Attraction and Body Language: Why It Matters

In every stage of courtship, be it seduction or rapport, attraction and body language are huge. The ability to “read between the lines” and understand exactly how a woman feels will help you succeed in moments you may have once viewed as “hopeless.” It can also help you avoid major disasters down the road. For guys who don’t see how that’s the case or simply don’t think body language is of any importance, here’s a basic rundown of what body language is all about.

Body Languages Reveals What Words Won’t Tell You

When you’re out with a girl you no doubt want to know how well it’s going and how she feels about being out with you. Is she enjoying herself? Does she like you?

Now, words are not always going to express those feelings. There are a couple of reasons why. For one, the subject may never come up (after all, outright asking “Do you like me?” will sound very needy). But there are other instances in which a girl may not be willing to openly share how she feels (she’s shy, doesn’t know you well enough yet, etc). In these moments, the ability to read body language can be critical.

For example, you may be out with a girl that totally digs you and wants you to take her home. Of course, she won’t want to come across as being “easy” so when you invite her back to your place she says “not tonight…” Her words make it sound like a good night kiss is all you’ll get, but pay attention to her body language — the way she looks deeply into your eyes while standing so close your stomachs are touching — and you realize it’s not time to give up just yet…

On the flip side, you may be with a girl and under the impression that things are going well. She says that she had a good time and yet, when you try and get her out for a second date, she’s not interested. It may seem to make no sense, but had you paid less attention to her words and more attention to her body language (she was frequently leaning away from you, facing other directions, avoiding eye contact) you could have seen it coming and avoided getting your hopes up for nothing.

As much as you may want to always be able to take someone at their word, for various reasons words don’t always align with how someone feels. Body language on the other hand is often a much more accurate gauge of emotion.

You Can Trust Body Language

We all experience emotion in the same way. Each particular emotion causes the same physiological responses which manifests in certain behaviors and expressions across cultures. For instance, when experiencing anger, pretty much every single person on the planet will generate the exact same facial expression (same for sadness, fear, excitement, etc).

Reading body language then, isn’t a guessing game. It’s a science. It’s simply a matter of knowing which behaviors and expressions have a proven correlation with a corresponding emotion.

Body Language Is Always Available

According to Dr. Paul Ekman (the premier researcher when it comes to detecting emotion in facial expressions) the system we each have that causes our body language to reflect our emotional state is always “on”. And not only is our body constantly ready to signal to others exactly how we feel, it does so immediately. The moment a new emotion arises our physiology and body language will adjust accordingly.

Of course, we are able to have some control over exactly what signals we give off. We can consciously keep our body from showing how we really feel. We give a fake smile to a co-worker we secretly despise. We “play it cool” to avoid too much drama at moments when we’re boiling with rage on the inside.

But while we may be able to dampen the emotional signal for a period of time — there’s no turning that signal off. As a result, it’s only a matter of time until our body language betrays us.

Microexpressions

The amount of conscious willpower it takes to repress an emotion can only last so long. Sooner or later a person is liable to “crack” — if only for a brief moment. This quick expression of true emotion can often take the form of a microexpression.

A microexpression is a super brief facial expression that only appears for 1/5-1/25 of a second. It’s that split second where you saw that girl raise one nostril of the nose (which is the sign for disgust) or draw back just one corner of her mouth (the sign for contempt). It could also be that flash of her eyebrows rising and eyes opening wide (surprise/excitement) or mouth dropping open (surprise/disbelief). While these expressions can be easy to miss since they only last a brief moment, they are also incredibly reliable as to the person’s true feelings.

(If you want to practice reading facial expressions you can check out Paul Ekman’s site here. They’re not paying us for referrals…though maybe they should!)

Avoiding Trouble — Real vs. Fake Signs of Emotion

Looking for microexpressions is just one way to cipher out genuine emotions. But you can also rely on simply knowing the difference between an authentic and deceptive expression. When it comes to dating, attraction and body language cues like this will help you separate the girls who are genuinely interested in you from the girls who may just be looking for a free dinner.

Take the smile, for instance. This is probably the most frequently faked expression (I’m guessing, but that seems right) and one that can easily be used to manipulate someone. But being able to tell the difference between a fake smile and a genuine smile can be very easy once you know what to look for.

A fake smile is done consciously. It’s done when a person thinks “oh, I need to look happy, better put on a smile” and they focus on pulling the corners of their lips back to give the impression that they’re happy. If you’re not paying attention — or simply not tuned in to the difference between a genuine expression and a fake one, it can be easy to get tricked into thinking, “Well, her mouth is smiling; she must be happy.”

But a genuine smile doesn’t come from the mouth. A smile that signals real enjoyment isn’t controlled by the muscles around the corners of the lips. A genuine smile is actually controlled by the isorbicularis oculi muscles — a muscle around the outside of the eye. When that muscle contracts, it also makes the eyes look narrower by pulling the eyebrows down and raising the lower eyelid. It pulls skin below the eye up (so the area below the eye will appear “soft”) and raises the cheeks up and creates “crow’s feet” around the eye.

The cool thing is, about 90% of the population can’t control this muscle voluntarily. So when you see the effects that go along with the contraction of this muscle (the effects mentioned in the paragraph above) there’s a darn good chance that smile is real.

Don’t Forget About Your Body Language

Just as her movements are going to give you an inside glimpse into her feelings, your body language is going to give her insight into how you feel. If you’re nervous, uncertain, annoyed… whatever, your body is going to be leaking signals that she’s going to pick up on — even if she’s not actively trying to read your body language (it’s one of those things we do automatically). And if you’re hoping she just won’t notice — think again. Study after study has shown that women are way better than men at both picking up on body language cues and reading them accurately.

So you’ve got to be sure your body language is on point at all times. Rather than getting into all the little details of what good, confident, positive body language looks like, try this exercise: Simply see yourself as the super-confident and most awesome guy in the room. You already have everything you want and got nothing to prove to anybody. What kind of body language does that version of yourself show? How does he sit, stand, walk, talk, and interact? Any time you feel unsure bring this image to mind and assume his body language. Instead of coming across as insecure which turns women off, you’ll show confident attraction and body language.

Brian M - author of 191 posts on The Art of Charm

Once he realized attraction was something he could learn, Brian spent way too much of his free time studying and practicing everything he could find on the subject. He stumbled across The Art of Charm podcast and eventually signed up for an AoC bootcamp. Excited by the progress he's made in his own life since the program, he decided to start writing for AoC to help other guys do the same. By writing about interpersonal dynamics, he’s finally able to put that psychology degree to good use.

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in Art of Dating, Flirting And Attraction