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How to Tell if They’re into you and Why it’s So Hard

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You may have found yourself at that stage in your friendship or such with another person if they really like you like girls often contemplating if their guy will commit and guys wondering if they are only bound to the friendzone. Mistakes are often made in trying to read each others’ minds like this. Biases on your or their part may also lead you to miss out on signs of attraction that are there; or see interest when there is none. Such over-and-under perception of romance ruins friendships.

Then why, again, is it so hard to tell if someone really likes you? Research might just happen to have some answers to this dilemma in clear terms. Here are some:

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Romantic Notions and Error Management Theory

Error Management Theory, by Haselton and Buss (2000), deals with mind reading in romantic relationships, as per evolutionary and social psychological circles. It hints that as we chase some mating advantages for ourselves, we overlook some things and err specifically, behavior heavily undermined by our biases in romantic relationships.

As per the theory suggests, more specifically, the theory rests on the foundation that mating costs are biologically different for men and women: Men’s contribution of sperm is fairly cheap and easywhile women’s nine months of pregnancy (and the nursing after) is quite costly. As a result, men are often best served by not missing easy sexual opportunities and have evolved biases to perceive female desireeven when none exists. Women, however, are best served by avoiding men who will not invest in them further and have evolved biases to discount men’s signs of commitmenteven when men are sincere.

This creates trouble as men would be overestimating women’s sexual interest; or women overlooking men’s good intentions, becoming skeptical towards them.

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Several studies have been conducted to further evaluate these effects (Haselton & Buss, 2000, Henningsen & Henningsen, 2010). Support has been found for both men’s tendency to over-perceive women’s sexual interest and women’s tendency to be skeptical of men’s commitment intentions. The research also indicates that more individual biases creep in too, with both men and women projecting their own level of sexual or commitment interest on a partner as well.

In a nutshell, we can’t seem to draw an accurate line between commitment and desire, because of both evolved/biological and socio-emotional reasons.

How to Tell if They’re Into You

So how to tell if someone really likes you? Well, apart from erring in our inherent perceptions, we’re sometimes right, too when we focus more on objective signs than biased perception.

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Pay attention to the following:

  1. Body Language

When someone likes you, they get more comfortable around you, leading to an open and forward body language. They may take a while to get familiarized with you but eventually, their movements become more animated as they converse with you. Eye contact always increases. Basically, if they’re into you, they’ll pay attention to you more and behave positively. *Continue reading to next page*

2. Touch


When someone’s attracted to you, get used to them finding excuses to be around you and to touch you more, being more receptive to your touch as well. For instance, their friendly handshakes might escalate to more, longer intimate embraces. And if you find yourself actually wanting to test their true intentions in the right mannerisms, anyway you might want to notice how affectionately and frequently they touch you or if they pucker up for a kiss without your call for it and so forth.

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It’s all there, in the way they choose to carry themselves around you you just have to know where and when to look.

3. They make loyal investments

If someone is rightly interested in you, they will inevitably invest in the relationship. One major step they’ll take to achieve this is to make a commitment to you, making a claim, publicly, taking you to that level in their life where you learn the name of their pet and get to know their friends and family and just making you a chapter in the book of their life, a book they love reading.

Furthermore, they will mold and blend their appearance and such to suit your needs, as well. All in all, if they invest, support and are content with the relationship with you, they are very likely committed, too.

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4. They show you immense gratitude

If someone genuinely cares about you, they’ll show their gratitude to you in a way they don’t show to others. A simple thank you would most likely be followed by a more caring behavior on their part. They will do everything they can to let you know the shine you bring out in them is lighting up their life, indeed. Such tender and gracious attitude would ultimately point to you that they’re interested in you, after all.

5. They’re themselves around you

If someone sheds their mask, their outer skin and are themselves around you, they trust you and expect you to accept them as they are, flaws and all. Now, they won’t just do that if they were not interested in you.

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Overall, focusing on such clear cut behaviors better indicates, in a straightforward manner, if someone really likes, loves or desires you or all of these. They also act as measurements of interest, which lessen your personal biases, eventually making you know more and wonder less. Wouldn’t that be a relief now?В В 

Haselton, M.G., & Buss, D.M. (2000). Error management theory: A new perspective on biases in cross-sex mind reading. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78, 81-91.
Henningsen, D.D., & Henningsen, M.L.M. (2010). Testing error management theory: Exploring the commitment skepticism bias and the sexual overperception bias. Human Communication Research, 36, 618-634.
В© 2016 by Jeremy S. Nicholson, M.A., M.S.W., Ph.D. All rights reserved.