Why do guys pretend they don’t understand when the girl they like gives them all hints of liking them too?

A lot of people have pointed out that many guys — especially young, nerdy guys — don’t “do” the hint thing. Not at any level whatsoever. And that’s something you should really, really take to heart: it’s true. I’ll also strongly back the idea of communicating explicitly and clearly to the maximum extent you can; in fact, I was just helping a good friend to resolve a thorny relationship problem and “say what you need to say, and lead the other person up to it as well” was a big part of the conversation. Futzing around with indirectness in relationships is poison, and I say this as a guy who geeks out on relationships and is fascinated by them.

But there’s another layer to it, and you may find it even more important to understanding why some guys may “go with the flow” of the cluelessness meme:

For a guy, assuming intent in a woman is a risk that can destroy his life.

An accusation of sexual assault will often result in a loss of reputation, job, social position, and friendships regardless of whether it actually has any merit. An accusation of being a “creep” can wreck a guy’s chance of getting a date at his school or in his neighborhood.

Whatever the right or the wrong of the real issues that caused things to be this way is immaterial to this point; that’s the ground truth today, and it puts an especially sharp point on assuming intent. It would literally be a stupid thing for a guy to do.

And by the same token, what that change means to women is that they need to be direct. They must be, if they want to do their part to eliminate that confusing garbage from our society that leads to the ambiguous edge cases that can result in harm to themselves and others.

Both your “yes” and your “no” must be equally clear and explicit. The days for a woman having to pretend to be a shy, reticent, innocent flower are past and gone, and I for one will not miss them at all.

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