Dating: Demonstrating and Identifying Interest?

So this thread, on the way to becoming infamous, has spawned several additional threads. I did not want to hijack an already long thread so here’s my very own.

In the above thread, Malthus said…

(Underlining mine for emphasis)

Okay, I am not a young man but I think the above is 90% of my frustration. I am generally speaking not a shy person, my friends would all describe me as out-going and someone who has no problems meeting new people and making friends. Internally, that takes a lot of effort on my part. It is not natural to me but a skill I’ve developed and continue to work on. I do think I am mostly successful though. My point being, 99% of the time I am not the shy guy hanging out in the back of the room. That aside, there is a HUGE exception - women whom I am interested in possibly dating.

I don’t really know how to demonstrate interest and I do end up in the “friend” bucket. I don’t think I am a Nice Guy but I do admit to feelings of frustration as a result of this. From reading some of the other comments in the other thread, maybe it is an issue of not knowing how to demonstrate interest early enough to avoid getting dropped into that friend bucket. Maybe it is that I do get nervous in this type of situation and come across as a dork. My ability to be out-going and social is definitely impacted by my comfort level in my surroundings. Either way, same result = not interested or “friend” bucket.

More importantly, I do not know how to recognize interest from others. Sometimes I think the woman has to pretty much sit on my face before I begin to wonder if she is interested. :smiley: Of course my biggest fear is that I’m not missing signals, they just aren’t there. Haha! :eek:

So… is there a book or seminar or something to help out? I’m a reasonably confident guy, I have a great job and a great house. I know I am not Antonio Banderas (to borrow an example from the other thread) hot but I do think I am attractive and my past relationships have been with women who would generally be considered above average in looks so there must be something there in the looks department. More importantly, I know who I am - good and bad - and I work to improve myself. I have a lot of interests and I am able to converse on a wide variety of topics. Simply put, I think I am a great catch. I just have no idea how to bait the hook or how to recognize a hit on my line.

A very frustrated, but not Nice Guy, MeanJoe

This, I’m convinced, was my problem. I am totally oblivious to someone else showing signs of interest, so I miss possible opportuiities. I’ve had friends tell me that I missed signs (although not until afterwards, for some bizarre reason). Pepper Mill pointed out a case a couple of years ago. I simply had no idea there was interest there.*

*Although there was one case where I;'m convinced my friends were very mistaken. I don’t think I could have been wrong about Lack of Interest in that case. Friends aren’t invariably correct.

Another one chiming in on the “doesn’t recognize interest” front. Barring cases where the woman comes right out and expresses her interest closely and physically, I have no idea. Have the women I talk to every day at work ever been interested in me? I have no idea.

I think part of this is that I have great difficulty recognizing people who I have only met a few times, or meet infrequently. Even old friends can be unrecognizable to me in unexpected circumstances. Because if this, I suspect I give the impression of being disinterested. But I’m not; I simply don’t know when the appropriate time, if any, is to express interest. And so I don’t.

I gave this one some thought today.

I think we’re socialized to believe that men don’t talk about their feelings, and that if you’re being the empathetic, listening guy you’re perceived as more feminine–thus, a straight girl can talk to you safely about sex, others guys, her period, whatever, because she doesn’t see a sexual element to your particular kind of attention.

Which is grossly unfair, and I think is dying out to some extent. But I think the solution is to be more assertive about yourself–not to stop listening completely, because then you just come across as a jerk, but to find the right balance. There’s a quote from a book I can’t find at the moment, but it goes (paraphrased): “Seek first to hear, and then to be heard.”

Because really, the ‘empathetic, listening’ guy is one step towards being a Nice Guy: I’m glad that you want to learn about me and what I have to say. But I also want to learn about you.

Honest to God - and some ladies might come in and flog me for this - one of the parties in this “relationship” has to just put the cards on the table and ask. If the non-asking party says “no I’m not interested in you” then you wish them well, walk away and set your sights on finding someone else.

I find it’s better/easier to do this early in the relationship stages than later. Much less heartbreak.

If you’ve known someone for, say, a month and have gone out on a couple of dates and you think they’re swell but you “don’t know where it’s going” you ask. They may say “nowhere” or “friendsville” or “I want to keep my options open” you are not really out A Good Friend. You’re just now open for something new. You don’t need to keep around a bevy of girls you pine for. That’s no good for anyone. Get out while you can and move on to the next person who may not want to just be friends.

ZipperJJ - Although good advice for how to address things once the dates have begun, it is not really spot-on with my question. My questions are not about how to handle communicating at the stages you are talking about. My challenges are in that oh-so-important initial conversation. How do I learn to demonstrate that my interest is in dating and how do I learn to pick up on interest being sent my way. Perhaps I was not clear in my OP.


[Moderator Request]MeanJoe, could you please come up with a thread title that is more descriptive of the thread’s content?. Thank you.[/Moderator Request]

Sure, sorry about that! How about…

Dating: Demonstrating and Identifying Interest?


Thank you.

OMG! MeanJoe, can’t you tell? Czarcasm is so into you!


I am a young guy, but last year I suffered from many of the same things giving you grief right now and made a resolution to put an end to them. I went out and read every book and article I could find to become better at the whole courtship thing and I now really feel like I got the guy/girl dynamic under control.

I would personally recommend you read Neil Strauss’s The Game, a silly yet very honest book filled with some good wisdom, and check out this website.

Now, in regards to knowing whether or not a woman is attracted to you you want to do a search for the term “indicators of interest”, or IOI for short. These are things a woman might do if she is interested in you. They include things like primming themselves, laughing at your jokes, or offering you something to eat.

Now those are important, but even more important is focusing not on whether or not a girl likes you, or what she’s thinking of you, but making her like you by being damned charismatic. Once you begin to concentrate on efforts to change her thoughts of you rather than trying to read her thoughts, the IOIs will become very noticeable and you will become more confident.

There was a recent study that showed that men are very bad at reading signals from women. They not only misread disinterest as interest (which you would think would be somewhat evolutionarily advantageous), but they also misread interest as disinterest (which does not make sense, evolutionarily)

So, even when women were trying to show that they were interested, the men did not always realize it.

Many news items reporting the news reported it and mentioned with glee what dumbasses men must be for not being able to recognize signals for interest and disinterest. (Titles like “Study confirms men are clueless”)

Of course, as someone pointed out at the time, if there is miscommunication between a transmitter and a receiver, it may not be the receiver’s fault. It’s possible that the transmitter is faulty. To put it in plain English: Why blame the men for being unable to decipher womens’ intentions and not the women for being unable to make their intentions clear?

It seems to me that no one, or both, are to “blame”.

It’s possible that, for the human race as a whole, it’s best if the signals are ambiguous and only the men who are better at interpreting them get to procreate and pass their genes. Maybe an ability to read these signals is correlated with some other desirable traits that are good for passing on to the next generation.

“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

This used to happen to me a lot. I am always mortified when it does. But I am learning to manage it:

When someone approaches who I don’t recognize, it is my instinct to assume I don’t know them and act disinterested, because of the part of me that is insecure and shy and doesn’t like meeting new people and assumes that they don’t want to meet me. However, I am learning to turn that default instinct/assumption on its head. Now, when someone approaches who I don’t recognize, I assume that they are someone I have met and liked a lot but then totally forgot about it, and I greet them as I would a friend.

The worst that could happen is that I end up treating a total stranger as a friend, which really isn’t too bad.

If I have met them before, there’s usually a conversational cue to that effect, and I can usually bluff it.

If they completely remember meeting me before, and I have no recollection whatsoever, it’s still a little embarrassing. But it’s way easier to recover from that if you discover it while having a pleasant conversation with the person, than if you’ve been ignoring them and they’re wondering why you’re being so rude.

snort Damn, now that is teh funny! :smiley:

That is a very interesting observation. I tend to think it would be more applicable to first or second date type situations, where you are to a larger degree talking a lot and going through the “getting to know you” stages?


Thanks, I will check it out. Yesterday I was reading a review of Strauss’ Rules of The Game. Have you read that one? How would you compare the two in terms of value? One of the things that does concern me is it seems the focus of those books are very much on “how to pick up and sleep with as many woman as you want” which… okay, that DOES sound fun but…

1.) Reeks of bad self-help style books. The "How to get rich and successful in 15 days! type books.

2.) I’m at a stage where I am looking for a relationship and not a hook-up.

Huh. I never thought of it quite that way. Interesting.

Thanks for the suggestions,


I don’t have direct experience with either book, but read one and if you don’t like it read the other one. Relating to women and understanding interpersonal signals are skills that can be learned. Once you have those skills you can use them to be a slut or find a mate, it is completely up to you.

Woops, seeing as a remark by me inspired this thread, I ougtta comment …

I guess in general people communicate both verbally and non-verbally. Both forms of communication can be learned, improved on. What you communicate is of course up to you, but as a young man there is nothing worse than being inarticulate.

First, demonstrating interest. That has both a verbal and non-verbal component. The verbal component is really straightforward to state, rather harder to practice - it means being honest and straightforward with women and taking risks. It can be as simple as “I really like you. Want to go on a date?” What is the worst that can happen? She will say “no”. Though of course this is made easier if you already have some clues that she’s receptive.

Then, there is the non-verbal - using body language and the like. Looking into her eyes. Making opportunities to cut her, as it were, out of the crowd to have more one-on-one time. Really listening to what she has to say.

Second, recognizing interest. This also has a verbal and non-verbal component. However, for men, reading the body language of women is more important, because our culture in general puts the onus on men to take the risks of verbal communication of interest. I’m not a believer in laundry lists of stuff women do to signal interest - every woman is different anyway - but there are some general clues: they are paying attention to you; they are looking at you; they are willing to move into your personal space; they lean towards you, rather than away; they respond positively to your attempts to move them out of the crowd/attempt to move you out of the crowd, etc.

Ideally, a meeting of a man and a woman ought to proceed in a sort of feedback loop, each giving & receiving more and more overt signals of approval and interest, culminating in one (usually the man) verbally expressing interest so as to put the matter beyond doubt.

Pretty straightforward really:

-Touching your arm or chest. This usually seems to be an affected gesture by girls actively looking to pick you up as opposed to a subconscious one, but it amounts to the same thing. Extra bonus points if she suddenly expresses surprise how rock solid you are.

-Touching her hair, shuffling or other nervous ticks. People are nervous when they are trying to impress someone. Classic example would be when a buddy of mine arranged a double date with two girls we met in a club back in college. They had us meet in a McDonalds parking lot off the highway as a convienient rendezvous point. Anyhow, the girls were trying to be all cool and shit but ended up driving us through the Drive-In lane. We just played it cool and ordered a Big Mac.

-Giving you her number. Girls generally don’t want guys calling them if they suck.

-Following you to dark quiet corners of the party. Not as creepy as it sounds. If she’s willing to follow you to a quiet location, it generally shows some interest.

-Listening intently. You can just sort of tell when they are so facinated by your shit .

-And of course, the blowjob in the bathroom