This is a submission by a representative of University of Louisville Health Promotion, a division of Campus Health Services.

This month’s topic, how to gauge desire with a partner or potential partner, offers a blueprint to know when someone you like is reciprocating romantic or sexual interest.  We will also discuss how to make sure you’re responding to their desires appropriately when things begin to heat up.

Let’s first talk about how you can tell if someone likes you in a way that says, “Hey, I want to be more than friends.”  I heard from a few U of L students who shared their thoughts on the subject.

Caroline, a senior at U of L said, “body signals, language, and timing all come into play with knowing whether or not someone is into you. First, positive body signals such as laughter, tall posture, hugs, or kind actions are very helpful in determining this. Secondly, language and what someone has to say to you whether in person or over text can give someone an idea as to whether or not they are into them. If the person is always enthusiastic and responsive or asks you to do something … this shows that they are comfortable and … may be into you.”

She also added that the person you desire may also show their interest by how “quick (they are) to respond to messages or want to do things with you. They are willing to move things around to find time to do stuff with you.”

When you’ve established that you’re into someone, and they are into you, what comes next?  Talking about what you like and asking your partner what they like can be challenging, especially if you’re not accustomed to communicating about your desires verbally with another person.  If you’re like most people, you may have real fears about sharing your sexual desires with another person.   You may be nervous that your partner may reject you or think what you like is weird.  Or you may just feel uneasy about asking for what you want or like.  All of these feelings are natural and normal.

Hannah, a sophomore at U of L reported that “a lot of times it can be uncomfortable to have a real conversation about sex, even when you’re close with your partner. Even so, I find it’s really important to communicate clearly without beating around the bush so that everyone is on the same page, and everyone is getting what they want.”

It may be helpful in these situations to start the conversation off when you’re just hanging out with your partner, say over coffee, or a meal.  Sometimes watching a movie with some sexy scenes can spark a natural conversation, offering an opportunity to ask your partner what they like and how they like it.  Here are some sentence starters to help you make talking about desire easier:

  • Do you like it when I _____?
  • How would you like me to ______?
  • What do you want/like?
  • How do you feel about ________?
  • What do you think would be fun to try?
  • What would you like me to do/try?

Staying alert to the nonverbal cues a potential partner may be sending and practicing ways to communicate openly and clearly about your needs and your partner’s needs are the building blocks to consensual experiences that can be enjoyable for everyone involved.

Photo Courtesy / University of Louisville Health Promotion