Ambigous women, uncertain men

What advice would you have for men in how to respond to ambiguous signals from women?

It’s not exactly clear what you mean by “ambiguous signals”. So I’ll guess. Feel free to clarify if you have a specific situation in mind.

The first thing is to be in the right frame of mind to begin with. People, regardless of gender, are more likely to respond to positive energy than negative. (Yes, there is the whole “bad boy” attraction, but that’s not something I recommend aspiring to or imitating. Pickup artist “experts” might disagree and try to teach you how to do create that attraction, but they don’t usually have a vagina, and I do. If you act like a jerk, you attract women who are attracted to jerks — generally not the healthy, independent and low-maintenance type that I try to encourage. To proceed… )

So the most important first step is a preliminary one. Being desperate or negative/pessimistic or full of rage are not sexy. Plus, any and all of these will cause a woman to consciously or subconsciously put up walls for protection, and those walls are a direct cause of ambiguity. Basically, if she’s concerned about hurting you or pissing you off, she will dither and obfuscate. A lady has to feel reasonably safe to be forthright. You can do a lot to create that safe zone. Be dignified, be clear, try to time your invitations well and gauge her reactions without pressuring her. Always offer a gracious exit. And feel free to use unambiguous language yourself: For example, use the term “date” as in “would you like to meet sometime for a coffee date?”– old-fashioned though it is, it’s not confusing!

Keep your perspective straight, and remember that although you prefer an interaction to produce an outcome favorable to you, it might not, and that’s OK. You can get your head right, and truly believe/understand that “no” may be for now or forever, but regardless, “no” is not the end of the world. Learning to graciously accept rejection is a SKILL that is worth learning to make your own life more pleasant and gracious and it’s a blessing for the lady on the other end. It will be a lot easier for both of you when you can just calmly and confidently issue a low-pressure invitation and deal well with the answer.

OK, now onto some concrete stuff.

I think you might be asking how to tell whether she is flirting with you or demonstrating that she’s interested. Or whether she might just be friendly and you’re being too optimistic.

Here are two suggestions:

  • Watch her with others — does she act differently with friends/acquaintances/strangers? Or differently with you? If she’s a universal flirt, the fact that she always plops herself down on your lap may be meaningless. Conversely, if she’s physically reserved with everyone and rests her hand on your arm when you two are chatting, that can be very meaningful. Look for breaks in patterns.
  • Body language basics — Extremely briefly: Does she touch her hair a lot when talking to you? Caress her own arms, legs, throat? Does she step or lean in toward your personal space while conversing? Touch your arm, chest, leg or back, even briefly, but especially if repeatedly? These are all super-positive signs she’s open to you. Conversely, does she cross her arms across her chest or keep her legs closed tightly or her posture stiff? Does lean back or step slightly away to create more personal distance? Look around the room repeatedly? Use extreme caution. (There are lots of behavioral psychology books and articles about this. Check one out, but be sure it’s reputable and not the pickup artist baloney I mentioned above.)

Finally, if she’s continually ambiguous, that might just be her attempt at being polite. Move on to find a girl who openly appreciates your interest and doesn’t have a problem indicating that. Dates should be fun .. it shouldn’t be like pulling teeth to get a “yes”. You deserve someone who is enthusiastic about your company — we all do!


About amywinns

Semi-snarky, semi-sincere, occasionally ranting, always paying attention. Feminist who can work a skirt and crack a joke. Grammar nerd who is also fun at parties. Mid-career writer/editor with 15 years’ experience in newspapers & magazines who now helps developers at a major media corporation communicate with the suits who write the checks. Pro-women, pro-family, pro-choice, pro-workingclass, pro-entrepreneur, pro-farmer. Like every other bourgeois Brooklynite, I choose local/organic/raw food — mostly vegetables — whenever possible/reasonable/affordable but I’m not a smug asshole about it. Hometown: Atlanta. Weird hobby: lindy hop. No pets, no kids, no thanks.
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