No, the title is not a reference to the M. Night Shyamalan movie (though, really, M. Night? You have aliens whose fatal weakness is water come to a planet where two-thirds of the surface, and much of the human body, is made up of water? Nice move there, pal). Instead, it refers to my own personal inability, real or imagined, to read signs and emotional cues from other people.

I may have mentioned this before, but it bears repeating – I have very little ability to read other people. I can often read the signs and cues of people I know well, but with strangers, or people I am not as familiar with, I tend to be clueless. I can recognize blatant signs, especially for anger, but more subtle cues escape me. This may be because of my introversion, or because I didn’t have a lot of examples to learn from earlier in life, or for some other reason altogether. But regardless, I can’t often tell what another person’s mood is without them telling me.

Is this normal? I don’t know. I know that most people have, in the past, had a great deal of difficulty reading me, sometimes to my detriment – I had apparently schooled my expressions so well that nobody saw any telltale warning signs before my most recent suicide attempt. But other people tend to be a mystery, and so I have defaulted to assuming the worst and avoiding most interaction with people I can’t read.

Obviously, this has a large set of problems. Since I can’t read signs of interest from women – and, while my depression says that nobody will ever be interested in me, I have to believe that someone out there is – I have to get to know them first. This is hard because, for one, I find it difficult to interact with women, especially ones I find attractive. For another, spending the time to get to know a woman well enough to recognize signs of interest often seems to mean I am relegated to the “friend zone”, where I am seen only as a friend and not a romantic interest. This has happened a few times, and while I always appreciate new friends, a romantic relationship is very much of interest to me.

One of the things I have been trying to do to correct this lack of perception is trying to make sure my own reactions and feelings are more easily read. This can be exhausting, since it involves a lot of use of muscles in my face and body I haven’t made much use of in the past. But letting other people read me might lead them to be more expressive, which seems like a win-win to me. I don’t know how well this has been working, at least for other people, but I think I can read a bit more from people, even if the signs are relatively obvious.

How important is it to read signs from other people? Is it best to just take a leap of faith and ecpress yourself, or your interest, to someone you meet and want to get to know? Are other people any better at readings signs than I am? I wonder how much others want to be able to read signs before getting to know people. Is there something you look for to determine interest, whether in friendship or romance? I’m looking for feedback. I don’t want to have to be literally hit over the head by someone interested in me, especially since anyone interested in me is also likely to be shy.

Also, being hit in the head hurts.