I find it hard to meet and/or approach older women. What do I look for to see if a woman is interested in a younger man, and what’s the best way to approach a woman in a public setting like that? —Biggie

Approaching a Cougar is the same as approaching any woman, but it’s actually easier, because she will most likely be receptive even if she’s not interested. Older women understand that it takes a lot for a man to risk rejection in public, so they will try to make it as painless as possible.

After looking to make sure she’s not wearing a ring, strike up a situational conversation. This means, if you’re standing in line somewhere, ask about the event: Have you heard if this is a good movie? Do you know if the eggplant sandwich is good?

Do not start with a compliment, because there’s not much she can say to that except, “Thank you.”

If she seems receptive to talking with you, ask for her number, saying you’d like to get to know her better. If she’s interested and available, she’ll give it to you, but if she’s not, she’ll have a good excuse.

I took a leap of faith and asked my friend out. She said no, that she wasn’t looking for a relationship right now and wasn’t sure what she wanted.

I played off my disappointment, smiled and went home. Later, she called and asked if everything was OK because I looked visibly embarrassed when I left. I’ve never asked a girl to be my girlfriend and really don’t know what to do about her. We haven’t spoken in a few days. What to do? —Cary

When someone says they are not looking for a relationship, they usually leave out two words: with you. When someone says they are not sure what they want, they also leave out: They are sure they don’t want you.

She was trying to spare your feelings as much as possible since she is interested in maintaining the friendship, otherwise she wouldn’t have bothered to call you afterwards. There’s nothing to do except accept her disinterest, continue the friendship and find other girls to date.

Write to Lucia at theartoflove.net. Read an excerpt from Lucia’s Lessons of Love at lessonsoflove.net. Listen to Lucia live every Sunday at 3 p.m. PST on latalkradio.com. Remember: Love inspires, empowers, uplifts and enlightens.