Surely if my overly supportive best friend saw a spark it couldn't all be in my head, right?
Against everything in my nature, I wrote my number on a cocktail napkin as the guy was asking for his bar tab and handed him the napkin when he turned back to me. He looked down at the napkin, and then back at me. He shook his head.
"I’m sorry," he said. "I have a girlfriend."
Damn you, liquid courage.
I snatched the napkin back, mumbled my apologies, and rejoined the larger group. Later, I played back the conversation and wondered if I had missed some clues. I couldn't recall any. But then, should there have been? To save us all some future awkward interactions, here are some simple rules to follow for when -- and how -- to tell someone like me that you're not single:
Drop your SO's name into the conversation
It is easy enough to casually drop your significant other's name into just about any conversation, regardless of whether you're being hit on. Chances are this will happen organically anyway, assuming you like your relationship in the first place. Someone just told you they saw the new Star Wars? Tell them how you and your bae saw it together last weekend. Maybe a person mentioned a show they love, which your SO coincidentally just finished binge-watching. If someone asks what neighborhood you live in, tell them where you live -- and who you live with. If someone just complimented your clothing or accessories and these were picked out by your SO or given to you as a gift from them, throw that tidbit in there when you say thanks. I think you get the point. An easy variation: say "we" a few times and the other party will either pick up on it or ask, providing you with a simple way to partner-drop.