Most people I talk to about body language seem to have their main interest set in finding out the flirting signals of the opposite sex and how to know when somebody is attracted to them. Of course me being such the Casanova that I am know all about this :P ... Okay I'm not much of a practiced person in this area but I'm good at observing others doing it (only difference between stalking and research is a pen and paper) so there's a few things I've seen. In the interaction between males and females something funny always occurs. When guys notice girls they find attractive they will subtly straighten their backs to appear taller, suck in their guts and expand their chests - this isn't as noticeable at parties where everyone is dressed up, but try going to your local gym's swimming pool, beach or wherever you can see people at their most vulnerable and exposed. This behaviour is due to the simple fact that what is generally considered "hot" or "sexy" is our gender differences, for instance, men try to highlight their stature and muscles while women will draw attention to their femininity such as their cleavage, long hair (by touching/fixing it), crossing their legs and narrowing them to emphasize their hips, to uses of the sideways head position to expose the vulnerable and delicate neck, and so forth.
The first thing you can usually observe in male and female relations is that the girl makes eye contact with the guy she likes, and once the guy has spotted the girl making eye contact the two of them will lock each others gazes for a few seconds until she looks away. The guy then confused, sits there watching whether she does it again, which she usually does and this time smiles or giggles a bit giving the guy the confirmation he needs to decide to approach the girl. However, before doing so the guy and girl alike will both start grooming themselves: the guy will fix his tie if he has one on, straighten his pants and shirt as he gets up, and the girl will start playing with her jewelry, fiddling with her hair and crossing her legs. Once the guy reaches the girl to talk they will initiate a conversation of some sort - short into the conversation you can usually see how things are going. In the best case scenarios they are joking around, she is laughing as she taps his wrist, arm or shoulder sometimes even removing pieces of lint from his clothing as a sign of affection and caring. All these subtle physical touches slowly create an intimacy, as they are both opening up and getting comfortable in each others Intimate Zone.
The problem is that many guys interpret smiles and staring in the wrong context and confuse flirting with friendliness (mainly because males have 15 times more testosterone and think everything in sex terms) so it's best if you read all those signals in groups of gestures. The following are some of the most popular signs of attraction used by women:
- Touch Me, Myself & I: At the beginning of an encounter women may start to smooth out their clothes, stretch out their top which is sticking to their bodies, making them feel self conscious about their figures Deeper into conversation however, and once they have gotten to know each other, the woman will start caressing her body in a sensual way. Women have more nerve sensors than men making them more sensitive to touch. The woman might touch her neck which is very popular, her thigh, her stomach, all in a way that is implying she'd like to be touched that way by the guy, because, as mentioned in the initial article, our brains make our bodies reveal our hidden desires.
- Pheromone Hair: This is one of the first gestures used by women during flirtation. Usually, they will flick their hair backwards over their shoulder or move it to the side with their hand as a way to display the face better, even if the woman only has short hair. Apart from emphasizing their delicate facial features by flicking their hair, women do this gesture because it allows them to lift up their arm and in the process expose their arm pit where the 'sex perfume' known as pheromone scent is released for the male to smell (it was stronger in our primitive ancestors).
- Vagina Mouth: During puberty, womens faces fill out with subcutaneous fat making their lips thicker and fuller compared to mens. About 4,000 years ago ancient Egyptians believed womens facial lips developed proportionately to their outer genital lips during puberty. It's commonly known that when women are sexually aroused their genital lips flush with the blood turning red, so the Egyptian women invented lipstick as a form of alerting men when an adolescent female was sexually mature. When a woman starts pouting and wetting her lips while lowering her eye lids in a sensual way it is usually a sign of attraction. I just had to refrain myself from using this picture as the example...took a lot of strength.
- Wrist Display: There are certain vulnerable spots in our bodies due to their fragility or delicacy that we tend to protect: our neck, throat and wrist being some of them. Most people if you observe, usually walk with their wrists facing the sides of their body as a way of protection, however, if you observe some people with mental illnesses such as schizophrenia sufferers, they will walk with their palms and wrists facing backwards as an additional protection. Plenty of over-the-top gay men use the wrist display constantly even walking around with it as an attempt to look effeminate. When women are interested in men they will slowly start showing him glimpses of their wrists and the more they like them the longer the glimpses will last - this is why the wrist has always been considered a highly erotic area as women have more nerve receptors there making it more sensitive, which is where applying perfume on the wrists comes from. There are a variety of ways women choose to expose their wrists, from touching their wrists themselves (Touch Me, Myself & I technique), to putting their wrists on the table in front of a male, as well as the popular wrist exposure that comes with women smokers who do it quite obviously.
- Boob Shoulder: As I mentioned in the first paragraph, what we define as being "sexy" or "hot" is our male and female gender differences, which in women is mostly composed of having more curvaceous bodies than men. A form of highlighting this fact is a gesture known as the Boob Shoulder, where women will choose to look at men (in the first parts of courtships before meeting) sideways while raising their shoulder slightly upwards, symbolically making it appear like a breast to emphasize their femininity.
- My Hips Don't Lie: Women as we all know, have wider hips than men due to the fact that they need a wider pelvic region for childbearing purposes. This also means that women have a wider gap in their crotch which doesn't allow them to run as fast as men, but makes them walk in a way that emphasizes their hips with a unique wiggle men can't do. It has been found that the most healthy women with best chances of reproduction, are the ones who have a 70% waist to hip ratio, meaning their waist is 70% the size of their hips - not surprisingly this is the ratio men unconsciously find most attractive. Woman who feel a connection or attraction with the man they are speaking with, will also tilt their hips from side to side resting their whole weight on one leg to make that hip side protrude.
- Insightful Purse: Three words that are guaranteed to humiliate any man anywhere? ... 'Hold my purse'. But what men don't realize is that this simple action can speak vastly of how a women feels towards them. A woman's purse is one of the most personal things they own, in a sense, it has passed from being an accessory to becoming an extension of a woman as it carries all of her most intimate mysteries that most of us men live in fear of knowing ... heck I'm afraid if I stick my hand in one I'll come out with a finger missing or something. When women accept and feel attracted towards a guy, they will put the purse close to him as opposed to hiding it some place further away. The woman might start softly touching their purse as they talk to the guy, and when they begin to feel a stronger connection they will even entrust him with holding the purse, or looking inside and searching for something.
- Pointing: As previously mentioned, our legs are the part of the body that is furthest away from the brain and therefore the area we are least aware of. When women or men feel interest in someone they will start pointing at them either with their feet (usually their lead walking foot or both) while standing, or their knee while sitting. How a persons shows interest in another when sitting down is achieved by tucking one leg under the other - the tucked-under-legs knee will be pointing towards the direction of the person they feel attracted to.
- Tight Legs: Unlike other crossed leg gestures that show negativity, defensiveness or uncertainty, when women cross their legs in a flirtation environment and don't use other negative gestures such as crossing their arms, this indicates the female is trying to draw attention to her legs by tightly pressuring one leg firmly against the other to emphasize their high muscle tone. Psychiatrist Dr Albert Scheflen goes on to even suggest that such a gesture is the position a body takes when the person is preparing for sexual performance.
- Facial Pedestal: When a woman joins her hands together by putting one over the other and resting her face on them, it doesn't have anything to do with the "Head Support" boredom gesture. In fact this gesture reveals the total opposite meaning as it means she likes the company of the man and wants to display her face on a pedestal to gain his attention and let him admire her. Giving a compliment and the use of some flattery in those moments seems to get many men very far.
Observing men's body language to see their patterns of flirting gestures wasn't as appealing as watching women's for some reason. Men don't appear to have as many flirting signs - perhaps this could be due to our stiff nature where our bodies aren't as flexible (as our ancestors main concern was to hunt and develop strong muscles for survival, so our main asset when it came to finding a mate was the display of our big muscles, tall stature and large crotch to the female). I found it fun to analyze this masculine behaviour nonetheless. When women interact with men and women alike they are emotional, they talk about their feelings or they share their worries - with male interactions on the other hand, it is different. From a young age when interacting with other men, males tend to experience a kind of platonic pride oriented love for each other, where each male has to prove who is the most dominant male of the group by impressing the rest. Any display of sensitivity can be seen as a weakness (which was a vulnerability in the eyes of our ancestors primitive enemies), so their interactions with other men involved the passing of straight information, facts and solutions to problems (notice how women have better handwriting than men? Men just want to write the information down quickly while women take their time). Guys understand that they have to be more sensitive when in the dating game, but sadly after conquering the heart of the female and making sure of it (such as through marriage), they will gradually return to their true nature of facts and information, becoming less involved in dealing with that sensitive side they had to bring out.
Men have always had a fascination with their own crotch. Without caring if it's in public or not, we'll freely adjust our packages, especially in situations with large groups of other males where there's competitive behavior. This can be observed between groups of fans from opposing teams, at a pub, or watching a sporting match, men will constantly start moving around the front of their pants as a way to demonstrate their masculinity. This isn't something new - in packs of monkeys the leader will spread his legs widely to display his "sword" (men who are feeling cocky or dominant will also sit down while spreading their legs widely). Monkeys also stand up while touching "it" in front of their subordinates and bossing them around. Additionally, ancient tribes used cones to put around their penises as a way of highlighting their rank - the higher the rank of the tribal member the bigger the cone. The ladies man of the 15th century King Henry VIII, popularized a type of underwear where he used a codpiece that protruded from the pants with braies fitted with a flap in the front that buttoned or tied to close when needing to urinate. From these ideas came the modern tightly fitting briefs/jocks (from this piece of clothing comes the name 'Sports Jocks' which displays dominance and is popular with the girls). These jocks give men a sense of "protection", as they can constantly adjust their jocks to draw the attention of others down there. When men are interested in a female they will, in one way or another, draw attention to the genital area most frequently using the "Package" gesture.
Other signs to look out for: Look out for the feet pointing interest signal, where a person might be standing sideways because they don't want to appear blunt by standing right in front of another person, but the lead foot, or both feet of the guy, will be pointing towards the person that is attracting their attention the most or has captivated their interest. Observe whether the man has large large pupils, whether he is doing the "Superman" or "Package" pose, and/or whether he sucks in his gut. Also observe whether he starts preening himself by fixing his hair, tie, collar or socks, if he tilts his head sideways to appear friendly and non dominant, if he begins mirroring you by copying your body language or asking what you're going to eat to order the same - as well as if he is constantly looking at your mouth (this can be a sign of interest in kissing). He may also stop slouching to appear taller not only because he wants to appear larger but when men or women are interested in something/someone or are happy, their backs will straighten upwards. When we slouch however, this is a display of boredom or feeling down (notice how many depressive people tend to walk slouching).
This article is part of the Beginners Guide To Body Language series, you can read the rest of the articles by clicking here.