How to Let a Man Know You’re Interested

October 5, 2011

Recently I asked whether women should make the first move. Overall, there was consensus on the following points:

  1. Equality for women means that chivalry is dead. It’s not fair to expect men to do all the work initiating conversations, dates and  relationships. Worse, it’s bad strategy.
  2. There is a spectrum of behaviors that might be considered “initiating.” If you approach a man in a very assertive way, dressed provocatively and  touching him, he will believe you are signaling that you want to have sex.
  3. Many men enjoy the role of pursuer, but point out that interested women can make it a whole lot easier for them by reducing the risk of rejection.
I think #3 represents the greatest potential for women wanting to indicate interest in a guy without taking over the male role entirely. As Andrew of Rules Revisited points out, when the woman initiates contact she cannot be sure of the man’s real level of interest. Initiating can work well with shy guys, but a woman needs to consider carefully if she is willing to assume that role throughout the relationship if necessary.
Offering sincere and palpable encouragement seems like the best strategy – it reduces risk for everyone without putting all the onus on one party. A woman may avoid the lost opportunities of getting to know the men who never felt comfortable approaching, or even the men who hadn’t noticed her. A man may approach with some degree of assurance if the woman has created a sense of safety.
There are two primary ways that women may offer encouragement to men they find attractive. 
  1. Be more approachable.
  2. Clearly indicate interest.

How to Be More Approachable

If you’re out and about and you see a stranger you find particularly attractive, standing in one place and hoping to be noticed is too passive a strategy. How can you provide encouragement without coming across the wrong way? Here’s the best of the web and HUS readers:

Excerpts from Andrew, Rules Revisited

1. Don’t Go Out With Men

Women surrounded by men never get approached, and in the rare event that they do, the men will usually make it difficult or impossible for the approaching male. Having men around you, regardless of their relationship with you or even their sexuality, is the single biggest game killer.

 2. Don’t Hang Out In A Large Group of Girls

Split up into smaller groups, ideally groups of two or three. This gives men an opportunity to meet you without having the burden of entertaining the whole group.

 3. Have Open Body Language

If you and your girlfriends want to meet guys, don’t huddle or sit down, or turn your backs on the action. Stand side by side, or at an obtuse angle to one another. This demonstrates that you are open to conversation. If you have a drink, hold it down, away from your chest. A drink clutched up against your body comes across defensive and unwelcoming.  

4. Don’t Worry About Smiling At Him

I swear all girls must have be told at some point “if a guy you like looks at you, make sure you smile.” I cannot count the number of times I have made eye contact with a girl and had her respond with what is clearly a forced and awkward smile. So here’s the advice: if it doesn’t come naturally, don’t do it.  

5. Make Eye Contact

This is the single most effective way of inviting a man to hit on you. Make eye contact and hold it. While this is actually a form of initiating the interaction, which I wouldn’t normally suggest, it still leaves the ball mostly in his court. Give up and move on if he doesn’t approach after ten seconds of collective eye contact (this could be 2 seconds in 5 different instances, for example). 

6. Get Close

If a guy wants to hit on you, getting close enough to make it happen is usually just a matter of taking a few strides in your direction. However, in some circumstances it can be a little more difficult for him, and then it makes sense for you to get closer. For example, if he is with a group of friends it might be hard for him to get everyone to move to your area. Even if he doesn’t have such hurdles, it never hurts to move closer; just avoid making it too obvious by hovering awkwardly or staying too long.

7. Don’t Stay on The Dance Floor All Night

This one is pretty self-explanatory. You might feel more comfortable or have more fun dancing rather than standing around waiting for guys to talk to you, but when you are on the dance floor you are basically off limits – except to drunken, groping men.  

8. Have A Drink

While no one likes a sloppy drunk girl, having one or two drinks will calm your nerves, help you flirt, open your body language, and generally make you more approachable. It also demonstrates that you are easy-going and like to have fun. Just avoid getting drunk, which is unattractive.

 9. Avoid Loud Places

Don’t hang out in front of the speakers or at bars/clubs where you know they will have extremely loud music. I  almost never approach girls in areas that would require me to shout or lean in to talk in her ear. Outdoor places are usually good in this respect.

 10. Choose Your Location Wisely

Stand somewhere where men are coming and going to, other than the bathroom. Usually the best place for this is the bar, but sometimes it can be too crowded, in which case I would suggest standing towards the back of the crowd. Don’t stand in a corner or away from the action, as you might not be seen. Balconies are always good because they give a man the chance to walk up beside you and comment on whatever you are overlooking. Make sure there is at least one open direction (in front of or beside you) from which he can approach.

11. Don’t Leave Too Early 

I’ve seen girls that I wanted to talk to leave the bar or club before I had the opportunity to meet them. Also, a lot of men need a couple drinks before they feel comfortable approaching girls. Assuming you don’t mind being approached by a guy that needs a little help from the bottle, you need to be around when they reach that point.

12. Don’t hang out with girls that are significantly hotter than you

Obviously every guy has different taste, so you can be liberal in deciding whether or not they are “hotter than you,” but there are some obvious combinations to avoid – like hanging out with an eight when you are a three or four. If you are standing next to a friend that is more than three points hotter than you, don’t expect to get hit on by anyone other than a wing man.

Excerpts from Eric Charles, A Guy’s Take at A New Mode

What makes a girl both approachable and attractive to guys?


Attitude has a funny way of bringing about what we expect.  Attitude is a self-fulfilling prophecy (in other words, what you expect to happen will end up happening)…There is nothing more attractive than a happy woman….Go out with a happy attitude and a healthy attitude towards men and you’ll be far more likely to attract high-quality guys into your life.  We like happy women who like men.

Drop the ego:

Love is a risky game – guys and girls have to put their hearts on the line if they want to play.  That’s the price of admission.

If you want to meet a guy, it doesn’t make you a slut.  It doesn’t mean you’re needy.  In fact, it means you’re human.  Be happy to own that you’d like to meet a guy and leave your ego at the door.

Have Open Body Language:


Yes, again, look happy!  Don’t be the girl walking around with a puss on her face.  Don’t act like the diva who’s so cool she can’t look like she’s enjoying herself.  Smile, with warmth and openness.  


If you’re looking down at the floor or staring around above people’s heads avoiding eye contact you’re not going to make much of an impression on people.

Make eye contact with men you find attractive.  Have a warm, inviting gaze.  You’re not staring down the guy or anything, I’m just saying don’t be afraid to make eye contact for a moment if you want to meet a certain guy.

Think generous:

This goes back to attitude.  When I hit on women (hehe) I come from a place of being generous and giving to their evening.  I realize that they don’t know me yet and that they came out because they want to have fun…It’s from a place of being inviting and open as opposed to wanting to get something from them…My favorite kinds of women come from the same attitude of generosity when they interact with people.

Think shieldless:

In most bars and clubs, the vast majority of people hide behind a social shield.  Women put on a super bitchy or super obnoxious persona.  Guys put on a super cocky or super important persona.  And then, after a night filled with interacting personas, everyone goes home drunk, horny, disappointed and alone.

There is no one people respect or envy more than the person who does what everyone else wishes they did themselves.  And in this case, it is the willingness to drop your social persona (shield) and be real…  If you want [guys] to be fun and open, be fun and open with them.  Be the example of what you want from other people.

Choose your friends wisely:

Go out with girls who have enough confidence to be OK with you meeting guys without judging you…Also, beware of the bitchy friend with a negative attitude who is gonna stare at any guy who approaches her friends like he crawled in from the gutter. This girl is an instant man repeller and will send out a negative energy that will ensure no guy gets within 10 feet of her circle.

 Have fun (in and of itself):

Like it says.  Enjoy yourself.  If you want to meet guys, great, but don’t make that the cornerstone of your evening.

Nothing wrong with approaching:

With all that said, there is absolutely nothing wrong with you approaching a guy if you want to meet him…He’d probably think of you as confident, fun and social – all positive qualities.  Trust me, guys appreciate it when you approach them – and hopefully he’ll have enough balls to continue the conversation once you start it. 

Reader Wudang

1. Prioritize house parties and any social event were you can meet guys and make it easy for a guy to talk to you. Choose these contexts over clubs whenever you can.

2. To attract fairly dominant guys:

Spend more time in the less central and less high energy parts of a club. The middle of the dance floor and the bar will be full of high intensity pickup attempts. The most dominant alphas tend to gravitate towards this type of space and so do the most confident girls, and those most interested in hooking up.

Standing in a corner or at a table in a less central location will encourage approaches from a much larger percentage of guys that are relatively confident but not the most dominant.

3. To attract guys who approach less:

a. Use eye contact a lot and smile. It is a good idea to make these signals sweet rather than sexy in order to communicate girlfriend potential rather than hookup potential.

b. One thing I have noticed women doing is stand very close, kinda sideways and sometimes looking over at me or giving me a feeling they are very open to me talking to them. They do this alone and in pairs of two. It usually works very well when women do this.

c. Try to say something that gives him a chance to start a conversation with you. You don’t have to make it an approach, just give him a bone.

d. Don’t test men when they start a conversation with you. Pushing through the testing and bitchiness women often give right at the approach only measures the degree to which a guy is a seasoned player. Most normal, confident guys would have a problem with this. Just give him the same chance you would give a guy at a party in someone’s apartment. This levels the playing field between players and confident guys. 

All these tips really do is to take the club element out of the club. This way you get lesser alphas for the price of beta and avoid the cads that will give you an inflated sense of market value.

Badger  at BbSezMore:

When I talk to women about wh0 gets approached/asked out, it’s amazing to see how little they perceive (or how much they deny) the subtle ways socially-active women get those approaches to happen. Women with lots of men around don’t just do their hair and makeup like they want to be noticed – they are smiling, making eye contact, moving between people, bumping people, initiating themselves every now and then. Most importantly, girls I know who are very social are nice to pretty much everybody, creating an overall comfort value that means approaches will be welcome and if necessary softly rejected.

Sure, the schematic structure is of women receiving approaches, but women with good skills know how to make it happen.

Girls who don’t get approached sit on their hands, with pouty or plain faces, don’t react positively to every indicator of interest, don’t look like they made an effort to look good, or some combination. Or, they gave some guy a nuclear rejection and the rest of guys are off the bloom; don’t underestimate how men pay attention.


How to Indicate Interest

If you’re acquainted with someone already, or even friends, you’ll need to clearly indicate your interest to motivate a change in the relationship. Eric Barker’s blog Barking Up the Wrong Tree is a great source of fascinating research, and provides a good introduction to IOIs (indicators of interest).

Is it a man’s fault when he can’t tell a woman is interested in him?

“Sorry, ladies. You have to stop blaming the guys. It’s not their fault that they didn’t notice the “signals” you were giving. You know why? Because even other women have a hard time telling when a woman is interested:

The ability to judge another individual’s romantic interest level—both toward oneself and toward others—is an adaptively important skill when choosing a suitable mate to pursue. We tested this ability using videos of individuals on speed dates as stimuli. Male and female observers were equally good at predicting interest levels, but they were more accurate when predicting male interest: Predictions of female interest were just above chance.”

 What’s the best way for a woman to show interest in a man?

“Based on societal changes in women’s roles and changes in women’s attitudes toward dating behavior women were expected to be likely to approach men. Additionally, based on prior research examining women’s role in flirting, a significant effect for type of opening line was hypothesized. Opening lines that directly indicate an interest in dating were expected to be perceived as most effective and most direct by both men and women. The results were consistent with the hypotheses. Women were indeed likely to approach men and opening lines that directly signal interest were perceived as most effective and most direct by both sexes. However, men rated receiving a phone number from a woman as more effective than women did.”

Clearly, lots of women are already approaching men. Being direct, or “saying what you need to say” may be the quickest way to avoid wasting time.

Reader Rachel

There are a couple of things I do for encouragement:

– I make an effort to get to know the guy. I will purposely sit by him and ask about his life, interests, etc. I actually do more listening than talking. If I know nothing about his job, I’ll ask him to explain it in detail. On the other hand, if I have a similar experience, I will relate that to him. With a shy man, I’m prepared for awkward silences and usually fill those in with more questions or my experiences. Once the conversation starts, a guy will usually be able to hold up his end. Being friendly and open goes a long way. If it’s been 20 minutes and it still feels like I’m carrying the entire conversation, I will try someone else.

– I ask the guy out for coffee, a walk or some other relaxed activity. I choose something that I would do with any friend. If that goes well, I’ll expect the guy to make the next move.

– If he has asked me on the first date, then I will offer an idea for the next meeting.

I’ve been rejected several times: a couple times the guys just stopped calling, another time the guy told me that I wasn’t moving quickly enough, i.e. he wanted to sleep with me before I was ready. It’s disappointing and takes a few days before I eventually accept that it’s probably the best thing anyway. I usually don’t try to connect with men who I feel aren’t interested in me.

BbSezMore Manology Maxim #1: Demonstrate Interest

What’s the application?

For an outgoing woman, nothing. IOIs are an obvious part of flirting and getting to know someone. Duh.

For a shy gal: giving IOIs may feel fake and stressful, but you’ve got to give them to a guy you’re interested in. Unless you let him know that you respond to him, he won’t pursue you.

For a gal that freezes up when the guy you like is anywhere near: take a deep breath and give him an IOI. It isn’t a big commitment, and I promise he can’t see the his and her monogramed bathroom towels you have all picked out racing through your brain. Be calm, friendly, and interested. Take a deep breath. Give him a smile. Take another breath, fiddle with your hair. Repeat with IOI. Breathe. Repeat with IOI. Practice giving IOIs until it feels natural, genuine and real.

IOIs are not a guarantee that he will pursue you, but it’s an opportunity for him to do so.


Flirting with a man should be viewed as fun and low risk. Men welcome it and feel flattered. It doesn’t make you look desperate or needy. It makes you look friendly, confident and approachable. 

For a very small investment and minimal risk, the potential rewards are enormous. It could be the difference between meeting someone really good for you and watching someone else meet him instead. If you want more guys to approach you, make it fun for them.