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A magic 8 ball that says "Reply hazy, ask again later."

I’m awkward, I’m not oracular.

Dear Captain Awkward:

So I went on a second date with a guy and am unsure of next steps. Context: both dates were Sunday walks where we were bundled up like marshmallows. End of first date – he’s very specific with his plans for following up. End of second date – a hug and ‘we should do this again sometime.’ Given his approach to the first date, I interpret this as ‘friends,’ but then he went out of his way to come back to my car and give my dog a treat. What’s your interpretation?

-Shy One

Dear Shy One:

My interpretation is that, while none of the interactions you describe sound like a brushoff, you are asking an impossible question.

There is exactly one person in the universe who can tell you about this guy’s feelings, hopes, plans, and wishes re: You and what he intended certain words and actions to convey beyond their literal surface meaning. He gave your dog a treat, so I assume he wanted to give your dog a treat. I don’t know the meta-meaning of dog treats or whether they carry some deeper Jungian significance for him or whether he was doing some subtle conveying in your direction. Also, you were there! If you can’t tell what the vibe was like, how can we?

Good News: You’ve met the person who holds the key to this secret. They will be easy to contact!

Bad/Scary News: It’s this actual guy!

So, do YOU think the date went well?

Did you have fun?

Did you enjoy talking with him?

Do you WANT to see him again?

Do you have feelings about him?

Are some of those feelings located in your pants? Is there at least a twinge of curiosity about his manly, well-formed hands inside those giant mittens or the pleasing lips you glimpsed through one of the holes in the ski mask?

Are you unsure about how you feel and think you need to spend more time with him to make a good decision?

What would happen if you emailed him right now and said “I had a great time seeing you the other night. I think you are very handsome and fun to be with, and my dog also likes you. Can we plan another date soon?

Pretty much the worst thing that would happen if you sent that message is that he does not feel the same way and does not want to go on another date. That was always a possibility (as it was always possible that you would not like him), so that possibility is eminently survivable, right? Look at you, surviving the idea that some random dude isn’t all that into you. Well done, you!

A second possibility is that he’s WAY into you but after another date or seven you decide you’re not into him. Also survivable; consider it survived.

Third possibility is where the maybe-happy maybe-risky maybe-good stuff happens. I don’t think anything you have told me takes that off the table. So be awkward and see what happens. But stop examining every word and action as if they are sheep’s entrails. Sheeps’ entrails don’t tell the future. Nor do a bunch of totally innocuous and routine social interactions from someone you just met.

Okay, I’m making some fun of the question, but I want to say: There are a jillion sites and quizzes and articles that purport to decipher routine innocuous interactions and tell you what He/She Is Really Thinking, or, Signs He/She Likes/Doesn’t Like You That Way. Unfortunately, these publications employ total dipshits to explain enforce gender norms. Behind anyone claiming to translate Boy into Girl or vice-versa, picture the proverbial emperor dancing around in his tighty-whiteys.

Good news! You’re definitely not stupid for wanting help processing something you’re not sure about or hoping that we might have reassuring answers! Bad news: Reassuring answers on what this guy intends are backordered, arriving never. Do people communicate desire in confusing, indirect, and nonverbal ways? Yep, all the time. Should you try to decipher all of those behaviors and look for “signs”? Nope. You’ll make yourself nuts. If you can’t tell, and they haven’t told you, and you want to know, ask. You may or may not be an object of this guy’s desire; you get to be an agent of your own.