It’s a trope we’ve seen played out in pop culture time and time again: women are hard to read, men are clueless, blah blah blah.
The geek is goaded into asking the popular girl out, then gets shot down in front of the whole school while her douchebro buddies laugh their asses off.
Or those very same douchebros, afflicted with an overinflated sense of their own handsomeness, assume all women in the immediate vicinity must get butterflies at the mere sight of them. Brimming with a heady blend of testosterone and ego, they aggressively pursue every exasperated female in sight.
As tedious as those narratives have become, you have to admit: the last thing you want to do is misread the situation and go for the kiss while her roided out boyfriend is right behind you.
So what’s a contentious man to do? Learn how to tell when she’s actually flirting and when she’s just being friendly. Below are 12 signs to watch for if you’re in unfamiliar territory – in the case of that roid-loving boyfriend, this bit of knowledge could actually save your life.
Every time you turn around, she’s there – “accidentally” brushing against you, dancing in your peripheral vision, magically ordering a drink at the bar at the same time as you. Even if she’s hosting the event, she somehow always finds an excuse to be in your personal space (the other guests can get their own crudités, thank you very much). On the rare occasions she’s not within your immediate radius, you’ll catch her staring from across the room and flashing a coy smile. This woman is either shy or very traditional, and in either case, her hovering is your signal to start a conversation.
She Has No Ulterior Motives
We all have that friend: the guy who’s convinced that the exotic dancer actually likes him, and isn’t just doing her job because she has bills to pay and mouths to feed. For the last time, Kevin, Candy is not her real name and she doesn’t think you’re “not like all the others.” Before dropping too much money on lap dances (or another round of drinks, or dessert, or a suit you can’t afford), consider her position. If you’re a customer in any capacity, it’s her job to charm you and convince you to part with your cash. Do not mistake her savvy salesmanship for romantic or sexual interest.
She Disappears To Freshen Up
“Excuse me,” she says with a shy smile, “I’ll be right back.” Off she trots to the bathroom while you nervously sip your whiskey sour, hoping you’re not about to get ghosted IRL. Tense minutes pass. Then she returns. But this woman is not the same woman who left… this woman has seductively tousled hair, a fresh coat of lipstick, and are you seeing things or did that skirt somehow get shorter? That mini glow-up is an effort to make sure your eyes stay on her and they like what they see.
She Has Positive Body Language
The woman who’s avoiding eye contact, slouched with her arms across her chest, shriveled in the corner like an antisocial raisin? Not into you, bro. Body language is one of the most significant signs that a woman is or isn’t feeling you. In fact, the majority of human communication is nonverbal, so keep your eyes peeled for positive signs: she maintains eye contact, she smiles a lot (a real smile that produces crinkles around her eyes), she draws attention to her mouth or plays with her hair, she faces you and keeps her body “open” (meaning nothing is between the two of you, like a purse or a phone or her arms), her voice raises in pitch, and she mirrors your body language.
She’s Responsive To Touch
This may sound like body language, and ok, it is, but it’s so important that it deserves its own section. Notice how she responds to your touch. If you lightly touch her arm when you crack a joke, does she recoil? Does she freeze up? Does she laugh and touch you back? You see where this is going. If she responds positively to your touch, and escalates her physicality as you escalate yours, she’s feeling the spark. It’s an especially strong sign if she begins initiating contact.
She’s Engaged With Your Conversation
She laughs at your jokes (even the ones that barely qualify as such) and reacts to your stories like they’re Shakespeare. Either she thinks you’re fascinating, or she wants you to think she thinks you’re fascinating – either way it’s a win, because she’s clearly enjoying your company. Act fast. It’s only a matter of time before she realises you’ve swiped all your best material from Instagram memes.
She Acts Different Around You
Some women are naturally extroverted in a way that comes off as flirty, even if they don’t mean to be and aren’t aware they’re doing it. Others feel compelled to flirt out of a need for validation, but have no intention of following through. And yes, some are flirty because they’re actually interested in going home with you to “see your rock collection” that they’re totally actually interested in and not at all using as an excuse to get back to your place. To tell the difference, watch how she acts around other people. If she’s no different around you than she is around any other man, cut your losses and move on.
She’s Trying To Come Off As “Cool”
The “cool girl” has lately been a subject of disdain, but it remains a real-life phenomenon. She’s got the hots for you so she becomes obsessed with playing it cool. She acts casual – almost indifferent. She’s down to play video games and hang with the boys. She’ll drink beer and talk about sports. She pretends to be into your dumb hobbies and laughs at all your shit jokes. She teases you like she’s “one of the guys.” She’s a stereotype, a character, and it rarely represents the real person, but there’s no doubt she’s trying to get your attention.
There’s another side to this coin. She might really like beer and rugby and your friends and your dad jokes. Good-natured teasing is a classic flirting tactic. And of course, if she’s into you, she will express interest in things you find interesting – it’s how she gets to know you better. Either way it’s a sign she’s keen, but you’re better off with a woman who’s naturally compatible than a woman who thinks she needs to be someone she’s not to attract you.
She Makes It Clear She’s Single
Her hints are as subtle as Donald Trump’s tan. She’ll leave no doubt that she’s single if she wants you to ask her out, perhaps by offhandedly mentioning her frustration with Tinder or telling the story of the terrible blind date she went on last weekend (her friends have such crap taste in men). On the other hand, if she talks about her crushes or mentions a significant other, she’s trying to let you down gently before things get awkward.
She Brings Up Sex
Now she’s being even less subtle. Whether she’s gently alluding to her sex life or outright talking about it, she’s thinking about what you’re like between the sheets. In some cases she may just have a raunchy sense of humour, but more often than not, if she’s making suggestive jokes and naughty comments, it’s a green light to take things further.
RELATED: A Gentlemen’s Guide To Bathroom Sex
She Hints At Hanging Out
She’s giving you all these signs and you still haven’t made a move? Fine, she sighs, I’ll make it even more obvious. This guy just can’t take a hint. So she starts to prompt you to ask her out, casually saying things like “I know this great French restaurant – we should check it out sometime” and “Oh, you’re into taxidermy? I’ve always wanted to try that. Maybe you can teach me.” This is your cue to jump in with date plans ASAP.
She Takes The Lead
This is 2019 and if she’s really into you, and you’re too much of a moron to figure it out, she’ll likely have no problem taking matters into her own hands. She’ll straight-up tell you she finds you attractive, ask for your number, and suggest a day to hang out. A wise man would do as she says.