in life. Sign up to my newsletter & more cool stuff.

Connect with me on Linkedin, Twitter, and Quora.

This article appeared here.


About the author

Jessey Anthony

Jessey is a travel addict, freelance content writer and fitness coach. Check out more from me at:

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