Have you ever been asked, if you like someone? Everybody did, people who have to much free time eventually will turn to you for gossip material. It is nothing bad, they care. Most importantly they want to learn from you. They will express their opinion, (dis)approval and pay strict attention to everything your not sharing.
“But do you like … (pause) … really like her? I mean, like, “Like” her?” I have been asked this several time. Every time I make a face of a polar-bear reading Gore’s report on global warming. What do you mean “like”? Isn’t it simple (yes or no)? I always miss something. Bummer! Now that I’m on vacation, with loads of free time, I thought about clarifications.
It seems that everyone (outside the couple) is very scared of the world love, before it is “officially” announced by the involved. Any choice of metaphor hinting at something more than a somewhat “platonic liking” seems to be considered inappropriate. People are nosy. They must know, know all.
There is a different “like” for infatuation, crushes, marriage plans (if (s)he says “Hi”), simple I want to have sex and “true” platonic like. Every culture seems to be approaching it differently, everyone has a comfort level which is directly linked to their openness. Most people I met (US) have a basic need to categorize what they see, liking becomes important.
They all feel constrained by the lack of decent words, they want to see how did you do it. Just maybe your way of approach to the problem is better. It is fissile that, you found a phrase before the “three dates” are up that defines interested beyond what you want people to know. A simple way to say, a delicate way to put it. If you need to categorize you will loose, there is no words.