Read Her Signs (Without Reading the Tea Leaves)

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One of the hardest parts of meeting women is the intial approach. For many men it’s a nerve-wracking enterprise – nobody wants to suffer the indignities of being shot down, especially if it’s in a public space. How’re we even supposed to know if they’re into us or not? Wouldn’t it be so much easier if women would let us know whether or not they were interested in us or whether they like us?

Turns out… they do. It’s just that most men aren’t picking up on it.

It’s amazing just how much we communicate without realizing it. In fact, the vast majority of human communication – up to 80% according to some studies – is non-verbal.

When it comes to dating, much of this can be deliberate. It can be anxiety-inducing, even frightening to try to tell someone you’re interested in them… or that you’re not. Many women prefer to provide subtle signs of interest or disinterest rather than risk the potential of humiliating themselves by being direct. They will try to give off signs through body language, letting people know whether or not they’re interested in being approached.

Being able to read people’s signs is a critical aspect of dating. Knowing how to read people lets you know when someone is interested in you and, critically, when they’re not and you’re better off not approaching them. Being able to read her body language is a great way of being able to gauge just how well an interaction with someone is going as well as how to tell when you’ve fucked up. If you know how to recognize a woman’s signs and body language, you’ll be set to read her like a book.

Watch Her Eyes

A woman’s eyes are more than just a place to look when we’re pretending that we wouldn’t rather be staring at her boobs; they’re a vital means of non-verbal communication.

Eye contact can be incredibly intimate and powerful, which is why we get uncomfortable locking gazes with strangers. And yet, eye contact is a frequently overlooked, yet subtly potent way of communicating interest or disinterest. If you’ve ever played the eye-contact game with someone – you’re looking at them, they catch you looking, you look away quickly and only look back when you think she’s not looking- you may have been missing out on one of the most sure “come here” signals there is.

A woman who is interested in being approached will often use eye contact as a way of signaling her interest in you. If she’s making strong eye contact – holding your gaze for longer than a second or two – she’s likely interested. The longer she keeps contact, the more interested she is.

Or she’s trying to kill you with her brain.

Many women will use a variation of the eye-contact game; they will make a point of making eye contact, then looking down and away before looking back again. Because we’re instinctively attracted to movement, the act of deliberately breaking eye-contact actually works to catch our attention. Breaking eye contact to look down is a submissive action, designed to look demure and inviting, while looking back up to re-initiate eye contact is a way of checking to see if you noticed and are still looking. The smile that comes with it is all but screaming “Yes, that was intended for you, now why don’t you come over here and talk to me already?”

Some women, especially particularly confident or assertive ones, will give what’s known as the “elevator gaze”; looking up and down your entire length. It’s a blatant “sizing you up” look and getting it is a sign that she likes what she sees.

On the other hand: is she actively avoiding eye-contact? Does she seem to look away as soon as she notices you looking, but doesn’t look back? She doesn’t want to talk to you. The most you can expect from her are polite but curt answers before she either tells you to go away or gets up and leaves herself.

Similarly, if she catches you looking and looks up and away, the intended message is very clear: “Don’t even bother.”

If you’re talking to someone who maintains eye contact or breaks and reinitiates it quickly, you can feel certain that she’s actively interested in what you have to say.

On the other hand, does she seems to be looking around the room every few seconds while you talk? Either she’s incredibly bored or she’s looking for an acceptable way of getting out of the conversation without blatantly violating the social contract. Once you notice that she seems to be looking everywhere but at you, you can be fairly certain that she’s about to see someone she needs to talk to right now – who also happens to be as far away from you as possible.

Check Her Smile

This one seems like it would be obvious on its face: if she’s smiling at you, she’s interested. Nobody smiles at someone they don’t like, right?

Actually, no. Not really.

Smiling is an important means of non-verbal communication that has its origins in our primate ancestry and it can carry a wide variety of meanings. Smiling is often a sign of submission and reassurance; in many cases, by smiling we are sending the signal that hey, we’re not a threat, you don’t have to hurt us. A smile is frequently a way of placating others, especially if they seem as though they’re aggressive or angry. Baring one’s teeth in a smile can also be an implied threat or dominance challenge; Southern women especially learn early on how to deliver withering insults with a faux sweet smile. A smile can also be a disguise, masking the real underlying emotions; because they are socialized to not be rude, women will often smile at people they’re talking to even if they don’t particularly like them. A fake smile can keep up the social illusion that she’s interested in what you have to say, when in reality she desperately wishes that you would be decapitated by a flying toilet seat.

If you want to discern the message behind a smile, you need to be able to tell the difference between a real smile and a fake one.

A genuine smile, one that signals interest, is one that reaches the eyes. Also known as a Duchene smile, a genuine smile engages not just the muscles around the mouth but the eyes as well; a real smile will cause crinkling at the corners of the eyes.

You may also notice the sudden appearance of floating hearts and cartoon birds.

A fake smile, on the other hand, just engages the mouth alone. It’s occasionally known as the “Botox” smile for the way that the rest of the face seems to not react.

“Always smiling and happy! Always smiling and happy! ALWAYS SMILING! AND! HAPPY!”

A smile that seems plastered on – one that doesn’t reach the eyes – is a sign that she’s not interested in you, and is only continuing the interaction out of politeness.

Read Her Body

The human body is incredibly expressive; we can convey emotional states, complex concepts, even sexual interest with just the position of our bodies and limbs. Women will give far more information via body language than almost any other signal.

The first and biggest sign is to look for is open or closed body positioning. A woman who is interested in you and who is comfortable in your presence will have more open body language; that is, she will be sitting up straighter, orienting herself towards you and leaving her arms and legs uncrossed. On the other hand, a woman with closed body language – pointing herself away from you, crossing her arms across her chest, hunching in or taking up less space – is trying to tell you that she’s closed off to you.

You also want to look for where her body is pointing. Humans tend to be goal focused and we will frequently orient ourselves in the direction of what we’re interested in whether its the buffet, a sexy stranger, or a speedy exit. If she’s pointing herself at you  – especially with her knees and feet – she’s interested in you. Pointing away from you, on the other hand, is an indication that she’s bored or annoyed by you; she’s putting herself into a position where it’s easy to get up and move on.

If you find that the woman you’re talking to is mirroring your actions – she takes a sip of her drink when you take one of yours, when you cross your legs and lean to one side, so does she – it’s a strong signal that she likes you. We tend to like people who are similar to us; adopting the same body language – known as the chameleon effect – as the person we’re interested in is a way of helping to trigger that feeling. Mirroring the body language of others is a way of enhancing rapport and fostering a feeling of comfort and familiarity.

“I feel so oddly close to you right now…”

Mimicry is also a sign that the person you’re talking to is paying close attention to what you have to say; the more absorbed she is in what you’re saying, the more likely she is to mimic you unconsciously.

Interestingly, much like the time-dilation effect, the affection and warm feelings that mimicry brings seems to work both ways; both the mimic and the person being copied find that they’re subtly encouraged to like the other person more.

Is She Fidgeting?

There are two types of nervousness when it comes to dating. There’s the “Oh God, I think he’s going to tell me to rub the lotion on my skin” nervousness that comes from being creeped out and the “Oh God he’s hot, do I have something in my teeth, shit, what about my breath, do I have any gum, please Jesus tell me I didn’t put on my ugly underwear today” nervousness that comes from being attracted to the person you’re talking to. Both women and men tend to unconsciously indulge in what’s known as “preening” behavior when they’re interested in somebody; these are little gestures and movements aimed at trying to groom themselves a little and presenting a better, more attractive display.

In women this most often manifests in playing with her hair, whether it’s hair tossing or twirling it around her fingers.  Tossing the hair draws attention to the face and especially the neck and shoulders – two areas that are especially sensitive during foreplay. Twirling or absentmindedly playing with her hair  meanwhile, is an unconscious way of drawing attention to it; the unspoken intent is to reinforce her femininity and desirability. It also helps show off her hair itself, a subtle indication of health and genetic potential.

Other signs of attraction include leg crossing. Many people will repeatedly cross and uncross their legs when they start feeling anxious or nervous; being attracted to someone can make them squirm in their seat at times. Much like with watching for orientation and pointing, how she’s crossing her legs can be a clue. A woman who’s interested in you is more likely to point her upper leg in your direction – the better with which to show off her gams to their best advantage. It’s a subtle sign, but one worth looking for.

Admittedly, some signs are more obvious than others.

Other signs of attraction-based nerves involve calling attention to her mouth. Lip licking – the “my mouth is dry” kind, not the Basic Instinct type – is a frequent sign of interest. Excitement tends to cause our mouths to go dry. Similarly one’s lip calls a man’s eyes to her lips – another visible reminder of her femininity  as well as one that prompts men to think about kissing.

Alternately, it could just be a sign of limited range as an actor.

Signs It’s Time To Go

Being able to read her signs is a great way of knowing just how you’re doing. Someone who’s growing more attracted to you will laugh at your jokes – even your dumb ones – and will start edging into your personal space by leaning in as she pays attention and asks questions.

At the same time, a woman will often use signs to tell you that she’d rather you didn’t come talk to her at all. If you’re approaching a woman and she starts to turn her torso to face away from you or she steps back, she’s trying to send a signal that no, she doesn’t want to talk to you. When she starts to act fidgety – in that twitchy, “too much nervous energy building up” sort of way and she’s becoming increasingly curt as she talks to you, she’s wishing you would catch a hint already and realize that she’d prefer you walk away, but doesn’t necessarily want to cause a scene by telling you so directly.

When you start getting the “go away” signs from a woman, the best thing you can do is mercy kill the whole interaction. Make up a reason to leave, say “it was nice talking to you” and just move on to talk to somebody else… someone who’s been giving you the come-hither signs.

The Better You Can Read, The More You Will Succede

Approaching women can be nerve-wracking; the feeling of uncertainty whether she would be interested in getting to know you or not is enough to cause actual anxiety attacks in men. But if you can learn to read her signs, you will be better prepared to tell who is receptive to meeting you and who would rather be left alone. Learning to read the clues that women give guys is like a cheat code; once you know what you’re looking for, you can approach new, awesome people with confidence instead of crossing your fingers and hoping for the best. It takes practice; some of these signs are subtle and easy to miss while others can be misinterpreted if you aren’t careful. But once you learn her signs, you won’t have to worry about making the wrong move or overstaying your welcome.

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  • Gman

    Wow thank you so much for this post – this is a funny coincidence, because I recently commented on a previous post of yours about how this in particular – reading body language and subtle non-verbal messages – is my true weakness. I was diagnosed at the age of 13 with a mild condition of NVLD (Non-verbal learning disorder), which comes into effect especially in social and/or dating situations.

    Even though that I am doing WAY better today than back then, I still find myself struggling with reading body language – mostly when it comes to approaching girls. So I think this post is going in the bookmarks department for future referencing! 🙂

  • Perivale

    Women playing with their hair is interesting. I’ve noticed that some of the women i’m friends with who have lower self esteem seem to play with their hair constantly, almost as an attempt to make themselves more ‘acceptable’, more as a nervous habit than anything. Among my more confident female friends on the other hand it seems to be ‘the big guns’ so to speak when they’re around a new man who’s caught their eye.


  • Yep

    Some of us play with our hair constantly because it's long and soft, not to send any signals.

    • Perivale

      This seems like a very good reason to play with your hair. Now I want long hair.

    • Mel

      Yes, I think it's important to remember that it's hard to draw conclusions from any one sign mentioned here. Best to think of it as, the more of the positive signals you're getting, the more likely it is she's interested.

      And also remember that even if you're getting interested signals at first, women are allowed to change their minds as they learn more about you (just as guys can change their minds about women). So if she appears to decide she's not interested after all, respect that and politely move on, and don't respond as if she's tricked you maliciously.

    • codenamed52

      Then DON'T play with your hair when you are talking to a guy. You can't blame the guy afterwards for him getting the wrong hint.

      • Then DON'T look pretty at a moment's notice. You can't blame the rapist afterwards for him getting the wrong hint.

  • arlnee

    "Alternately, it could just be a sign of limited range as an actor."

    Never gets old. NEVER gets old XD

    • adamhunter1223

      This article is still a better love story than twilight.

  • progSHELL

    I spent this entire article saying “Wait, SHE was interested in me? Goddamn it, she was hot!” Thanks ti this I’ll never have that problem again…what am I saying of course I will. Not nuro-atypical just very oblivious.

    Also, I will go to the mat for Kirsten Stewart’s acting ability, I’ve liked her in literally every movie I’ve seen her in (except Twilight obviously, but I dare someone to make Bella interesting. It can’t be done)

    • Dr_NerdLove

      Now I will give credit where credit is due: Sir Olivier would have problems working with the material in Twilight. I've seen several of Kristen Stewart's movies and she's failed to impress in any of them. Hell, in Snow White and the Huntsman, what was SUPPOSED to be her Saint Crispin's Day speech sounded like something being delivered by the crazy homeless guy in front of the 7-11.

      • LeeEsq

        Sir Olivier would have given the material in Twilight the respect that it deserve, very little, and had a tremendous amount of fun with it. Alec Guiness would have done the same would have done is best because of professionalism and the money. He would not have fun. Olivier might have made a better Obi Wan Kenobi for that reason.

      • Dude, Into The Wild?

  • LeeEsq

    Another important bit of advice is that if you think you are receiving signs that a person you are interested in is interested in you act. Take this risk.

    • Amber

      I agree. I also think this advice could go both ways, although its true that given our social context more women are likely to give signals than be bold. But there was this guy in my class who I had a couple of conversations with and I thought I was getting vibes so I asked him out (I am a girl). It could have been embarrassing but that was the best risk I ever took.

      Asking someone out is NOT creepy. I really hope that's not what the guys reading this blog are taking away from it. What's creepy is not accepting a no.

      And if you misread the signs and get shot down (also happened to me) that's a risk but its worth it.

      • LeeEsq

        I think a lot of people are way to cautious when it comes to relationships. Women have a lot of good cause for this but can take this too far. There is too much indecisiveness and hesitation on both parts and too many people are looking for perfection, Mr. or Ms. Right rather than Mr. and Ms. Good Enough.

        Its rather unlikely that I'm going to find my perfect partner or that there is even such a thing as a perfect partner. I'm really not looking for my ideal woman, I'm looking for somebody whose good enough to be in a relationship with. Where we have enough in common that we like each other's company and can play and work together even if there are things we do not have in common and well get on each other's nerves on occasion.

        • Becelec

          I kind of feel the opposite. I've never understood the point of getting involved with only one person to the exclusion of all others unless you really, really want to be with that person to the point where no one else comes close to that. My friends always thought it was weird that I was 23 and had never had a 'proper' boyfriend, but I actually really, thoroughly enjoyed being single. Occasionally I would become involved with guys, but I never liked anyone enough to committ to anything, and I don't think that there's anything wrong with that as long as you're honest with people about what you want.

          And I think that because I was never looking for Mr Good Enough or Mr Perfect or Mr Anyone really, that every thing just fell together for me and I found someone who is perfect for me and who I truly believe I will be spending the rest of my life with, because I want to.

          I don't think there's anything wrong with being cautious, because sometimes it really can work out for the best. And if not, there's nothing wrong with being independant and on your own.

          • LeeEsq

            I think we are talking past each other. I'm referring to earlier stages in the relationship like deciding if you want a second date or not. A lot of people have unrealstic expectations for first dates, they want it to be like in the movies. Honestly, I've never felt this way after any date. There were people I definitely did not want to see again after a date but never OMG this person is perfect. My opinion is that you should generally always go out for at least two dates before rejecting a person unless things are really bad. Not many people seem to agree wtih me.

      • Total agreement here. I did this once with a guy at work – thought I was getting positive signals from him and asked him out and got turned down. Obviously I was disappointed but the other funny thing is – I felt really good too! Like I had been so nervous that if I did it something AWFUL would happen like, I don't even know, he'd laugh in my face or mock me to other co-workers or something. And he was REALLY NICE about saying no and it made me feel like "hey, I can do this! I can ask people out and face rejection and it's totally OK!"

        • LeeEsq

          Yes, most rejection is more civil than people think.

    • Alberich

      I don't agree, and prefer to err on the side of caution unless the signs are crystal clear. Better to miss what might have been an opportunity than to risk offending or upsetting someone needlessly. Don't be creepy.

      • LeeEsq

        Asking somebody out for a drink or a meal and dealing appropriately with the response is hardly creepy. If thats creepy than everything is. Very few things are really crystal clear in any communication because people rarely say things like "I like you, lets get coffee" when initially expressing romantic interest. This is especially true with non-verbal communication.

      • Amber

        No no no!!! Asking someone out isn't creepy!!! This makes me sad.

        • adamhunter1223

          I'm going to take a wild guess and say you weren't raised in the midwest.

      • Alberich

        As with most things, context is important, here. There are certainly contexts where asking someone out is creepy. Furthermore, this article is mainly (or at least initially and in conclusion) concerned with approaching women (i.e. meeting a stranger), rather than asking a friend or acquaintance on a date. Unless the context is one in which meeting strangers is generally expected (say, a bar or party), this is best avoided. If her signals aren't a clear invitation to introduce yourself, please respect her boundaries and privacy.

        • kath

          I think even somewhere more everyday like a coffee shop, if she is making eye contact with you across the shop, she will not mind if you introduce yourself. If you make eye contact with people you can say hello and make small talk for a few minutes without being creepy.

  • Ivis

    I’ve always sort of held on to the hope that I just wasn’t picking up on the signals girls were sending me. I guess I have received some, but they have all been signals of active disinterest.

    • Glides

      You and me both. I'm actively trying to remember if I've EVER gotten any of those signals from any woman, and I honestly can't remember.

  • Robert

    Most of the signs given in this article I can see why they would express (dis)interest. But that eye contact game thing about looking at them then looking away and then looking back … that one still confuses me and trying to see why it's a sign of interest gives me a headache.

    • Thortok2000

      If someone's making eye contact with you, they're interested.

      Any looking away is more "cat and mouse" and "I don't want to seem too forward." Like the Doc says a lot, women are 'socially trained' to be demure.

      If they look back at you again, just forget the fact that they looked away. If they don't look back at you again, then they're not interested and the eye contact was just chance.

      However, don't stare at them. Their looking away is a way of not staring at you, either. Staring is generally frowned upon in social situations and can border on creepy if the eye contact goes on too long (for both parties).

      Other forms of body language (such as facing you, not facing you, open/closed body language, actually taking steps towards or away from you) override any possible confusion in signals from eye contact. Consider those signals stronger and easier to read and more likely of giving off the correct signal.

      One the Doc didn't mention and/or touched very briefly on is the 'shoulder' rule. Look at their two shoulders and draw a line between them. If you continue that line past you, are you on the side of the line to their front, or to their back? If their backside is closer to you than their front, it's time to leave. If their front side is closer, you're doing good. The farther away that 'line' their shoulders makes (basically the more they face you directly) the better (or worse if it's their back) that you're doing. The best you can get is to have them face directly at you and the worst is to have them face completely away.

      However, the Doc did mention the legs. While people will generally turn to face who they're talking to, slightly, even when they're uncomfortable, the legs are much more likely to 'not lie.' So if the legs and torso disagree, go with the legs (if you can see them). They're a much better choice of signal when you can see them. (The degree to which they face you similarly indicates the degree to which they like or dislike you, just like the shoulders, only more accurate.)

      And like the Doc said, look for shoulders being hunched over as well, even if they don't actually cross their arms, that's still closed off body language. Even if it's "I'm feeling bad and I don't want to talk right now" body language and not "go away you creep" body language it's still a sign to leave them alone.

      Simple enough?

      • Robert

        Let me see if I've got this right.

        The initial eye contact is either a sign of interest or just coincidence (so you can't really conclude anything from it), the looking away is trying to avoid scaring the other person off, and so the real clue is whether they look at the other person again in the final part of the eye contact game?

        I get the other body language things you and the Doc mentioned. It was just that one thing that was confusing me.

        • Thortok2000

          Yes. However, there's also the shy introverts that don't look back, either.

          The key to reading body language is don't hang your entire judgement of their reaction on ONE clue. Have that one clue cause you to look for other clues. This is because people vary and sometimes their body language has slightly different signals from the norm (such as the shy introvert that's totally and completely facing you, but has her head down, mumbling, staring at her feet, hands fidgeting in the 'interested' way and not the 'scared' way, not making a single second of eye contact. Another example is whether their torso is facing you, causes you to look at their legs which are less likely to 'lie'.)

          Clues should lead to other clues and 'add up' to a judgement call, and you don't stop looking for clues because after all, something could change and her interest could suddenly disappear in a moment (even if you don't do a thing wrong, sometimes it's not about anything you said or did, for instance maybe an abusive ex just walked in and suddenly she doesn't want to talk to anything that's male). So you still have to watch for the interested/go away signs even after approaching, and know when to end a conversation, even if it's going great, because not ending a great conversation can cause it to sour (also mentioned in other blogs from the Doc for more details.)

          So while what you call 'the real clue' is whether they look back, instead think 'the real clue' is whether they're giving off other clues. For instance, it's especially important that when they look back, they smile. (And again, even without a smile it could mean they're interested and just not good at smiling, women get nervous too, so don't hang your entire judgement on this one clue either.) But if you do get a smile on the second time they make eye contact especially, that's the 'neon sign to get over here right now'.

          If they smile on the second time, they'll probably still look away again of course (staring is bad), but they're really hoping the third time they glance your direction you're gonna be in conversation distance. How they react to the fact that you are now closer is again more signs of either interest or "hey buddy that is totally not what I meant please back away and keep your hands where I can see them."

          If they don't look back a third time, and the 'eye contact game' just comes to a halt, it could also be a sign that they think you're not interested. And people who think you're not interested often lose interest in you in return but are likely to show interest again if they realize that yes, you are interested (you do this yourself, so you should know, if you think about it). So again, the reaction to actually being approached is what you watch for in that situation. Do they 'brighten up' or do they act startled or annoyed?

          If you get to the point where you can attribute emotions to their overall body language as a package ('bored' 'annoyed' 'disinterested' 'happy' 'giggly' 'excited' 'passionate' or whatever), especially if you're very often right, then you're doing a good job at reading body language.

          Try watching movies with the volume muted so you can't hear anything and asking yourself, scene by scene, "what is this woman thinking?" (And not just the stars either, do it on every woman in every scene.) Then compare your answers with someone you know is good at reading body language. Then try again (on other movies) with the volume on, listening for things like tone of voice, because that's just more clues you can use.

          • Robert

            Hang on. It sounds to me like you're saying that the result of "look at them, look away, do they look at you again" has no significance overall and that I should be paying more attention to the other things like their smile (or lack thereof), the direction they're facing and the position and direction of their legs and coming to a conclusion based on all of those things. Is that what you were saying or trying to say or have I got it horribly wrong again?

          • Thortok2000

            No. "Has no significance overall" is taking it too far. It's like the opposite of saying "The only thing that matters is eye contact." They're both wrong.

            Eye contact is a sign of interest or disinterest. But it is only a sign. A sign among many. Even 'the neon sign of get over here right now' (she makes eye contact for at least a second, looks away, looks back for at least a second again and smiles) might have been misinterpreted and/or could change in a moment.

            Trying to 'keep it simple' and ignore everything BUT the eye contact is wrong.

            Trying to 'keep it simple' and pay attention to everything else and ignoring eye contact is wrong.

            Reading body language isn't simple, you have to take in the whole picture, every noticeable detail, and draw your conclusion from the sum of the parts. You can't just say "Oh, she just did (or didn't do) this ONE thing, that must mean X" and ignore all the other signs that say Y instead.

            It's like driving a car or playing a musical instrument. You can't just forget this or that detail because it'll all fall apart. You have to simultaneously do it all, or you aren't doing it right. But, just like with driving a car and playing a musical instrument, it gets easier with practice until it becomes second nature, and you're still doing all the parts simultaneously.

          • Robert

            Ah right. See, I saw this bit:

            Other forms of body language (such as facing you, not facing you, open/closed body language, actually taking steps towards or away from you) override any possible confusion in signals from eye contact. Consider those signals stronger and easier to read and more likely of giving off the correct signal.

            and this bit:

            So while what you call 'the real clue' is whether they look back, instead think 'the real clue' is whether they're giving off other clues.

            and I interpreted it as "The eye contact signals are less reliable and lower level indicators of interest so you should focus much more on the other signals" instead of "The eye contact signals are one contributing factor of many to the overall message". So each individual signal, whether it's eye contact or posture or smile or whatever else, is necessary but not sufficient.

            Hmm … looking back at how you've described the eye contact game up to the approach, it sounds like the process people usually describe for it is more of a guideline than a set-in-stone rule, which would explain why I found it confusing in the first place.

          • Thortok2000

            What I meant in that first bit you quoted is if there's one 'sign' that's confusing you (for instance eye contact) and you don't know if it's interest or not interest, then use other signs.

            What I meant by the second bit you quoted is if you're absolutely sure you know what the eye contact means don't use that as an excuse to ignore any other possible signs.

            Indeed, there are certain details to the eye contact game (like when they look away, is it up, or down) that are 'generally true.' It's more of a case of "If this happens, it probably means this" or "If that happens, it probably means that" and not so much "This is exactly what will happen." Does that make it clearer?

          • Robert

            Yeah, I think I get it now. Thanks for your help Thortok.

  • Thortok2000

    I read body language exceptionally well. I've been working on various body language tips and tricks since I was a teenager.

    The problem I have is that I go to a party and every single woman is either giving off 'not interested' signals or is at least failing to give 'interested' signals.

    It is much, much easier to look at two other people and tell at a snap what they're thinking and feeling about each other (I did a point by point breakdown in the previous blog on a video someone linked for instance). I can even usually tell from body language what someone thinks about me. (What I never get is why.)

    I don't seem to be able to control or recognize my own body language all that well. I've even tried the 'mirroring' thing (one place I read suggested that as a technique in order to make the person you're talking to like you more or more comfortable with you) and honestly it just distracted me from the conversation. Trying to keep track of too much and hold a conversation too, it's too much to juggle. I'm more interested in keeping track of her body language than my own. (Although I do make sure to aim for 'non-threatening' body language, I don't seem to be able to spare much thought past that, especially once conversation has actually started.)

    But when nobody's interested, what do I do, talk to nobody? Is there no circumstance where someone's not interested (or neutral) and you turn it around and they become interested? Or at least try for a little bit before walking away? I don't want to be the creepy dude that didn't talk to anybody and have that be my reputation at the next party I go to.

    • Jess

      If someone is looking really bored, but has “open” body pusturing, it’s okay to go up to her and strike up a conversation. But your best bet is to talk with her about something completely non-sexual and more “hey potential buddy” while keeping your body posture side to side with hers and open to the rest of the room as well. Think of two people with their backs to a wall who are people watching.

      Have an interesting human to human conversation that is not actually flirting or sexual, then watch for signs from her to “close the circle.” If she’s interested she’ll turn toward you and away from the crowd. Then you can also close the circle and test the flirty waters.

      If she never looks at you, gives short emotionally toneless contributions to the conversation and doesn’t offer anything on her own, move right on with a “nice chatting with you.”

      Often women at parties will be wary, because honestly, they can be far more dangerous to us than dark alleys. If you strike up a conversation that allows her to see that you view her as a valid human being instead of meat, she’ll often engage with you.

      She just often can’t tell a prince from a troll in a crowd, and therefore puts the googly eyes on hold.

      • Thortok2000

        Sounds like good advice to me. Thank you, I'll give that a try at my next opportunity.

        It does sound similar to what I'm already doing but emphasizes the 'side by side' structure which I don't think I've been doing enough. I tend to face the person I'm talking to which as the Doc says in other articles can be seen as threatening. I'm also working on the 3 second hover rule, especially when someone is in a crowd (there was a recent blog on that which I'm practicing too.)

  • bigjeff5

    Robert – Remember that looking down and away is a sign of a submission. So when she locks eyes briefly, looks down and away, and then peeks back to see if you got the hint, she's basically saying "I'm not a threat, it's ok to come over and talk to me."

    However if she briefly makes eye contact and looks away, and especially if she looks UP and away, she's basically trying to avoid expressing interest. It shouldn't have to be said that if she's actively avoiding sending you a signal of interest, it's a really, really, ridiculously good indicator that she isn't interested in talking to you.

  • Max

    I'm pretty sure I've played the "eye-game," but I'm really bad at it. It usually goes something like this:

    "oh hey, there's Cute Girl"
    [quickly glances over at cute girl]
    [cute girl happens to glance back]
    [quickly pretends to have been looking at something else]
    "oh geeze, she thinks I was staring at her, now she thinks I'm a creeper, the only thing I can do is pretend she isn't there for a while"

    There's such a fine line between "flirtingly looking" and "creepily staring," so I usually err on not doing either.

    • Thortok2000

      Eye contact alone is not enough, especially what you've described. Non-threatening posture and a smile are the biggest things to keep in mind when you are doing that 'game.'

      Yes, eye contact is intimate, and for some reason the "oh god now she thinks I" (end sentence with whatever) reaction makes the urge to be shy and look away quickly a pretty strong urge. The proper way to play the eye contact game is to NOT look away (if you do they'll think you're not interested) but to let it linger for about exactly one second, THEN look away, and after X amount of time (3 seconds?) look back again. (I think that's the duration and timing, the Doc says specifically in another blog, I can't remember.)

      Too long is staring creepily. Too little, the panic-quick-look-away is not creepy, it's "he's not interested in me." It's only creepy if she catches you doing that more than once. After all, if you look at a girl and SHE panic-quick-looks-away, you think SHE'S not interested.

      And that "pretend she isn't there for awhile?" Imagine a girl doing that to you. What are you going to think? That she's not interested. So that's what they think about you.

      It is possible to read the body language of a shy introvert but it's much, much harder, which is why you never see the shy introverts get approached when they're trying to telepathically say "please approach me, please approach me, why aren't you approaching me…" (and that goes for both genders.) The reason for this is exactly what you described, they send out NOT INTERESTED signals ("the only thing I can do is pretend she isn't there for awhile") because they're scared of seeming too interested.

      Do what you need to do to be bold enough to let that eye contact linger for that full second and don't forget to smile!

      If she really thinks you're staring, her body language will shut down, she'll turn away, she won't look back again, and you will be able to TELL she thought you were staring. Handle this rejection with an 'oh well' water-off-a-duck attitude and move on, because others could be watching to see if you handle this well and may become interested in you if you handle it well. This is the time to 'pretend she isn't there for awhile' but make sure it doesn't make the confidence in YOUR body language slip away. Don't think "omg I just creeped her out", think "Wow, she just missed out on a great guy. Her loss." (But if you constantly get this reaction then try a little bit shorter amount of eye contact or see if there's something else about your appearance and body language that is coming off as threatening or creepy. And make sure you remembered to smile.)

      If you're panic-shy and pretending she doesn't exist, unless you have great peripheral vision you have no idea what body language she's giving off. Give her a chance to react to you, positively or negatively, and sometimes it will be positively. Don't give her a chance to react at all, and, well, you're gonna walk around the party trying hard not to look at anyone.

      • kath

        I don’t think you need the ‘introvert’ in this case. Being a shy extrovert is possible (I am one) and my body language toward people I don’t know is closed off and giving not interested signals because I’m uncomfortable. There are also self confident introverts who are charming.

  • Beth

    I read this one wondering if men really don't know this stuff already. So often as women, we'll send out these signals which feel to us like they are just one step short of holding up a neon sign saying "come over here right now, yes you". And if the person we're signalling this way doesn't respond, the assumption is that he understood just fine, but wasn't interested.

    • Anonymous

      I'm 26, and for the vast majority of my life, I did not know about body language cues. I actually had to read up to learn about body language in general, not just dating-type body language.

    • Gentleman Johnny

      I'm sure some men don't. Most shy fellows do know but are entirely too willing to second guess their own instincts. Those who second guess themselves when getting positive responses tend to never approach a woman. Those who second guess whether they're receiving negative reactions tend to come off as boorish. Everyone has that friend, male or female, who just WILL. NOT. STOP. TALKING. That's often not so much a lack of concern for your feelings as a complete obliviousness to them.

    • Paul Rivers

      I assure you, it's nowhere near loud and clear. There's a whole bunch of factors –

      1. A lot of times we don't even know what the signals are. Guys do not often communicate with other guys on a subtle level, so we aren't even aware there's something going on, let alone be able to decipher which is which.

      2. We're constantly innundated with false signals. Girls will flirt with us "just to have fun", when it doesn't go anywhere after several experiences you just assume they're not really flirting with you after all. Other girls will be socialized to be "nice" by treating everyone the same, so they flirt with everyone practically. Other girls will flirt because it's part of their job…or because they want to make you feel better but don't mean anything past it…or just because they're bored, or they think it will make the person they're interested in jealous…you greatly underestimate the constant stream of false signals we get as guys.

      A girl in high school would wear short shorts, and come sit on the laps of the guys in our group, then get seriously offended when any of us would suggest that there was maybe something a little bit sexy about the interaction at all. Meanwhile, you're subtely looking towards one of the guys, then look away when he looks, and you're going "why doesn't he understand that I want him to come over?"…

      3. Girls ideas of blazingly obvious is often along the lines of "when would my very best female friends totally know I was flirting with a guy" – someone posted this clip before which is pretty hilarious –

      This relates to #1 as well, but also, we don't know your own personal signals.

      4. Related to #2, you don't realize how many of these signals you give off when you're just not paying attention.

      I've had quite a few female friends try to tell me that the signals were "obvious", so I've asked them to come out dancing and tell me which girls were actually flirting with me. The evening always ends the same – with them kind of frustrated, and admitting they don't know either…

      • kath

        Some people also just flirt as a way of interacting with people. Partly maybe because they are.socialized to be nice, but also I think it depends on personality. These women and men flirt with people they are not interested in of both genders. Some people are reserved, some are flirty, etc etc. Usually it’s pretty easy to see in these people’s interactions with others whether they flirt with everyone or not.

    • dave

      Beth – Please, please, please understand and tell your "sisters" that these "signals" are BOGUS!
      The only person to be aware of these signals will be YOU! This "game" is hard enough to play, and not much fun, so please do not make it any harder!

      • Max

        Internet posting 101:

        -don't put "quotation marks" around every other "word"
        -don't capitalize RANDOM words
        -don't overuse exclamation marks! please! especially not every sentence!

  • Paul Rivers

    I love that someone is at least trying to describe the supposed signals, rather than just unhelpfully saying "well gee, learn how to read the signals" with no description beyond that. This is great.

    However, I disagree – strongly – with saying "If you know how to recognize a woman’s signs and body language, you’ll be set to read her like a book". It's a cute goal as long as you realize it will never, ever happen. For my nerdy friends in high school and college they would have just sat around trying to figure it out until the imagined day when they would suddenly "understand" women's body language and be able to read it – *then* they would go out. However, this day would never come – because one can never, ever, learn to read body language in a way that let's them figure out what the other person is thinking or even signalling with 100% accuracy. I've asked gay women – they don't find it any easier to figure out what other women are interested in than socially comfortable men do.

    Learning to read body language is like kinda like playing multiplayer halo – you can get better and better at it, and gain more and more confidence, but there is never, ever a point where you've "learned" it and can win (or accurately read body language) 100% of the time.

    I've learned a lot by learning the "exit the conversation" signs – often other people just run out of things to talk about, and it's relaxing to be able to leave the conversation at that point, without having to try to keep making conversation. Everyone just feels more comfortable when it's easy to end the conversation. It *is* a big improvement to learn more signals.

    Learning to read signals changes interactions from walking a minefield to walking an obstacle course – a huge improvement, yes. But you never learn to read them like a book. Some people will still "lie" to you with their body language – for example I've learned that for some reason, the girls *most* open to talking and flirting with me are always, always already taken / not single, so I have to deliberately spend my time on the girls giving me lukewarm signals. Some girls will start giving you incredibly strong "go away" signals *because* they like you, and they're getting incredibly nervous – because they like you…

    There's a whole bunch more, but it's absolutely possible to improve your skill level, be more successful, and frankly – have to put your ego on the line a whole lot less by improving your ability to read body language. But – it's impossible to ever be able to "read them like a book". That's been my experience – people who waited for that moment to come never had it happen, and people who's goal that was drove themselves nuts trying to achieve it and it never happened.

    • Tao

      Definitely agree with this. I think it's a great article in laying out what the major body language cues are and what they mean, and is definitely a useful guide, but it's just that – a guide. A lot of body language, even the body language outlined here, can be unconscious and also not necessarily directly related to interest or approachability. Some people are just as bad at projecting the intended body language as others are at reading it. If you practice you get more reliable at reading it, but it's never going to cover the full spectrum of scenarios and personalities.

      Still a powerful tool, just not an infallible one.

  • AFC101

    My problem tends to be that I read too much into "cues" that don't really mean anything. I can be on a high for ages because I imagine a woman may have smiled in my general direction for a few seconds, so I've learned not to trust my instincts. How do I do the calibration without ending up in the scenario where a mob of vigilantes are parading my head around town on the end of a pike?

    • MSJ

      That depends on what happened between "I imagine a woman may have smiled in my general direction for a few seconds" and "I've learned not to trust my instincts." Do you mean you've approached women who appear to be interested, only to be rejected, or do you not approach at all? If you think she's interested then you have an opportunity to politely approach, and if it turns out you've read her wrong just bow out gracefully, no harm no foul. You'd have to do something really beyond the pale in order for the vigilante mob to show up.

      • AFC101

        Ok, I get that the vigilante mob is something of an exaggeration, but I really don't want to be the creepy loser who ruins someone's night – and given that all the things men are supposed to do, like taking control, all this banter stuff, feel really unnatural to me I expect that to happen a lot. I know I've got to change a lot more than I can from reading a website and it's going to be painful for all involved. I guess my last post was just me wanting to vent.

  • Amphankh

    "Southern women especially learn early on how to deliver withering insults with a faux sweet smile."

    You have no idea.

  • Anonymoose47

    I think I've been mistaking most of the eye contact I've been getting for awhile now. Get the first look, the look down, then no return look.

    • msFGH

      As a shy gal, I will say that if you are *consciously* flirting, you do the first look, the look down, then return look + smile. (You will also probably be blushing when you look back, even if just very briefly. It's an automatic response, can't be helped.) If you are interested in someone but NOT consciously flirting (you're not initially sure whether or not you want to be approached at this moment, or you're shy and still warming up to the scene, etc.) your body language may not be as obvious. You may do first look & look down, but take a few extra seconds to do the return look + smile (at which point the person looking at you may have already looked away or moved on). But if the guy missed the return look + smile, you will maneuver yourself to catch his eyes again. If a girl does this, for pete's sake give her a smile so she knows she didn't misread you. Then you're both off and running.

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  • Bromacian

    Theres a woman i like. but she does not mantain eye contac she´s speaking, but she does when I speak what does it mean?

    • Bromacian

      sorry it got deleted

      Theres a woman I like. But she does not mantain eye contact while she´s speaking, but she does when I speak what does it mean?

  • My problem isn't "first contact" any more, once I got through the whole "I'm a ridiculous ugly piece of shit" trauma things became a lot easier… now the real and apparently unsolvable problem is the "go for the kiss" moment. I can't – for the life of me – tell when a woman might want me to give her that first kiss… and usually I end up not making any effort and friendzoning myself because I really can't read ANY signals and prefer to take the safe approach and not be blamed for "being the usual boorish man". I just can't and the remedy some have suggested – go for it and prepare for a thousand rejections – is, frankly, too painful to contemplate (I would simply stop trying after the first or second rejection). Any ideas?

    • Val

      As women, I will say, I've never had a problem with the guy asking if he can kiss me. Actually, I think it's rather nice to get explicit permission so I don't have to do a head swerve avoidance. You risk being told no, but I suppose that's true in any situation, and a no doesn't mean a never, it might just mean, not yet. Still, with kissing, I think asking is the way to go if you aren't sure.

      • nonA

        As a dude, the issue isn't "if I ask, she may say no". It's the mountains of social pressure. That it's a man's place to take charge, that women aren't supposed to explicitly admit to wanting anything physical, etc.

        On the one hand there are very understandable reasons why so much of the process isn't explicit, but on the other hand it means you have to break down tons of stuff if you want to encourage a different communication model.

  • Eye contact for a long period of time can be really intimidating.

  • Everything is very open with a very clear explanation of
    the challenges. It was definitely informative.
    Your website is extremely helpful. Thanks for sharing!

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  • karen

    As a woman this makes me wonder what signals I unconsciously send. Men rarely if ever approach me, so I wonder if I don't look approachable. However, when I have consciously sent signals, it feels obvious & desperate to me, even if I don't FEEL desperate. I feel like men withdraw then, like it's too much. Men can be pretty harsh in judging women they don't find attractive, so sending interested signals that are loud & clear is a big risk, especially with someone in your social circle you will see again & again & who may talk to others….

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  • Lee

    Nice read…

    Let me put it like this… 60% Body Language, 20% Words, 20% Voice Tone determine if you are attractive to someone….get it right..

  • Mike_Hockishuge

    Pretty good article. Totally on target regarding women and subtle cues.

    This article is a must for shy guys like me!

  • aurelio

    I wasn’t expecting this but it made me laugh: “Being able to read her body language is a great way of being able to gauge just how well an interaction with someone is going as well as how to tell when you’ve fucked up”

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  • Tim

    I know this article is old but I feel like this stuff isn't true in every case. I had an experience when I was renting a room from this family. The older daughter would always act terrified of me and basically run into another room or look down at the floor whenever I walked by her. This went on for months and I just assumed she was snobby and hated me and I avoided her. Then one day she randomly called my cellphone and made this whole speech about how she never saw a guy like me before and that all she ever talked about to her friends was me. It was awkward because I had a girlfriend at the time and told her I wasn't available. She seemed really hurt and never talked to me after that. But based on body language I assumed she hated me and it turned out she was just really shy and awkward.

    I feel like when a girl or guy is very shy that you have to interpret their body language very differently. I am shy around girls I like but around ones I have no interest in I act really confident and easygoing.

    I just feel like you can't paint body language with such a broad brush. People behave differently for all sorts of reasons, it doesn't always apply to how they feel about you. Sometimes they may not have slept well and are a nervous wreck or they may be sick to their stomach. You really can't know what's going on.

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    I’m confused by this woman 3 weeks ago she seem more friendly then just got cold. When she’s around others I see she can talk to them easily but when I see her she looks at me quickly and looks away. Whn she says hello it quick and a bit dry. I did confront her, and she said nothing is wrong. Ok kool right no, she keeps doing it. I gave her my number she never called. I asked it she got the message an she never responded to the message. So I messaged her again Now she can read the message and respond by asking me what’s wrong and maybe I need to figure it out. So I told her I wanted to sit and talk to her about it and that’s how I’ll figure it out and I said I hope she’s open to do that. No response to the message. I really want to know what’s goin on because I know what I see or I would not be going out of the way to confront this. I’m confused for real.

    • aililis

      She's definitely not into you, no reason to be confused. She looks at you quickly and looks away to make sure that she has a pathway to avoid you. She says hello because for some reason she feels she's forced to acknowledge your presence and, of course, she'd going to deny that anything is wrong. Telling you that she doesn't like you or that your presence makes her uncomfortable (for a reason known or unknown to her) would make her seem like a bitch. Leave her alone, you're only making yourself seem to be a even bigger creepy loser.

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  • Elsie

    This was super interesting for me as a female!

    I spent a good decade not all that interested in meeting romantic partners so I did many of the “go away” things as a habit. Now I’m interested in meeting someone and want someone to approach me – but no one does. Reading this (and some of your other when to approach or not approach) I realize I am still giving those “get lost” signals without realizing.

    Good to know! Time to be more aware and focus on better signalling!

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  • Arshad

    What does it mean if she catches your attention by looking up and down and then when she looks into your eyes she looks away?

  • saly392

    This article is not true for a huge amount of shy girls who don't send such signals! It's sad that if all guys followed your advice, they will miss on many girls because they thought they weren't interested when they actually were but since they were really shy they couldn't show it

  • DJ

    But what about all the women that are too shy to smile at you and too shy to look you in the eye? Aren't there plenty of girls who don't want to be caught looking?

  • So two things, first is that no comments are showing which seems highly unlikely

    And second, what if you're never getting any signs that anyone is interested, even after fixing wardrobe and body language and smiling like there isn't a thought in my head?

    • Something is wonky with the comments here starting around a week ago. They're still there in the database,but not showing on the page. DNL is aware,and I suspect is working on it.

      As for your question, I'd suggest reading an article about how to interest people for tips, rather than an article about how to detect interest.

      • Dr_NerdLove

        I have been and fortunately, it seems like it’s been taken care of.

  • THB

    I have a question.
    I met a girl who gave increasingly all those signs. I could have very strong eyes contacts. Once i went to speak with her and gave her my number. She remained like hypnotized when I spoke with her, looked at my number and moved the paper between her fingers for long time, then the looked up and fixed my eyes strongly for almost 15 seconds and put the paper very slowly in a closing pocket and lowered her head down with a small smile.
    The week later, I waited for her and I propose her a date for a simple drink and she declined my offer telling me her guy just finished and she had to meet him back. She declined in a very positive way thanking me twice and smiling.
    So I decided to let the pressure down. But now she is like avoiding me, but not really. I mean, she is friendly came across first to say me hello smiling, still speak with me, but she avoids any eyes contact or fingers touches like she used to do.
    Any idea?

    • Trundlebear

      She has your number. She knows you’re interested. She sees you a lot. If she’s not calling you and hasn’t rescheduled a time for a date, she’s not interested. She’s polite and smiling at work because it’s her job to be polite and smiling at work. She may like you as a person and as a customer, but she’s not interested in dating you. She’s less friendly now because she doesn’t want you to think she is interested and keep asking.

      If she wanted to date you, trust me, you’ve given her lots of opportunities. If you want to be friends then be friends, but don’t bring it up again. She is not interested.

      Someone who is interested will be happy to get your number, and will use it.