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Real Live College Guy Dale: He’s Nice to Me… & Everyone Else

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We all need a little guidance now and then, so whether you’re stressed about a fling gone wrong or a recently wrecked relationship or you’re wondering how to handle a stage-five clinger, Real Live College Guy Dale is here to help you navigate the college dating scene.

I was wondering how to differentiate between a guy who is genuinely nice to everyone but doesn't like you versus a guy who is genuinely nice to everyone but may have an interest in you. How do you know? – Flirting? at Fairfield

Fairfield,

I’ve been in the same situation while standing in line at Starbucks talking to super-friendly baristas, so I understand how tough it can be. When she’s being really nice I feel special, and I have to wonder if she’s just being friendly because it’s her job or if she’s actually flirting with me. Unfortunately it’s almost always the latter, but that doesn’t mean that’s always the case.

The simple fact is that it’s entirely too easy to confuse friendliness for flirtation. It’s a tricky playing field and not one that I particularly enjoy being in, so how do we differentiate the two?

For starters, it isn’t as simple as narrowing down body language. Just because someone touches you on the arm doesn’t mean he’s interested, and if someone maintains eye contact for more than a few seconds… well, I mean, that’s just creepy after a while, right?

It can be hard to tell because every person really is different. It’s an old cliché, but no two people are exactly alike. We all have different methods of flirting, however similar they may seem, and what may be considered flirting to some might be considered simple acts of friendliness by others. It’s a frustrating toss-up.

I think the best way to figure this whole thing out is to watch where his attention is directed. Does he seek you out over everyone else, or does he divide his attention amongst everyone equally? What you should look out for, especially in busy or crowded areas, is whether or not he’s giving you more attention than he is to everyone else. Maybe he’s talking to a group of people but comes to you specifically for a response. If he’s focusing mostly on you, then I’d say he’s probably interested in you.

Watching for body language can be tricky too. What might be a sign for one person isn’t always a sign for another, and sometimes you just have to act on your gut instinct. The truth of the matters is that, short of being upfront and just asking, I’m not so sure there’s one single way to differentiate between flirty and just really, really nice.

Best-case scenario? He is actually flirting with you. Worst? At least he’s a friendly guy! Nonetheless, it’s college, and sometimes you just have to take the risk.

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