Straight Talk Advice

Jun 17, 2014

How to tell if a girl is interested or just flirting

Dear Straight Talk: Recently, some girls wrote in asking how to tell whether guys liked them or just wanted to hook up. Well, my guy friends and I can't tell whether a girl likes you or is just flirting. We're 16 and the girls are all so flirty, but then you find out they aren't actually interested. How do you tell flirting from real interest? —Call Us Clueless in Toledo, Ohio

Maddie 15, Cotati, Calf. Ask me a question

Many flirty girls are clueless themselves about what flirting actually means. And today, many do it for the sense of power. Others are just really open and trying to increase their odds of getting a boyfriend. Try reading what kind of flirt a girl is. Then put yourself out there and see what happens!

Gregg 23, Los Angeles Ask me a question

Flirty girls in high school touch you a lot and get really close. Don't move away or toward them, just widen your stance, fold your arms and maintain warm eye contact. They're looking to throw you off balance. Don't stammer or act nervous, just answer their questions simply (don't elaborate), and if you don't know the answer, just say, “I don't know.” Best is when YOU walk away first (the less you care, the more they care), so answer their questions and walk away with a warm smile.

If you like a girl find ways to show her. Always say, “I've got that,” not “Let me get that,” which sounds passive (if she wants to do it herself, let her.) Facebook and texting are fine for asking about something after school, but movies/dates should be asked in person — but not in front of her friends! Wait for the opportunity, then be specific, “I'm going to the game Saturday, wanna go?” not, “Hey, wanna do something?” YOU be prepared with time, place, etc. (or taking the rejection lightly). YOU bring the water, food, extra jacket. YOU pay the first date. If you're broke, do free things after that. Ask questions and show interest in her. It's PC and I've definitely asked, “Can I kiss you?” but I always cringe. It sucks asking and girls say it sucks being asked (if they like the guy). Better: Know your audience, and create the mood.

Rachel 22, Corte Madera, Calif. Ask me a question

Most relationships begin today at group hangouts. It's tricky figuring out if someone likes hanging with you — or the group. You've got to test the water!

Breele 20, Dana Point, Calif. Ask me a question

Self analyze! Realistically gauge your league in terms of looks and personality. If a really pretty, out-of-your-league girl is flirting, unless she's constantly calling you and sitting by you, trust me, she's just being nice. I caused so much confusion by flirting! After high school I realized it sends the wrong message to be talkative and attentive to a guy you're not interested in. 

Unless you have an amazing personality or tons of money, don't go after a “10” if you're a “7.” Plenty of “7” girls would love a “7” boyfriend! Exception: A plain girl who becomes pretty and doesn't realize it.

Tip: Don't act desperate. “Desperate” guys go after the slightest attention and of course, the girl pulls back. Then they go for another girl and she pulls back. Then nobody wants to be with you.

Collin 17, San Diego, Calif. Ask me a question

Men have forever asked: Is she really into me? Truthfully, the signs vary drastically — especially at 16 when everyone's inept at this stuff. The only sure-fire tactic is asking her.

Dear Clueless: You've helped lots of so-called “clueless” guys today. Gregg's and Breele's advice is as straight-talkin' as it gets. It also might be relieving to know that most significant relationships start after high school, when everyone is less “inept” at this stuff :).

Editor's Note: For most high school girls, being flirty is the new normal, the new coy —and most of these same girls do get a power rush from experiencing how they can throw a guy off with their newfound womanhood, even if they are aren't exactly aware of 'what they got' that's throwing the guy off. (Keep in mind that most girls mature physically way ahead of most boys. AND for the past 40 years, society, from education to advertising, has been favoring the feminine while dissing the masculine, resulting in driven and empowered girls compared to boys. I'm a big fan of the men's movement which has lagged behind. Optimum World: Both sexes are thriving.)

Guys:  Gregg's advice on planting oneself with widened stance and arms crossed is something he did instinctively when facing flirty girls who were touching and getting super close. This instinct is spot on. This body posture automatically raises testosterone and reduces cortisol (cortisol is known as the 'stress hormone', and in small doses it is helpful, but too much cortisol is toxic and shuts you down. It suppresses the immune system, raises blood pressure, is responsible for low libido, acne and obesity.) Read his entry over again. He's figured out how to level the playing field in a respectful way that girls are attracted to... and not just for flirting with. —Lauren

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  1. By Steve, age 16, from Vacaville, CA on 06/17/2014

    I sure wish I knew the answer to this.  I’ve had girls flirt with me and make me feel like they’re really interested, then when I got up the courage to ask them out (which wasn’t easy) they just laughed in my face for being so stupid as to think they were serious.  Then I heard that they laughed behind my back and told others “that geek” actually thought they wanted to go out with him.  I have 2 sisters and their room is right next to mine and I don’t think they realize it, but I hear everything that goes on, and I’ve heard them talking with friends about leading guys on and rejecting them when they show interest, and they all think it’s funny!  It’s off the subject, but I also have to listen to them talking about female things like periods and shaving and waxing which is very uncomfortable to have to listen to, but I can’t help it unless I want to wear earplugs all the time in my room

    I just want to say that flirting and leading guys on is very cruel and hurts very much.  I’m sure that there are guys who do things to girls that are just as bad, but that’s no excuse!


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    1. By Annie, age 16, from Petaluma, CA on 06/19/2014

      You’re right that guys do this too, and it’s a terribly cruel thing for anyone to do whether it’s a guy or a girl doing it.  A guy led my little sister on and even got her to give him blow jobs and then dumped her and told her she was so stupid to think he could really like somebody so fat and ugly.  She was somewhat overweight, but not that much and may not be the prettiest girl in the world, but I wouldn’t call her ugly, either.  She was devastated and it caused her to become anorexic and bulimic. Like others I’ve read about in Straight Talk, you could only see how bad it was when she was naked and I was the only one she would let see her this way since we’re sisters and share a room.  She finally got help, but only after things got really bad and I felt compelled to tell our mom against my sister’s wishes.  When our mom finally saw the wasted state of my sister’s naked body, she was furious that I hadn’t told her sooner, and I probably should have but I was in a difficult position since my sister didn’t want me to tell. 

      None of this would have happened if this guy had not been so cruel.  If she wasn’t attractive enough for him, then fine, but he didn’t have to lead her on and hurt her like this.


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  2. By R.G., age 16, from Santa Ana, CA on 06/18/2014

    In my case, it’s one of my stepsisters who flirts with me when I’m at my dad’s on vistations.  At first, I thought she was just joking around and I flirted back in a joking way.  However, she gave me strong reason to think she’s serious.  One night when our parents were out, she was walking around in nothing but a T-shirt and thong.  She pretended to be embarrassed and said she was sorry, but I don’t buy it.  She said that she and her sister are very casual in the privacy of their room and often have nothing but a shirt and thong on, and that they don’t worry about walking around the house this way when they’re at home alone or when our dad’s not there and only their mom is home.  She said she “forgot” that I was there, but I find it hard to believe.  There’s nothing wrong with her being casual like this in front of her sister (or her mom), but there’s a big problem with her doing it in front of me.  Now I’m worried that she thought I was serious when I flirted back but was only joking.  Even though she’s attractive and I like her, I don’t want to get involved with her in that way since she’s my stepsister.  I remember a Straight Talk column about a guy who was seduced by his stepsister in a similar situation,  and I do NOT want that to happen.


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    1. By J.R., age 23, from Northern CA on 06/18/2014

      R.G., I am inclined to give your stepsister the benefit of the doubt since it can be incredibly easy to misinterpret signals. That said, DO NOT, I REPEAT, DO NOT LET THIS GO ANYWHERE.

      Stop flirting with your stepsister. It is not harmless, for you or her. If you don’t want to be ‘seduced’ by your stepsister, then even if she comes on to you don’t respond to it.

      This is a situation you can control. I rather suspect she wasn’t really flirting and it just came across that way, but even if she was you need to stop responding. Don’t be cold, she’ll sense something is wrong, just stop engaging in this particular way.

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  3. By J.R., age 23, from Northern CA on 06/18/2014

    I’d just like to say to everyone, remember that you are all kids and you’ll grow out of this awkwardness everntually. Also, in some cases girls might be unaware of the fact that they are leading a guy on. Or in some situations there could be what happened to me freshmen year. I had always been that girl that everyone ostracized, then I started dressing nice and wearing make up. I was still ignored by my year mates but a boy in the grade above became very interested in me. He was incredibly attractive, and it was unbelievably flattering, but he came onto me in a very sexual way and I wasn’t ready for it. He never straight up asked me out, and the whole situation ended with me pretty seriously hurting his feelings, cause I couldn’t handle it with any sort of grace what with being fifteen and completely out of my depth. Everyone at that age is totally bewhildered by the entire situation.

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  4. By Lexi, age 17, from Napa, CA on 06/18/2014

    Dear Clueless:
    I’m glad to have a guy friend now, but teenage girls can be so confusing when it comes to flirting. I’ll admit that I’ve definitely led on guys who I was not interested in.  It’s also unfortunate that when I do like someone, I act exactly the same way as when I don’t! The only way that will really tell you if a girl likes you is if you ask her. Although in some cases, like mine, she might get nervous and say ‘no’ when she really does like you. If that happens, tell her you like her and see where it goes from there. But also be ready to take rejection lightly.

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