Trying to gauge whether or not a woman likes you can be unbearably tedious and mind-numbingly frustrating, all on account of the fact that you’re not a woman. Interpreting signals can lead to over- or under-estimating how much a female friend or a stranger you met at the bar is actually into you. While it’s impossible to know for sure how she feels about you without directly asking, here are some signs that might not be worth over-analyzing. While they might seem bad, it’s probably not what it seems.

1. She takes a long time to answer messages. It’s easy to think that lengthy periods between texts would be a bad thing. Say a half hour to an hour goes by and you get no response from someone you’re really invested in. What then? Well, maybe she’s trying to be precise and witty to make a good impression. If she’s putting in the time and effort to answer you with thoughtful responses, she’s more invested in your potential relationship than you might think.

2. She asks you to hang out with her friends. Alone time is a crucial factor for any relationship. Spending a day with your potential girlfriend all by yourselves is obviously ideal, but that’s not to say it’s always the case. If she asks to bring you around to her friends, don’t assume it’s because she thinks of you as one. Rather, it could mean she wants her friends to get an impression of you and vice versa. So turn on the charm, smile, be friendly and make a positive impact. It could help you more than you’d think.

3. She cancels plans: You made plans to get something to eat and she bailed. Last minute, something came up. “Is she lying? Does she really just not want to see me?” This is the natural reaction to a vague excuse to canceled plans, but there could be a good explanation. The first time I tried to go on a date with my current girlfriend, she had to cancel because her cat died. I didn’t know at the time, so my immediate inclination was to panic. Take a lesson from me and save your energy, because a lot of times, things just happen that are totally out of anyone’s control. If she follows up with a raincheck, that’s a good thing.

4. She touches you. I’m not talking about snuggling or constant hugs—by that point I think the signal moves past the point of muddy interpretation. I’m referring to arm touches, her leg brushing against yours—if she generally feels comfortable enough to be physically close to you, that’s a good sign she’s more into you than you might’ve thought. This type of misinterpretation stems less from over-analysis and more from a lack of realization. So the next time you hang out, try paying attention to how close she gets to you, because it might be indicative of something greater.

5. She texts you about personal stuff going on in her life. Ah, the dreaded friendzone. For some, the possibility of being shunted into the inescapable realm of “just friends” is so great, any sign of emotional expression on the girl’s part is cause to immediately halt contact altogether. I’d caution patience, however. While there is a possibility that she’s opening up to you because she feels closer to you as a friend, that isn’t always the case. Women like to share, and she may actually be looking to deepen your connection here. So be helpful, be kind and don’t let your fears of friendship drive you from being a good person first.

Photo: iStock/Ivanko_Brnjakovic