By Jane Hoskyn
Good dating and great flirting is all about listening. But there’s more to listening than paying attention to words – it’s also about tuning into what someone says with their eyes, their posture and even with the way they’re pointing their feet.
Body language has the power to attract, and it speaks volumes about what someone thinks of you. You can usually tell whether someone fancies you (or doesn’t), just by paying attention to their physical tics and to the tone of their voice when they’re with you. Use our body lingo dictionary to work out what they’re really thinking…
What it is: Talking excessively or foolishly. What it means: It ain’t what they say, it’s the way that they say it. Many people turn into nervous, babbling loons when they’re talking to someone they fancy. When someone babbles to you, try to engage in what they’re saying. This will boost their confidence, and, before you know it, they’ll be perfectly relaxed.
What it is: Speed of involuntary blinking. What it means: When we see something we like, whether it’s a cake, a beer or a gorgeous person across a crowded room, we blink more quickly. An increased blink rate is infectious, so you’ll probably start doing it too.
What it is: Folded arms or another self-imposed physical barrier. What it means: Body barriers are people’s way of telling you to leave them alone. If they feel comfortable with you, their barriers should drop. But don’t be too literal when reading these signals. If you’re waiting for a taxi with your date and they fold their arms, they’re probably cold.
What it is: An involuntary eye-wander around your body. What it means: If they can’t help checking you out, even while you’re deep in conversation, they definitely want to get to know you better. They’ll look mostly at your face, but their eyes will subconsciously wander to other bits of your body – especially your hands, thighs and mouth.
Broken contact barrier
What it is: Touching, or failing to pull away when touched, such as when knees brush under the table. What it means: Western culture dictates that strangers don’t go around touching each other, because it’s a gross invasion of personal space. But when someone’s flirting with you, they will break that contact barrier. It’s a sure sign that they’re interested.
What it is: A brief, involuntary raise of the eyebrows What it means: When we first see someone we fancy, our eyebrows rise and fall when we make eye contact. If they fancy us back, they do the same. It’s very quick – a fraction of a second – but it’s pretty unmistakable. Forward posture What it is: Leaning in with the shoulders. What it means: Forget that stereotypical image of the handsome devil leaving back against the bar. Leaning back shows aloofness and a lack of interest. Instead, someone who’s leaning slightly towards you is interested in you and in what you’re saying.
What it is: Looking around the face, shoulders and upper body. What it means: When someone fancies you, they tend to widen their gaze to take in your head-and-shoulders “triangle”. When talking to friends and family, our gaze tends to be restricted to eyes, nose and mouth, and with strangers, we tend to dart from eye to eye and past their face altogether.
What it is: A subconscious, sometimes suppressed smile. What it means: When you see someone you fancy, you automatically smile with your mouth and eyes. You probably try to suppress it and you may look down or blush, but the smile is there. Spot it in someone who’s looking at you, and you’re onto a winner.
Lingering eye contact
What it is: Holding your gaze for longer than a fraction of a second. What it means: Lingering eye contact is the single biggest sign that someone likes you. If they catch your eye, hold it for a beat, look away and then look back, they definitely like what they see. If they hold your gaze for a couple of seconds or more, they’re consciously and assertively sending the message that they’re flirting with you.
What it is: Subtle matching of behaviour, such as crossed legs or sipping a drink. What it means: Mirrored actions suggest a connection between two people, and it’s a powerful way of flirting. We all like people who are like us, so if you behave like someone else it will encourage them to warm to you. So mirror their behaviour – but don’t do it immediately, and don’t mimic them, or you’ll look as though you’re making fun of them.
What it is: Pouting or tightly closed mouth. What it means: A pout is not the killer sexual signal you might think it is. Be very wary of pouting or pursing your lips. Evolution has left us seeing it as a strong sign of disapproval and even dislike. Plenty of people do it without realising the signals they’re sending out, so keep those lips relaxed if you plan on using them for kissing later on.