36 Body-Language Clues You Should Look for on Your Next Date

Elizabeth Narins, Taylor Andrews, Julia Pugachevsky
·12 min read
Photo credit: Peter Griffith - Getty Images
Photo credit: Peter Griffith - Getty Images

From Cosmopolitan

A wise woman once told me that someone’s body-language can be extremely telling in almost all circumstances—but especially when dating. That wise woman: body language expert Patti Wood, the author of Success Signals: A Guide to Reading Body Language. (Just a thought, but judging by her book title, she probably knows a thing or two about this stuff).

I have to say, as a woman as single as a Pringle who frequently bops around from date to date, I completely agree that in 99.9 percent of all cases, a Tinder dude’s body language tells me everything I need to know about him. (Besides his bio, which is only good for indicating that he loves The Office. How original).

This probably has to do with the fact that body language is like the gate-keeper to someone’s inner thoughts, even if no one is deliberately saying anything. It’s the kind of thing where people show how they’re feeling—through hand gestures, smiles, tilts of the head, etc.—instead of explicitly saying it. And I don’t know about you all, but I’d much rather date someone who shows me they care rather than tells me they do.

So if you, too, want in on this little inside world of ~body language~ speak, there are a bunch of different cues and movements you should look out for. Below, find what experts advise to pay close attention to if you want to see if the person you think you’re vibing with is actually, legitimately into you too.

1. His posture is open.

What this means: His feet are shoulder width apart, his shoulders are relaxed, his hands and arms are uncrossed, and his jaw is unclenched. “Open body language is an indication that a guy is curious and attentive to you,” says licensed therapist Shamyra Howard, author of Use Your Mouth.

2. You can physically see his hands.

Consider it a good thing if, when you’re with this guy, he doesn’t keep his hands chillin’ in his pocket or behind his back. “When a guy is comfortable around you, his hands are usually visible” confirms Howard. (In other words, grab those bbs and put them on the table where you can see 'em).

3. He tilts his head in two directions.

You know when dogs hear a new sound they haven't heard before, they do that cute lil head tilt? Yeah, well dudes are a lot like our fluffy puppers in this case. “When a guy tilts his head to the side, it shows that he’s curious and tuned in.” You’re obvi occupying that left brain of his, so play into that you smart one, you.

4. His breathing is relaxed.

When his breathing is at a slow pace, this indicates that he is relaxed and can fully be himself around you. “This is a good sign, as men like to feel comfortable around their partners,” says relationship expert and psychotherapist Melissa Divaris Thompson.

5. He has clammy hands.

If his palms feel a bit sweaty when you’re strolling down the street, this could mean that he’s, like, physically hot, yes—but it could also indicate that he’s nervous. “Being nervous is a sign that they could potentially have interest and not want to mess anything up,” says Thompson.

6. He inadvertently grazes or touches you.

Whether he accidentally touches your hand or can’t stop hitting your foot underneath the table, it’s a great sign of contact because it shows he wants to be close to you physically, says Thompson.

7. He plays with his necktie.

"When people get nervous, they often touch the visible dip area where the neck meets the collarbones as a form of self-soothing,” says David Bennett, counselor and relationship expert. “Since the knot of the necktie is in this area, guys will often play with their neckties when really into a woman and bothered by it.”

8. He stumbles over his words.

If he stumbles over his words a lot when he’s most often the life of the party, he’s nervous around you. “When you know he’s not normally awkward but he’s being awkward and can’t seem to formulate sentences around you, this could be a sign of interest,” says Bennett.

9. His 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 he’s not on his third tequila drink.

10. He stands 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, he just can’t resist the urge to be as close to your face as possible. “If he’s not afraid of body closeness and makes his desires clear but not creepy, it’s likely he wants to take advantage of being as close to you as possible,” says online dating coach Andi Forness.

11. His pupils are huge.

Either you’re in a super-dark place or this subtle signal means he’s into you. “Dilation is a brain response that occurs when you like and are attracted to something,” Wood says.

12. His eyebrows raise up when he sees you.

"If he likes you and likes what he sees as soon as he sees you, he wants more of you. Soon, the aperture of his eyes increases, making his eyebrows raise,” Wood says. This also means he’s interested in whatever you’re saying.

13. He shows you his front teeth when he smiles.

“Guys stop smiling like this around the age of 5—unless they’re really happy,” Wood says. He might not show off a toothy grin while casually flirting, but on a really awesome date when he’s having loads of fun? Look for teeth: “When he feels really happy, he’s not covering that up,” Wood says.

14. He smiles above the mouth.

Real smiles extend well beyond the mouth: They lift the forehead and give you slightly squinty eyes. If his smile involves his whole face, it means you’re genuinely affecting him in a good way.

15. He licks his lips in a cute (not creepy) way.

When you’re attracted to someone, your mouth produces extra saliva, Wood says. In response, he might quickly lick his lips or press them together.

16. He locks eyes with your face—not your eyes.

You might think that a guy who is totally enamored by you will find it hard to peel his eyes away. But now that everyone is used to being glued to their phones, nonstop eye contact can make people feel uncomfortable. So, new rule: If he spends about 80 percent of your interaction looking from your eyes to your nose and lips, he’s into you, Wood says.

17. He takes a deep breath when he sees you.

Yes, men do require oxygen (lol). But when he subconsciously takes a deep breath—he’ll pull in his stomach and puff out his chest—it’s a subconscious way to make his upper body look broader and his waist look smaller, two qualities that make him look more fit and (from an evolutionary perspective) more desirable, Wood says. In other words, he’s into you and trying to attract you.

18. The moment he sees you, he wants to touch you or really look at you.

“What someone does as soon as they come through the door says a lot about what’s important to them,” Wood says. He won’t just walk into your place and settle down without a hug, kiss, or long glance first.

19. He leans toward you when you talk.

In a noisy bar, this sign might not hold much weight, but when he can physically hear you perfectly well and leans in anyway, it means he’s interested in what you have to say—and you in general.

20. He puts his hands on his hips with his elbows out to the sides.

This stance takes up more space than standing with his arms against your sides, so this is a male power signal, Wood says. They use it to show physical superiority over other men. In this situation, and if he’s angled toward you, it means he’s seeking attention from you.

21. He touches your knee or tucks your hair behind your ear.

When he 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 his touch, Wood says. Touch is a tool he can use to test your limits, so this could mean he’s only interested in sex, Wood says. If he really likes you, though, he might pull back extra slowly and smile sweetly as he does it, which means he wants to take the time to get closer to you.

22. He sits with his legs spread.

This exposes his man parts, which are full of sensitive nerve endings. It’s a vulnerable position that could mean he’s willing to put himself out there (literally and emotionally) to get to know you. (Or he could just be manspreading, TBH.)

23. He angles his pelvis toward you.

Because it’s an overtly sexual body part, it often signals sexual interest—or lack thereof, Wood says. If he moves his hips away from you, it’s probably the latter.

24. He points his 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. “The feet tend to point where the heart wants to go,” Wood says. Of course, timing is super important here: If you’re talking to a guy who seems interested, and you touch his arm and then see his feet angle away from you, the context says he’s no longer interested.

25. He crosses his legs.

If he crosses them in a way that turns his torso and upper body away from you, he might be disinterested. But if he crosses his legs away and turns the rest of his body toward you, it could just mean that he’s shy. But this depends on the guy.

26. He shuffles toward you while you’re talking.

Duh, he obviously wants to get closer to you.

27. He talks to you without facing you.

While this might be a sign he’s keeping his options open, Wood says, don’t rush to judge a great conversationalist just because he chats you up while he’s looking elsewhere. If he makes an effort to find a common thread or asks you lots of questions, his body language may reflect his personality (shy) and he could actually be totally enthralled by you.

28. He touches his throat.

The throat represents communication and vulnerability, says Wood. If he reaches up to touch it during your interaction, he’s 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 him out and look for other signs on this list before you go reassure him.

29. When he holds your hand, he presses his 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 means he is scared or may be holding something back.

30. He grazes your forearm while he’s talking.

The message is loud and clear: He wants your attention, be it to impress you or to make sure you’re listening—because he wants to be heard.

31. He walks beside you.

If he’s constantly two steps ahead of you, it means he’s more concerned about himself than you, Wood says. If he’s not leading you through a scary or crowded space, he should be adjusting his pace to match yours.

32. He sits side by side with you as often as he can.

Even if you have a comfy armchair next to your tiny couch, he’s opting to squeeze next to you instead. If you’re at a restaurant that has booths, he won’t shy away from sitting on the same side instead of across from you. This is symbolic of him being on the same “team” as you, says Wood.

33. He plays with his glass.

Wood says this can be a sign of nervousness—or attraction. A caress could suggest he wants to touch you.

34. His voice changes into a slower, sweeter tone.

According to Wood, by doing this, he’s showing you he can let down his guard and be vulnerable with you.

35. He minimizes interruptions and distractions.

Beyond just putting his phone away when he’s with you (the absolute lowest bar of courtesy on a date), he resists interjecting your story to comment on the football game playing behind you or the Cajun fries being too spicy. However, even if he does interrupt you (we’re all human!), an interested guy will quickly apologize and touch you to make the effort to reconnect with you, Wood says.

36. He treats your possessions with respect.

Even if does everything to make you feel like a queen on a first date, pay attention to how he handles your stuff. Does he throw you your jacket instead of hand it to you? Does he grab gum from your purse and then drop it on the floor? Wood says that reckless treatment of your things reveals the amount of respect he has for you (it also gives you a clear picture of what it’d be like if you lived together).

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