Under 30

I can't complain but sometimes I still do

Monday, March 06, 2006

This one is just for the ladies ... and the dudes, too

I need your help on a possible future column. I have been single for about four months now, and I am consumed with the unanswerable question that haunts all single men: Does she like me? This is what goes through your mind in the immediate aftermath of meeting a woman you have never met before. You can't control it, it just pops in there. A lot of times it doesn't matter whether you like her. Whether she likes you is all that's important. It's a sign that you are single by choice, not genetic deformity.

Even in the instances where the answer to "Does she like me?" DOES matter, figuring it out can stymie the sharpest minds. Women, for lack of a better term, make no freaking sense whatsoever, and they send out signals that contradict and cancel each other out. And, yet, whenever you remember her actions in hindsight, they seem to spell out in capital letters what her intentions were all along. It's like a David Lynch movie you can only see once. Women will complain about having to give birth, that men will never appreciate the pain they go through at the end of a pregnancy. But we do understand. We went through the same pain so we could one day help begin a pregnancy.

Anyway, back to my column ... and this is where the ladies come in ... I am going to give you three romantic story problems, and I want you to tell me whether the girl in the story problem likes the boy. (Dudes, check out the postscript.)

Romantic story problem No. 1
Gary is meeting his roommate's work friends at a bar on a Saturday night. One of the friends is Jill, an attractive girl about Gary's age. Jill strikes up a conversation with Gary, and they hit it off. Not in a major way, but enough where they can talk without any awkward pauses. Jill occasionally drops a flirty remark, and after a few minutes starts touching Gary's arm every now and then. Gary isn't strongly attracted to Jill, but she's pretty cute and friendly. He wonders whether she is flirting with him. Gary and Jill eventually talk to the rest of the group, but they always seem to end up alone again. Jill continues to seemingly flirt with Gary, even grinding on his leg at one point. But Jill does this only because an R. Kelly song comes on and she thinks grinding is funny. As the night wears on, the rest of the crowd goes home and Gary and Jill are alone. Gary continues making flirty retorts to Jill's apparent come-ons. When the bartender says "Last call!", Gary quickly brainstorms various ways to ask her back to his place. But before he gets the chance to say anything, Jill quickly sobers up, gathers up her things, and goes home.

Question: Does Jill like Gary? If so, why did she leave so fast? If not, why was she flirting with Gary all night? Is it possible that she wasn't flirting, that Gary just imagined it all? If so, what in the hell was Jill doing?

Romantic story problem No. 2
Jack meets Joan via an online dating service. After e-mailing back and forth for a few weeks, Jack suggests that they talk on the phone. Joan agrees, and that night they talk for two hours. The next night they talk for another hour and a half. A few days later, they go out on their first date. Only thing is, Jack lives in Green Bay and Joan lives in Wausau (for you non-Wisconsinites, that's about an hour and a half apart), so Jack has to either drive there and back for one night or spend the night at Joan's. Jack offers to drive back that night, but Joan demands that he stay at her place. They go out and have a really good time, but they keep the flirting to a minimum. Jack tries a few times to flirt, but there is no reciprocation. Back at her place, they stay up until 3 a.m. talking. When it's time to go to bed, Joan says Jack can sleep with her in the bed. Jack isn't sure what this means, since they haven't even kissed yet and she hasn't given any sign that she wants to kiss. In bed, Jack rubs Joan's back. Joan seems to like it, but she never turns around. They fall asleep. This same scenario plays out two more times.

Question: Does Joan like Jack? If so, why did she not respond to his advances? If not, why did she keep going out with him and sharing her bed? Is it possible that she wasn't flirting, that Jack just imagined it all? If so, what in the hell was Joan doing?

Romantic story problem No. 3
Chris and Carrie go out on their first date. Over dinner, they have good, not great, conversation. They agree on most things politically, and have a good time mocking the beliefs of the side they don't agree with. But when it comes to music and movies, they couldn't be more different. Chris offends Carrie when he makes a disparaging comment about "American Idol," not knowing that Carrie loves the show and her favorite concert ever was Clay Aiken. Carrie gives Chris a stomach ache when she complains about the time she rented a DVD and had to take it back because it was the letterbox version and she likes full-screen. But they seem to have similar senses of humor, and the conversation never gets overly combative. While having drinks, Chris notices Carrie standing closer to him than before and making flirty comments. He likes the attention, and returns it. Occasionally, he touches her arm and back, but she never acknowledges this or returns it. As the night wears on, their interaction never goes beyond innocuous flirting. Chris notices that Carrie is less responsive in conversation, and her eyes wander whenever Chris talks about his job or any topic for longer than 30 seconds. The bar closes and Chris drives Carrie home. He tries flirting, but Carrie just seems tired. In her driveway, she puts her hand near the handle as soon as the car stops, as if poised to leave. But she doesn't leave. Chris and Carrie chat for 10 minutes. Then there's a pause. Their eyes meet for a moment. Carrie is close but not that close, and her hand is still on the handle. Chris doesn't try to kiss her good night. Finally, she smiles and gets out of the car.

Question: Does Carrie like Chris? If so, why did she seem to lose interest at the end of the night? If not, why did she give him that look at the end of the night? Is it possible that she wasn't flirting, that Chris just imagined it all? If so, what in the hell was Carrie doing?

P.S. If any dudes have their own romantic story problem, please post it and I might steal it and not give you any credit.

27 Comments:

Blogger Jen said...

Story #1: If Gary isn't strongly attracted to Jill, why the hell does Gary care? Chances are Jill could see that Gary wasn't strongly attracted and so she played it safe. Is Jill real? I'd like to meet her.

Story #2: Joan likes Jack as a friend, but isn't sexually attracted. Good friends, however, are hard to find. Or, option b.) Joan is waiting to see if Jack really is a gentlemen or possibly how much he's willing to put up with before she is willing to continue. If that's the case, Joan has been burned hard in the past. Joan may have baggage.

Story #3: Drinks were involved when flirty time came around - but most of the night found the two incompatible. What do you do? Get out of the car. Call it a night and move on. Good job, Carrie.

12:03 AM  
Blogger Steve Hyden said...

All the stories are true, though they haven't neccessarily happened to me or anyone I know, or at all.

1:22 AM  
Anonymous Word Nerd said...

Story problems. How can you do this to you readers? Who wasn't traumatized by story problems in third grade... Forget that these aren't about numbers, story problems evoke terror, no matter if they are about trains leaving Denver and Philadelphia or dates.

10:25 AM  
Anonymous lori said...

steve,

here is something shocking: sometimes, girls want you to like them even though they have NO INTENTION OF EVER DATING/KISSING/TOUCHING you. so they'll be flirty, and they'll be inappropriate, and they'll never sleep with you. but they want you to want to sleep with them. it's an ego thing.

i'd say these girls might all qualify as those kinds of girls.

-OR-

you are a cool guy and would make a good friend. so they are touchy and affectionate and even flirtatious, because that's how girls act with their friends.

-OR-

you're totally clueless and they're totally into you. but i don't think girls are that coy. when i like a guy, i like him. i'm not overly eager to get away from him at the end of the night. i might let him kiss me. i might even call him.

(by the way, when i say "you," i am referring to any one of your pseudonyms.)

i'd say the only guy who might have a chance in your three scenarios is guy #1. but he's not really into the girl, so what does it matter? wait, i guess i know the answer to that.

10:30 AM  
Blogger Steve Hyden said...

I repeat, it's not me, people. If I want to embarrass myself in print, I put my name on it.

11:00 AM  
Anonymous lori said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:03 AM  
Blogger Thomas Roz said...

It took me years to figure out what Lori just wrote. But when it hit ... BAM ... like a lightning bolt! Every girl I pursued in high school and (early) college had the "ego" problem -- overly flirtatious with no intention of taking it to another level because they "didn't want to lose me as a friend." Er, I'm not that good of a friend. Please. Lose away. So why were they flirting so heavily? Well, if you saw them around other guys in social situations, you'd realize, 'Hey, they flirt the exact same way!" While it takes a little time to come to this realization, eventually you understand how unhealthy it is to be around these people. The real friends rise to the surface, and I think, should be uncomfortable to put a guy in such an awkward situation. Some dudes have the same shitty behaviors -- Have you ever met "guy who hugs every girl he sees?" Man, I hate that guy -- but that's not what Steve is asking here, so I won't get into it.

Anyway, Lori's post is dead on, and I'm glad a female wrote it, because until I met my wife and (gasp!) avoided all the stupid mind games of dating, I still wanted to believe that girls wouldn't just flirt for the sake of their own egos or even worse, play the ol' "I only want what I can't have" game. I knew my wife "liked me" because she showed genuine interest in what I had to say and what I did for her. She wasn't eager to be away from me. She called me, e-mailed me with actual stuff to say. She wanted to eat dinner with me -- early on, this was a big obstacle for her, apparently.

The best sign, though, was a mix CD I made for her so she could listen to it for a winter break trip, and when she came back, she told me exactly which bands she liked and that she wanted me to make her another one. She knew how important music was to me, and she wanted to enter my world willingly. If you find someone like that ... wow. Hang on.

11:07 AM  
Anonymous mar k said...

what's gary's problem? he's confused about her? he's the one who isn't interested.. .or at the end of the night he finally was cause it's drunk horny time? i don't relate much to gary. i think the girl could tell his attentions.

4:57 PM  
Blogger klhp said...

First question: who is the blog administrator? Is that you, Steve, or some other person policing blogs?

OK, moving on... Lori's right, girls like to flirt for flirting's sake (though I know many men who fall into that catergory as well) and they also like the feeling of being liked. That being said, I think girls give off other signals that the story problems don't address. For example, does she play with her hair a lot? Does she sit shoulders forward toward the guy? Does she cross and uncross her legs (please do not think Sharon Stone. Eww.) or is her foot touching boy leg under the table? These are the little details that tell more of the story.

#1: I think Jill likes Gary, but all of a sudden it was Last Call and she knew she didn't want to go home with him (smart girl.) Gary should get her number from his friend. And the grinding thing is no clue. That's one of those extraneous details in a story problem that throws you off track.

#2: Umm, Joan's just weird. Who lets a man into her bed on a first date if the intention is getting a backrub and sleeping -- times three!? No man should drive the Wausau-Green Bay journey three times for confusion and strange, strange signals. Jack should run far away from Joan.

#3: Carrie was nervous; and I think at the end of the night, Carrie was undecided and hoped that the kiss would make or break the night. If the kiss was good, then a second date is worth it. If not, maybe there wasn't enough there to warrant Date #2. Because who decides to break up over Clay Aiken?

Girls are weird. It's true.

5:45 PM  
Blogger Steve Hyden said...

I deleted the message, if that's what you're asking. Basically, Lori and I had a fight this morning and in a fit of annoyed rage I deleted one of her posts. We have since kissed and made up and I regret the deletion. It won't happen again. That is, unless you slander somebody or start talking about how great the Nazis are.

And, no, there was nothing incriminating or juicy in the post. Our fight was somewhat unrelated to it.

5:50 PM  
Anonymous Sharon said...

Story 1
Jill has picked up of the fact that Gary is not interested, so she is just enjoying her evening.
Story 2
Joan is lonely and just wants company.
Story 3
Carrie is not a needy person. She likes him, but she does not feel the need to play the game. She is herself and confident enough that she is not looking for an ego boost. He should have kissed her, but he was too much a foolish little man hehehe.

5:59 PM  
Blogger Krista said...

I think KLH is on to something. If I were to decide for myself on these topics, I'd say what she said. Jen, too.

So that's my two cents. Or their two cents. Either way there's some cents.

9:42 PM  
Blogger klhp said...

Thanks, Krista. The knowledge comes from years of happy flirting. :)

By the way, I also enjoy your blog. Thanks, Steve, for introducing us (kind of).

10:14 PM  
Blogger Krista said...

Steve, you're quite the matchmaker.

First Lori, now KLH. Who needs real life when you can make friends via blog comments?

11:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Romance smomance, who the *uck cares! You never did answer the question about the virgin guy????? Did he ever get to do the horizontal mambo or not Duuuuuudddde?

1:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Steve - If it makes you feel better, I like you. :) -r

1:58 PM  
Blogger Steve Hyden said...

I did answer the virgin question in a previous post. In a word, no.

As for r., aww! Thanks! I'm not sure who you are, though I suspect you are the first girl I ever loved, no? The professor?

2:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Steve - I'm not Rose or the professor(?). I just admire you and find you funny. ;) -r

2:26 PM  
Blogger klhp said...

The Professor would have signed it 'rmt,' I suspect.

3:50 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

I agree with KLH and Lori (and hell, Krista's too, because they are essentially my thoughts...) :)

Guys, if you want to know if she likes you or not, it's all in the eyes. 100%. Learn to read eyes. And I don't mean that they will blink a certain way or something, but with all of my girl friends, I can tell if they are interested in someone by the way they are looking at him.

1:27 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

I have been asked to share my elaboration on the above comments, so here goes:

The best eye thing is the 'catch and hold' without being creepy. The kind when you spin your head around and lock eyes with that one person that makes your head stay there just a moment too long. Note: it's creepy if you were already staring. It's the catching that is important. For me, I melt with the catch, a quick eyebrow 'yeah, I see you too' kind of signal and then a quick smile while returning to whatever it was they were initially doing in the first place. All in all like 2 seconds.

A girl will not do the catch and hold unless she's interested. However, there is a fine line between the catch and hold and plain amusement or blank stare. The difference is usually the length of time held and/or the lack or size of the smile. The coy quick smile along with the catch and hold means interest. The huge smile means she just plain likes you cause you're cool (and it may be a romantic interest too, but I'm talking like at the very beginning here).

1:50 PM  
Anonymous Hammurabi's chode said...

There's an easy way to avoid all of these word problems.

If you're in Appleton and want to find a girl that likes you, just show up to the Fire Alarm on Saturday night in a smokin' Camaro.

4:04 PM  
Anonymous rick said...

The cool word for 2006: chode.

5:03 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

Hammurabi - I hate to break it to you, but they probably just like you for your car. I know, shocking, but true. I just hope I've let you down in the kindest way possible.

6:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

choad. choad. not chode.

6:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

why not chode? who named you dictionary?

12:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Merriam Webster.

3:46 PM  

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