Dear All-Knowing Jono,
Hello. How are you? In order to start off this letter in a non-cliche way, I have some random facts for you: The plural of octopus is, in fact, octopodes. The "K" in Kmart stands for Kresge, after the founder, Sebastian S. Kresge. Cats have a set of clear eyelids, so they do actually blink, but they always win staring contests anyways because you can't catch them at it.
Now that I've tried to be original, I have questions for you. There is a male of my acquaintance that I have romantic feelings toward. At first, I thought he liked me, because he does several of the things you said are signs of interest. He talks to me in class all the time to the point where we get yelled at, he makes funny faces at me and makes jokes specifically to make me laugh, he remembers things I tell him, he walks with me to my locker after class to continue talking with me, he was excited when he thought we would be in the same gym class next semester, and bummed when we actually weren't, and he stops by my table at lunch specifically to say hi to me. And before this year, I'd never talked to him in my life, so it's not like we're super good friends. All my friends have noticed his behavior, and swear that he likes me, but it's been months and he hasn't asked me out, or for my number or anything. I know you've addressed this problem before, but I don't think he's lacking in confidence pants, because he's super outgoing all the time with everyone. I try and flirt back, but I suck at it, and I'm kind of a naturally flirty person, so I act that way with everyone. We've even talked about relationships before, and he said he's single because he's an a**hole, and that dating isn't that much different than friendship anyways, it's just hanging out with someone that you think is the most awesome person ever (but he wasn't averse to relationships themselves, if you were going to say that). Was he trying to warn me off, or was he just being funny?
So, here are my questions: In reading signals, is it more important what he does, or doesn't do? Do you think he actually likes me? Is he just being friendly? Is there anything I can do to get him to ask me out? Why did the War of 1812 start?
Pretty please get back to me, Jono! I'm going crazy trying to figure this out!
A Very Confused Sparkler
This started out like a multiple choice math test where you try to exclude the obviously wrong answers and then you're left with no possible answers. For the first 75% of your question, I was waving my hands impatiently in the air, because yes, come on, he clearly wants to make out with whatever part of your face is available! But then the last lines threw a monkey wrench into my analysis and my analysis blew up.
Here are two statements that nobody ever says while actually meaning them: "I am only single because I'm an a**hole," and "Dating isn't that much different than friendship." Genuine jerks don't think they're jerks, they think they're amazing; and even if they did realize they were jerks, they'd certainly never let that stop them from dating. And dating is zillions of... units... different than friendship. Even early high school dating, where you're just awkwardly eating a pizza and trying not to faint, is different, because it will eventually evolve into romantically eating pizza, and almost never fainting, and soon enough that will lead to... I'm not sure, a pizza-themed wedding or something. My point is that nobody honestly thinks of dating as "basically the same as friendship," and if he genuinely does, that doesn't make him sound super interested in you.
I know I'm constantly saying that all dudes like all girls, all of the time. I probably give the impression that you can't walk down the street without numerous boys bursting out of a manhole cover and attempting to make out with you (and honestly, as far as high school goes, I don't think I'm far off). But sometimes, a dude really does just want to be friends with you. This leads to things like:
- Casual reference. Does he call you "bro" or "duder" or "hey, idiot?" None of these are good signs. Someone who's this casual with you probably just thinks of you as a friendly friend.
- Sharing of utterly un-romantic stuff. Granted, sometimes really outgoing people will buck this trend, but as a rule of thumb, someone who wants to date you won't lead with "Here's a story about my dog barfing!! My dog barfed a super bunch, the end."
- Never actually flirting. Eventually, someone who likes you is going to say something flirty, like commenting that you look hot, or that your whatever looks cute, or something. If someone talks to you a lot and is clearly outgoing but never says anything flirty, this is not reassuring.
Alternatively, if a dude hangs out with you a lot, and is pretty friendly, but he wants to be more than friends, he will probably do things like:
- Showing off. I only bring this up because I've had a few people write in saying things like "Does this guy like me or is he just showing off?" when showing off is already a sign of a guy liking you. When a dude is like "Check out this song I wrote" or "Look at how many alligators I can punch at the same time," he only learned to play guitar or punch alligators in the first place so that girls would make out with him. This is the only reason any guy does anything. Trust me.
- Staying around you. If you're just friends, the guy will have no problem with you two going your separate ways; if he's really into you, his brain will be like "NO, ACHIEVE EXTRA SECONDS OF CLOSENESS" and propel his mannequin legs to follow you directly to the doorway of your next class.
- Acting a little bit nervous (or at least engaged). The shorthand for this is "acting different around you." Most dudes who genuinely like you are going to be at least slightly nervous around you, or maybe just very attentive, but either way they won't treat you like just some dude. Almost none of them will be completely casual and disinterested.
Now, I know plenty of really goony dudes who subvert every single stereotype about human life, so I'm not saying these are definitive rules. But the impression I get is that this dude was trying to politely dodge the dating question, and not necessarily because of anything to do with you (maybe he doesn't want to date right now, maybe he's gay, maybe he has something else entirely going on in his life). You can try to gauge where he stands with some of the stuff I listed above, but a guy who's interested in you romantically should eventually become at least a little more overt about it. If you bring up dating again, and he again claims that he is allergic to dating, and furthermore that dating is irrelevant, and then starts talking about that monkey in Raiders of the Lost Ark that died from eating poisoned dates, you can assume from this change of subject that he's telling you no (but at least he's doing it in the gentlest possible way).