So you’ve been reading this blog, perhaps other dating sites and books, trying to pick up on subtle hints that someone is interested in you. You’ve read about indicators of interest (IOI), the subconscious actions that give away a person’s romantic attraction. You’ve mastered listening to the words that someone else is saying and finding hidden meaning. You’ve even paid attention to small moments of seemingly harmless physical contact. Yes, you’re convinced, this person likes you.
In some cases you’ll be right, yet in others you’ll be completely wrong. Why is that? The reason is actually very simple. At some point during life, you start to refine your behaviors as you interact with others. Everything becomes more streamlined and develop a rock solid persona. People come to know you as a “type” of person, meaning that they can predict your reactions to certain types of situations. You play be a set of rules that are defined by you based on your past experiences. Your flirting behaviors, those that are intended to attract another, fall into this category as well.
I’m sure you’ve met someone who completely lacks the ability to flirt. We’ve all run into them at one point or another. This can happen for a number of reasons such as never having been in a situation to flirt (often a misconception) or being so bad at it that you just give up (more common). Equally awkward are those people who have no idea that they’re flirting and, therefore, end up in uncomfortable situations all the time.
I recently asked out a girl that I’ve had a crush on for a while, and was incredibly excited when she said yes. I had gotten all kinds of signals from her. She complimented me seemingly out of the blue both on my work and on my style; she implied she’d like to see me again and then followed up by actually saying it; she was overly friendly, laughed at my jokes, and generally agreed to everything I asked. When I asked her out to dinner, she said she it sounded great and that she’d look forward to it. I had asked a few questions designed to determine if she was seeing anyone (i.e., so what did you do last weekend?) and there was no mention of a boyfriend. What I didn’t know: she had no idea this was a date.
She had to cancel our “date” and when we talked about rescheduling, she revealed that she was seeing someone. Certainly something that one would think to mention when someone asks you out to dinner, one would think. As our conversation went on, I could sense the confusion. She literally had no idea that she was sending me signals and no idea that I had asked her out on a date. To her, I was just the friendly guy at work that she talks to sometimes. What more could there possibly be?
The initial anger I felt faded away pretty quickly as she told me more stories of her mixing up guys’ intentions. This poor girl literally had no idea when guys were flirting with her, let alone when she was flirting with guys. My anger turned to sympathy – this girl is so completely lost. Who knows how many guys she’s inadvertently hurt in the past. And I instantly felt sorry for the guy she’s seeing, after all, does he know that she’s accepting invitations for dinner from random guys she meets?
We can do all of the studying on dating and flirting that we can, but none of it makes up for the uniqueness of each personality. For someone who doesn’t realize that she’s flirting, or someone who doesn’t realize that someone else is flirting with her, the rules don’t matter. The words she says don’t mean what you think they mean, and the looks, smiles, and winks are nothing more than the playful acts of a child. You’re reading into these signals as if they matter only to be left disappointed and confused. Don’t blame yourself, there’s nothing you could have done differently.
For some people, they just don’t know.