Mary Jo Podgurski

Column Mary Jo Podgurski

Dr. Mary Jo Podgurski is the founder and director of the Washington Health System Teen Outreach. She responds to 68 questions from young people daily and has written 'Ask Mary Jo' since 2005.

Letting someone know you like them

September 27, 2017

Q:How do you know if someone likes you? I like this person and we seem to have fun when we’re around each other. I can’t tell if I’m flirting or not. How does one flirt? How do I let this person know I’d like to be friends? How about more than friends? I feel stupid asking anyone else. How do you let a person know how much you like them?


Mary Jo’s response: Your questions made my day. I like your honesty. I admire the way you moved past feeling insecure to ask your questions. I treasure the way you’re growing and developing into adulthood, one step at a time. I’m pleased you’re not rushing into a relationship.

Here are a few ideas:

• How does this person act around you? You say you have fun together. Do you find yourselves together often, without planning? It’s possible this person is trying to connect.

• Does this person make eye contact often? “Catching someone’s eye” with regularity doesn’t mean someone is into you, but it does show interest.

• Body language counts. Does this person lean toward you when you talk? Non-verbal communication is huge and can reveal a lot about a friendship.

• Does this person touch you in friendship? I specified a friendly, light touch, because I’m wondering if you’re receiving subtle signals, like a pat on the shoulder or a touch on your hand.

• Are there barriers between you? When people are holding back, they often position themselves with a barrier – a chair, another person, even a cup or a glass – between themselves and others. How many barriers does this person create?

• If you’re already friends, could you simply share your feelings? I’m guessing this could cause anxiety; sometimes the excitement of feeling nervous with a new relationship is normal. It gets better.

• Be you. Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not.

Flirting is different for everyone. Most people have a “flirting style”; in today’s world, flirting may include social media. Flirting is about connection. Consider this:

• Glance the person’s way. Is eye contact easy? Do you need to initiate it?

• Smile. Your smile sends a strong message of joy and acceptance. If someone feels welcome in your presence, connection is easier.

• Talk. Start a conversation. If you’re already friends, this part is easy.

• Listen: Ask questions and open communication lines. Be other-directed.

I sought out peer educators’ wisdom for your questions. They rock. I wish you joy and a great future with healthy relationships!

Peer Educator response: We think you’re adorable. Stay innocent.

• Flirting is weird because sometimes you do it without realizing it, and you could think you’re just being nice, but another person might think you’re flirting. Some of us have assumed people were flirting with us, only to discover they were just making conversation. That’s a dumb feeling, but you survive it.

• Just be yourself. It’s awkward to be anyone else, and you don’t want this person for a relationship if you’re pretending to be someone else. Be honest about your feelings.

• It helps if you can get the other person to laugh. Try forgetting about yourself. If you’re all worried about your hair or clothes, you’ll act different abound this person.

• Confidence is key!

Have a question? Send it to Dr. Mary Jo Podgurski’s email



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