Man may traditionally be the hunter-gatherer, but when it comes to finding a mate, forget it – especially since our ‘let-you-know-we-fancy-you’ strategy seems to consist mainly of us trying to conceal any evidence that we do.

Back when we were twelve, it was easy for you to tell when we’d crossed the line from finding girls repulsive – mainly because our reaction to the strange stirrings we were feeling down below was to tease you and pull your hair. And while you may still make us go stiff at the most inconvenient of times, more likely nowadays it’s with fright.

But fortunately for you women, it’s a lot easier to read our body language than it is for you to read maps. There are always tell-tale signs. And if you suspect that we may be interested in you, don’t always leave the first move to us men. If you do, you might be waiting a long, long time…

The guy in the bar
Let’s face it, when we’re out in town, we eye up any girl who walks past. So how do you tell if that sexy faraway look in our eyes is because we’re lusting after you, or just due to the fact that we’ve put away one pint too many and can’t focus on anything? Well, once you’ve ascertained that we’re looking, which will be easy because we’ll be making such a bad job of not looking, the trick here is to watch where we’re looking.

Whenever we think we can get away with it, our eyes will be roaming all over the various (obvious) parts of your anatomy, but if we’re really interested in you, the area of flesh that we really want to see bare is the ring finger on your left hand. Then, if you do manage to engage us in conversation, we’ll ask you questions about yourself, and actually, listen to the answers. If we offer to buy you a drink, chances are we’re being more than just polite. If we let you buy us one back, even more so. And when we need to go to the loo, if we apologize for it, then nip back with such indecent haste you’re nervous about touching our hands, you might want to think about booking the church.

At the Gym
Ever wondered why guys always work out in front of the mirrors? Well, it’s not so we can keep an eye on our form. A classic hunting ground for the male of the species, the gym is a tricky one to read, as more so than in the bar. Given your sexy gym outfit, we absolutely don’t want you catching us staring and think we’re perverts. Instead, demonstrating twisted bloke logic, we’ll position ourselves so we can keep tabs on your reflection, thinking this doesn’t, therefore, count as gawping. And it’s likely that we’ll try and mirror your behavior, too – watch to see if we cut short our session on the treadmill just as you finish your run, then hang around to see where you go next.

We might take the machine next to you, even when there are plenty of others free, or if there’s a bank of three stretch mats/bikes/steppers, we’ll get there first, occupying the middle one just to ensure you have to take the one next to us. And the proof of the pudding? If, despite our workout program finishing, we don’t until yours does. It took my mate, Mike, hours of Stairmaster stalking before he finally managed to ask gym-babe Julia out. But not only did he gain a girlfriend – he lost half a stone in the process.

Your neighbor
The days of men hoping you’ll pop round to borrow a cup of sugar are long gone, particularly because your looks are… Hmm, how do I put this….Sweeter? So how do you tell when – to paraphrase a certain Aussie soap – good neighbors might become more than good friends? This can be a hard one to work out, as everyone’s generally neighborly, and helping you take out your bins doesn’t necessarily mean we want to take you out too. But if you see our curtains twitching every time you pass, don’t be fooled into thinking that we’re just doing our Neighborhood Watch duty – there’s only one thing in the neighborhood we want to keep tabs on, and that’s you.

Here, the Coincidence Rule applies – if you notice that we always seem to be leaving for work at the same time as you, or when you’re sunbathing in your back garden, we’re ‘coincidentally’ mowing the lawn, maybe it’s time to raise your eyebrow and notice these so-crude efforts. And when you’re outside washing your car, and we pick that moment to wash ours, even though you’re sure you saw us do it yesterday, just remember – once is luck, but more than once is lust.

Your brother’s friend
Back when you were growing up, you were our mate’s little sister, so of course, we didn’t fancy you. Instead, we’d look after you, buy you drinks, and frighten off any spotty oik who’d dared glance over in your general direction. Now that I think about it, I’m surprised nobody was convinced we were crazy about you. And now that you’ve grown older, we’re still not, technically, allowed to fancy you out of loyalty to your brother.

So how do we show that we, in fact, do? Well, by ignoring you, of course. But although we might not even acknowledge you when you walk into the bar, we’ll surely be watching you out of the corner of our eye. The giveaway is when we do eventually deign to talk to you, we’ll know much more about you than we should, especially considering that we ‘ignore’ you most of the time. And when you crack a joke, we’ll be laughing the hardest, because it’s ’safe’ to laugh at something funny, and we’re desperate to make some sort of contact with you. It’s really a desperate cry for attention if you think about it

Your roommate
Roommates tend to see the worst of each other, particularly first thing in the morning; hangovers, disheveled hair, hairy armpits – and we guys don’t always look that great either. So watch for when we start taking an obsessive interest in our personal hygiene – which for most blokes means having a regular nightly bath rather than a regular bath night.

And if you get home and we’ve done the Hoovering, the washing up, or you find us doing the cleaning, chances are it’s because we want to do the dirty with you – my friend Nick swears that it was the sight of him in his Marigolds that finally convinced his flatmate Emma that he was interested in sharing more than the household chores. Of course, she may just have had a rubber fetish, but other tactics include ensuring the two of you are the last ones to go to bed then offering to make you a coffee, or suggesting that you give your night out with the girls a miss to watch some slushy DVD that we’ve rented ‘by mistake’. Subtle, we’re not.

Your friend 
Sadly, the days of letting a girl know we liked them by chasing her around the playground are over – for most normal people, anyway. Instead, our mature, sophisticated approach will probably be to insult you, or even try and chat up your friends, when really it’s you we want to ask out. You’ll notice a subtle change in the way we look at you – or rather, don’t look at you. And when you’re alone with us, if we constantly question you about your boyfriend, tell you what a jerk he is, and how you need to go out with someone who treats you like you deserve, you don’t have to guess who we’re referring to. But be careful – you’ve got to get this one right, as the last thing you want to do is ruin a beautiful friendship.

Your mate’s ex

You’ve possibly always suspected we’ve fancied you, maybe from those odd glances held a little too long, or the good-natured insults. But we know there’s around a three-month cooling off-period (although if blokes made the rules up, it’d be about five minutes) during which we won’t dare make the move – perhaps out of loyalty to your mate, but more probably because we’re worried that she’s told you about the strange face we make during sex.

So when we feel it’s safe, we might test the water by swapping insults for backhanded compliments – ‘You’re a lot more sensible than Jen ever was’, or ‘I wish she’d had your sense of humor’ etc. The clincher is when we try to demonstrate how caring and sensitive we are by calling you up to ask you how your mate’s doing since the split up – what we really mean is ‘do you think she’d mind if I asked you out?’.

Your work colleague
Many people meet their new partners at work – it’s just a shame that many of them are still going out with their ‘old’ partner at the same time – and there’s nothing more embarrassing for a guy than becoming the subject of office gossip by asking out someone at work who’s already loved-up. We need to find out precisely what your current romantic status is before we do anything else, and the only ’safe’ way to do this is by (gulp) talking to you. So how do we engineer this? Well, it’s quite easy.

‘Accidentally’ bumping into you several times a day at the water cooler, or just happening to be walking past when you’re struggling with the jammed photocopier will do the trick. Men will plan a whole afternoon workload just so they can drop everything and pack up in five seconds when they see you making for the lift at the end of the day. And if we do get you chatting as we, ahem, go down together, watch to see if we’ve managed to ‘casually’ enquire about your evening/weekend plans (i.e. love life) before the lift doors shut close.

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