Beth Cook is a dating coach and throws private dating events for San Francisco’s most awesome and unattached. She also writes and draws about her own dating experiences. Want advice? Have advice? Send her an email.

Dating is a difficult practice to master. You have to present your fresh, charming self to potential mates over and over again. You have to maintain an air of nonchalance while hoping to meet your future husband/wife. And you have to develop a knack for deciphering odd communication patterns across multiple technology platforms.

 At one point or another, all daters have said to themselves, “I wonder why he waited two days to text me back?” or, “I hope things get less crazy for her at work so we can see each other soon.”

These are the awful moments when dating confusion sets in. Is person X legitimately busy or is he/she trying to slowly, passively get rid of me?

Dating doubts can manifest at any stage of courtship. You can be confused from the first moment a message hits your OkCupid inbox... “Why is this guy so chatty online but never mentions meeting up in person?”

There’s only way to find out if someone is interested in seeing you again: ask that person out for a specific activity on a particular day. For example: Katie, would you like to meet for happy hour oysters on Tuesday at Bar Crudo?

It actually doesn’t matter how you send the note (email, text, Facebook message, OkCupid message)—just keep it consistent with your previous communication. The person’s response will tell you everything you need to know. Here are a few ways this could play out and what it means:

1) Radio silence.
You’ve been ghosted. This person has disappeared and isn’t coming back.

2) Excuses.
“Oh, I would love to, but I have to work late on Tuesday night.” This person is blowing you off. They think this way is easier than telling you that they don’t see a romantic future for the two of you.

3) Maybe, baby.
“Yeah, maybe. I have to see what my week looks like.” This person is either blowing you off, or feels lukewarm about you. Probably both. Whichever it is, they aren’t showing respect for you and your time.

4) Rain check.
“Oh, I would love to, but I have to work late on Tuesday night. Are you free on Thursday?” This person wants to see you again. He/she may be busy, but is also making time for you. Get that date on the calendar.
 
The truth is, it’s pretty easy to interpret messages, whatever the medium. If someone doesn’t accept the date and doesn’t suggest a new time to get together, it’s time to move on. At the very least, you deserve to date someone who is excited to see you.

Photo by slettvet