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A Comprehensive Guide to Interpreting Body Language

Andrea writes on various topics from dating, couples, astrology, weddings, interior design, and gardens. She studied film and writing.

You can tell when two people are falling in love just by their body language.

You can tell when two people are falling in love just by their body language.

Interpreting Physical Cues

  1. Hair: If he intentionally plays or touches your hair it means he’s most likely into you and cares about you; if it’s playful or incidental, he’s flirting. He could be just being friendly if he is trying to get something out of your hair — like paper, or worse… gum.
  2. Face: Just like your hair, a guy who is touching your face is definitely flirting with you, even if he acts like there’s another reason for it. It can also be very sweet for a guy to gently touch your chin or cheek. This could mean that he cares about you. Our faces are sensitive, so it’s kind of personal to touch them. If someone ever touches you in a way that you don’t like — tell them to stop it.
  3. Lips: Obviously if anyone is close enough to touch your lips they are attracted to you.
  4. Head: Much like the face, the head can be a safer area for him to touch if you’re kissing. If he’s just bopping you on the head, then it might be playful (though it’s still a sign of flirtation). Before he kisses you, he might gently touch the back of your head or your neck to bring your face closer to his.
  5. Neck: If someone’s hand lingers too long on your neck, they probably like you. They may have touched your neck simply to get your attention. Also, don’t let people randomly massage you — anyone who gives you a massage should get your permission.
  6. Shoulder: Men actually find women’s shoulders fascinating because they tend to be smaller and rounder. It’s one of the more flattering and simple feminine features, so don’t be surprised if someone really likes your shoulders. Again, if anyone wants to give you a massage, they have to ask first. If they’re just giving you a pat on the shoulder, that’s probably to get your attention. But if a hand stays on your shoulder unusually long — that’s a sign they like you.
  7. Arms: These are a more neutral part of the body. In conversation, people may touch your arm in order to get your attention. Hooking arms is more flirty or romantic — it’s not something you’d do with a stranger. High school students sometimes do this for kicks and grins and it’s platonic. If he’s touching your arms frequently, even for things that don’t seem flirtatious, he’s probably trying to find ways to be closer to you.
  8. Hands: Holding hands is usually a sign of a budding relationship, but sometimes we grab someone’s hand because we’re crossing a busy street because there is a big crowd, and we don’t want to get lost — or simply because we’re scared. It’s when there isn’t another reason like those listed that holding hands is usually personal. High fives or fist bumps are less romantic but are a good way to break the ice. Always look for other clues or signals with these things. Consistency is king when it comes to interest.
  9. Back: It really depends on where he’s touching you on your back. Upper back touches are playful. Sometimes a guy will touch you there when he’s leading you through a crowd. The lower on the back… the more questionable.
  10. Feet: If he accidentally steps on your feet, don’t look into it too much. If he seems to keep touching your feet one way or another, he’s likely flirting with you, or he is bored and needy for attention.

Other ways he displays affection

  1. If he picks you up: When a guy picks you up, he’s trying to get close to you and show off his strength. Also, this is pretty playful and fun… as long as you are okay with him doing so. Tell him to back off if he didn’t get the hint that you didn’t want to be picked up.
  2. Hugs you: There are many different kinds of hugs. They can range from the endearing long hug, or side hugs that barely touch you at all. In general, the longer the hug, the more intimate.
  3. Touches you with his head: He might rest his head in your lap, on your forehead, or on your shoulder. Each of these indicates that he’s comfortable with you and trusts you.
  4. Interlocks fingers with you while holding hands: The hands are a safe place. Interlocking fingers is a way to bond and test the waters of a new romance, and can indicate that he cares about you. It also could be a friendly gesture among close friends, like you’re scared walking through a pitch dark place.
  5. Touches you all the time: If a guy is touching you all the time and can’t keep his hands off you, he is likely very into you… or has some sort of sensory issue.
  6. Touches his face, hair, or neck while he’s talking to you: Touching his face or neck could be a sign that he is nervous around you. Translation: he’s totally digging you. Or he’s just really fidgety. Or has some sort of strange secret. Does he also smell bad? That could be an indication of something completely different.
  7. Touches you with his feet: Not really the most charismatic, but it is showing interest.
When he likes you, he'll be comfortable being close to you and will give you plenty of eye contact.

When he likes you, he'll be comfortable being close to you and will give you plenty of eye contact.

Hair

Hair is a special part of a woman. Depending on the type of hair you have, it could be one of the most attractive parts of you, or nothing special. Men adore hair, especially long locks. It’s something a lot of them don’t have, and they know it’s personal. It’s also a more friendly place to touch.

What it means if he touches it:

  • If a guy spends a lot of his time with his hands in your hair, he has you in mind.
  • If he caresses your hair, then he deeply has a thing for you. You’ve softened up his heart.
  • If he tugs on your hair, this is more playful. He wants to get your attention, he wants you to acknowledge him, or he wants you to play with him like a kindergartner. He may also put your hair in a ponytail, braid it, or do other playful gestures.
  • He may put his hands through your hair when he kisses you, and he may put your hair to the side, so he can touch your skin.

Face

Touches on the face of any kind indicate that a guy is interested in getting to know you more.

Otherwise, they wouldn't dare invade your space like that. Here are some things to remember about different kinds of face touches:

  • Touching your chin can be a very soft, protective gesture. It can be a way for a guy to take in your entire face.
  • Sometimes guys will use an excuse like something being on your face (an eyelash or a bit of food for example), as a reason to touch it. This is fairly flirtatious... unless they're a neat freak.

Lips

This is a self-explanatory area. He is trying to initiate something if he touches your lips. Even if you have just a bit of mustard and he's trying to get it off your face—he wouldn't do it if he wasn't into you. And kissing.

  • A peck on the cheek: kind, likely suggestive.
  • Peck on the lips: testing the waters.
  • French kissing: making out, getting steamy and personal.
  • Sucking the bottom or top lip: sometimes ridiculous and unwanted, but could be sultry.
  • Touching your lips with his fingers or the side of your cheek to move your lips: admiration for your lips.

The head is (obviously) an important part of the body! There are a few reasons men might touch you here.

  • A bop on the head could either be playful or patronizing — if he pats you on the head, he likely sees you as someone who is cute or adorable.
  • The head is important in kissing. A lot of men will try to stare at your eyes before kissing you. Or grab your head with both hands before kissing you. Or kiss parts of your face before moving to your lips. Expect hands and lips on your head.
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Neck

The neck is a vulnerable spot full of nerves. We don't ordinarily place our hands right on someone's neck. Consider whether he's giving you a massage, a quick poke, a swipe, or a caress. One way or another, he's trying to get your attention.

  • Sometimes guys go for behind the neck because it's a surprise, and he wants to see how well you'll react. This may also be a way for him to smell your hair or play with it. It makes for a move that can go a number of different, yet positive ways.
  • A kiss on the neck probably means he wants more. It's also a good spot to find your natural scent, which can be addictive.

Shoulder

A gentle shoulder rub can go a long way. The shoulders are a more polite area than your lower back.

  • If you feel like he's giving you a signal through your shoulders, he probably means something romantic for the long term, or something like a best friend. It's not to be taken as overt.
  • Sometimes guys really like a pair of feminine, rounded shoulders. They're fascinating to them.
  • They may wrap their hands around your shoulders in public to mark the relationship and also guide you through busy crowds. This shows togetherness.
  • Shoulders can also be a less personal area to touch—unless he's lingering here, touching you frequently, or massaging your shoulders, the touch may be purely platonic.

Arms

You get different vibes when someone's hand is on your arm as opposed to your hand. Putting your hand on someone's arm is all about sending a message rather than starting a back-and-forth dialogue.

Try thinking about the touch when it happens and review how it feels later. Did the touch feel genuine, tender, and comforting—or did it feel calculated, too strong, or awkward? If you slow down and think about how the touches feel to you, you'll start to understand them more in their unique, personal ways.

  • Your arms are not the most sensitive part of your body. If he is latching onto your arms, it means he wants to feel like he is on the same page as you.
  • He may want to show you that he's playful.
  • Some guys are more comfortable linking arms than holding hands, while others are all about holding hands.
  • He may put his hands on both of your arms before he gives you a kiss.

Hands

I mean, the easiest way to touch a person is with the hands. It'll probably start with a handshake, high five, or fist bump. It's the easiest way to break the touch barrier. It's not the most sensitive part of your body, and you can communicate a lot with a squeeze, hold, or bump. If you ever get a strong tingling sensation in your hand, which is rare, then you both definitely have a strong connection for each other, whether romantic or not.

  • Hands are all about partnership when together.
  • If he's kissing your hand, that shows a lot more tenderness. It's a good sign if he wants to hold your hand.
  • If he's clinging to your hands, that might be weird. Try softening your hands, arms, and shoulders so he'll hold onto you longer.
  • You might also experience some thumb wars or other childlike games so that he can hold your hand and get closer to you.
  • Some people say holding hands is more intimate than other gestures, even kissing.
  • Likely the two of you will compare your hands—the differences in size, the way your skin feels, and possibly even your grip.

Back

Your back can go a number of ways. It's like a canvas where he can write any kind of message he wants.

  • If his hand is going low, then that means he has one thing on his mind.
  • If he gives you a pat on the back, he's being supportive, friendly, and maybe trying to get you used to his hands.
  • If he keeps his arm around you and your back, then unless he's really uncomfortable and needs to stretch, he's claiming you and making it public to others.

Stomach, Waist, or Hips (the Midsection)

The midsection is an intriguing area for guys because it is very different from their’s — soft, curvy, and smooth. There are a few different meanings behind why a guy might touch you here:

  • A poke in the stomach is a playful gesture that could either be platonic or flirtatious.
  • Grabbing you at your hips or waist is a pretty suggestive move. This is an area from which a guy can control your entire body, and it’s right between two areas that most men are very interested in. This likely means he feels pretty comfortable with you, or he wants to get more comfortable quickly.

Legs

Consider your legs like your arms, as a playful area.

  • If he's touching your thigh, he might be seeing how close he can get to you, and he probably has romance (or lust) on the brain.
  • If he's touching the lower part of your legs, it's probably flirtatious. How'd he get down there anyway? Are your legs draped over him?
  • He may draw your legs toward him to have you sit on him, which is a pretty flirtatious move and gets you very close (physically) to each other.

A Special Case

There is one cuddle move that shows a lot of intimacy, and it has to do with legs: the Lover's Knot. You may, when cuddling, find yourself face-to-face with your legs intertwined. This cuddle move is used at the beginning of a relationship when you are in a honeymoon state. Obviously, this full-body cuddle can indicate a lot. You can go whatever direction you want to from there.

Feet

Feet are interesting. On the one hand, their movements can happen subconsciously (how often do you make sure that your feet are pointed in any particular direction?). On the other hand, if someone is using their feet on purpose, or touching your feet, well, that means something.

  • If his feet are pointed towards you while you're talking, that might mean he likes you since we tend to (subconsciously) point our feet in the direction of the people we like or are attracted to.
  • If he starts touching you with his feet—which you probably won't appreciate—he has a thing for you.
  • He may try to keep your feet warm as women tend to have colder feet.
  • Similar to hands, the two of you may compare your feet and the difference in their size and feel. Some people care about feet more than others.
  • It can be a safe zone to touch compared to other places, so it could be one of the more initial flirty spots.
  • Foot rubs = romance. Marry that man! Foot rubs are the best.
  • Feet are also (often) ticklish, and tickling is a classic mode of flirtation.
You can tell a guy likes someone when he laughs a lot, smiles, and holds their hand. Dead giveaways right there.

You can tell a guy likes someone when he laughs a lot, smiles, and holds their hand. Dead giveaways right there.

Other Things He Might Do

Picks You Up

  • He wants to show off his strength.
  • He also really likes the idea of holding you and picking your steps for you. It oozes masculinity in his mind.
  • He likes having the feel of you all around him. Definite sign of romance right here.

Hugs You

A whole lot can be communicated with a hug. It’s one of the easiest ways to read someone’s emotions.

  • The length of a hug can say a lot — a hug that lasts longer than usual means someone has a strong interest.
  • Is he really talkative during the hug? It might mean he’s nervous or really likes you.
  • Hugs shouldn’t make you feel uncomfortable. If you don’t want him to hug you, tell him upfront. Otherwise, he’ll probably keep doing it.
  • A pat on the back means that the hug needs to end, wandering hands means someone wants more, and laughing is a good sign.
  • A hug from behind means he was really excited to see you.

Some other key points of interest here:

  • A side hug isn’t as strong as a full chest-to-chest hug.
  • A one-arm hug is less intentional.
  • If you can hear his heartbeat, this is likely a strong hug.
  • Sometimes a good hug leads to him picking you up and having you wrap your legs around him.
  • Your brain starts to release oxytocin in a long hug. This also happens with cuddling.
  • Hugs are good for your emotional well-being.
  • A lot of guys show initial interest by giving you a hug. It means you are higher up on the list of valued people, whether a friend or more.
  • You might get a little massage from a hug.
  • Some people are honestly better at hugs than others.
  • You should not feel crushed in a hug. Just like a handshake, too much pressure is bad.
  • A goodbye hug means they want to leave you with a good impression.
  • Sometimes a hug is more powerful than a kiss.
The classic move: the guy puts his arm around his date's shoulder while sitting.

The classic move: the guy puts his arm around his date's shoulder while sitting.

Touch You With His Head

Our heads are one of the most vulnerable parts of our body. Most people don’t just plant their head on somebody, so it’s an intimate touch.

  • If someone lays their head in your lap, on your shoulder, or puts their forehead next to yours, that means they feel comfortable in your presence and trust you enough to do so.
  • If he drops his head in your lap, he definitely has the feels for you. It’s a form of cuddling. And it might make you uncomfortable since it’s terribly close to a world of strange things. He probably wants you to rub his head if he’s gone this far.
  • He may also — like a cat — put his forehead next to your forehead as a form of bonding.

Interlock Fingers While Holding Hands

Holding hands is a sign of affection. Couples do it all the time, but the first time you hold hands with a new person, it can be thrilling. Your brain might be racing, "OMG we're holding hands!! What does it mean!?"

Interlocking fingers is an especially kindred way to hold hands. It can signal a desire for increased closeness, or it could be an expression of how he already feels about you.

Touch You All the Time

This man is either just super fidgety (which is totally possible, especially if he generally moves around a lot), or he’s acting out on himself the things that he secretly wants to do to YOU!

Touching any of these areas are subconscious signs of attraction. Talking with someone that you like can create a lot of energy and that energy needs to go somewhere. If he’s not yet comfortable with touching you, he might put the nervous energy into fidgeting with his face, neck, or hair — all of which could draw your eye to features that you might find attractive.

Touch His Face, Hair, or Neck While He's Talking to You

This man is either just super fidgety (which is totally possible, especially if he generally moves around a lot), or he's acting out on himself the things that he secretly wants to be doing to YOU!

Touching any of these areas are subconscious signals of attraction. Talking with someone that you like can create a lot of energy, and that energy needs to go somewhere. If he's not yet comfortable with touching you, he might put the nervous energy into fidgeting with his face, neck, or hair — all of which could draw your eye to features that you might find attractive.

Touch You With His Feet

If he's touching you with his feet, this man is flirting with you! Alert the flirt police, because we have an offender.

If you like it, feel free to flirt back with a little footsie of your own. If not, you can acknowledge what's happening and tell him to cut it out.

Good Luck!

I hope this was helpful for you! Best of luck to you and your crush—flirting can be confusing but a lot of fun.

© 2015 Andrea Lawrence

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