Stephen Colbert fielded some questions from teenage girls in this video, but I feel that his answer, for the most part, really gets to the core of what it means to like someone or to have affection for someone.
Question: I would really like to know all the ways in which you can tell when a person likes you—girls, boys, grownups, everyone.
Colbert: People show they like you in all kinds of different ways. But some basic ones are …they want to hear your stories, they care how you feel, they want to make your day better, they wanna listen to your problems. They reach out to you. Everyone wants to be loved, everyone wants to have people to pay attention to them. But, if somebody goes to the effort to call you, reach out to you, write to you, pay attention to you at a party, come over and talk to you, smile when they see you, ask you your problems—those are good signs that they like you because they’re making the effort to not be so self-centered that they want you to do that for them. Somebody’s giving you the gift of attention and wanted to know about your day and your problems then they probably like you. If your happiness is more important than their happiness or if they’re first are concerned about what’s going on in your life instead of their life—that’s a really good sign. Because one nice definition of love, I think, is that one person’s happiness is more important than your own. And some early signs of that is that they want to make your day better, by helping you unburden your own problems.
Love…and cookies. Cookies are a really good sign that somebody likes you—if they bring you cookies.
The problem is if sometimes people might be mean to you or pick on you to show that they like you. Because they’re afraid you don’t like them…and so they might be mean first, just to get your attention. But if someone’s just paying attention to you, over and over again, it probably means they like you. If someone really doesn’t like you, they mostly ignore you. I know that’s a vague answer, but there’s just so many different ways affection is expressed.