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I have lots of male friends, but never seem to escape the "one of the boys" stigma. I'm not boyish or "ungurly," and I'm not shy; but when it comes to moving from friendship to something more, I don't know how to start. I usually either hint at my feelings and then back off because I feel foolish, or say too much, too fast, and scare them away.
I would like to know what I can do to get men to notice me. What is the difference between flirting and being friendly? I would also like to learn how to let them know I have a romantic interest in them without seeming too forward or pushy. I'm concerned that I will tell them how I feel only to have them respond that they don't feel the same way. Then what happens to the friendship? If they do share my romantic feelings, how do I keep them interested? I'm at a complete loss.
Dear Grown-Up Tomboy--
Whew, you have a number of good questions here. I will attempt to touch on all of them. Let me begin by saying that your questions tell me you possess good common sense and have a grasp of what your issues are. This is a good place to start. I also get the sense that your problem is mostly just a lack of experience with dating and relationships. These are all good.
You already get men to notice you. Obviously you have an ability to attract and relate to men as friends. This is an important quality for any intimate relationship. Now what you need to do is learn how to send out a slightly different signal to these guys, a non-platonic one. This is what we call flirting. You do this with your eyes, facial expressions, posture and everything else you use to send out a non-verbal message. You also do it verbally in a way that feels comfortable and natural for you. I have an article that talks about this, and you can find it at: http://www.consum-mate.com/newslets/04may.htm#feature.
When you learn how to flirt effectively, you will be sending out the messages you want a guy to hear. What his feelings are in return, you have no control over. This is the scary part and the one that requires you to assess how important your romantic feelings are to you and if they are worth losing or straining a friendship over. Only you can decide this. If a guy returns your feelings, he won't be scared away (really). Yes, he may need time to collect his thoughts, so it will be important to tread gently and not pressure him into responding right away. Just let him know that you wanted to share this and then let things take their own course after that.
If you care for someone and they feel the same way about you, the relationship will move forward. You will not have to worry about keeping them interested if you two are a good match. You will grow, change and evolve over time. Nothing stays the same and life offers us plenty to keep it interesting. Experience will teach you this.
(from May 2006)
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"Help With Dating"
Toni Coleman, LCSW
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