I got this email from a subscriber to my newsletter:
How do I tell if a guy likes me? I have a feeling you’ll tell me what I already know, that he’ll sit closer to me or look directly at me or something but I’m curious as to if there’re other signs. I’m overweight and often down on myself about that so I guess it’d be helpful to be able to read when someone likes me or how to tell them i like them but not freak them out, I hope I’m explaining this right :/ Thank you for reading this and I look forward to reading your future articles.
Before I tackle the question, let me just thank the writer for sending it in. When I began the blog I envisioned it as a place where people could ask questions about how body language affects their lives, and I’m thrilled to finally get one. This should serve as a hint for anybody else who’s curious about some aspect of body language or non-verbal communication. If there’s anything you want to know, send me an email.
Anyhow, about romance. About a year ago I wrote a short article on the topic of reading romantic body language for my newsletter. Now it’s a blog post. Most of what I say here will be repeated there in a bit more detail.
The questioner is right that in general a guy who is romantically interested will sit closer, but of course a person who sits closer may have reasons that have nothing to do with romance. Luckily you can test his interest by moving a little closer yourself. That will signal that you’re sensitive to his interest and willing to return it. You don’t have to move very much closer, either. In fact, it’s better if you don’t. This is one of those situations where subtler is better. If he moves away, he might not be looking for deeper intimacy.
The questioner is also right that the guy who is interested will generally look at her more directly. In particular he’s likely to make eye contact for a longer period of time than when he’s talking to others. He’s also more likely to smile and laugh at the things you say than he does for others. However, sometimes interest can be seen in more subtle ways. I was once having lunch with a student activities committee following a noon show. One of the guys complained about his difficulty with girls and he asked me how he could tell when a girl was interested in him. I didn’t tell him then, though I emailed it to him later, but one of the girls at his table was giving off the most unmistakable tells of romantic interest. She was mirroring his body language almost movement for movement, and her torso was pointing toward him throughout the entire conversation. When other people were speaking she turned her head toward them, but she kept her body facing the object of her affection.
The last thing I want to comment on is the questioner’s lack of confidence. I can relate to this very strongly. I was overweight in high school and I can still remember the self-consciousness that came with it. When you are constantly being judged and criticized it wreaks havoc on your ego, and your body language shows it. What I’ve discovered over a lifetime is that our specific physical attributes are seldom as important as the personality we project. People are particularly drawn to fun, positive, and above all confident people. Of course this doesn’t mean that there won’t always be plenty of superficial jerks out there, but if you look and act like you love and respect yourself most other people will find themselves attracted to you. Some of them will be potential romances.
I don’t want to sound too glib here. It’s easy for me to tell someone to learn to love herself, but I know from experience that it can take years of hard, painful work to unlearn the hurts that can be inflicted by cruel, superficial people. One of the ways I did this was by studying body language. By studying how confident, positive people act, and learning to act the same way, I eventually became confident and positive myself. It wasn’t easy, and it took time, but eventually it did happen.
I recently came upon a book that teaches this outside-in approach to growing your self-confidence. It’s called You Say More Than You Think. In it, the author, Janine Driver, teaches a step-by step approach to giving yourself a “body-language makeover.” Hers is a very concentrated and structured version of what I did on my own in my early adulthood. Back then I had to search blindly for the right resources. Now Ms. Driver has assembled the best information into one package. I really like this book.