I was raised on a healthy diet of unrealistic romance novels, so every person with whom I make eye contact—be it the barista who makes me my coffee, or the mechanic who tells me everything that’s wrong with my car, or the person passing out free samples at the grocery store—is a potential love interest, and our every encounter is just rife with romantic possibility.
But wouldn’t it be nice if you could know who was going to be romantically significant in your life so you could just make with the dating already? Sure it would, which is why I’m writing this. I have spent the last twenty or so years reading books and painstakingly pulling from them what scant dating advice I could, and here, for your convenience, is what I’ve gleaned. Here’s how you know if you just met your love interest:
If their eyes are in some way notable. Their eyes might blaze, flash, shine, or twinkle, but whatever the case, they will definitely be luminous, penetrating, gold-flecked, or the color of optimism.
If they’re “not much older than you.” Nothing says romance quite like a person of indeterminate age who is vaguely older than you but not enough for it to be weird.
If he smells like coming home. I have no idea who bottled this scent or why, but apparently all the best love interests smell this way. This is just the world we live in, and either you get on board or you die alone.
If they smirk a lot. Smirking is sexy. Do you have a hard time distinguishing between a smirk, a sneer, and a scoff? Have fun being single forever. You’re just as likely to date the sidekick, the traitor, or the series antagonist, and it will almost certainly end in tragedy.
If you’re oddly drawn to her. You just can’t explain it. Everything you know to be true in this world is telling you to stay away, but you can’t because you’ll die or whatever.
If the two of you met in a parking lot. Parking lot meet-cutes are the cornerstone of modern romance. Nobody has ever met anyone in a parking lot that they did not immediately fall in love with.
If he is aloof and doesn’t care about you at all. Don’t worry. It’s all a ruse and he actually cares about you quite a lot. He just has to act like he hates you, for some reason or another.
If she has a troubled past. She will harbor her tragic backstory until you have known her long enough to earn it. Until then, you will have to content yourself with cryptic clues.
If he’s taller than you. You yourself are of average height, so it follows logically that many people in this world are taller than you. You’ll know you’ve found a love interest, however, because the height differential will contribute to about 30% of your inner monologue from this point onward.
If he offers to teach you how to do something traditionally masculine. Book lore would have you believe that only the menfolk are allowed to drive stick, swing a golf club, or shoot a gun, and that these are skills The Man only bequeathes to a woman he would like to eventually date.
If they’re actually a 900-year-old supernatural creature but doesn’t look older than 20. This is the surest way to determine whether you’ve acquired a love interest. Congratulations, and good luck with all of that.