08
Apr
10

how will i know

Reader J. H. asks:

How can I tell if a girl likes me? I’m trying to get together with one, and I really like her, but I don’t know if she returns the feelings. Is there a way to tell?

Dear J.H.:

Human beings, while being complicated and very interesting, are often completely predictable, especially when it comes to attraction. There are definitely signs that someone will give off when they’re interested, regardless of whether they intend to or not. This is part of what we call “chemistry”.

wuv

Image: Francesco Marino / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When I was a good church-going girl, I can remember one sermon a youth pastor taught us on “The Five Ways People Show or Accept Affection”. The idea in this sermon was that most people show how they feel or understand how someone else feels based on five different ways of showing affection (easy enough, right?). Everyone  has her own special combo of the five ways, and will understand that you love her if you show her love the way she shows you love. It’s not just romantic love here, but also that platonic stuff between family members and friends.

The five ways were physically (not just in a sexual way — it also includes hugs, innocent touching, etc); by spending time (just sitting, or watching TV, or running errands with you); by talking (BSing on the phone, over a meal, whatever); by doing services (unloading the dishwasher, say); and by giving gifts (a mix CD, or a cookie, or, hey, a car).

I found this to be an interesting idea then, and I still believe in it to some extent now. If you can figure out how someone shows their affection, you can figure out first of all if they like you, and secondly how to show that affection back. This latter clause is important, because she may be wondering if you like her, too. It’s a two-way street most of the time, and if you show her you like her in a language she can understand, she may return the favor.

I always make note of a few things when I’ve met someone new, whether or not I have romantic feelings for them myself.

Touching

Usually someone who’s at least physically interested in you will find an opportunity to touch you, even unconsciously; for instance, after you’ve told a joke, she’ll hit you lightly on the arm. She probably won’t even realize she’s doing it. Take note of what happens when you go to touch her — does she touch back? Does she shy away? Obviously this is something you should notice.

Effort to spend time

Are you the one doing the texting/emailing/phone calling/date planning? If she likes you, she’ll want to hang out with you, and she’ll make the effort to do so,  preferably on an equal basis with you. I have sometimes looked at a relationship and realized that I was the one doing all the calling and planning. When that happens, I cut ’em loose!

Telling her friends

If she likes you, she’ll probably talk about you with her friends. If you know her friends, they may mention this. If you don’t know her friends, she may mention it in conversation: “I was talking about you (or us, or that thing we were doing yesterday) with Suzie and her opinion is…” While this isn’t necessarily about showing you affection, it does mean you’re on her mind.

Texting/Calling/IMs

I often look at my “relationship” with people to see if they are returning my texts, IMs, or phone calls, or if I’m the one doing all the talking. If the latter is the case, I tend to delete their number from my phone so I won’t be tempted to call or text, and see if I hear anything from them.  I’ve lost contact with a few people this way, but at least I know how they really felt about me. While some people don’t necessarily enjoy talking, most people who are interested in someone will at least return the IM or the text, and generally do it in a quick manner. If she’s a talker, she’ll be calling you all the time.

Special services

This one’s rather rare in someone who you haven’t been dating for a while, but if someone offers to help you clean your house, get your dry cleaning, wash your car, or to pick you up from the airport, she probably likes you. If you’re moving in the next few weeks, see if she volunteers to help. That’s a sure sign.

Little gifts

As I said before, if someone likes you, they’ll be thinking about you. If she hands you something one day because “I saw this and I thought of you”, it’s solid gold — she likes you (and you know she’s a gifter). Other “little gifts” can include posting things on your Facebook wall (Youtube videos of a band she thinks you’d like, say), texting you when she sees something that reminds her of you (maybe a picture message of an inside joke), or IMing you links to Webpages that back up her point of view on a conversation you were having the day before.

Figure out how she shows affection, and if she’s showing it to you. Then figure out how you can show it back in the same way she’s putting it out. That way, the lines of communication are as clear as they’re going to get, without you having to ask her, “Hey, do you like me?”

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