I Keep Missing Clues That Men Like Me, Now What Do I Do?

This is a bit ridiculous, probably, but I am wondering how to learn to catch signals or cues men give that they are interested. I’ve listened to your entire Why He Disappeared and my eyes are completely opened. However, my pattern is not that I chase men away by being needy, it is that I am completely clueless that they are chasing me, and have learned from your book that I am sending the signal that I am not interested because I am not being receptive and appreciative. Argh!

I don’t mean to be so obtuse, but my sensory is way off after having been in a very long-term relationship (with the wrong man) who had no subtlety. During our courting phase, he would call me, 5-10 times A DAY and I didn’t particular like it, but in hindsight, I realize it was just easy. Live and learn.

However, now I am meeting more confident, better quality men (and I am more confident as well) and I just don’t know how to play by the rules of courting where a man offers and I receive — he offers again, and I receive with thanks. (That is one thing your book taught me). By the time I realize that I should have said yes to show interest or smiled back or been open to his advances when I’m interested, I have already scared him (them) off because I’m pretty desensitized to subtleties and I’ve given no feedback whatsoever, because I am waiting for a huge siren-laden fire truck as a sign of interest. Clearly, that is not happening.

My question is…when I do like a man, and I eventually realize that I have shot down his first, second and often third attempts at approaching me, what do I do? Can I do anything, or is it too late because my job is not to do anything but rather to be receptive? On a larger scale, how the heck do I learn to pick up on simple cues and niceties so I can catch a man’s advances the first time so I don’t keep getting in this lonely cycle? — Many thanks! Your book is awesome and I am already changing and seeing positive results! -Heather

At the end of 2006, I went on two dates with an incredibly smart, sexy, successful Italian woman. Not only did we have a strong connection after a long conversation at a party, but, well, she reminded me of Sophia Loren. I was smitten.

Alas, while she was interested in me, she ended up breaking things off after a few dates. The reason I’m telling you this story is because the reason she gave:

I didn’t seem smitten enough.

That’s right. Even though I was obsessed with her in my head, I didn’t do enough to show it. In Italy, she explained, men have no filter. They’ll grab your ass in the train station, serenade you outside your window, pledge their permanent devotion to you after the first date. It’s pure romantic theater and my Italian friend ate it up.

“You Americans,” she said, “You don’t know how to make women feel special.”

But if Yanks are less prone to Lloyd Dobler-esque displays of affection and more likely to send 10 women texts that say, “What’s up?” where is the middle ground that we might deem “normal”?

Well, if she meant that the U.S. is generally a stalking-averse culture, she is correct.

Speaking for American men, I tend not to declare my love for someone until we’ve been dating for 6 months or so and I’m pretty clear I want a future. Guess they have a different timetable in Italia.

But if Yanks are less prone to Lloyd Dobler-esque displays of affection and more likely to send 10 women texts that say, “What’s up?” where is the middle ground that we might deem “normal”?

I’m so glad you asked.

Interested guys will approach you wherever you are.
They will ask you questions.
They will try to make you laugh.
They will ask for your number.
If they text you, text them back. That lets them know you’re interested.
If they call you, call them back. That lets them know you’re interested.
If they ask you on a date, agree to go out. That lets them know you’re interested.
If they follow up for a second date, say yes. That lets them know you’re interested.

If they don’t do any of the above, they’re not that interested.

Really, it ain’t that complicated.

You’ve heard of “gay-dar”, right? Well, straight men have to have some sort of radar as well. It’s the one that lets us know if we have a chance in hell at procuring a date with you. If you’re standing in a crowd of girlfriends with a scowl on your face and your arms crossed, we’re probably not going to make the approach, you see?

How about you assume all guys are interested, smile at all guys to make them feel good, and see how many of them ask for your number?

It’s your job to be approachable. Stand 7-10 feet away from him, turn your body, smile, make eye contact. This is your cue that lets him know it’s safe to approach.

If you don’t give him these cues, the only guys who will approach are the ones who tone-deaf themselves. You know: the slimy ones who don’t even care if you’re interested.

However, if you do give them the cues, you’re opening up the floodgates for flirting.

Your defense has simply been that you’re tone-deaf yourself. I believe you, but I don’t believe that it’s a particularly valid excuse. You know why? Because you can pretty much count on the fact that if a strange guy comes up to talk to you, he’s interested. If he asks you out to lunch, he’s interested. If he smiles at you, he’s interested. If he breathes near you, he’s interested.

In other words, how about you assume all guys are interested, smile at all guys to make them feel good, and see how many of them ask for your number?

It’ll be far more effective than waiting for that firetruck’s siren to signal his interest.

Oh, and while it should go without saying: once you’ve rejected his advances three times, it’s probably best for both parties to move on. There are many more fish in the sea – for both of you.