Register to comment and receive updates on new episodes!
Quick Reg!

one moment please...

Have a Question? Ask Dr. Bo! Your Question Might Be Turned Into an Episode!
Blog Home Tags:
social intelligence

How To Tell If Someone Likes You (or Not)

image loading... by Bo Bennett, PhD, Social Scientist, Business Consultant
posted Sunday Apr 26, 2015 12:00 AM

image loading...

Bo Bennett, PhD

Social Scientist, Business Consultant

About Bo Bennett, PhD

Read all about me at

Detecting if someone likes you or not is similar to detecting if someone is lying or not. "Lie detectors," human or machine, are actually anxiety detectors since the physical signs of anxiety are associated with lying. While a person can have anxiety about lying, he can also have anxiety about being accused of dishonesty—or he can simply be an anxious person. Sociopaths rarely show signs of anxiety when lying, so these detection methods can be more than useless, but lead to false negatives (i.e, thinking the person is telling the truth when they are in fact lying). As with lying, the physical and detectable signs associated with liking are often better indicators of something else.

It is important to point out that "interest" is very different from "liking," and I am focusing on the latter here. A wink and a smile by a stranger in a bar might be a strong sign of romantic or sexual interest, but these kinds of signs are often similar to taking interest in an object. Liking someone requires a deeper emotional involvement in the person that strengthens with exposure.

Consider the person's motivations. Some people are paid to be nice to others—basically anyone in the service industry. I am reminded of the guy who goes to a strip club and insists, "oh yeah, she wants me," referring to the dancer he just paid $20 for a 2-minute private dance. In many social situations, we are more like actors playing a role than humans communicating our authentic feelings to one another.

Consider the situation. A part of social intelligence is the ability to interpret the social interaction while incorporating situational factors. Is the other person distracted? Did they have a bad day? Are they in a rush? Do they have to pee? Don't assume that a person's behavior toward you has to do with them or you—there is a very important third player in the game of social interactions, and that is the situation.

Friendly people don't necessarily like you. There are friendly people who have warm and inviting personalities, strong social skills, and enough charisma and charm to convince people that they are their new "bestest" friend. The chances are, their interest in you is limited.

Unfriendly people don't necessarily dislike you. There are unfriendly people who have cold and standoffish personalities, poor social skills, and lack the charisma to motivate people to not fall asleep while interacting with them. These dispositional traits have nothing to do with how the person might feel about you.

Assume people like you. Unless you are a real jerk, the chances are people like you. To assume otherwise is to have an unrealistic and unhealthy self-image and perhaps an unwarranted pessimistic view of humanity.

The most accurate way of knowing if someone likes you or not is to ask them. But, of course, this can be awkward and is not recommended in most situations. If you like someone and are interested in building a relationship with that person, make an effort to reach out to that person on one or more occasions. A good sign that the person likes you is not just a response from that person, but a response that is conducive to further contact, such as questions or suggesting future plans together (e.g., "we should get together and eat caramels"). If you are finding that the relationship you are attempting to build is too one-sided, whether it is due to the other person not liking you or something else completely different, you may want to back off. There are many people in the world who would be honored to have a new friend, so your efforts might be better spent focusing on those who will reciprocate your friendship.

Podcast Episode: How To Tell If Someone Likes You (or Not)

Private, Anonymous Comment On This Post (no login required)Your comment below will be anonymously sent to the post owner, it will not be posted, and you will not get a response. To make a public comment, post below (login required).

Send Comment sending comment...

Registered User Comments

Be Reasonable, Dammit. Buy My Book.

Reason: Book I - A Critical Thinking-, Reason-, and Science-based Approach to Issues That Matter is based on the first two years of The Dr. Bo Show, where Bo takes a critical thinking-, reason-, and science-based approach to issues that matter with the goal of educating and entertaining. Every chapter in the book explores a different aspect of reason by using a real-world issue or example.

Get the book, Reason: Book I - A Critical Thinking-, Reason-, and Science-based Approach to Issues That Matter by Bo Bennett, PhD by selecting one of the following options:

Not Much of a Reader? No Problem!

 Enroll in the Daily Doses of Reason Online CourseThis is passive course where you are sent one lesson per day by e-mail. There is no required interactivity. Each lesson averages just a few minutes.

Enroll in the Psychology of Woo Online Course. This is a crash course, designed to help you understand why your brain favors magical explanations over rational ones.

Have a podcast or know someone who does? Putting on a conference? Dr. Bennett is available for interviews and public speaking events. Contact him directly here.

About Archieboy Holdings, LLC. Privacy Policy Other Books Written by Bo Contact
 Website Software Copyright 2019, Archieboy Holdings, LLC. 

Component Viewer

A component is the HTML code for a section of a webpage that can be combined with other components to make a complete webpage. Click the component to insert the component code at the bottom of your current page, then customize it.