Listen to Her Actions, Not Her Words

by Eric Disco
Apr 19

anna_marine_3All the time I see guys get themselves into bad positions with women.

They turn into the guy who’s constantly asking a girl out for a date and she’s constantly saying no.

They get into relationships where the girl is acting badly but he’s powerless to stop her bad behavior.

Part of the problem here is that men tend to be straightforward. They take her words at face value.

They don’t understanding the difference between implicit and explicit communication.

You go out on a date with a girl. The next day, you send her a text. But she’s already decided she’s not into you.

Explicit communication would be if she texted you back something like, “I don’t think we’re a match,” or “I’m getting a friendship vibe from you.” She explicitly told you how she feels.

Implicit communication would be if she simply didn’t text you back at all. She is communicating to you that she’s not interested but she’s not explicitly telling you she isn’t interested.

Explicit communicate is typically verbal and straightforward where as with implicit communication she’s sending a message based on action rather than the surface meaning of the words.

When I wasn’t so skilled socially, I had a hard time with implicit communication. It bothered me that people didn’t explicitly communicate because I had trouble reading that communication.

In situations like these, I would often continue to invest in the girl even though she wasn’t interested. I wasn’t a stalker but it I didn’t know when enough was enough.

It upset me that people couldn’t simply tell the truth and be up front when they were or weren’t interested.

The Key to Staying Empowered in Relationships

Once you start to get into relationships, implicit versus explicit communication becomes even more important. Much of modern dating advice goes astray over and over in the same exact way.

Your partner does something inappropriate, something bad happens, or some other issue comes up and the first word of advice is always: Have a talk about it. This is explicit communication.

If there is a sitcom-style misunderstanding in the relationship, having a talk can work. But typically explicit communication doesn’t solve anything. In fact it only serves to make the problem worse.

Let’s say you’re dating a girl. You’re unhappy because she’s flirting with other guys while out on dates with you. If you chose the route of explicit communication, you would have a ‘talk’ with her about flirting with other guys in front of you.

The problem here is that as you are explicitly communicating with her about what you like and don’t like, you are implicitly communicating something very different.

You are communicating to her that when she does something disrespectful, you open up more communication with her. You share your feelings and become more vulnerable. You add to your disempowerment by opening up and sharing your feelings with her.

anna_marineAlternatively, you can use implicit communication to communicate with her.

When she’s acting inappropriate, you pull away. You take your attention away from her for a period of time.

You may even cut the date short, as a signal to her that her actions are inappropriate.

Implicit communication tends to be more powerful than explicit communication because you’re taking action. You’re showing her that you will walk away if her bad behavior continues.

She sees that she’s losing you and has to make a change if she is going to continue to be with you.

Implicit Communication is the Most Honest

While implicit communication seems complicated, once you start to look at what’s going on underneath, it’s really quite simple.

Almost all implicit communication in relationships is binary–either a Yes or No. You’re either rewarding her for doing good or pushing her away for doing bad.

Implicit communication starts with the idea that you’re the prize, that you’re valuable in the relationship and if she wants more, she needs to act appropriately.

Once you learn the difference between implicit and explicit communication, you can start to read between the lines and see what’s really going on in your relationships with women. You start to realize that people’s words are fairly worthless and you listen to their actions instead.

That’s really the only true honest signal you get from people.

A girl at a bar walks by and says to you, “That’s the ugliest shirt I’ve ever seen in my life. Terrible.” The explicit communication is that she doesn’t like something about you.

But the implicit communication is that she likes you because she would not have started talking with you in the first place if she didn’t like you. She’s flirting–perhaps badly–but she’s interested in conversation.

Likewise, you may text a girl and she’s very responsive. She’s friendly and fun and totally up for chatting. But every time you invite her to meet up, she’s busy.

Explicitly, she’s saying Yes. She’s friendly and positive.

But implicitly, she’s saying No because she won’t hang out with you. Until she acts otherwise, you need to proceed like it’s a No or else you will invest too much time and energy into a lost cause.

Watch her actions, not her words.


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posted in Relationships, The Way Girls Think

30 responses
alec says:

Good points, Eric. Could you give me a pointer here? So my with one of the women I’m interested in, it appears her implicit behavior is that she’s not into it, on the face of things, thought I have good indications of interest, so it’s a mixed bag. I’ve gone out with a promising woman in her 40s 3 times. she’s successful, busy, travels a lot. She initiated wanting to go out with me. She admits she’s horrible about returning texts, voicemails, email, and has the attention span of a gnat when it comes to anything non-work related, but she wants a boyfriend. I’m seeing other women too, but I”m willing to do a little extra work (up to a point) for the busy/ADD woman. Chemistry is great, we make out after our dates, I leave her with a permagrin on her face. For the 2nd and 3rd dates I emailed, texted, and left a voicemail, and it took her a few days to get back to me, she apologized profusely, and I teased her about it, asking her if I needed to fax her instead. I’m not hung up on her, but like the challenge of a little chase. I think she may be a bit clueless when it comes to dating, don’t think she’s had many relationships and has been single for awhile. She’s been away a couple weeks, and I believe she’s back in town now. I’d like to see her again want to contact her, what would you advise? Try calling her at different times until I’m able to get her on the phone? Do nothing and focus on others? Send a text or email that’s a little edgy and gives an indication that I’m in demand or a high value person (if that’s possible in txt or email)? It’s more the challenge here, and I’d like to communicate to her (implicitly or explicitly) that she needs to up her game if she’s interested in me.

Eric Disco says:

Hey Alec,

She admits she’s horrible about returning texts, voicemails, email, and has the attention span of a gnat

See, I don’t buy this. People return texts and e-mails when they are really into someone. It’s sort of like when someone says they’re really busy. That usually means she’s just to busy for you. And this exactly what I’m talking when it comes to seeing through someone’s explicit communication and looking at their actions. She says she’s into you, but what kind of behavior is she displaying?

Are things progressing to the next level? Okay, she met up on dates with you. That says something. She made out with you, that was taking it to the next level. Now what about the next level? Is she sleeping with you. Is she making an effort to invite you out? It looks like the answer is No. And it’s not that hard to find out. If you pull back and don’t invite her out, does she invite you out? If she doesn’t, that indicates there’s a problem. Yes, sometimes you can get pretty far when you take all the initiative, but you’re going to be doing A LOT of work. And when you do a lot of work, it means that you’re are investing more than she is. And that means that you are usually more emotional than she is. That means it’s time to start fucking around with her. Pull the rug out a bit. Make her wonder whether she has you.

For the 2nd and 3rd dates I emailed, texted, and left a voicemail,

Why would you text her if you already e-mailed? And then a voicemail after that? Like I said, you’ll sometimes get some response from women when you do this, but you’re really digging yourself in deep. If you were really into a woman, would you treat her this way? You wouldn’t, no matter how busy you were.

I think she may be a bit clueless when it comes to dating, don’t think she’s had many relationships and has been single for awhile.

Nope. I don’t buy it. You’re making up excuses for her. There’s not that much to figure out. When you like someone, you return their texts and e-mails.

If you do contact her, I would send something really edgy. Make her wonder whether she has you. If she doesnt’ respond, don’t write her again. In fact, you may not want to respond even if she does write back.

You’re not going to make her want you by saying something edgy or saying something that gives the impression that you’re in high demand. She’s going to want you because of things you DO that make you seem in high demand. You’ll be a little slower to get back to her, a little less eager to set up dates with her, .etc.


alec says:

Awesome, thank you. Do you have an example of something really edgy?

Eric Disco says:

You could text her something like, “You’ll never guess what happened to me last night” Then when she responds, text, “Oops. Sorry. Wrong person.”

But again, what is the implicit communication. You’re still texting her. You’re still taking initiative with her. No matter how negative you make it, you’re still the one putting yourself out there.


Justin says:

When you’re being implicit, by pulling away etc… as a punishment for something she did (like flirting), I’m assuming you’ll do so without drawing attention to it, but do you ever mention why you pulled away from her if she asks or she will just know what she did wrong and correct her behavior. Thanks. Great post that has been bookmarked.

Eric Disco says:

Yeah, you can. Ideally the best way to do this is to pull away right when it happens. So if you’re out and she starts flirting with another guy, you go silent and/or disinterested for ten minutes right when she does it. You can even say something like, “You’re quite the flirt.” You could also turn the tables by flirting with other girls as well. You probably wouldn’t want to explicitly say anything unless she asked you.


KL says:

The actions are definitely where the focus should be. Words come and go, but actions are true reflections of people’s feelings and desires.

One downside to this is that a lot of guys wind up becoming passive-aggressive and playing weird mind games with girls that are into them. A lot of guys try to be “cool” and “aloof” and it just blows up in their face because they’re not fully congruent. They can also attract a lot of girls that are more high-maintenance and dramatic than what they would really want.

Eric Disco says:

A passive aggressive response to your girlfriend flirting with other guys might be if you said to her, “I can tell you don’t love me…” She asks why and you say, “I dunno…” And she keeps asking you why until you finally tell her. It’s needy and weak. Passive aggressive behavior like this comes from an inability to assert yourself out of fear of conflict. What I’m talking about is the opposite. By pulling away, you’re demonstrating to her that you do not need that type of behavior in your life. You’re acting from a position of strength rather than weakness.

In my experience, communicating implicitly actually does the opposite with high-maintenance and dramatic girls. Those women thrive on obfuscating reality with explicit communication that contradicts their behavior. She’ll be super sweet to you and act like she’s into you while towing you into orbit as a friend. By looking at her behavior rather than her words, you see through a lot of bullshit.


KL says:

It will only work if the guy is coming from the right place mentally. A position of strength as opposed to weakness like you said. But that mental strength comes first, not the pulling away tactic. A weak, needy man will always come across weak and needy no matter what he does. Pulling away will just be manifested in a passive-aggressive, conflict-avoiding manner.

Another example: approaching. A needy man will always convey neediness on the approach. Is approaching a ballsy and confident thing to do? Yes, technically. But if you’re coming from a weak/ value-seeking frame when you approach, that doesn’t matter.

I made this mistake myself in the past, where I pulled away not out of a true sense of my own value and power, but rather as a tactic to try to gain some kind of weird “advantage” over this girl that I was putting on a pedestal.

Eric Disco says:

I feel like it’s the other way round, KL. The mindset follows the action. When you start not taking any crap from women, your mindset starts to fall into place. If you continue to let women walk all over you, then your mindset will follow.

The “tactic” has no power unless you are truly willing to walk away from her. That is what you are risking when you do it. She sees that and respects it. Or she doesn’t and she leaves. Either way, you wouldn’t want her to stay if she didn’t respect you.


Lee says:


The idea behind cognitive behavioral therapy – which is what any gradual method is based on – is to take small steps that are designed to convince you that it’s ok to take bigger steps.

The steps come first. You may not believe that the steps will work – in fact, most patients don’t – but if you have a fear of heights, taking a step up a scary ladder and getting comfortable with it makes the next step less scary. There is no way to talk yourself out of fear of heights. You have to take those steps. And each step is a little out of your comfort zone.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the few therapeutic tools for which there is massive scientific evidence. Most other techniques are not based on solid science.


KL says:

Eric and Lee–I actually agree that action comes first as far as *improvement* is concerned. I was just making the point that as far as *results* are concerned, those negative outcomes will often happen unless strong inner game is in place. Long term, no matter what actions/ tactics you do, your inner game does the work for you (I think we agree on that).

But certainly, when a beginner is just improving skills, he has to take action to get in the habit of doing the right things. He does that understanding that he won’t necessarily get the results he wants immediately.

(However, a qualification to that is affirmations and positive self-talk, which actually can tangibly improve your mindset and attitude without external action.)

Many beginners have negative mental baggage about women and emotions that will shine through regardless of their short term actions (that baggage is often what put them in this predicament in the first place).

Ben says:

But if you stay with her after she does something that clearly crosses one of your boundries (even if you do go silent for a bit as punishment) doesn’t that indicate that you are willing to put up with that shit to a point, even if you do punish her somewhat? Should or shouldn’t we have zero tolerance for bullshit and games(i.e. trying to make you jealous by flirting with others). Also, if you do something reactive to her games by playing right back doesn’t that open the door to a relationship where manipulation and bullshit games run rampant. If so it sounds exhausting.

Eric Disco says:

This is part of having zero tolerance. You aren’t really “staying with her” when she acts up. You’re pulling away. You’re demonstrating to her the damage she’s doing. But you’re doing it based on the severity of her misdeeds. If she does something minor, then you let her know that it’s wrong. If it’s major, you will likely never speak with her again.

This is actually the opposite of exhausting once you’re consistent with it. You don’t need to wrangle with women and try to get them to fall in line with you. When you make up excuses for her behavior and keep chasing even though you’re getting negative signals from her, that’s what is emotionally exhausting.


Doc says:

Always be willing to walk away, and veto any woman that doesn’t behave as she should. There are billions of women out there – and very few men that are worthwhile. You know that you’re one of those few – she needs to prove to you that she is worth your time – if she doesn’t, she isn’t. It really is as simple as that – don’t waste your precious time.

If you are not seeing an immediate return on your investment (your time) then cut her lose and move on. The ones that are worthwhile will make it clear that they are interested, and a lot of time the best way to bring that out is to make her shit or get off the pot. You can afford to be choosy, so be choosy…

Dale says:

The problem I’ve had is distingushing between passive-agressive responses and inplicit communications. Especially with the first, I often cannot understand what is causing the problem.

John says:

The issue with your argument, is that you are devaluing women and their mental capabilities. In your attempt to “control” them, you forgot that they are human beings and actually quite able to have an honest conversation. If you are going to play mind games with a girl, then own up to the fact that you are no better than the girl who was flirting with other men. They are both mind games! and both are destructive, not constructive to a relationship. You should never try to one up your partner, it’s incredibly disrespectful and shows that you do not value the other person enough to actually attempt to fix the problem.

Eric Disco says:

Not taking shit from women is not mind games. It’s self-respect. You teach people how to treat you, and if you let them walk all over you, they will. If someone is treating you inappropriately, you take away the prize: yourself. That’s the only bargaining chip you have in any relationship. Words hold no meaning without the ability to take action.


Lee says:

In this case, it’s talk that’s useless, John. Just as you can’t talk someone into loving you, you can’t talk someone into respecting you. What you can do is show the other person what it feels like to lose you. Ending the relationship and blocking all communication is one way to show someone what it feels like to lose you, but then there’s no way back in. So what Eric is suggesting is a kind of gradual pulling away. Yes, these are games in the sense that they are deliberate and not a spontaneous expression of how you feel. However, these games are a more nuanced tool and allow you to express a growing discontent. Ending the relationship does not.


alec says:

If I can play devil’s advocate for a moment, and incorporate what I’m inferring from John’s comment…what is wrong with just telling the woman, “It really bothers me when you flirt with another guy in front of me. If this is going to work, don’t do it again. It’s a deal breaker. Do not test me on this.”

Eric Disco says:

Hi Alec,

You can say that. And you can have a talk with her whenever she does something you don’t like. Let’s say she Shows up 15 minutes late without apologizing. You could say to her, “It bothers me that you didn’t apologize for showing up late.” Or let’s say she takes 8 hours to return a text. You could say, “It bothers me that you took that long to return a text. If this is going to work, don’t do it again. It’s a deal breaker. Do not test me on this.”

Maybe you see where I’m going with this. Whenever you have to call her out on something, it reveals your weak hand. And an ultimatum is the weakest hand. It should never be done. Instead, you should constantly be communicating with her implicitly and letting her know what you like and don’t like.

If you don’t like the fact that she takes 8 hours to return a text, then return her next text in 24 hours. Instead of telling her something, you’re showing her. You are actually pulling away a little bit. You are actually demonstrating your feelings and independence.

Underlying her inappopriate actions is typically some type of lack of focus on you. If she’s acting inappropriate it is often because she isn’t into you enough or she isn’t challenged enough by you. Pulling away is the best way to regain respect.

This doesn’t mean you won’t ever use explicit communication. You will, all the time. But when it comes to certain things in the relationship–such as showing boundaries and communicating to her how you should be treated–it’s almost always better to use implicit communication.


Lee says:


The problem is not that she is flirting with other guys. The problem is her NEED to flirt with other guys. That is not going to go away just because you talk to her about it. In fact, if you play this from a weak hand – complaining about how you feel and giving her ultimatums – you will lose value and her need to flirt with other guys will only increase. There is only one way to play this from a position of strength: you have to remind her how strong and independent you are and what it feels like when you start pulling away. Just like having that discussion, it shows a growing discontent with her behavior, but it also shows your strength and power. You are powerful because you have something she wants. You are strong because you can do something that’s hard to do: you can pull away even when every bone in your body is telling you to go back in there and beg for every scrap of attention attention and approval she is willing to give you.


Joe says:


Take your example: she takes 8 hours to text you. Wait 24 hours to respond. What if she calls you out by saying, “I don’t like it when you take so long to respond to my texts.” Acting like she didn’t get the implicit message. What would you think of her reaction? Does she really have no idea what she did wrong? What would you do then?


Eric Disco says:

That’s perfect if she calls you out. I would press her and ask her questions like, “Yeah? What’s an acceptable amount of time to respond? 3 hours? 8 hours?” What’s happening now is that you’re having an explicit conversation about it, but the power is in your hands because she is the one trying to have a talk with you. If you had brought it up without waiting the 24 hours, she would feel cramped as if you’re making demands on her. Now it’s the opposite.


brian says:

Very true, a girl I got close to having sex with at a party, texted me a few days later after that for a “non sexual hangout.” We were in a drive through movie, and ended up having sex. The fact that she invited me over to be alone, was implicit. Even though her words were the exact opposite.
Honestly I didn’t want to date her but I knew we’d have sex if I met up with her because they’d be too much sexual tension not too. So always listen to a girls actions. The only time you have to listen to a girls words is if she’s saying No/stop/get off etc.

Dale says:

The problem with your answer is that women don’t really have a vocabulary for talking about these feeling. (Just as men who haven’t been exposed to the blogs such as this don’t.) Therefore, the two of you will be talking different languages, and talk right past each other.

You said you’ll cease communication unless she replies to your email. What happens if she DOES reply? You talked about not wanting to ‘let her off of having to say anything’ and I’m not sure what that means. What do you want to hear from her? Would that change your decision? If she tells you she loves you again, how are you going to deal with that? Yes, I was wondering about this as well. It almost sounds like you resent the fact that her answer wasn’t as clear as you would have liked, like it’s not fair for her to end things on that note, and maybe you’re looking for some kind of vindication or closure that you think only she can give you. I think you’ll be doing yourself a big kindness if you decide to let go of whatever you feel she ought to say and the hopes you’re still pinning on her response, and just disconnect now. You’re the only person who can give yourself closure. Yes to all of this.

Female says:

Eric’s explanation of non-verbal or “implicit” communication is incredibly strong, but Power Games are still Power Games, and NOT pairing the implicit setting of boundaries with explicit communication will NOT lead to healthy relationships with healthy women. Mature women communicate explicitly, even when they might be unaware of certain implicit behaviors, or of how their subconscious behaviors might be coming across to their partners. If, for example, she’s “flirting with other men” in front of you, perhaps she’s already feeling insecure in the relationship, because she’s tried to communicate with you explicitly and you keep closing up like a steel trap! Or perhaps she really doesn’t realize that her being late a few times has sent a signal to you that you’re unwanted, and that you’re upset by it. Maybe, for instance, she has her own anxiety about looking pretty for your dates, so she gets overwhelmed with the process of putting on makeup and picking out sexy outfits before you’re due to meet. The whole foundation of implicit behavior is subconscious–unless, we become aware of it and try to manipulate it, which is ultimately Passive-Aggressive, no matter how you slice it. If man and woman can’t try to communicate with each other using words (whether or not they will ultimately be talking past one another) there is no hope for them in a partnership.

I even more firmly caution against “showing your value” through “edgy” texts. The only kind of relationship these will serve is a high-octane, adventurous, or borderline abusive one–which may be fun for awhile (and the sex might be great), but will not morph into a lasting engagement with a good woman. A high-value woman with any true self-confidence receiving an “oops” text will be certain never to be available to you again, especially if she was already on the fence! Remember that you BOTH have egos and insecurities, and you EACH want to assert your worth to the other. If you’re both STUCK asserting your values in these “implicit” (but not fully honest) ways, you can never hope to make an actual connection.

It is right on, however, to come to an understanding of Actions as the major building blocks of any real relationship, or lack-thereof. But forcing a woman to always be the one to speak up about a problem first (especially consciously forcing her into the “weaker” position) inspires no trust or safety in you, and these are the building blocks of love in a long-term partnership. I can promise you that we women HATE being the ones to have to explicitly communicate about every roadblock between ourselves and the guys we like, and potential relationships in which we can’t confront misunderstandings with our mates head-on do not last.

daniel says:

“Likewise, you may text a girl and she’s very responsive. She’s friendly and fun and totally up for chatting. But every time you invite her to meet up, she’s busy.” This happened to me this month. I said (perhaps to ou it overtly was a mistake) to her that would I would bother her no longer. She responded that me invinting her to go out out was fine, she was really busy. And obviously I concluded that she was using me to get attention and validation and duly stopped mensaging her, and to refocus in improving my game to avoid the same game mistakes that put me in this situation on the first place.

Lee says:

In my experience, direct is the real scam. There are average looking men in their forties out there who are beating their heads against a wall trying to get a positive reaction from beautiful women by telling them how cute they think those women are. Ha. What a bunch of nonsense. Why should intelligent, accomplished, worldly men lower themselves to the same level as teenage boys when they have so much more value to offer?