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

a clueless looking young woman with her hand in her hair

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.


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  1. 1

    “If he breathes near you, he’s interested”

    I’ll have to keep that one in mind…because I am also the girl who needs a firetruck siren to signal interest.

  2. 2

    Yah me too.   I have little faith that anyone would be interested in me to begin with.

  3. 3
    Karmic Equation

    Evan, love the advice, as usual!
    @ Yuri
    Any man who talks to you for no reason (so this excludes salesmen, coworkers, and lost tourists) — are interested. Default to what Evan suggested.
    Please don’t take this wrong, but I need to ask, are you in therapy? If not, you really should go. You’ve either got to accept yourself the way you are and be confident that whatever size you are there’s someone out there for you. If don’t like yourself the way you are, you need to get a self-improvement plan in place and get working. Keeping the status quo when you’re unhappy should be unacceptable to you. Seriously, there’s a subset of people who love heavy people. And while you may not want to be someone’s fetish, it doesn’t mean they won’t love you for you. There is someone for everyone…but it comes at a price. Hard work at self-improvement of mind or body. Sometimes both.
    I hate people feeling negative about things they can change. OTOH if you’re one of those folks who are happiest when sad, then you need to realize that about yourself and just accept responsibility that you’re alone because of your own choices not because of forces outside your control. That’s a cop out. I mean this is the best possible way.
    Good luck.

  4. 4

    Evan,   I normally just enjoy reading your articles and of course WHD, but this time I feel compelled to post a comment!
    I am 100% Italian and I can assure that men  who serenade you outside your window, pledge their permanent devotion to you after the first date exist here in Italy, but are kind of creepy  .. insecure, misleading or   most likely insincere .. (and the Italian macho is really becoming obsolete in a dating market where women are really available, while this worked when women were more difficult to approach)
    Anyway,   thanks to your great advice I’ve started to appreciate those guys who show their interest (the Yanks way) with ACTIONS and CONSISTENCY which are things that say a lot more about a guy’s real interest !
    I hope this comment will be useful for the OP and other readers … dating has become more fun because with Evan’s simple piece of advice it’s easy to understand who’s really interested, who’s not. The nice part is relaxing, doing the exercise (Mirroring), practice to master the concept and you’ll discover that putting in practice what we learn from you, WORKS!
    And if the guy doesn’t follow through or acts uninterested, there is no real attachment to it, because this is part of the whole process and if you feel you’ve acted the right way (being receptive and feminine) there isn’t really no room for regret.
    Dating is really the starting point, it’s just establishing a connection with a person and healthy dating is the basis for healthy relationships ..
    xxx Nicoletta

  5. 5

    I read somewhere that an easy way to know if a guy is attracted to you is to just pretend to drop your napkin and glance under the table (if you’re seated at a restaurant, on a coffee date or whatever) and look at the way he is sitting. Legs together or crossed? probably not interested. Legs spread open in a (subconscious!) “crotch” display? He’s attracted to you. Men do this subconsciously, so if you’re getting mixed signals, or your signal interpreter is broken, just check out his legs.

  6. 6

    @ Karmic, I’ll take that under advisement.

  7. 7

    I’m naturally quite an aloof person.   I find that I have to amp it up about 500% if men are to  approach me.   It means smiling a lot, being immediately responsive and bright to their greetings, and, like Evan says, assuming that any man who speaks to me may be interested. It doesn’t mean I am desperate but they do need a green light.

  8. 8

    A few things I have observed to be a reliable indicator of attraction    (both in men and women):
    – the person copies your posture and gestures when you are in conversation
    – the person seeks to be physically close to you in a room full of people
    – the person can not take eyes off you.
    Now, all these can be subtle, especially if you are not particularly attracted to the person, and hence not looking to check their reaction.
    I fully support Evan’s advice – treat men like you suspect they like you, and act accordingly. Next piece of advice you will be seeking – how to get rid of way too many admirers 🙂

  9. 9

    Men often show their interest by showing off. When  a man wants to impress you, he is definitely not indifferent towards you.
    My impression is you don ´t need any therapy as you seem to be a nice, well-balanced person to me. (-:

  10. 10

    I would augment this piece by stating that picking up, and expecting to get picked up, should be only a part of a single person’s journey, and if I might add, only a small part of it.

  11. 11

    Evan, I know it is way off topic but in your recent email newsletter you talk about this blissful marriage you have with your wife. But, do you ever have disagreements or does someone get upset over something the other person said? I have to imagine your life isn’t perfect. Please tell us more about how both of you deal with these little bumps that come along.

    1. 11.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      @JESS – This is definitely not the forum for that, but I didn’t want you to think I was evading your question. Yes, we have disagreements. But unlike many couples, our disagreements never turn into arguments, never turn into screaming, and are resolved within 5 minutes with an “I’m sorry” and “I love you”. Any bumps in the road are smoothed out by trust, good communication and the knowledge that no disagreement could destabilize our relationship

  12. 12

    Thank you VERY MUCH your reply. I will definitely keep my questions post relevant moving forward or try to find a better place to add a question. I would love if you could do a post or email dedicated to this topic.

  13. 13

    I agree with Kiki! Evan needs to also write a post on how to stop attracting the WRONG men. The last single man who hit on me was half my age. Usually I have married men hit on me or if they are single, I am not interested and if I am am nice, they turn into stalkers. I literally have had to call the cops on two men recently.  
    I realize it’s great to be nice, but not all of them react nicely when you turn them down. Some men get downright nasty.  

    (Here’s my post: You don’t attract the wrong men. You attract men. Most of them, by definition, are the wrong ones. That’s life. There’s no way around it so stop sweating it. – EMK)

  14. 14

    you are probably good looking and/or charming and/or a flirt. That is why men are hitting on you.
    In my native language, there is a saying which, literally translated says “Even donkeys stop in front of a maiden’s door” meaning that being a single invites attention from all sorts of suitors.

  15. 15

    He’s written many posts, books, etc on this. Read up!

  16. 16

    @ Kiki,
    Love that expression!! Hope you don’t mind if I use it… 😉

  17. 17

    Evan said :
    …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?
    I think this should be part of a generally friendly attitude you have to everybody, not just eligible men whom you want to attract. Be open, friendly and accepting of everybody – men and women, young and old, black and white – your warm kindly personality should shine through not some affected friendliness reserved for certain people only.
    I have been turned off by men who have been so charming to me, but exceptionally rude to service people such as waiters and check out staff. Similarly, men have been impressed by my kindness towards others but not directed at him.

  18. 18

    I have a question: CAN a man ever perceive your receptiveness as being kind of DESPERATE? What if the attraction starts wearing off? Should the woman then withdraw a little? I’ve seen & heard of many cases where men start cheating, or even disappear as soon as the relationship starts “stagnating”.

    I’ve read books on Michael Fiore & several other relationship coaches where they talk about this & give advice on how to keep the “spark” alive. Am I learning the wrong things here? In this case, what is a woman to do if a man starts withdrawing? Mirror his actions? Loving your work! Will definitely purchase your books! 🙂

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