When it comes to dating (sex addiction and general cluelessness aside), most of us have three things in common. We hate getting rejected, we hate wasting time, and deep down, we all just can't help but love a good love story.
Unfortunately, the romantic-comedy industrial complex has collectively made us terrible readers of signals. Thanks, Meg Ryan.
We're hesitant in the young love stage to apply anything even so much as resembling pressure to our love interests. This approach, while socially safe, frequently leaves us interpreting more than communicating. And scrounging for promising signs of interest means certain gestures get blown way out of proportion. Like these.
But they messaged me after the date and said they had a good time!
Just because they have good manners doesn't mean that they want to courtesy-date you for two more months. Sure, it's a sign they're not running for the hills... but they're not exactly running into your arms either. The key here is whether or not they mention anything about doing it again. It's not a stone-carved reservation, but it's marginally more promising than what has become par for the politeness course in most of the developed dating world.
But they invited me to something that's like, a month away!
Nowadays, invitations usually come in two parts. Part 1: verbal suggestion, e.g., "You should totally come to <EventName> with me in February." Part 1 is bullshit. It means they’d like to know when they're getting laid several weeks in advance. Part 2: digital confirmation with details, e.g., "So are you in for <EventName>? It's on the 11th, starts at 8pm. Tickets are taken care of. Let me know!" If you make it to Part 2, you can start putting a few eggs in that basket.
But they brought me out with their friends!
Most of us care deeply about the compatibility between our friends and significant others. When someone parades you in front of their friends (read: runs this compatibility test), they're showing due diligence in equal parts to their emotional investment. You haven't won any awards yet; you've just been presented to the academy for consideration. As a close friend once said: "If men didn't care what their friends thought, we'd never be lonely."