Woman likes man, man likes woman, but is signal clear?

BALTAMOUR

December 15, 2007|By MARYANN JAMES

A few years ago, elevator mechanic Howie Otto worked a month-long job at an office building. He often came in contact with the receptionists there and eventually became friendly with one in particular.

They were acquaintances, maybe even friends, but nothing more. Or so he thought.

One day, while he was getting on the elevator, Otto's receptionist friend hopped on and gave him her number. You can guess what happened after that.

"I really had no idea she was interested in me at all," says Otto, now 26.

Otto's experience echoes a question that has plagued mankind for ages: How do you know if someone digs you?

Dan Meranski, psychotherapist and social worker by day, matchmaker and dating coach by night, says it's all about body language.

"Do they make eye contact with you?" he asks. "Do they seem happy to be with you or do they look away and give you vague answers?"

Meranski, who started Safe Date in Pikesville four years ago, says it's hard for people to be direct, especially when it comes to love matters.

"A lot of people, it's hard for them to say. `I'm not interested,' so they'll say, `I'm busy this week,' instead," he says.

But Rebecca Robinson of Frederick says it's easy to tell if people are interested. Especially at a bar.

"They start to stare at you," she says. "A lot of long staring."

Or, they start rapping.

The 28-year-old Robinson said a guy approached her on the street in Federal Hill one day and started serenading her. Mos Def-style.

"I told him to write it down," she says. "I was flattered."

Robinson says that she makes eye contact with a guy when she's interested. Casually bumps into him. It's clear when someone likes you, she says.

John Rodenhauser of Annapolis says it's easy for women to know. Men let you know.

Look at Rapping Romeo.

"Guys are more extroverted that way," Rodenhauser, 37, says. "They let you know that they like you."

Otto agrees.

"Women like to make things hard to figure out sometimes," he says.

Eye contact and showing interest are nice guidelines, Otto says, but it's still hard to tell when someone's just sweet or sweet on you.

Lorie Kolesa of Towson says it's not that difficult to figure out.

If she's talking to you and fixing her hair and leaning over and touching you, Kolesa, 30, says, you've got a green light.

"I think men would know if they knew how to listen to women," she says.

As a dating coach, Meranski says he's observed that most people's biggest obstacle is fear.

"A lot of people are afraid to get hurt," he says. "They come up with a lot of reasons ... but when you get down to it, they're afraid to get hurt and get out there."

And perhaps that is also part of the reason why the "I like you" equation is so hard to figure out. Maybe, sometimes, we're just too afraid to put ourselves out there and believe that someone would actually like us.

Maybe the key to figuring out the "like" is open eyes, ears and mind.

Regardless, Meranski is convinced that someone out there likes you.

"Everybody thinks something's wrong with them. They're too fat, too old, not educated enough," he says. "But I think there's somebody for everybody."

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