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How to Get Someone to Like You

The challenge of having your affections returned is lifelong.

The young man’s eyes were filled with concern when he asked if he could ask me a professional question. “How can I get someone to like me?” At 15 years old that question was loaded with all the angst and uncertainty of the teen years so I bit back my immediate response of “You can’t” and softened it instead: “I don’t think that’s always possible…but you might influence the other person’s decision.”

I have learned long ago one can’t “get” another person to do anything except by bribery or threats, and neither of those work in matters of affection. A person can certainly influence the possibility of a happy outcome, that’s what the old-fashioned concept of wooing and courtship is about.

Almost as old fashioned is the first best-selling self-help book of all times published in 1936: Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends and Influence People. It’s so relevant today, 80 years later, that it is still selling briskly in print and as an e-book. It covers such helpful topics as How To Make a Good First Impression and How to be a Good Conversationalist. Almost every library has a copy and I recommend it.

The question I was asked was not really about making friends, however; it seldom is. It was about having one’s romantic feelings returned and that’s much tougher than making friends, even though the process might begin in the same way and such talents as being a graceful conversationalist would be most helpful. So is there a way? Did Casanova have some secret he failed to pass along to the rest of us?

Researchers into the success and happiness of long married couples, Drs. John and Julie Gottman, as well others, have found such common sense components as being nice to one another, showing a willingness to compromise and to demonstrate affection go a long way. Many similarities exist in getting another person to like you.

People tend to like those who like them. Is that a surprise? If you want a person to like you show that you like them in ways that should be obvious to even a 15 year old boy:

* Smile at them. Look pleased to see them when you do. Greet them pleasantly.

* Show an interest. Ask questions about their interests. If you don’t know anything about online gaming, for instance, or scrap booking, ask the other person to tell you about it. Pay attention.

* Join a group where they are a member so that you have a chance to be known and get to know the other person in a non-pressured setting. This could be a school club, an after work drinks gathering, a discussion group. These suggestions work for any age in any circumstance.

* Do a favor. Offer a ride. Lend something they have a need for. In sum, be a friend.

* Don’t push the physical aspect. In fact, don’t push anything. Just be around, in good cheer and see what develops.

I know the old beliefs that girls like “bad boys” and boys like girls who play had to get say otherwise, but these are only true some times. What it still boils down to is most people like others who like them.

What People Keep Asking Me About Sex and Relationships, my new collection of essays from Psychology Today over the years, is now out on in paperback and e-format.…