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How do you know if he/she likes you? - Writing and discussion prompt

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Sometimes you see something so ordinary, and it stays with you. Days ago, a gay YouTuber had an advice video, and one sincere commenter (gay but questioning) asked a very, very basic question, the very same question people (straight or gay) have been asking since time began: How do you know if someone likes you? The rest of the comment made it clear the young guy liked some male friend and was hoping his friend liked him back. Well, you know, that's not an easy answer to fit into 256 characters, or 256 thousand, probably. But there are so many answers to that, and so many potential hurdles along the way.

It seemed to me like a topic for a video in itself. Or a story or an essay.

How would you answer this? What if it was a friend in school who asked you? Your kid brother? Your older brother? Your son? Daughter? Sister? -- I am saying it's a given that the person asking is a teen, because I think that is when we first start really asking the question. But for that matter, it could be someone college age or older, or it might be a pre-teen just discovering he or she likes (loves) someone and hopes they love him or her back.

It could be complicated if it's your friend asking because they like you...or you like them.

I am writing that as if it was giving some possible story ideas. But I think this might be better suited for either a discussion topic on the forum, or for an essay, an advice article.

Are the question, and the possible answers and options, really the same for a same-sex like/love as they are for an opposite-sex like/love? My own instincts say that when it's same-sex, there are some considerations that just don't enter into it for getting to know someone opposite-sex.

I know this was a question of huge importance to me when I was a teen. "How can I find a friend to talk to about this stuff? How can I find someone who likes me, to try any of this stuff I'm feeling? How can I find someone who really likes me?"

It's just as vital a question as an adult, for that matter.

I'm not sure how common it is, but for me, it never entered my mind that another boy, a friend, might be a "boyfriend" or we'd be a "couple." It wasn't that I wanted merely sex. (Though I'll be honest, I did want that, even though I wasn't sure about actually doing anything. I still wanted it, at least the chance to find out, to try, beyond what I'd done.) It was that I couldn't imagine being able to be open about being together, and that anyone else would want that, at all, or with me. (Yes, that says a lot about my self-esteem as well as how taboo or unlikely I thought it was to find another boy who liked boys.)

I am not sure if that last paragraph is something most questioning teens (or most gay but single teens) go through or not. So it's a writing or discussion topic along with the others.

Now, some guys (and girls) apparently have no problem finding a friend to talk to, experiment with, or go steady with. But others have very limited experience, a lot of "ships passing in the night" missed or fumbled chances, or for some, no experience. Others have negative experiences. Some might have played as children, but had no idea as teens, and only discovered (or recognized) their feelings as they got into adulthood.

Anyway, before I wander around any further from the central topic, I wanted to say that I think this very central, basic question is worth answering in some meaningful depth. I'm fully aware there will be many ideas and many more opinions. It is something I feel nearly every gay or questioning teen must go through on the way to figuring themselves out and finding how to date and form relationships. So it seems like it deserves some answers.

As I said, I could see this sparking stories, articles/essays, personal experiences, and discussions. Rather than place limits, I thought I'd just throw it out there and see what people think.

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"Yeah, but how do I know?" repeated Luke, his fingers continuing to dance over the XBox360 controller, "It's not like I can just go up and ask him. It's just so unfair!" Luke punctuated this last with a nice headshot on his enemy. Jared heard the enemy, who sounded like he was about ten years old, say a very bad word through the XBox Live interface.

Jared wondered if his little brother had remembered to turn his mic off. The kid he just killed might be getting a bit more schooling than he bargained for. Jared tried to ignore his brother and friend, and turned the page of his calculus book.

"I dunno. You just know, I think," answered Luke's friend Byron. He seemed to be having no more difficulty playing the game while engaging in what was, for thirteen year olds, a rather heavy conversation, than was Luke.

"Easy for you to say. You like girls. With boys it's different," Luke said. Then he said, "Fuck!" which had nothing to do with the conversation and everything to do with the fact that he just got blown into about four thousand and eight little bloody pieces by the ten year old, who had apparently re-spawned. They could hear the little guy giggling through the speakers.

Jared continued to ignore them, swearing and all.

"Aren't you guys supposed to have, whaddyacallit, gaydar?" asked Byron.

"Nah, I think that's just something on TV. So, how do you know when a girl likes you, Byron?"

Byron's fingers mashed a button or two before he replied, "Well, I dunno...you just do!"

Jared couldn't stand it anymore. He closed his calculus book loud enough to get the younger boys' attention. "Well, since obviously a guy can't actually study around here," he pretended to glare at them, "I might as well let you guys know all the tricks to getting laid...errr, I mean to finding true love."

Byron and Luke grinned at Jared.

"Think about it guys. Use your heads. You already know more about this than you think. What does someone do when they like you?"

Byron and Luke looked at each other. Luke said, "I dunno. I guess they don't avoid you?"

Byron giggled.

Jared rolled his eyes. "Don't think negative, think positive. What do they do?"

"Well," said Byron slowly, thinking out loud, "I suppose I can tell if a girl likes me because she seems to be around me more, and then...yeah...they usually giggle a lot more than usual, and smile a lot. And, like, make lots of eye contact. And laugh at my jokes. And want to talk to me and listen to me."

"Nobody laughs at your jokes, doofus," said Luke with a shove.

"Do too!" answered Byron with a shove back at his friend.

"See, told you that you already knew," said Jared. "So, then, what about you, Luke? How do you know if a boy likes you?"

Luke blushed a bit, but answered, "Well, I dunno. Maybe, I guess, it might be kinda the same?"

"Bingo!" said Jared, standing up. "Think about it. If this boy, whoever he is, likes you then you watch for that stuff. Eye contact. Blushing and smiling. Laughing more than usual. Going out of his way to spend time around you. Doing little nice things, like picking up your pencil when you drop it, before you can. Stuff like that. If he's doing that, then do the same back. See what happens."

"Isn't that, like, flirting?" asked Byron.

"Bingo again. Told ya you know. Now, Luke, it's maybe a bit harder for you." Jared ignored the younger boys' giggle at intentionally taking that comment the wrong way. "Not that kind of harder, numbskulls. I mean, harder because you not only don't know if he likes you, you don't know if he's gay. But still, I'd think it's much the same thing. At least Drew seems to think it is." Drew was Jared's best friend, Luke and Byron knew. And he was gay too.

"When you flirt long enough, the flirting tends to get a bit more, uh, flirty. More obvious. Usually obvious enough that someone feels safe enough to take a risk to ask the other person out. Or whatever."

Luke and Byron laughed at the 'whatever.'

"Now," Jared finished. "Forget that game. Let's go into the kitchen for some ice-cream."

All three boys got up and began walking towards the kitchen, just as a voice came from the speakers behind. A ten-year-old voice. "Thanks guys. That was a very educational game." Then more giggling.

All three boys looked at each, then said in unison, "Fuck!"

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Well-done, Gee. And also very true.

The best advice for Ben: you don't know. Ask and be direct, and be prepared to get shot down, and just move on. If it works out, great; if not, don't take it personally, and don't get embarrassed. It's the nature of the beast. And BTW, don't forget there's also the chance the other person is gay, but just doesn't find you attractive. Same deal. Doesn't mean you can't be friends.

When I was still not yet out, back in my early college days, I started to hit on a very hot guy in my dorm room who -- as a friend of mine likes to say -- acted like a duck, walked like a duck... but he wasn't a duck. I almost made a move on him, but he went off on a tangent in conversation about how religious he was, how he felt sex before marriage wasn't right, and I immediately backed off. It was clear we were on different wavelengths.

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Heh, thanks, guys. This does apply to me, but I did see this on YouTube, and given that the video was from a gay teen giving advice and the commenter had to be a questioning teen asking other advice, because apparently he liked someone he knew, heh, it really struck me as a universal question that needed some answers. Especially since growing up gay doesn't come with a handy how-to manual. :) (Neither does being a gay adult, or anything about life in general. Dreadful omission, kids not coming with how-to manuals when they're born!)

I get that I'm not going to like every guy, or every gay guy, and not every gay guy is going to like me. Hah, in my own experience, I seem to have had trouble liking guys who were (or said they were) straight. Dang, you know?

It can be discouraging, when a guy you like lets you know (subtly and indirectly, or pretty directly) that he doesn't like you. I have had one friend say that he wasn't gay, when I didn't think I was sending signals. Apparently I was. I knew, intellectually, that he was being nice, essentially saying he was still a friend, but it took a little while for the emotional surprise to work itself out of my system. But then, I've known many guy friends I wasn't attracted to, including some gay friends after coming out.

Relationships and figuring things out aren't necessarily easy, but they aren't necessarily too tough, either...or nobody would ever have a relationship (or any of the benefits, sexual or otherwise, that go with one).

Gee's flash fiction -- Gee, that is really great. Um, I didn't mean to set this up as a message from our sponsor, but I'd recommend people submit any flash fiction or shorts or serials to AwesomeDude and Codey's World. That one would be great. It says a lot.

I've never played Xbox or PlayStation, so hah, I had no idea you could network and play against online players like that. (You'd think I would've guessed or read up on it, Sheesh.)

But I liked the idea of the kid liking the advice, that he was curious enough to log back in too. It's a hint that hey, some things are private, so watch your mic and/or cam, and don't abuse the features either, but that there's friendly and neutral contact out there on the net or among gamers, and so on. (It is, by the way, why forums and sites like this, or that advice vidder on YouTube, are out there.)

It also interested me, how the guys are at ease with one another, so Luke knows he can talk this over with Byron and with Jared there. But of course, I did talk over some things with friends, growing up, and tried to see if I could talk about it with some friends. LOL, you know, if I could hear those conversations again, I bet both sides would be really funny, all the verbal fencing going on, both trying to figure what he can say to the other guy, how much to trust each other. Yet with good friends, there's also a level of trust that builds up, where you know some things are fine without needing to test the conversational waters.

I had a little initial confusion in sorting out Luke, Jared, Byron, and the online opponent kid, but when I did, I paused and restarted and got it sorted out.

Very good stuff. Please keep it up, guys. I'd hope this is a good topic generating a lot of discussion. (Even better if somebody gets a good boyfriend or girlfriend out of the deal, heheh. Good luck out there, y'all.)

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I already mentioned this in another topic, but thanks to those of you who responded about enjoying my little story. I literally wrote it in about twenty minutes, with no editing. I read Blue's topic and the urge hit me and away I went. I wrote the thing right in the forum software too, rather than in my usual word processor. I received some nice feedback, including a couple of requests to get it posted, so now it's on the AD story page and about to be on Codey's World too.

Most importantly, thanks to Blue for starting the topic. I'm looking forward to seeing if anyone else is going to add to Camy's and my entries.

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