Having spent many years in deep sexual frustration, I can identify with men who miss women's signals. I know I was one of them. Was being the operative word, at least most of the time. So, I'll pass on some fruits of my experience.

First, all people, regardless of gender, are individuals. This means that previous experience may or may not apply to your current romantic interest. My early romantic experiences left me with no definable pattern. Which led to more confusion and withdrawal. In time I learned that while women do have a consistent pattern of sexual signals, it takes a while to figure out what it is, and the pattern may not apply to your current interest. Like everything else to do with people, women have tendencies but no absolute rules. I have been out with women who touched you constantly, but had no interest in smooching. I have dated others who kept their arms around themselves, but were secretly dying for me. ( I learned this from her best friend-- turns out she was just as scared of screwing up as I). I have been rejected for not making an aggressive pass, and berated for trying too hard. So, if a boy meets someone a bit outside the norm early, he can end up really confused.

The other problem is getting turned down. It's natural, and most women do it politely, if you're polite to them. But girls, particularly in your school years, may reject a boy with deliberate cruelty. So a guy who hasn't figured things out yet, and has had a couple of bad or strange experiences can end up downright petrified. For many young men and boys, asking a girl out, or even walking up to say hi, requires making a leap of faith. Odds do not a apply, this is like tossing a coin and each and every trial has no relation to any of the others that have gone before it. So a boy may have to make not just one leap of faith, but many consecutive leaps until he develops the confidence and instincts required to relax.

One thing I had to learn the hard way is that everyone gets turned down once in a while. Even rock stars and Sean Connery. Sure, Tommy Lee got to boff a few famous women. Lots more have turned him down, and none of my ex-girlfriends would have given him the time of day. The truth is no matter who you are, there is no guarantee that the person you desire at the moment will desire you. That works both ways. I think most of us have experienced an unwelcome crush. Becoming a couple is a mutual choice. Which means you can get turned down for any reason or no good reason at all. Getting turned down doesn't mean you're ugly, or nasty. It isn't a product of having a good line or anything. It just happens. Heck, I was once turned down because she really liked me. Her feelings made me emotionally dangerous, which can be a real problem if the woman has been abused. When you deal with individuals, any outcome is possible.

So, if getting turned down really says nothing about you, therefore you have literally nothing to lose. Okay, so someone looks just perfect right now. And she said no. Well, if there are five billion people in the world, that means you have a couple billion others out there. In other words, keep trying.

Don't worry too much about being ‘smooth’. Smooth comes from relaxation. If you aren't relaxed you can't be yourself. One thing that helped me was to try and take the pressure off myself in the type of early dates I scheduled. Ask someone you like to a 'pre-date', say lunch or a drink after work or class. An hour or two together, no pressure, a situation where even a good night kiss is unlikely. Since you know you aren't getting any in advance, there's no reason to worry about it. And if you're attracted, and it's mutual, you both will figure it out. The experience makes asking for a ‘real date’ easier.

You don't have to be perfect. Real life isn't like the various Seduce and Destroy seduction systems so wonderfully parodied in the film Magnolia. There is no one system. You can make mistakes. In fact you will make mistakes. Mistakes come from being human. Just pay attention, and try to learn. Everyone makes mistakes, the key is not to see them as disasters. They're potential lessons. if you don't get out and make some mistakes, how can you learn from them? Anyone who really likes you won’t turn against you because of some minor faux pas.

One good reason to start out asking a lot of people is that we often don't know what kind of person we really like. Many times, the person who works for us isn't the person we think we ought to be dating. The person you want to date is the person you enjoy spending time with the most, and you think 'cute'. You should be friends. And if you decide you like them, it's okay to mention it. Once. And directly, because most people are not the Amazing Kreskin. If they say no, back off and pretend nothing happened. Don't bring it up again, or stop spending time with them. You've told them, so the ball's now in their court. If they change their mind, they'll let you know. But don't wait around for them either. Bitter experience teaches that carrying a torch only makes your right arm tired.

Romance can be a serious thing, but it doesn't work if you start out that way. It's a natural outgrowth of ordinary relationships. Ask people out in a way that minimizes the pressure on yourself. Dating is one area where Don’t worry, be happy is the right attitude