A Man’s Guide to Reading In-Between the Lines

In Advice and Encouragement, Dating, For the Guys, Relationships by Debra Fileta36 Comments

It’s easy to feel that men and women speak different languages.  Books titles like Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus are a reflection of the wide chasm that can exist when it comes to male/female communication.

The bottom line is that men and women have a tendency to think differently, to act differently, and to interact differently than one another- especially in the area of love and relationships.  I was recently asked to write an article for men, helping them to get a peek inside of a woman’s head.  One question that many men are looking for the answer to is– How do I know she’s into me?

While I am ALL ABOUT healthy, open, and honest communication, the truth of the matter is when you are first meeting and getting to know someone of the opposite sex, you don’t start off by immediately jumping into the “define the relationship” conversation (unless of course you want to come across as creepy…). Instead, you keep your eyes open for signs of interest that lead you from friendship into something more.

When John and I had been friends for a while, there was a period of time in which we weren’t reading each other well–straight up due to gender differences.  I was starting to convince myself that maybe he just saw me as “buddy”- and at the same time, he started wondering if I was interested in him at all.  We were both communicating interest- but in completely different ways.  We were missing the signals until we finally sat down for a “DTR” 6 months into our friendship.

And from what I’m gathering from all the emails I receive- we’re not the only couple who’s faced the problem of misunderstanding when it comes to male/female friendships and relationships.

In hopes of getting the genders more on the same page, I decided to take a poll of my female readers asking them to explain how they show interest when it comes to the opposite sex.  The responses were awesome– but varied from “running in the opposite direction” to “telling it like it is”.

But overall, somewhere right in the middle of the spectrum–a few strong themes emerged that might give you guys out there a little perspective when it comes to knowing whether or not she’s interested. Let me clue you in: 

1.  Body Language.  Hands down, the number one thing women said they use to communicate interest to a guy was body language.  The unspoken interactions that mean so many things to a woman–though sometimes go unnoticed by a man.  Body language says so much, without actually having to say anything at all.  And for women–apparently it’s one of their favorite ways to interact.  Whether by maintaining eye contact, closer proximity, facial expressions or a subtle touch–it’s a good indicator that she just might be into you.  Be on the lookout for these un-spokens; they may mean more than you could have imagined.

2.  Attention:  When it comes to showing interest- a woman’s attention says a lot.  Women love to GET attention from men- whether they are interested in them or not.  But GIVING attention, that’s a whole different story. Does she laugh at your jokes?  Remember your comments?  Listen when you talk?  Is she interested in getting to know about you, and learning what you like?  Woman are all about the details–so if she asks to know more, there’s a good chance she’s into you.  She’ll pay attention if she’s interested.

3. Response: I truly believe that our culture is changing when it comes to the “cat-and-mouse” game that we’ve sometimes used to describe dating.  What I mean is that I see a shift in women who are stepping up in showing interest, and taking the first step when it comes to starting a relationship.  Though this change is definitely one step in the right direction- one thing I hear time and time again from women is that they are still longing to be pursued.

For some women, it’s only within the pursuit that they feel the freedom to respond.  With that in mind, a great litmus test of whether or not she’s interested is to go ahead and take the risk!

If she’s interested- she’ll call you back.  If she wants to keep the conversation going, she’ll text you again.  If you ask her to get together, she will take you up on it–and if she’s busy, she’ll give you an alternate plan.  At the end of the day, from the responses I got it was clear that woman still love to know that they are wanted, and part of their interest develops and grows from the simple act of being pursued.  Sometimes, a woman’s interest is awakened when she learns that you are interested in her.  So put some signs out there– and then go ahead and take a leap of faith.  You just never know how things might turn out.

Men and women can be so different in how they communicate and show interest- but learning to understand one another and communicate better will hopefully start to bridge the gap toward starting relationships on the right foot…God knows we need all the help we can get!

Hey Ladies!! Stay tuned for Part 2: A Woman’s Guide to Reading in Between the Lines written by my husband, coming at you this week!

Add to the conversation by commenting below: How do you tend to show and respond to interest from the opposite sex?

Looking for more?

Are you SINGLE and ready for next steps in your love-life? Join hundreds of others singles and enroll in this 21-Day Program to Jump Start Your Love-Life!

Want to know how to attract and keep the right relationship? Check out my book True Love Dates: Your Indispensable Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life! Plus, read the Top 25 Dating Questions of All-Time answered in Section 4!!

Debra Fileta is a Professional Counselor, speaker, and author of the book True Love Dates: Your Indispensable Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life as well as the 21-Days To JumpStart Your Love-Life Program, where she writes candidly about dating, relationships, and how to find true love. You may also recognize her voice from her 100+ articles at Relevant Magazine or Crosswalk.com! She’s also the creator of the True Love Dates Blog!  Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter!

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36 Comments on "A Man’s Guide to Reading In-Between the Lines"

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“For some women, it’s only within the pursuit that they feel the freedom to respond.” A-MEN! I’ve only ever had one flirtationship, but I was convinced that we were just hanging out, watching movies…being friends. It never occurred to me to consider anything else with him. Until, all of a sudden, somebody was holding my hand. This was literally my thought process [my voice of reason is in brackets]: “Oh, that Mindy Lahiri…she’s so zanny–Wait! Somebody’s holding my hand. Who’s holding my hand?! Oh…it’s just me and him sitting here, so… He’s holding my hand. When did that happen? How… Read more »


This comment is gold. Your insight (and hilarity with which you shared it) is valuable and encouraging. Thanks for the advice!

Much appreciated,


“If you’re interested, just ask us out–even if just for coffee, but call it a date if it is one.”

Amen, sister! THIS has gotten me several times. That’s when I really freak out–“is this a date? Did he ask me on a date? It feels like a date, but does he not want it to be a date?” A MILLION questions, which led me to not be sure how to respond to him. Please, guys, CLARITY! 🙂

Exactly, b/c then it’s really awkward on both sides. I guess it can work out but it’s real weird along the way. If you just want to be friends only, then you feel lured in or tricked. You don’t know if you should say no or not. You don’t know how to dress…you might even really dress down if not interested to send a signal. Then since it’s unknown if it’s a date or not you don’t know who should pay if you are waited on…or even at Starbucks! Then if he does pay there’s the question of what it… Read more »
Frank Stella

To me, these are more of signs that she’s probly not *un-interested* (but still could be). I say that because these are all subjective. Deb, like you said in your “DTR” article, which I just read, I absolutely need words. I never put trust in signs and signals because they can kind of mean anything.



Yup, this post basically says it all. I know we can be a very confusing gender, but please be patient with us, guys! For me, it’s all about attention and body language. If I’m not distracted while talking to guys and am not visibly trying to slide carefully out of the conversations, I’m interested! But I’m also trying to be more intentional these days.


How can a girl know when a guy is just being polite and when he means more? There are guys who are just very educated and kind. How can a girl know if she’s attracted to him in cases like these or if his just being nice? Can we have an article where you talk about, “A woman’s guide to reading in-between the lines”?

For me, the difference between being polite and trying to communicate more is based on actively finding ways to spend time with her. Unfortunately, oftentimes guys don’t really know whether they are interested either. A lot of young men, myself included, still have no idea who or what it is we are looking for. If you can tell he is actively seeking ways to spend time with you he is very likely interested in you. For me, it’s a balancing act. I want to be clear in my intentions but I don’t want to miss the signs of disinterest and… Read more »
Thank you, Andrew. Your comment is one of the most helpful I have ever read about discerning whether a man’s motive is mere chivalry or actual interest. Since you’re still unsure of what to look for in women, I think it would be best for you to regularly meet with and talk with different women, as friends. (After all, Paul did tell Timothy to treat young women as “sisters, in all purity” [1 Timothy 5:1-2]) You won’t figure out what you’re looking for if you don’t spend time with any ladies. Just getting to know people is an art that… Read more »
Argh it’s all so confusing! From one end, I’m being told that the guy needs to pursue and you shouldn’t show any interest until AFTER he initiates. And then from the other end, it’s go out and get what you want. So half the time I have no idea what to do. In the past, I was all about initiating and pursuing and that didn’t always end up the way I wanted. Now, I’d much rather be completely pursued, but I’m realizing that sometimes guys have no idea that you like them. And even when you do show some interest,… Read more »
Debra, Thanks for writing this article. I finished up True Love Dates a few months ago and it was one of the best relationship books I could have read. Because of where I am at. In response to Monica’s comment though I have a few things to look for. I’m one of those guys who can accidentally misslead or give the wrong signals. I grew up with all sisters in the family so I’d like to say I’ve always been able to relate to girls better. I’ve had lots of girl’s who are close friends. This honestly lead to a… Read more »

Thankssss for the article very insightful. What do you do if you’ve indirectly shown a girl you’re interested as in talk about various things etc for like 3 months but they still see you as just a good friend?? Even if another friend asked that girl what about so n so and she just sees you as a gd friend?? Do I patiently keep trying even though I know I’m not the type for her as in mr good guy?? Or do I just give up??

“1. Body Language. Hands down, the number one thing women said they use to communicate interest to a guy was body language. The unspoken interactions that mean so many things to a woman–though sometimes go unnoticed by a man. Body language says so much, without actually having to say anything at all. And for women–apparently it’s one of their favorite ways to interact.” Problem with this is that women are able to read body language more than twice as well as men—women also have between fourteen and sixteen areas of the brain to evaluate others’ behavior versus a man’s four… Read more »
This seems like a good place to repeat a question I asked under a different post. It was buried after lots of other comments and never got a reply. Of course, this is buried under a lot of comments too but since it’s being “republished” maybe someone will chime in. I originally directed the question to Debra but would welcome comments from anyone: Hi Debra, First, I want to say thanks for the good work you’re doing. I appreciate this blog and the chance it gives us to discuss and learn together. I have a question while going through your… Read more »
Michael H.
Hey Kevin! I am exactly the same way and I understand your situation completely. I recently completed a personality test and I scored a 91st percentile in introversion, so when I say I am introverted, I mean it! I face constant rejection, likely because I don’t get to know the person well before I ask. Like you, I don’t feel close to people in groups and would much prefer one-on-one, which is what a date is anyways. Extrovert typically have no problem striking casual conversations in public, even around others. I have thought of online dating as well, as it… Read more »
Michael H.
“At the end of the day, from the responses I got it was clear that woman still love to know that they are wanted, and part of their interest develops and grows from the simple act of being pursued. Sometimes, a woman’s interest is awakened when she learns that you are interested in her.” I’m very glad to see this part, because it’s about my only shot with this girl. She’s interested in a guy who cannot reciprocate. At the same time, her best friend is encouraging me to go for it and has been very helpful in me getting… Read more »
Ellen Mema Lomay

Well I like it Debra.


Thanks Debra,any more Guides to learn from?

Nice list! But I saw number 1 and actually thought “oh that is sooo not this woman.” I am NOT tuned into body language very much, and because of an eye problem I tend to feel self-conscious about sustained eye contact (or forget it entirely). Is this something a guy would be looking for to judge whether I’m interested, or is it okay if I’m communicating in other ways (attention, response, etc.)? Related to that, I’m self-conscious enough that I worry that certain proximity, touching, whatever is going to be interpreted too much as “she’s a flirt.” Deb, do you… Read more »
I’m similar. If I like someone I tend to avoid them or talk just enough when running across them so it just seems like a friendly thing and no more. I smile during these times, pay full attention, act extra girly, and try to gauge the guy and if he’s interested. I may ask a few questions slipped into the mutual conversation…but unless he follows up w/ interest I try to not let on. B/c then it’s awkward. It’s soo hard to be vulnerable in the relationship potential area. Friendship should come first but just that step can look like… Read more »

you are so like me, Christine. exact thinking i have on the difference between showing interest and being a flirt..

I also think it is important not to compare. While all these things are true, guys need to not compare the girl they are interested to how other girls act. This confused my husband for a long time, before we started dating. Another girl had asked him out, dated him for a couple months, “broke up” when she decided she didn’t want a serious relationship at that point in life, but still flirted regularly. So it was really hard for him to tell I was interested, with my more introverted nature. He really needed to compare how i treated him… Read more »

I got sick of reading between the lines and trying to fully understand that a girlfriend’s word wasn’t what it really meant. Thank goodness that God shown me that I will not ever have to endure that crud again. By being single for the rest of my life, it means taking what is said at face value, and not being disappointed or brokenhearted when those words mean something totally different.


I’ve got a question:which are the first things guys notice about a girl?Do they observe little details about girls in general?


What if there’s a girl you like and you’re talking to her face to face and she gives you a lot of attention and laughs and talks to you but when you are texting her or something she doesn’t give you that much.


How do you know from a girl’s body language and response that a girl likes you more than a friend? Is there a way to discern that she wants a long term relationship?


This is a very nice article to read, there is this guy that I like and I know he likes me too by the attention he is giving me but it’s been a year and he hasn’t asked me out and I try to show him that I like him but he still not asking me out. I was thinking of asking him to go with me for a movie or to the Farmers market but I’m so afraid of rejection, what if he says NO and I would have to face him after that.

HOW TO READ BETWEEN THE LINES ON A DATE 1. THE SITUATION You’re soliciting your date’s opinion about the way you look either directly or indirectly. WHEN THEY SAY You look nice You look fine You look good THE REAL MEANING You probably look ok, but they’re probably not overly impressed. 2. THE SITUATION When this comment about the way you look is given completely unsolicited WHEN THEY SAY You look nice THE REAL MEANING They like the way you look 3. THE SITUATION When these comments are given about the way you look either solicited or not WHEN THEY… Read more »