She likes me, but does she *like* me like me?
November 18, 2009 12:32 PM   Subscribe

Late start at dating, and I'm worried that I don't/can't express attraction on dates or around people I like. Halp!

I've gotten a really late start into the dating world. I'm in my mid-20s and have basically only gone on a handful of first dates (all arranged online), mostly in the past year or so, none of which have involved more physical contact than a rather chaste goodbye hug. A few times I've developed friendships with (single) women I've been pretty attracted to, but those have not morphed into anything more. (I don't know how to! Literally, don't know how those things happen.) Even aside from the mechanics of it ("touch her arm X times!" "mention Y!"--not that I think you can go by some textbook here), I don't know what happens if the "move" (physical or verbal) is unwanted/unrequited. Seems like it would be extremely awkward, especially if we've already become "friends." And it seems like friends is what I know how to do - I meet someone I'm attracted to and then when we hang out, I don't act like it's a date (I guess - how do you act like it's a date other than paying for someone?)

Relevant background:
-I'm a woman, and I'm pretty much only interested in dating women.
-I grew up (through high school) in a religious environment where no one dated and there was pretty extreme separation of the sexes. (i.e. lack of dating/flirting experience or exposure at a "normal" age, combined with developing the tendency to censor attraction since liking women wasn't really okay in that environment.) (But I have been away from that for >6 years at this point.)

I guess it would be perfect if I ended up on a date with someone who takes the reins and I'm attracted to, but:
a) I don't feel like I can/should count on someone else like that (as someone said in another AskMe: man who wait for roast duck to fly into mouth wait long time.)
b) I worry that I give off "not interested" signals, which might be stopping many people from taking the reins. I'm not an extremely physical person (would love to be more so) and I have these internal filters that seem to stop me from being really obvious about my attraction to people.

To my knowledge, no one, male or female, has ever overtly hit on me or expressed interest (excepting maybe the very occasional sketchy street dude), which suggests I'm either oblivious to cues or giving off some sort of "don't go there" signal.

How can I seem more receptive to advances? How do I express this stuff other than "hey, I like you?"

What happens when you try kissing someone (a friend suggested I just take the plunge and kiss someone I'd been hanging out with) and it wasn't wanted/expected? Or even if you grab their hand and it wasn't wanted?

Throwaway email since this is anon:
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (7 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Do you drink? I'm serious. I had this exact same problem. I don't get hit on, I give off "Don't come near me vibes", etc. A little bit of alcohol shuts off that little voice that is in your head going "Physical contact is not appropriate! Good girls do not act like that and I'm a good girl!" It's saying it to you and it's saying it to everyone around you, too. Some times you need help to shut that voice off during those times when physical contact becomes very appropriate and this IS what good girls do. You don't need a whole lot of drinks, just maybe 1 or 2. You have to also physically remind yourself to be open, in addition. You have to physically remind yourself that it's a date and to be affectionate. If it's not reciprocated you can always try again with someone else, since you seem to have no trouble setting stuff up.
posted by amethysts at 1:09 PM on November 18, 2009

I have a set of similar hangups (and am also a lesbian.) My workaround (and take this with a grain of salt, because I've been more-or-less voluntarily celibate for the last five years) is to be really blunt about it.

"You're terribly cute."

"I'm really attracted to you."

"Being close to you is a turn-on."

and once, when we were both sufficiently intoxicated, I just kissed her already. It worked out fine.

It wouldn't make good theater, but it tends to work out alright. The trick seems to be saying it and then leaving space for the other person to react however they see fit. Most women don't mind an honest compliment, and if you're on a date, it's not inappropriate. If they're not into you, they'll let you know, and then you can move on. It doesn't have to be awkward.

Best of luck with it. And I want to know where you're finding all these single women!
posted by restless_nomad at 1:26 PM on November 18, 2009

This recent thread seems helpful (I've linked to a comment about a resource that gets lots of shout-outs).
posted by idb at 1:41 PM on November 18, 2009

I absolutely agree with amethysts - ALCOHOL is what you need. not a stupid amount, but enough to loosen up and start flirting.

Flirting is how you let people know you're interested. lots of eye contact, smiling, showing interest in what they say and asking things about them, buying her drinks, these things get the message across.

Do you dance? a dancefloor is a great place to get flirty, but you gotta be comfortable dancing first. alcohol can definitely help with that.

I think we are often told in our culture that "needing alcohol" to "get things going" is a bad thing, but one forgets that people have been using alcohol as a social lubricant for literally thousands of years. It's tradition!

Also - just because you have become friends with someone doesn't mean it can't go further. friendships can turn into relationships just as relationships can turn into friendships... just get drunk already and start flirting.
posted by saturn~jupiter at 5:52 PM on November 18, 2009

I don't think you need alcohol as much as a little assertiveness and confidence. Confidence is a funny thing. It's like those entry level job ads that want people with experience. That's where the assertiveness and the whole faking it til you make it come in. That isn't saying be fake, but if you feel like saying X but you clam up and say nothing, you go and do it anyway.

Dating and the potential for rejection can scare anyone at any age. It's just human nature. Eventually, you will learn to read the women you date a little better along with yourself.

restless_nomad has some good advice. Pick a few statements you could generally rely upon to convey attraction, like she suggested. It's a little mental bag you can draw from if these things don't come naturally to you. The key is not to rehearse this stuff, (which can add to your anxiety) but just know they're there for you to reach for if you get stuck and you'd otherwise clam up or sweat it out.

And well, if you feel like accompanying this stuff with a glass of wine or similar, feel free.
posted by cmgonzalez at 9:00 PM on November 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

Oops, that should've said "Building confidence is a funny thing".
posted by cmgonzalez at 9:01 PM on November 18, 2009

Hand-holding is a nice but not overly aggressive early signal of attraction/affection. So reach out and take her hand.
posted by Jacqueline at 11:52 AM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

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