When you approach a member of the opposite sex, especially if you’re interested in them, it can be a tiny bit nerve wracking if you can’t get a read on what they are thinking or feeling. No one loves the sting of rejection, and at one point or another, I think we’ve all wished for some kind of magic wand that we can wave in order to automatically intuit whether or not the object of our affection reciprocates our feelings. Well, there’s still no magic wand to wave, but there’s something almost as good. A lot of research has been done into both male and female body language–research that you get to benefit from–that will help you get better gauge the way that someone feels about you.
How Male and Female Body Language Differ
How is male body language different from female body language? The truth is, not by much. Once you’ve got a pretty firm grasp on how to read basic body language, you are well on your way to deciphering the subtle nuances that comprise the differences of female body language. In fact, the two main differences between male and female body language reside in the “flirting” and “lying” categories, arguably the two most interesting categories of all, right? We will go into both of these segments in just a moment, but first, let’s explore the basic ins and outs of body language–this will help you understand what you are looking for when you attempt to read female body language.
What is Body Language Exactly?
Body language is essentially defined as “the process of communicating nonverbally through conscious or unconscious gestures and movements.” Now, that’s a great overview, but I bet we can break that down even further. There are some essential “need to know” elements of body language.
- Body Posture-body posture refers to how a person holds themselves or positions their body as they interact with you. There’s the obvious; standing, sitting, and crouching, etc., and then there’s the more subtle body posture cues to be on the lookout for. The shifting of a person’s weight from one leg to another, for instance, slumping, or holding oneself erect. All of these types of posturing can mean one thing or another, and we’ll go over them all as we work through the methods of decoding female body posture.
- Gesture– Gestures are like a subcategory od body posture and include the smaller movements that someone might make with their extremities, like crossing or uncrossing their arms or legs, or tapping their foot.
- Facial Expressions-facial expressions are among some of the easiest body language cues to read, because most people are not as good as they think when it comes to wearing an expression on their face. You are probably already familiar with broader facial expressions, like grimacing or smiling, but there is an entire, subconscious group of facial expressions that are known as microexpressions. These smaller, fleeting facial tics or movements can help you understand a person’s demeanor more in depth once you learn how to recognize them.
- Eye Movements– these are rather self explanatory, as they encompass, well, the way a person moves their eyes. Again, you probably already know some of them. A widened eye, for instance, may indicate surprise or delight, while narrowed eyes could denote confusion or anger. But did you know that the directional shifts that a person makes with their eyes or brows can also be helpful when it comes to reading female body language? We will explore some of these as they become important in the following sections.
How To Tell If She’s Flirting With You
This is probably the number one reason people want to learn about specific male or female body language. And with good reason! When asked, people admitted that over half of the flirting they do comes from body language, while a significantly less amount of people saying that they would out-and-out tell a person that they were interested. But how can you read female body language to see if she’s flirting with you or just being friendly?
When you attempt to read body language, start with the broadest, largest cues. If a woman is flirting with you, she will likely lean in closer to you, even if there is space for her not to have to. Depending on where you are, though, close proximity might not mean much, for instance, in a crowded bar or nightclub.
Gestures are your go-to cues to when it comes to flirtatious female body language. This is where most of the overt cues will come from, and they are likely to include:
- Fidgeting with jewelry or hair–for instance, flipping her hair behind her shoulder or twirling a strand around her finger.
- Touching her lips or collarbone–these cues are intended to draw attention to her face.
- Touching your shoulder, brushing off a piece of lint, or straightening your tie.
- Keeping her legs pointed toward you, if she is standing, or crossing and uncrossing her legs if she is seated.
- Mirroring–mirroring signals empathy, and is essentially made up of the mimicking of your own gestures.
Facial expressions are your first step to honing in on subconscious clues. Posturing and gesturing may be largely conscious. Think about it; if you’re interested in someone, you’re likely to want to be close to them or to touch them. It’s when you begin to look at facial expressions more in depth that subconscious patterns start to become apparent. A woman is likely interested in you if:
- She is smiling, or perhaps more surprisingly, pouting. Both actions draw attention to her mouth and lips.
- A tilted head and quizzical look will indicate that she’s interested in what you have to say.
- Turning the head to one side and raising a shoulder exposes the neck, an evolutionary move that releases pheromones, and indicates vulnerability.
Eye movements are the last piece of the puzzle when evaluating female body language cues for signs of flirtatious interest.
- Wide open eyes with slightly raised brows will signal that you have her full attention.
- Eye contact, especially prolonged eye contact, is a good signifier of flirting.
- If she is making eye contact, hold her gaze for a moment. A subtle dilation of the pupils is a sure sign that she is flirting with you.
These signs are really good clues that a woman is flirting with or interested in you in a capacity other than friendship. But how do you know when to back off?
How To Tell If She’s Not That Into You
There are really two categories that are pertinent here. The first is looking for cues that signal disinterest–her subtle and sometimes unconscious way of indicating that you aren’t doing it for her. The second is looking for signs of dishonesty. In the beginning of this post, we briefly discussed that men and women lie differently. The main reason that men lie is to bolster their image or assert dominance over other males. The main reason that women lie is to spare another’s (male or female) feelings. So there is a chance that a woman might continue to try and keep a conversation going even after she has lost interest in an attempt to keep a potential suitor from feeling embarrassed.
Female body language changes dramatically if she isn’t that interested in you, and it all begins with her overall posture. Typically this consists of keeping you quite literally at and “arm’s length”–widening the distance between your two bodies. If there simply isn’t enough room to do this, she might make the unconscious decision to angle her body away from you, with her shoulder pointing towards your torso to form a kind of barrier between the two of you.
Her gestures will also fall into one of two categories, one of disinterest, or possibly one of deceit. It’s important to pick up on both so that you are not inadvertently invading her space.
- Disinterested gestures
- Crossing the arms tightly in front of the chest.
- Shuffling the feet or shifting weight from one leg to another.
- Dishonest gestures
- Going from a seated to a standing position mid-conversation. Even if she is still talking to you, this may be her signal that she is ready to leave.
- While playing with her hair may be a signal of interest, look for her to “worry” her hair if she isn’t digging you. This would look like tucking the hair behind an ear (instead of flipping it back) or running her entire hand through her hair (instead of twirling just one piece).
As with her subconscious interested signals, it helps to be on the look out for disinterested or deceitful facial expressions that are a clear sign to try your luck elsewhere.
- Disinterested Facial Expressions
- Consider eyebrows that stay raised to be your “wrap it up” music. They signal either boredom or skepticism, neither of which are particularly flirtatious.
- Dishonest Facial Expressions
- Look for a “closed” expression when attempting to evaluate whether or not someone is being honest with you. It’s a good sign that they’re attempting a poker face–which is the biggest tell of all.
Again, the eyes have it. When reading female body language, the eyes ought to be the factor that consistently seals the deal. Because certain microexpressions are focused in the ocular area, eye movement is consistently the subconscious final stop in body language.
- Disinterested Eye Movement
- A woman who is disinterested in you will have constricted as opposed to dilated pupils. Similarly, she may forego eye contact with you, looking over your head or shoulder instead as a subtle cue that she is “looking for someone else”.
- Dishonest Eye Movement
- Dishonest eyes make “unfocused” contact, meaning that a woman will look in the general direction of your gaze, but avoid meeting it. Alternatively, she might make very brief eye contact before flicking her eyes downward or peering out of the corner of her eyes.
Now you know the basics of female body language, so you’re all set to dress to the nines and head out into the wide world of dating or social interaction. Knowing what to look for when it comes to the nonverbal cues that a potential love interest can supply you with will undoubtedy give you the extra confidence boost that you need to interact with the opposite sex and flirt with ease. On that note, it’s absolutely worth remembering that confidence is consistently ranked on the top of the list when it comes to what women find most attractive in men. A little confidence–psst, even if you have to fake it ’til you make it–can go a long way, so go ahead and get out there!