Body language is a secret tool when making a connection with someone new. Understanding body language gives you deeper insights when trying to decipher someone’s signs. And by learning to harness it, you can send your own non-verbal positive signals. SilverSingles takes you through the body language of attraction and how to make it work for you.
A little-known fact is that only a small percentage of communication is conveyed by words. Research has shown that over 50% of communication is non-verbal, with body language and tone of voice making up the majority of the communication we interpret! And this of course makes body language in communication a vital component, especially when navigating more challenging scenarios such as a first date.
Body language can be simply understood as the gestures, movements, and mannerisms by which people communicate. At its most basic, it’s what our bodies are saying without words and is often subconscious. And herein lies the power of decoding body language – it enables you to read a level deeper than what someone is verbally saying to you and understand the real message.
Learning how to read the signals of body language can give you another layer of perception into your interactions with people, and help you be more aware of the messages that you are transmitting. In the context of dating and relationships, this is especially useful as you get to know new people.
Body language: attraction and its signals
There are a few basic tell-tale signs of the body language of attraction. Let’s break down what can be considered good body language, indicating that someone is attracted to you and trying to tell you, and what are the no-no’s, when it’s time to put on the brakes and make a graceful exit. Flirting is hardwired into our communication repertoire as a mechanism of attracting a mate, so let’s take a closer look…
Mirror, mirror on the wall
Emulating someone is a high form of flattery, and flirtation! If you notice that your date is mimicking your movements, take it as a positive sign. Small gestures, such as leaning their head in the same direction as you, are a sign of attraction. “Mirroring body language is something we do unconsciously when we feel a bond with someone. It’s a sign that the conversation is going well and that the other party is receptive to your message,” says Travis Bradberry, author of ‘Emotional Intelligence 2.0’.
Peacock and Preen
Both men and women peacock and preen to communicate non-verbal signs of attraction. It forms part of our evolutionary behavior to attract a mate, but males and females go about it in slightly different ways. Women preen to make themselves more attractive to a potential partner, it’s not simply an act of vanity. Fixing her hair, applying lipstick and smoothing down her dress are subtle body language signals of preening. While men also preen, they tend to peacock more, displaying their masculinity in more overt ways, such as spreading their arms, taking up more space and speaking in a voice up to an octave deeper.
Bare your teeth
Pay attention to your date’s eyes and mouth – they have their own truths to tell. Laughter is a positive sign – if your date finds you funny, you’re probably doing well. Social scientists have discovered that that being open to your sense of humor and finding you entertaining is a signal of desire for a relationship. Look for the indicators of a real smile to know if you on track. A smile that reveals someone’s teeth and where their eyes crinkle are pointers of a genuine smile.
Proximity is another positive sign of the body language of attraction. When someone has a positive feeling about you, they tend to lean in closer to your personal space, indicating their interest. This also can be seen with a subtle brush of the hand, small gestures that however briefly navigate the space between you both. Using the eyes to hold your gaze and connect with you is also a means of drawing you in. Reaching out to you by reducing the distance between you in different ways is them telling you that you’re also welcome in their space, and that they want to get closer!
As much as you can enjoy the attentions of positive body language on a successful date, it’s also useful to know when things are not coming together – chemistry and compatibility are not always guaranteed. It can be helpful to know when someone is just not that into you, or when you need to adapt your communication to change the dynamics.
You’re stepping into defensive territory when you notice physical barriers raised between you. One of the strongest indicators of this is crossed arms or legs. This is communicating that the person you are with is shutting off mentally, emotionally and physically explains Bradberry to Business Insider. Other barriers can be raised such as a cup of coffee or physical item held between you. If you notice these signs, it’s time to change your tactic!
The Discomfort Zone
It’s understandable that dates can nerve-wracking, but when things stray into the discomfort zone, it can be more than first date jitters. Fidgeting, a tapping foot and someone touching their face are all signs of nervousness, tension or discomfort. A clenching hand or jaw is a strong indicator of stress or frustration. If you notice a display of discomfort, do what you can to ease the tension, make a joke, take a step back and try to relieve the tension.
Eyes don’t lie
Eye contact alone is not enough to know where you stand. Look out for either a lack of eye contact or holding your gaze too long. In an attempt to convince someone, people who hold your gaze for too long are often lying. Disinterest is also visible when you see someone scanning the room or looking at their watch. Along with this, a fake smile is easy to spot if the eyes aren’t included. A contraction of skin, like crinkles around the eyes, mean it’s likely not the real deal!
The converse is also true, leaning away from you, creating physical distance between you, is an indicator of negative body language. If your date freezes up and is rigid this also a sign of discomfort. If you touch someone and can see them freeze, even for a moment, it’s better to back off. On the contrary, repetitive or exaggerated movements can show boredom or anxiety. Keeping an eye out for this body language gives you a chance to sense when things are in a negative space and turn it around.
Speaking to Psychology Today, neuropsychologist Marsha Lucas advises that it’s better to watch for a cluster of gestures before making a move or interpretation. These signals exist within a context and sequence of communications so it’s best to gather enough intel before focusing only on one factor! Dr. Thompson suggests one must consider the three Cs when reading body language – clusters, context and congruence. Look for clusters of signals as together they will paint a picture. Consider the context you’re in and the congruence between body language, tone and verbal communication before making your interpretation.
Reading body language is not a simple science and you should apply the sensitivity and perception that is required in all types of good communication skills. Developing your communication skills can go on to give you the best grounding to build a healthy and happy relationship!
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