For every guy who’s asking, “How can I tell if the woman I’m interested in is open to dating non-black men?” there seems to be many black women who are scratching their heads, wondering:
“Why do guys stare at me but never approach?”
“Wait. Is he flirting with me? Nah. He’s probably not into black women.”
“I could never make the first move. Isn’t that what guys are supposed to do?”
“I have no idea how to flirt. Whenever I see a cute guy, I freeze. How am I supposed to let him know I’m interested?”
Someone has to break the cycle and, unfortunately, ladies, I think it’s gonna have to be us.
Let’s face it – rejection sucks. Believe it or not, guys are taking their cues from us. In order to get things moving, it looks like we’ll just have to get better at showing the men we’re interested in that it’s safe to approach.
Disclaimer: I am no relationship expert. When it comes to flirting, dating and all things related to love and marriage, I can be pretty clueless. (Seriously, my friends make fun of how often I miss blatant signals of interest from men of all races.)
As a researcher and writer, I turn to books, articles, interviews and observation to help explain things I don’t fully understand. On the topic of flirting and signals of interest, I checked out library copies of books like The Body Language of Dating and Always Hit on the Wingman, but it wasn’t enough.
So, I sought out the perspectives of a few guys I’d met through friends who either had dated, or were open to dating black women. Here’s what they had to say about the signals they received from women who caught their eye from across the room that moved them to action.
The eyes have it
“Other women show that they’re aware of my presence,” says Shahaub, who’s 30 and an actor/director in Los Angeles. “I feel not as acknowledged as a guy [by black women]. It’s kind of like a chicken and egg situation. I think that’s why a lot of guys don’t necessarily feel welcome because they don’t feel acknowledged at all by black girls in public.”
What’s the best way to acknowledge a man’s existence?
“Make eye contact!” says Austin, who’s 32 and currently serving in the military. “Don’t hurry to break it, either. It shows that you’re receptive to any interest he might have.”
The key is to make it obvious you’re looking at him. Not staring into space. Not looking at the guy behind him. You noticed him.
It’s not a death glare or an awkward stare down. I’m talking three to five seconds of intentional eye contact.
Now, ladies, I know that making and holding eye contact is something that many of us struggle with. I gotta tell ya, though, the guys I talked to ALL said that this was THE MOST IMPORTANT non-verbal signal you can use to demonstrate interest from across a room, before nary a word crosses your lips.
And, speaking of lips …
“If they look at me and smile, then it’s kind of like a doorway in,” says Shahaub. “So, if our eyes catch and they kind of look away – in a positive way – then I might try to get more.”
That intentional eye contact should be accompanied by one of those flirty smiles that light up your eyes. You know the one I’m talking about – when one side of your mouth tilts upwards, just before you look away or when you shyly flash those pearly whites at him, with a slight tilt of your head.
Let’s face it: men like women who like them. One of the best ways to let a guy know you’re friendly and approachable – and that you like what you see – is to smile. Not just once, but as many times as it takes to get the message across that you’d welcome his approach.
No, I’m not talking about doing anything that’ll get you slapped with a public indecency charge.
I’m talking about primping a little, once you’ve got his attention. You know, fiddling with that necklace you have on, touching your neck with your wrists exposed or tucking that strand of hair behind your ear.
John, 26, a programmer in Tyler, TX (and self-proclaimed “shy guy”) says, “If a girl plays with her hair, that’s usually a sign that she’s interested.” In the case of the woman he’s currently dating, John met her at a party where he noticed her looking at him and smiling, before turning away. He’d do the same to her. At some point, during one of their many conversations, she played with her hair.
I have to admit that, at first, I thought this signal was ridiculous, even when more than one of the guys I talked to mentioned it. Then, I caught myself playing with my shoulder-length twist-out – involuntarily – while talking to a guy I was interested in.
Hey, I’m open!
One of the questions we should be asking when we’re out and about is, “Am I making myself available or am I appearing closed off?”
Shahaub says he’s “almost hyperaware of never intruding or making a woman feel uncomfortable,” so things like having headphones in both ears signals to him, “I don’t want to interact with people.” In other words, DO NOT APPROACH.
So, take the earphones out of your ears. When you’re on the subway, look up from your book and make eye contact with the cute guy sitting across from you. (Better yet, close the book altogether.) In the coffee shop or at the bar, turn your entire body towards the guy you’re interested in.
“I’d say a general statement that they’re open is if they open themselves up visually to you, as opposed to turning away so you don’t see them as much,” Shahaub says. “We do that too, as men. If we want someone to be looking at us, we kind of present ourselves – like, hold a rail and flex or stick our booty out a little more.”
(I’ll just mention that the visuals he presented with that example were hilarious!)
If you like to live life on the “wild side”, enter his space. Sit a couple seats down from him at the bar. Ask him to sit in his row at church. Take the machine next to his at the gym. Proximity and positioning are key for a bit of lighthearted interaction.
This stuff isn’t fail-safe. You can do all of these things and the guy still may not approach. You’ll never know, though, if you’re not having a little fun and putting yourself out there, now will you?
Shahaub said it best: “It takes a level of courage and vulnerability to be open but I would say those small steps is what you should be open towards making. If a smile happens, give a smile. Don’t be worried that only one out of ten works.”
So, ladies, what other techniques have you used to signal interest and show guys that it’s okay to approach? Guys, what signals are you looking for? Do share!