I was out a few weeks ago and thought I was being hit on by an older woman. We talked for a while, and she seemed to really enjoy our conversation. She was the one who initiated the conversation, and after a while I assumed she was interested in me. I did get the old “That is so funny!” while she reached out and touched my arm.

A friend of hers came over and made a comment about her talking to me, and she ended up saying something to the effect of “Are you kidding me? No way! He’s a baby!” I’m 21 and was absolutely puzzled.

I have no idea how to read an older woman, and now my likeliness to approach one has gone WAY down. Is there any way to not embarrass myself in the future? How does a male tell if an older woman is interested without the “I’m old enough to be your mother” answer? —Evan Hall

The fact that she touched you is a good sign. If a woman isn’t interested in a man, she doesn’t want to touch him.

I think what happened is that she thought her friend might not approve, so she pretended to not be interested. You can’t underestimate a woman’s need to protect her reputation. The other possibility is that she enjoyed the attention and flirting, but genuinely wasn’t interested.

Don’t give up just because you were shot down once. Most older women feel a 21-year-old is too young, so when you first meet a woman, if she asks your age, say something like: “I’m old enough to know you’re someone I’d like to get to know.” Once you’ve shown her that you are a mature, young man, you can reveal your age.

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