The guys I meet often stress about whether girls are attracted to them. And for good reason: We want to know when the women we approach are actually interested in us, and how much. That’s why recognizing the signs of attraction — which can be frustratingly, imperceptibly subtle — is absolutely crucial to successful dating.
But attraction isn’t just about recognizing a single action. What you’re looking for is a pattern of actions delivered with a certain intention, rather than running down a mental checklist of signs in your head. Instead, study the overall gestalt of her behavior. Study the nuanced, often subconscious signs of attraction as a whole. Appreciate the feeling of attraction created as it unfolds.
You can begin to do this by isolating and understanding some of the most common components of attraction. Recognizing these signs will make you more comfortable, confident and excited about connecting with new people.
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Position of the Body
There are few clearer signs of definite attraction than the position of the body.
Lots of guys worry about whether or not she’s touching her hair or her clothes or these other super subtle cues. Reading her body language is actually much simpler than that. The more she’s facing you, the more likely she is to be interested. And the more she’s facing away, the more she has her mind on other things.
While a girl could “fake” interest in you with her body language (or, for that matter, fake a lack of interest), almost no one is self-aware enough to perform this kind of trickery. So rest assured, the more she’s facing you, the more likely she’s into you.
Eye contact is a universal symbol of human attraction. In fact, even infants maintain eye contact with people they’re interested in. People tend to stare intently at those they are attracted to for between two and three seconds, a look known as the copulatory gaze. If she’s really interested in you, her pupils will dilate during this time period, which is kind of cool if you can catch it happening.
Eye contact is so basic, yet so many men overlook it when they’re looking for signs of attraction in girls they’re talking to. Much like the position of her body, she’s simply not going to think that eye contact is a way to “fake” interest. On the contrary, she’s much more likely to use a lack of eye contact to get away from a guy she’s not interested in. So if you’re talking to her and she’s looking you in the eye while you’re speaking, don’t worry. She’s interested in what you have to say. Now your job is to keep her interested.
Sharing the Self
A powerful way women convey attraction is by sharing stories about themselves, usually stories they don’t share with just anyone. And it’s not just women who do this. According to a study in the Social Psychology Quarterly, men are also prone to sharing secrets with women, especially women they’ve just met, if they’re attracted.
One thing I teach at The Art of Charm boot camps is the power of vulnerability. Simply sharing “safe” or self-aggrandizing information about yourself is no way to create a real connection. In fact, we don’t share even mildly embarrassing details about our lives with people that we have no interest in getting to know further. The risk is far too great.
So when you’re out at a bar and a girl is confiding things about her personal life in you, don’t take it for granted. Sure, everyone she’s friends with knows about the socially embarrassing mishap she had on a 6th grade field trip — but not every guy at the bar knows. She told you because she wants to let you in.
When a woman is attracted to you, she very well might blush. This can either be because attraction makes body temperature rise or due to the stress of being attracted to a guy. In fact, some have theorized that blush makeup started as a way to mimic the effect of the real thing, thus signaling interest to men.
Blushing is interesting because it’s entirely autonomic. She can’t fake attraction to you by blushing. She does it involuntarily. And while she might be blushing for other reasons (if you said something that embarrassed her, for example), consider the context. Have you just said something that might embarrass her or stress her out? If not, she’s probably blushing because you’re such a dashing gent.
Vanessa Van Edwards, author of Modern Day Dale Carnegie notes that when when women are interested in a man, they generally want nothing to stand between the two of you. On the other hand, holding a purse between the two of you can be a way to “hide.” A woman turned toward you, holding her purse to the side is a good sign. But a woman clutching her purse probably doesn’t think you’re a purse thief. It might just mean that she’s not that attracted to you.
She doesn’t need a purse to subconsciously “hide.” Basically any object will do, the most glaringly obvious being her smartphone. However, the purse is an interesting choice, because it’s socially acceptable for a woman to hold her purse in front of her body. And indeed, she could hold her purse anywhere. The fact that she’s holding it between you might not be a conscious choice, but it’s probably not arbitrary. On the other hand, sticking it on the bar isn’t just a potential sign of attraction. It’s also a sign of trust and comfort.
Keep the situation in mind. If the two of you are out at a busy club or a dive bar, Occam’s razor would suggest that she’s less interested in blocking you out than making sure her purse doesn’t get stolen. Don’t assume too much about what she’s doing with her purse, but do use her purse position to contextualize the rest of her body language.
Both men and women change the tone and the pitch of their voices when speaking to someone they’re attracted to, according to a report in The Journal of Nonverbal Communication. Specifically, what researchers found is that when speaking to someone we’re attracted to, our vocal tone tends to go down. And while getting a baseline on something like her breathing (elevated heart rates and shallow breathing are also signs of attraction) might be difficult, vocal tone changes are easier to notice and detect.
The tone of her voice is a rare sign of attraction that has few other explanations. She might raise or lower the volume of her voice based on the situation you two are in. She’s probably not going to lower the pitch of her voice for any “reason.” She’s going to do it automatically, without thinking much about it, because she’s attracted to you.
Curiously, the study also found that voices speaking to an attractive target were more attractive to listeners. So don’t be afraid to lower your voice when you two are starting to flirt. You might even find yourself doing it automatically.
People tend to like people who are like them. And they also tend to act like people they like. Another study from The Journal of Nonverbal Behavior found that people tend to mimic the behavior of those they are attracted to. This is a phenomenon known as “interactional symmetry,” and it begins in infancy.
We’ve all been in situations in which friends or coworkers start saying the same things or picking up the same habits. Mimicking what the girl you’re flirting with at the bar is doing is simply a micro version of that same phenomenon. Rather than happening over days, weeks or months, you two are picking up each others mannerisms and phrasing over minutes and hours.
Pay attention to the words she uses. Pay attention to her body language. Does it mirror your own? Is she using phrases that you have used throughout the conversation? Is she building on your jokes and bits? Chances are she’s not consciously trying to copy you. She’s just doing what people do when they’re attracted.
Now that we’ve explored some of the most common manifestations of attraction, you should be able to notice them much more easily. I find that once guys know what they’re looking for, it’s hard not to notice signs of attraction. So the next time you find yourself wondering if she’s attracted, do a quick check for these signs, and watch as they enhance your approach, rapport-building and connection.
Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/josiahmackenzie/2354048784