Originally Posted by PolyLinguist
Right on the spot, onoma, that is exactly the problem. I am not by nature particularly observant when it comes to interpreting other peoples' emotions anyway, but my rather unusual teenage years added to this difficulty. My parents took me from my native environment (a Central European country), put me through a high school education where I hardly passed two successive years with the same fellow students, then brought me to Canada where I was dropped straight into a university environment where most of my peers had gone through the usual North American high school system I had no experience with at all.
Different people would deal with the kind of loneliness I experienced in different ways - personally, I learned to be able to entertain myself and not depend too much on others. Eventually I learned how to create a good social life for myself, which is why I have lots of friends - but playing the seduction game is something else and I never became good at it. Which is why I come back to playing up my strengths, which includes the willingness to try for long-term mono life.
Clearly, in the poly world this won't do, and if I want to enlarge my circle of sexual/sentimental partners, I have to learn how to play up my other strengths, and to interpret other peoples' signals better.
Oh why, oh why, can't people be more explicit? I am not so clueless that I won't catch obvious signals. Once, in my premarital days, I was having dinner with some friends and acquaintances, and the woman sitting opposite me started to stroke my feet under the table. I had no doubt as to what that meant! But few people are that obvious...
I don't think wanting a relationship was ever your strength! Frankly from your background I suspect you can/will do great once you get past your insecurity about this.
Well, you could look up some stuff on body language and signals. There are even "pick up artist" web sites out there that can help you learn that stuff. (A lot of crap on those sites, but some good stuff too for those of us who don't quite "get it" on our own.)
BUT... frankly you're overthinking it. If YOU are interested, make it apparent. You could spend your life wondering if a woman is interested in you, only to watch her go out with the guy who was direct and asked her out.