A couple dining and smiling at each other

5 body language signals and what they mean

by Fran Creffield - October 30, 2012

Can you read the signs a date is giving you? Do you know what you are saying through your non-verbal communication? Knowing how to read body language is a great skill when it comes to dating.

Although men and women will display different body language signals to show they are attracted to someone there are some that are universal. Here are five simple signals you can learn to read which will give you a head start in this subtle art

The study of body language – or kinesics as it is technically known – has risen in popularity amongst management and business people because they recognise that being able to read more than a person is saying with words places them at a distinct advantage in the business world.

The same is true in personal relationships and mastering the art can give you a distinct advantage when it comes to dating not just because it will help you to read your date better but because understanding body language enables better self-awareness and self-control too.

1. Eye to eye contact

We intuitively read people’s eyes and are continually interpreting someone’s glance to find out if they are listening, are angry with us, are friendly or avoiding interacting with us. When it comes to dating eye contact is particularly important because it is often the clearest indication if there is a physical attraction and connection.

The reading of body language is an inexact science but you can generally gauge that the date isn’t going too well if they continually drop eye contact and scan the room. Use your own eye contact to good effect. If you really want to let your date know you are interested Judi James, author of The Body Language Bible, says ‘the “flick” is one of the most high-impact signals you can send. Allow your eyes to flit down to their mouth and back up to meet their eyes; this suggests kissing and, combined with a smile, subtle head-tilt, softened eye expression and slowed blink rates all signal sexual approval.’ – use sparingly!

2. Posture

Those all important first impressions are hugely influenced by how someone is holding themselves. This is what you will notice before they even open their mouth. Judi James suggests ‘When approaching a stranger you want to impress, exude confidence in your stance, even if you’re on edge.’

Keep your head up and eyes off the floor, put your shoulders back and make sure your arms and legs are uncrossed as that will indicate openness. Face your date squarely while you are talking to them rather than turning to face the room. Once you are chatting, echoing or mirroring someone’s posture will encourage them to open up to you.

Noticing your own posture will make you more aware of other people’s and how much more at ease you feel with someone when their posture invites openness rather than being shut down and defensive

3. Smiling and facial expressions

There are six universal facial expressions which are recognized around the world – happiness, sadness, fear, disgust, surprise and anger. Every human being uses their facial expressions to communicate their feelings so it is particularly important to understand more than just those 6 basic expressions if you want to be able to read your date better but also to ensure you are sending out the right signals yourself.

The mouth is the centre of most facial expressions and the expression that will encourage most openness from your date is obviously smiling – relax, smile and show you are enjoying yourself. A real smile is symmetrical and will produce creases around the eyes and mouth whereas a fake smile will generally be a mouth only gesture.

4. Head movements

When you are talking to someone and they are nodding along with what you are saying you naturally feel encouraged to continue and as though they are paying attention but this nodding could have an even deeper meaning according to Judi James – ‘Keep up eye contact when they’re speaking and use nods that are paced to their dialogue, a metronomic gesture to show that you are synchronised, which also suggests sexual compatibility.’

5. Hand gestures

Men and women make different hand gestures when they are flirting with each other. Women often touch their face or twirl their hair to indicate attraction while men may smooth their hair, touch their chest or have erect thumbs (a male sign of enjoyment). Both partners may engage in displacement gestures, small repetitive fiddles that signal a desire to speed things up and make contact.

Don’t let reading someone’s body language become more important than enjoying your date or think that if they are not displaying certain signals it means that they aren’t interested – it is an inexact science. The most important thing is to relax and enjoy noticing how you connect.