When I liked a boy while I was in elementary school, I made fun of him. I was a bit of a class clown, so that was how I showed that I liked someone. I would tease him. Mercilessly. Unkindly. In front of everyone I could. Until, more often than not, he ran away crying and ignored me forever.
When I liked a boy while I was in middle school, I ignored him. My friends would know and through a long line of the telephone game, it might get to that boy that I liked him. But if he acted upon it by, say, asking me to dance at a school event, I’d say “no.”
I didn’t get a boyfriend until I was in my first year at high school, and I only got one because I was entirely removed from the set-up process. My friend was dating his friend. We met, and despite how mean I sound from the above anecdotes, I’m actually pretty nice.
Growing up, I was woefully unknowledgeable about how to express my feelings and how to even deal with the fact that they might be reciprocated. I read a lot of fairy tales, and “Beauty and the Beast” was my favorite.
Belle and the Beast’s love started with repulsion and hatred and bloomed into “real” love. I thought that’s how it needed to go. Hatred that didn’t make the boys run, that instead made them come to me, over and over again, persistent in their intentions. Maybe they’d fight for me or rescue me too.
Later in high school, when I liked a boy, I asked him out. I was going to be my own prince, but the boys might go on one date with me and never another one. After my third first date with a boy that didn’t go anywhere, I heard through the telephone game that these boys had liked me, but they were worried “their friends would make fun of them” if they kept going out with me (if it isn’t already obvious, I was a bit of a dork).
Adulthood was better for me, but then I became annoyed that men didn’t seem to pick up on what I was putting out. It may be the 21st century, but I still liked men asking me out, so I would do all I could to make it obvious, and then if they didn’t ask me out, I’d assume they weren’t interested and move on.
If you’re a cishet male and clueless as to whether a woman is into you, here are some signs to look for:
Her friends or the ones that circled you have wandered off, but she’s hanging back, or she’s across the room from you and her eyes rest on you long enough for you to notice.
She makes up reasons to talk to you.
She’s asking you your thoughts on a current project. She’s showing up in your phone, e-mail, or DMs. She’s got reasons, sure, but she likely has gal pals she could run them by too, so why is she asking you? Might be because she’s interested.
She laughs at your jokes — even the bad ones.
When we are interested in someone, we are much more likely to be fascinated by whatever they’re saying. If you’re dropping a few jokes that aren’t even that funny and she’s laughing hysterically, take note.
She’s touching you.
She’s crossed the “touch barrier.” Several of my guy friends have said this is a sure-fire sign. I know for myself that I’m not going to touch someone unless I’m interested in them. This could be as small as a touch on the arm or shoulder.
She leans towards you.
When we are interested in someone, we point our bodies at them. We lean forward to make sure we hear them. We don’t cross our arms. We maintain their eye contact. We also may even mirror them: when they cross their legs or shift their body weight, we may too.
Pay attention. If her body ain’t pointing at you, sadly her heart ain’t either.
She keeps adjusting her clothes or hair.
Called “preening” or “primping,” this is when a woman adjusts herself: moving her hair away from her eyes, sliding it behind her ear, pulling on her skirt hem, adjusting her shirt. She might even put on lipgloss or tie her hair up.
According to a study by Monica M. Moore, preening and primping are things women do when they’re attracted to a man in their vicinity.
Women are much more subtle than men, but researchers found that women are usually the ones who make the first move. Researchers studied courtship behavior in a series of observational studies performed in bars and dance clubs. Women were always the ones to make the first move through one of the above tactics.