For some reason, I have a backlog of mail, asking for advice. The reason seems to have been summed up by one reader, JP of SE Portland, who writes, “It’s not that I think you’ve got this whole dating thing nailed or anything, but I figure your advice will at least give me a new set of misconceptions and sick thinking to use in my social life.” With such a mandate, I agree finally to share my insights with those even more clueless than myself.

Dear Dan,
How do I learn about reading a woman’s “signals?” When people at work tell me that some girl there is interested in me, I never seem to know about it. When I finally ask one out, she’s disappointed that I couldn’t tell of her interest and writes me off as a dork. What do you look for? -- PL, Lake Oswego

Dear PL,
Body language is so subtle that only experience and expert help will get you through the maze of feminine wiles. Exposing the inside of the wrist, brushing hair back to expose the ears, frequent moistening of the lips; these are all widely accepted by psychologists and anthropologists as fairly universal signals in our culture. Be aware of context, however. All of the above mean very little when the woman involved is playing professional volleyball and you’re one of hundreds watching in the stands. Also, if the woman giving these signals is totally naked, other men are present, and you’ve been laying dollar bills in front of her, this is a sign that she’s working. Personally, I like to be totally sure of a woman’s interest, so that I can avoid any ugly misunderstandings.

Wearing a dress or top that shows cleavage means very little in and of itself. Sometimes, though, a woman will want to call special attention to her attributes by not wearing a bra and bringing out a compact mirror, holding it an an angle such that you get a full view during conversation. This can be a promising sign, especially if it occurs just after receiving your menus and the woman says something on the order of, “Do you see anything that makes your mouth water?”

Another sign of hope that less sophisticated men might miss is when, in the middle of a conversation, your date says something like, “Oops! I think I may have dropped a contact lens down my panties. Could you root around in there with your tongue and let me know if you find it?”

As far as non-verbal signals go, the possibilities are almost as endless as they are subtle. Things like crossing and uncrossing the legs, twirling a wisp of hair between the fingers, or having a heartbeat all spell, “Lay me like carpet, plow me like a field” in big neon letters.

I’m hoping that this clears up a few things for poor “P.L.” and others. I’m also hoping that some of this actually works. If it does, let me know and I may give it a try myself.

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