As near as I can tell, men are an unfathomable conundrum. I know this not from personal experience (the last time I had a successful interaction with a guy was probably circa 2012), but from every women’s magazine that has ever existed.
Through them, I’ve learned there are many ways to gauge a man’s level of interest (i.e. he touches his face, his pupils get either smaller or larger, he has eyebrows), but nothing has been quite as valuable as what I’ve picked up from the books that were foisted upon my unwilling person in high school English. Here’s how to tell if a guy likes you, according to classic lit:
1. He tells you how embarrassing your family is.
2. He marries someone else out of spite.
3. He waits until you have died and then psychologically tortures anyone who ever had anything to do with you.
4. He murders the king of Scotland at your behest.
5. He trains you musically and then kidnaps you into his dungeon.
6. He commits suicide for you because you are dead and he can’t imagine a life without you. He does not think to spend ten minutes fact-checking this information to see if you are actually gone, which you’re not.
7. He makes sexually suggestive puns in your general direction and then tells you he hates all women.
8. He becomes rich just to prove himself to you.
9. When you accidentally hit someone with your car, he takes the blame.
10. He makes up an entire fake romance just to get you to confess your feelings for him.
11. He keeps his real wife locked in the attic so she won’t impugn upon your budding romance.
12. He has an affair with a sea witch and just kind of forgets about you for a year.
13. He calls you a common whore on your wedding day and then leaves you at the altar. Obviously, you must now fake your own death.
14. He has sex with you and then pretends it never happened, to the detriment of your reputation in puritanical society.
15. He writes you love letters on behalf of his friend who is also in love with you. He doesn’t reveal his own true feelings because he himself has a very large nose.
16. He executes your cousin out of a misplaced sense of obligation.
17. He denounces you as a “foul” and promises to kill you for your treachery.
18. He stares at you from across the Luxembourg Garden for several months before actually striking up a conversation.
20. He gathers the townspeople, implies that he had sex with you, and then dies out of shame right there in front of everybody.
21. He cheats on his wife with you, panics when she finds out, turns you into a cow, and gives you to her as a gift.
22. He invites you to come live in the wilderness with him and then calls you a phony.
23. You help him retrieve the Golden Fleece and he leaves you immediately.
24. He steals your father’s handkerchief, thinking it belongs to you.
25. He marries another woman in order to secure the Second Triumvirate of the Roman state.
This post was originally published in January 2017