Teen Talk: Signs that someone ‘likes’ can be subtle, confusing

Dear Kelly: I’m a guy and I’m terrible about reading “signs” to tell if someone likes you. Everyone says things like, “Has she given you any signs?” I have no clue what the signs might be besides talking or texting. There was a girl in my Spanish class I thought liked me, and we talked all the time until she told me she had a boyfriend who lived in another state and who she was totally in love with. Clearly I missed the signs there because I really thought she liked me and I almost asked her to homecoming.

So what are the signs? How do you know? What if they give mixed signs? I really don’t understand girls very much, so I’m sure I’m terrible at all that body language stuff and reading into everything they say.

– Austin

Dear Austin: So you’re trying to crack the code and figure girls out? Big task. Add all the social networking to the mix and it can get even harder. The way we interact has changed so much over the past few years, and the code seems to be more complex than before. The “signs” that you are looking to understand are fairly simple, but reading people who are all different is what makes it difficult.

Some girls are extra friendly and chatty. They love to have conversations with a lot of people. They are often mistaken for being a flirt or a teaser when the reality is that is just their personality, and people misread it all the time. The same goes for quieter and more introverted girls who get misread to be standoffish or even seen as conceited, because they aren’t comfortable talking to others. Everyone has different personality traits and different comfort zones, so it can be hard to tell how someone feels about you because everyone shows it differently.

Yes, men and women might be from different planets, but that doesn’t mean you can’t understand some generalized signs that might help you with knowing if you should move forward or just stay in the friend zone. Think about how you act around a girl you like and the odds are the girls you like do the same thing.

If a girl makes a point to engage in conversation whenever you are around her and asks questions or seems interested in your life or what things you like, then that’s a sign she might want to get to know you better. Notice I didn’t say she likes you. You have to get to know someone before you decide if you like them. The first step is just deciding you are interested in what they have to say and if you enjoy talking with them. People rush to say they feel “chemistry” when really they are just getting to know each other and deciding if they want to pursue things any further.

Some simple signs that someone might (never an always) want to get to know you are if they always makes eye contact and smile at you every time you see each other. They remember things you have said before and ask you questions about things going on in your life.

They also find things you have in common and make conversations about it. They laugh at your jokes. They ask you questions about who you might like or have their friends do some inquiring as to the kind of girl you are interested in. They ask you for help in studying or work together on a project. They are playful and flirty (arm punches or hugs) or they find out places you like to hang out at and they show up.

Those are just a few small signs that can lead to further exploration and interest. But don’t just trust these – learn to listen to your instinct and follow your vibe. Like I say often, high school is a time to break hearts and have your heart broken. It’s all part of the process.

My guess is the girl in Spanish class was flirting with you but not interested in a relationship that is close. She might have liked the attention. My point is you might not be as bad at reading the signs. Sometimes people are confused so they can send very confusing messages.

Don’t stress about it. When the right girl comes along, the signs will be clear, and you will know she likes you. If you worry about, you will feel awkward and uncomfortable and things will not flow naturally.

Have faith that when the right girl comes along, you will not only read the signs but have the confidence to get to know her better and let her get to know the real you.

Kelly Richardson, a Folsom therapist, works with adolescents.