When you like someone, it can be tough to tell if they like you back. But if you're ever going to get together, you have to start somewhere.
Figuring out if someone likes you is the first step toward a healthy relationship. So here's how to do that.
Hint: It's all about healthy self-esteem for yourself and respect for the other person.
Ask the Right Question First
Instead of wondering if someone likes you, you should first ask yourself if you really like them, says psychotherapist Elsbeth Martindale, PsyD.
Her advice: Take it slow. Check out the person's values -- do they match yours?
“Look for someone who matches you,” Martindale says. She wrote a book called Things to Know Before You say "Go" for her teen clients who were getting their 'hearts stomped on," she says.
Remember, this should be fun. If you’re not having fun -- and more importantly, if you're not feeling good about yourself with someone -- then walk away.
You may be much happier on your own! There is nothing wrong with being single, even if everyone else seems to be coupling up. It can be your healthiest, most fun option.
Clues, Good and Bad
What if you really do like that person and you're trying to figure out if they like you back?
"Trust your gut," says Didi Zahariades, MA, a teen life coach in Portland, Ore.
Don't overthink it. Don't spend too much time counting how many times she looked at you during class or what his text that just said “Hey,” might mean.
“If you’re spending a lot of time trying to figure out if this person likes you or doesn’t, then he probably doesn’t,” Zahariades says.
Instead, consider this:
- Often or not? How often do you hear from them? Does she always wait for you after calculus or grab the seat next to you at lunch? If they're consistently showing you attention, you’re hearing from them often, "that may mean something,” Zahariades says.
- Focused or scattered? Does he stand and talk with you for more than a minute or so in the hall? Does she stay there even when her best friends pass by? If she keeps hanging out with you, that may mean something.
- Eye contact. This one can go both ways. If someone makes a lot of eye contact with you, that can be a good sign. But some people who are really shy find it tough to make eye contact, so you can't be sure about that.
- Getting personal. What do they talk to you about? Are they asking about what’s going on with you -- your classes, your after-school job, or your plans after graduation? Are they hinting at getting together by asking about what you're doing this weekend?
You might also ask your friends what they think. They may know better than you do.
“Teenagers are really good at recognizing the romantic cues for other people,” says John Duffy, PsyD, a Chicago psychologist and teen relationship expert. “They’ll tell their best friend, ‘Hey, she really likes you, I can tell. You should do something about it.’ But when it’s about you, all your insecurities come to the surface.”
If your friends say "no, that person is not into you," (or "that person is bad news"), listen to them, even though it's not what you want to hear. Trust that they've got your back -- you'd do the same for them.
If you're sure you like them, and you think they like you, how do you move things forward?
You might try a little flirting. We're not talking about anything scandalous. “Flirting is making the other person feel good about themselves,” Zahariades says.
So talk to them. Make eye contact. Ask them questions that get them talking. Pay attention to them.
Always be respectful. You don't want to accidentally make them feel uncomfortable. Don’t overdo it. If he or she does not seem comfortable around you, even if you thought they liked you, back off. Sometimes, people change their minds or you may have misread them. No problem -- there are plenty of other people out there who would love to talk to you!
When the person you like is with you, they should feel important to you -- and you both should be feeling good.