When you’re trying to get to know someone, actions speak louder than words, but body language speaks loudest of all. It's like gatekeeper to someone’s inner thoughts, and according to body language expert Traci Brown, it can help tell you what's on someone's mind. People aren’t always super forthcoming with their thoughts and feelings, especially if those feelings are of a romantic nature. So if you’re wondering how to tell if a guy likes you, if that girl has a crush on you, or if the subject of your daydreams is daydreaming about you too, paying attention to their body language can give you some insight, because some people are better at showing how they’re feeling—through hand gestures, smiles, tilts of the head, etc.—instead of explicitly saying it.
According to Brown, this is because people who are romantically in sync are also typically in sync with each other's gestures. “Good couples will match each other's body language,” she explains. “They'll walk in step or scratch their heads at the same time. It's the way we're wired.”
Now ideally, your potential other half will communicate and tell you how they feel. Body language interpretation is no match for someone verbalizing the truth. But some people tend to move slower in relationships, and some might have a hard time deciphering their *own* feelings. Thankfully, there are a bunch of different cues and movements you should look out for if you're trying to gauge someone's interest.
Here's what experts say you should pay close attention to if you want to see if the person you think you’re vibing with is actually, legitimately into you too.
They walk beside you.
If they're constantly two steps ahead of you, it could mean they're more concerned about themselves than you, says body language expert and author of Success Signals: A Guide to Reading Body Language, Patti Wood. Unless they're leading you through a crowded space, they should be adjusting their pace to match yours.
They walk with you on the inside.
Also hi, don't forget the classic "walking on the outside of the sidewalk that's closer to the road" move. Life coach and therapist KeVonya Webb-Riley says it's a signal they want to protect you, which probably means they at least kinda like you.Continue reading below ↓Recommended Videos
They remember your touch preferences.
If your maybe-partner remembers not only your boundaries but also your touch preferences, marriage, and family psychotherapist Yasmin A. Razek says it's a sign they're responsive and aware of your needs, which is kinda major. For example, if you once shared that you love cuddling with your pet after a bad day, this might clue them in that you value quality time or physical touch. If they later ask if cuddling would make you feel better after a hard day, Razek says this could be super indicative of an attraction.
They're not glued to their phone.
Yes, not looking at their phone is the literal bare minimum, but it is a good indicator that they like you. If they actively put their phone away, and pay close attention to what you're saying (asking follow-up questions, reacting appropriately, etc.), consider that a good sign.
They linger in the hug.
Hugs can be confusing since platonic people hug, but Betsy Chung, PsyD, says to pay attention to the embrace. If they give "firm hugs" that last longer than the usual two-second squeeze, it's probably intended to be more meaningful and intimate.Continue reading below ↓
They're intentional in *how* they hug.
While you're dissecting said hug, concentrate on the lead-in. Webb-Riley says if your potential S.O. grabs your arms to place them over their shoulder when hugging, this is a sign they're into you since it's an easy position to segue into a kiss if that's what you're feeling.
Mirrored facial expressions.
Are you smiling as you talk? Frowning? Being super animated? Razek says if they subconsciously mirror your facial expressions, it shows they're actively listening and engaged.
Their facial expression matches the topic you're talking about.
Like, if you're crying and they have a frozen smile on their face, or if you're laughing and they look like their dog just died (v sad), that might not be the best sign. "If their facial expressions are congruent to the topic of discussion. That [usually] means they're fully engaged and showing genuine empathy," says Dr. Chung.Continue reading below ↓
As does their stance.
Some people handle emotions better than others, but Razek says to take note if this special someone leans forward when you're sharing something vulnerable. Also, if they lightly touch you when you're sad, this can show they're not only paying attention but actually care about what you're feeling.
They face you in a group setting.
Groups create an interesting dynamic (especially if friends and/or alcohol is involved), which is why it's the perfect time to do some body language detective work. Webb-Riley says if the person you like faces you in a group setting and talks to you like you're the only person in the room, they're probably majorly vibing with you.
They're engaged in the conversation.
"Something unexpected to look for is if they reference shared past discussions/experiences during conversation," says Dr. Chung. "It shows they’re paying attention to time spent with you and could mean they’re trying to establish a special bond that includes just the two of you."Continue reading below ↓
Their posture is open.
What this means: Feet are shoulder-width apart, shoulders are relaxed, hands and arms are uncrossed, and jaw is unclenched. “Open body language is an indication that someone is curious and attentive to you,” says licensed therapist Shamyra Howard, author of Use Your Mouth.
You can physically see their hands.
Consider it a good thing if, when you’re with this person, they don't keep their hands chilling in their pocket or behind their back. “When someone is comfortable around you, their hands are usually visible” confirms Howard.
The two-direction head tilt.
You know when dogs hear a new sound they haven't heard before, they do that cute lil head tilt? Yeah, well crushes are a lot like our fluffy puppers in this case. “When someone tilts their head to the side, it shows they're curious and tuned in.”
Their breathing is relaxed.
When someone's breathing is at a slow pace, this indicates they're relaxed and can fully be themself around you. “This is a good sign, as almost everyone likes to feel comfortable around their partners,” says relationship expert Melissa Divaris Thompson.Continue reading below ↓
If their palms feel a bit sweaty when you’re strolling down the street, this could mean that, yes, they're physically hot, but also that they're nervous. “Being nervous is a sign they could potentially have interest and don't want to mess anything up,” says Thompson.
They inadvertently graze or touch you.
Whether it's an accidental touch of the hand, or they can’t stop hitting your foot underneath the table, it’s a great sign of contact because it shows your crush wants to be close to you physically, says Thompson.
They play with their necktie or necklace.
"When people get nervous, they often touch the visible dip area where the neck meets the collarbones as a form of self-soothing,” says relationship expert David Bennett. “Since the knot of the necktie [and a necklace] is in this area, people will often play with it when they're really into someone and bothered by it.”Continue reading below ↓
They stumble over their words.
If someone stumbles over their words a lot when they're often the life of the party, they're nervous around you. “When you know they're not normally awkward but they're being awkward and can’t seem to formulate sentences around you, this could be a sign of interest,” says Bennett.
Their face gets flushed…and not because it’s warm.
“When someone is really into someone, it can cause a stress reaction and the adrenaline that gets released can lead to facial flushing,” says Bennett. Before you read too far into this, though, make sure it’s not 90 degrees out and they're not on their third tequila.
They're inches from you when you’re face to face.
In line at a restaurant, on a subway car, saying goodbye, whatever the situation may be, this special someone just can’t resist the urge to be as close to your face as possible. “If they're not afraid of body closeness, and they make their desire clear (but not creepy), it’s likely they want to take advantage of being as close to you as possible,” says online dating coach Andi Forness.Continue reading below ↓
Either you’re in a super-dark place or this subtle signal means they're into you. “Dilation is a brain response that occurs when you like and are attracted to something,” Wood says.
Their eyebrows raise up when they see you.
"If they like you and like what they see as soon as they see you, they want more of you. Soon, the aperture of their eyes increases, making their eyebrows raise,” Wood says. This also means the person is interested in whatever you’re saying.
They rock a front-toothed smile.
A lot of people—especially men—stop smiling like this around the age of five unless they’re really happy, Wood says. So this special someone might not show off a toothy grin while casually flirting, but on a really awesome date when they're having loads of fun, look for teeth. “When they feel really happy, they're not covering that up,” says Wood.Continue reading below ↓
Real smiles extend well beyond the mouth: They lift the forehead and give you slightly squinty eyes. If someone's smile involves their whole face, it means you’re genuinely affecting them in a good way.
They lick their lips in a cute (not creepy) way.
When you’re attracted to someone, your mouth produces extra saliva, Wood says. In response, your crush might quickly lick their lips or press them together.
- They lock eyes with your face, not your eyes.
You might think someone who's totally enamored by you will find it hard to peel their eyes away. But now that everyone is used to being glued to their phones, nonstop eye contact can make people feel uncomfortable. So, if your crush spends about 80 percent of your interaction looking from your eyes to your nose and lips, they're into you, says Wood.
They take a deeeeeep breath when they see you.
This is a big one, especially if your crush identifies as a man. Typically when men take a deep breath, they pull in their stomachs and puff out their chests. This is a subconscious way to make their upper body look broader and their waist look smaller, two qualities that make them look more fit and (from an evolutionary perspective) more desirable, Wood says. In other words, they're into you and trying to attract you.Continue reading below ↓
And they want to touch you or really look at you the moment they see you.
“What someone does as soon as they come through the door says a lot about what’s important to them,” Wood says. They won’t just walk into your place and settle down without a hug, kiss, or long glance first.
They lean toward you when you talk.
In a noisy bar, this sign might not hold much weight, but when they can physically hear you perfectly well, and they lean in anyway, it means they're interested in what you have to say—and you in general.
They put their hands on their hips with their elbows out to the sides.
This stance takes up more space than standing with their arms against your sides, so this is a protective power signal, Wood says. Typically, men use it to show physical superiority over other men. In this situation, and if they're angled toward you, it means they're seeking attention from you.Continue reading below ↓
They touch your knee or tuck your hair behind your ear.
When someone initiates physical contact under the guise of another reason (like, say, to compliment how soft your pants are), it’s a test to see how you respond to their touch, Wood says. Touch is a tool people can use to test their limits, so this could mean they're only interested in sex, Wood says. If they really like you, though, they might pull back extra slowly and smile sweetly as they do it, which means they want to take the time to get closer to you.
They sit with their legs spread.
This is typically a masculine position because it exposes the penis, which is full of sensitive nerve endings. It’s a vulnerable position that could mean they're willing to put themselves out there (literally and emotionally) to get to know you.
They angle their pelvis toward you.
Because it’s an overtly sexual body part, it often signals sexual interest—or lack thereof, Wood says. If they move their hips away from you, it’s probably the latter.Continue reading below ↓
They point their toes toward you.
Feet are involved in the fight-or-flight response that kicks in when you’re in danger, so they are largely controlled by the unconscious mind—and can be very telling in social interactions. In fact, Brown says the signs of attraction "leak out most easily in the feet."
Of course, timing is super important here. If you’re talking to someone who seems interested, and you touch their arm and then see their feet angle away from you, the context says they might actually *not* be into you. But Brown says if their attention is elsewhere but their feet are pointing at you, that's a v good sign there's something more to your connection.
They cross their legs.
If they cross their legs in a way that turns their torso and upper body away from you, they might be disinterested. But if they cross their legs away and turn the rest of their body toward you, Brown says it could definitely mean they're crushing back—or are at least vaguely interested.Continue reading below ↓
They shuffle toward you while you’re talking.
Duh, they obviously want to get closer to you. Also, remember: Brown says it's all in the feet, so shuffling toward you shows they literally want to close the gap between you.
They talk without facing you.
While this might be a sign they're keeping their options open, Wood says you shouldn't rush to judge a great conversationalist just because they chat you up while looking elsewhere. If they make an effort to find a common thread or ask you lots of actual questions, their body language may simply reflect their personality (maybe they're just shy!), and they could actually be totally enthralled by you.
They touch their throat.
The throat represents communication and vulnerability, says Wood. If they reach up to touch it during your interaction, they're interested in you and worried about coming across well. But again, context can play a key role: If you’re talking to a player, a throat touch could signal dishonesty. So feel 'em out and look for other signs on this list before you confess all your feelings.Continue reading below ↓
They press their palm against yours.
This kind of full-on hand-holding signifies a desire to connect. The same goes for interlocking fingers. On the other hand, an arched palm could mean they're scared or are holding something back.
They graze your forearm while talking.
The message is loud and clear: They want your attention, be it to impress you or to make sure you’re listening because they want to be heard.
They sit next to you as often as they can.
Even if you have a comfy armchair next to your tiny couch, they're opting to squeeze next to you instead. If you’re at a restaurant that has booths, they won’t shy away from sitting on the same side instead of across from you. This is symbolic of them being on the same “team” as you, says Wood.
They fiddle with their glass.
Wood says this can be a sign of nervousness or attraction. But if they're running their finger up, down, or around their glass, that could suggest your special someone wants to touch you instead.Continue reading below ↓
Their voice changes into a slower, sweeter tone.
According to Wood, by doing this, they're showing you they can let down their guard and be vulnerable with you.
They minimize interruptions and distractions.
Beyond just putting their phone away when they're with you (again, this is the absolute lowest bar of courtesy on a date), your potential partner resists interjecting your story to comment on the football game playing behind you or the Cajun fries being too spicy.
However, even if they do interrupt you (we’re all human!), an interested person will quickly apologize and touch you to make the effort to reconnect with you, Wood says.
They treat your possessions with respect.
Even if said person does everything to make you feel like a queen on a first date, pay attention to how they handle your stuff. Do they throw you your jacket instead of handing it to you? Do they grab gum from your purse and then drop it on the floor? Wood says reckless treatment of your things reveals the amount of respect a person has for you. It also gives you a clear picture of what it’d be like if you lived together.Continue reading below ↓
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.
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