Falling in love is a rush. Literally. When we are infatuated with someone, our brains start pumping out a blend of chemicals that make our hearts race, our palms sweat, our senses heighten and our rational minds switch into stand-by mode. We may feel like we’re floating on cloud nine or that we’re falling into an abyss. In fact, these infatuation chemicals can be so strong that scientists have likened falling in love to the euphoric and addictive high of taking cocaine.
With all of these chemicals rushing through our bodies, it’s relatively easy to spot someone who is interested in you, right? They’re the ones who look like they just mainlined cocaine! Unfortunately, dating is never that easy. There is the ever-constant fear of rejection affecting how we act, and online dating can confuse the situation even more: You could talk to them for months before meeting them and realizing, “Uh oh, there’s absolutely no sexual chemistry.”
So how can you tell that someone is attracted to you without flat-out asking them and risking swift and sudden rejection? Watch their body language.
In his book, Body Language of Love, body language expert Allan Pease says humans form their opinions on another’s availability and suitability in less than four minutes through detecting subtle, unconscious, non-verbal cues.
“Body language is a fundamental part of courtship because it reveals how available, attractive, ready, enthusiastic, sexy or desperate we are,” Pease states. “While some courtship signals are studied and deliberate, others are completely unconscious. It is still unclear how we learn these signals, but research now shows that many may be inborn. It is also a fundamental part of building and preserving a relationship, because it allows us to develop the rapport and sensitivity we need to make one another happy.”
Positive vs. Negative Cues
The Center for Nonverbal Studies lists several positive signals of attraction that are typically found in the first stages of courtship. These include:
- Body alignment (torso and/or feet turned toward you)
- Self-touching (men tend to touch their faces when speaking to someone they’re attracted to)
- Rapid eye blinking
- Blushing in the cheeks
- Gazing downward (a sign of submission, typically seen in women more than in men)
- Head tossing (again, usually a sign from women)
- Mirroring each other’s physical gestures
- Nervously yawning
- Shrugging the shoulders
Likewise, there are a few negative cues that mean they’re just not that into you:
- A blank face with no discernible expression
- Body turned away from you
- No eye contact
- Averted eyes (although this cue could also be a sign of shyness shy men, in particular, often avert their eyes when speaking to someone they find attractive)
You can also look for these three common body language signs of attraction:
Them there eyes
The eyes are the gateway to the soul, especially if that soul is in the throes of desire. As Billie Holiday famously sang: “I fell in love with you the first time I looked into them there eyes. And you’ve got a certain ‘lil cute way of flirtin’ with them there eyes.”
There’s no mistaking the type of long, extended eye contact that occurs when two people are sexually attracted to each other. This isn’t your typical glance or accidental meeting of the eyes or polite eye contact during a conversation. No, this is the “I can’t stop looking at you from across this crowded room” kind of eye contact. If you are locking eyes with that cute guy at the café for longer than five seconds at a time and on more than one occasion, chances are good that he’s at least a little bit attracted to you.
If you notice other signs like raised eyebrows or a sudden dilation of the pupils when he first sees your face, combined with the extended eye contact, the chances that he’s digging you increase exponentially.
You spin me right round, baby, right round
People, especially men, tend to turn their bodies in the direction of the one they desire the most. If you are standing in a group and the guy you like is talking to someone else, but keeps his chest and, more importantly, his feet turned toward you, that’s a good sign of attraction. Body language researchers say women and men tend to keep their torsos turned toward people they have an attraction to even if their heads and eyes are directed elsewhere.
The Center for Nonverbal Studies has this to say about body orientation: “Aiming the upper body conveys greater feelings of liking (i.e., of immediacy) than when the body is angled away leaning forward suggests friendliness while leaning backward expresses a more negative pose.”
Women also tend to assume an open-armed position when turned toward someone they are attracted to, and will often cross their arms when speaking to someone they dislike or are not attracted to
Another unconscious sign of attraction is mirroring, or matching another person’s movements. When people are interested in one another, researchers have found that they tend to mimic each other’s movements and gestures. So, if you’re chatting up that hot, single dad from your kid’s school over a cup of coffee, watch closely. Does he pick his cup up after you take a sip? Does he run his fingers through his hair right after you run your fingers through your hair? The matched movement could be a definite sign of attraction. At the very least, it is a sign that he unconsciously feels a connection to you and is showing it through mirroring.
Thinking about “does he or doesn’t he” is a fun part of the dating game, and using body language to help you figure it out can be an interesting way to pass the time. But don’t get too caught up in the wondering. If you see the signs of attraction and you really want to know if that other person is interested in you, make the first move and ask them out. You still run the risk of rejection in fact, many people in the throes of infatuation misread body language to see the signs that they want to see but that’s okay. Rejection hurts, but it doesn’t mean you’re not an attractive, desirable person. It just means that that particular person wasn’t right for you.