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

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

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?

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 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:

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!

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

**For more on engaging in healthy relationships with the opposite sex and finding the love of your life–Ya’ll need to go ahead and pick up a copy of my new book, True Love Dates: Your Indispensable Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life.**


  1. J · January 21, 2014 Reply

    “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 long has he been…? HE’S HOLDING MY HAND! He LIKES me! Oh crap, what do I do now?! Do I like him? [Yes, of course you do, idiot, we’ve been chatting and hanging out with him for weeks now, haven’t we?? He makes us laugh all the time! He actually listens when we have a bad day and just need to vent, but he doesn’t try to fix it, he just tries to cheer us up by being silly or empathizing. He’s been nothing but kind and honest and gentle and patient and understanding with us… And now, he’s holding our hand.] Yeah, but…DO I? [Repeat after me: Don’t. Freak. Out.]”

    Moral of the story is: Sometimes even we don’t know whether we’re interested until we know that you are. PLEASE be open, honest, gentle, and really patient with us–we might initially freak out, but the odds of us coming around are exponentially higher if you’ll be patient while we do. If you’re interested, just ask us out–even if just for coffee, but call it a date if it is one. A decent woman hates to turn a decent man down (probably) almost as much as he hates being turned down, but we DO respect you for putting yourself out there for us like that.

    • A · January 21, 2014 Reply


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

      Much appreciated,

    • Debra Fileta
      Debra Fileta · January 21, 2014 Reply

      I love how you shared this out loud, J…so so true of so many women. Great insights here!!

      • J · January 21, 2014 Reply

        A, Thanks for the feedback. I really, honsetly, legitimately thought all of that (almost word for word) in the span of about 3 seconds. Us ladies are a weird bunch. Be patient with us, though…there’s a lot of us that are worth the wait!

        Debra, ditto the thanks. Just to be clear, I did NOT share that terrifying train of thought out loud with him (at the time).

        Ladies, I sheepishly admitted that The Mindy Project is sort of girly about five minutes in. He agreed, but then took my hand only minutes later. (The show’s only 30 minutes long. Five minutes in: not holding my hand, before the end of the show: holding hands.) Girls, I’ve figured it out! MINDY IS OUR SECRET WEAPON!

        Fellas, please ignore that note to the ladies. We would never force you to watch Mindy. Nope…

  2. Frank Stella · January 22, 2014 Reply

    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.


    • Debra Fileta
      Debra Fileta · January 22, 2014 Reply

      I hear you, Frank…but sometimes you have to take a leap of faith and trust that the words come later when it’s time! I think this is a good guide as a way to “get things started” when it comes to getting to know or date someone of the opposite sex.

  3. Molly · January 22, 2014 Reply

    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.

    • Debra Fileta
      Debra Fileta · January 22, 2014 Reply

      Great thoughts, Molly!! I like your plea, “please be patient with us!” and I think it’s so true in many contexts. Overall, it would do us all well to have grace with one another–especially in this hard to navigate issues.

  4. Monica · January 22, 2014 Reply

    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”?

    • Debra Fileta
      Debra Fileta · January 22, 2014 Reply

      Good questions, Monica. I will be thinking about this and see what I can do in the future ;)

  5. Deborah · January 24, 2014 Reply

    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, either they are REALLY dense and still have no idea you are showing interest in them or they are not interested at all but they don’t know how to tell you you’re not interested. So kinda caught in that situation right now. Then again, I may not be showing interest properly. It’s a little hard when you only see the other person IN person a few times a month (if lucky). Not quite sure how to proceed without the whole getting a friend to “ask him what he thinks about me”. I have no idea what’s going on in his mind or how to read HIM. Need an article on that! Lots of *headsslamdesk* and *facepalms* going on over here.

  6. Adam · January 26, 2014 Reply


    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 lot of heartache over there years by being friend zoned. But that’s a whole different story.

    Things to ask a guy or look for to know if he is interested of just a nice guy. Look at his goals or find out what they are? More importantly see if he’s working towards those goals. A lot of times I was confused with what I wanted in life so that meant the same thing for my dating life as well. I was a nice guy by nature, it’s how I was raised so I was completely unaware of the damage it could cause. If a guy is unsure about what he want’s in life chances are he’s unsure about what he wants out of a relationship. No matter how nice he is you should stay away from him. Guard your heart because chances are he doesn’t know how to. I say this because I’ve been that guy and I’m learning how not to be him. Hope this helps.

    Debra if you have any ideas for doing a woman’s guide to reading between the lines I’d love to have those conversations.

    • Debra Fileta
      Debra Fileta · January 26, 2014 Reply

      Adam, thanks so much for the feedback- and for the kind words about True Love Dates–I’m so glad you liked the book, that’s awesome. I love your feedback here, on so many levels. And I think you make some amazing points about someone’s life and goals being one of many factors to consider as a woman is trying to look at the big picture. I’ve gotten many requests to do a Woman’s Guide to Reading in Between the Lines…and I’m actually tackling that subject right now. Feel free to send me some thoughts you would like me to incorporate in the article- I always love hearing what you all have to say. if you want to be in touch!

      Love your thoughts, so helpful–thanks for the feedback. Blessings!

  7. Anonymous · June 19, 2014 Reply

    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??

  8. Greg · August 15, 2014 Reply

    “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 to six areas…so if you’re expecting a guy to be able to accurately interpret a particular message via your body language, you have another think coming.

    Please just tell him what your thoughts are.

Would love to hear your thoughts!

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