The language of love may be universal, but the silent messages sent through flirting body language can be difficult to translate. Communicating through gesture, touch, and eye contact is a subtle mode of expression that most interpret unconsciously, according to Traci Brown, body language and persuasion expert and author of Persuasion Point.
"A huge part of our communication is body language," Brown says. "It's interpreted unconsciously. So it’s a way to send very strong messages without saying a word." When it comes to flirting, Brown believes that the body language expressed to show interest comes without a thought to most, "but smart folks figure it out and use their body language strategically to draw people to them," she says. Whether you're looking to step up your dating game or get a better read on a particular love interest, Brown has you covered. She's deciphering exactly what specific body language gestures mean so you can be prepared for even the most subtle hints of flirtation (or lack thereof).
The Body Language: They lightly touch you on the arm
Translation: "People touch each other when they want a deeper connection. This is typically a good sign on a date," Brown says.
The Body Language: They hold eye contact
Translation: "Gazing lovingly into each other's eyes is a sign of romance as old as time," says Brown. "Everyone wants to look at things that make them feel good—hopefully that's their date."
The Body Language: They cross their arms
Translation: This is not a great sign if you're hoping for a love connection. "It could mean closed, cold, comparing, or needing comforting themselves," Brown says.
The Body Language: They touch their leg
Translation: "It depends how you're touching your leg—is it just smoothing out your pants? That's often connected to self-soothing. Someone would do it if they're nervous," according to Brown. "Or is it a more purposeful stroke of the shin and calf area with a loving gaze? That's a come-on."
The Body Language: They stand or sit close to you
Translation: This is a clear sign that love is in the air. "People want to be close to things they like. No rocket science here."
The Body Language: They put their hands on their hips
Translation: "This can be a show of confidence or being ready for anything—even a fight," Brown says. "It makes you bigger and look more imposing."
The Body Language: They accidentally brush your arm or leg
Translation: "There are few accidents in body language," according to Brown. "This is a way to reach out and touch you."
The Body Language: They lean in during conversation
Translation: "This is a way to show they're into you—or at least what you're saying. They're getting closer, showing attention and interest."
The Body Language: They touch their neck
Translation: It could mean a few different things. "Are you grabbing the back of your neck? That's anger. It's kind of like when the hair on the back of a dog's neck stands up," she explains. "Or is it a sensual stroke on either side of the Adam's apple? It's calling attention to a sensitive area—and lengthening it. Very sexy."
Next time you find yourself on a date, look out for these signs of flirting body language and maybe experiment with strategically using a few moves yourself to express interest in someone new. Happy flirting.