Related Body Language/Flirting Style Quiz:
What Vibe Do You Give Off Around Men?
Men’s Body Language, Decoded: What’s He Really Telling You?
When it comes to understanding men—and their interest level in you—do you need a translator? We asked the top body-language experts about men’s most confusing mixed signals and found that it’s not what he says but what he does that really matters.
Lip Smacker: He Licks His Lips
You’ve seen it in cartoons: When a cat’s about to pounce on a mouse, he licks his lips first, right? Tonya Reiman, author of The Power of Body Language, says it’s not much different when humans lick their lips. “He’s hungry for you,” she says. “We lick our lips in anticipation when we see something we desire.” He may be so “hungry for you,” in fact, that your presence makes him feel uneasy: “When we get nervous, our saliva glands stop secreting, and our mouths get dry” —leading to lip-licking,” adds body language expert Patti Wood.
Suddenly You See: He Pushes Your Hair out of Your Eyes
“Anytime a man touches you, he’s telling you he’s attracted to you,” says Reiman. But the experts agree that this body language action isn’t about, well, getting some action. “It’s intimate and hints that he wants more than just sex from you,” says Tracey Cox, author of Superflirt. “It’s a sign that he wants to touch you and get close, but needs an excuse to do it.” Just be wary, warns Wood: “If he grimaces while he does it, it shows the need to have things correct or perfect.” And be aware of your own reaction to this body language cue, too; he’s paying attention: “This is a test, explains Kevin Hogan, Psy.D., author of Irresistible Attraction: Secrets of Personal Magnetism. “It’s a direct way for him to say, ‘If you smile, I know you like me back.’”
Mover, Shaker: He Sways While He Speaks
When a guy rocks back and forth, he’s having a mama’s-boy moment, our body language experts agree. “The front-to-back sway is typically a comforting motion mimicking being rocked in the mother’s womb,” says Wood. But don’t head for the door just yet. “If the sway brings him all the way up on his toes, it indicates happiness.” Cox adds that, when you see this cue, you should ask yourself why he’s craving that comfort: Are you sending out signals that you want him to leave, for example? “Swaying on our feet is an ‘intention movement,’ where his body starts to do what his brain would like it to do. In this case, he’s half staying and half running away,” she says. Hogan, however, says this may have nothing to do with you at all: “A lot of people do this if they’ve had a drink or two.”
Rise and Shine: He Lifts His Eyebrows
Next time I see you, remind me not to talk to you, said comedian Groucho Marx. And who needs words when your guy is being so communicative with his eyebrows? This Groucho-like body language cue is all about context: “Surprise, happy recognition, skepticism… So much of this is in the timing,” says Wood. But if he raises his eyebrows quickly, you’re in luck. “That’s called an ‘eyebrow flash,’” says Reiman. “Coupled with a smile, you can usually assume he’s attracted to you.” He might also think you’ve said something cute, but he’s trying to play it cool, says Cox. She adds, “It’s an almost universal sign that he fancies you. After all, we raise our brows to allow our eyes to take in as much as possible of what’s in front of us.”
Can’t Sit Still: He Fidgets in His Chair
Is he squirming in his seat? That usually indicates that something’s wrong—and he wants out. In fact, Tonya Reiman, author of The Power of Body Language, goes so far as to say, “It signals anxiety or nervousness—a desire to end a conversation or to leave a situation.” Sex and body language expert Tracey Cox, on the other hand, has a more optimistic point of view: “He’ll also do it if he’s getting sexually excited and is trying to hide or calm down a potential erection!”
Animated Moves: He Talks with His Hands
You’ve got a big, um, personality on your hands with this guy, says Cox. “If you want an intense relationship, he’s your guy!” Hm, “intense” is a pretty loaded word, isn’t it? But she says not to worry: “He’s expressive and passionate. Men who talk with their hands are usually good communicators.” According to body language expert Patti Wood, it’s also possible that he wants to get serious, but he can’t figure out exactly how to tell you: “Using your hands helps you access more information in your brain, especially emotional information and emotion-laden words.” And Hogan takes it one step further: “The wider the gestures and the more he does this, the more he likes you.”
Comb On Now: He Runs His Fingers through His Hair
When birds in the wild smooth or clean their feathers to look their best for a potential mate, it’s called preening—and this human body language cue is no different. “We preen as a way to draw attention to ourselves,” Reiman explains. Wood agrees there’s a good chance that he’s interested in you if he fixes his hair in your presence, but that’s not all: “If he dips his head forward and gently cups his hair and smiles, it signals he wants to look good for you. But if he does it as he’s approaching you or as you’re approaching him, he’s nervous about his appearance,” she says. So, if you like him back, this may be a good time to comfort him with a compliment.
Spread ‘Em: He Sits or Stands with His Legs Splayed
This is one of the manliest of all body language moves. “Sitting with the legs splayed shows ‘machismo,’” says Wood. “[It’s like saying], ‘I am the alpha male.’” He may even think it turns you on, Cox says: “If he’s sitting with his legs wide apart, he’s giving you a ‘crotch display’—a sneak preview of what he thinks is his best part!” You may not want to take Mr. Big Stuff home to Mom and Dad, though, says Kevin Hogan, Psy.D., author of Irresistible Attraction: Secrets of Personal Magnetism, “You need an ego like this like you need another past boyfriend. Pick another guy.” Harsh!
Cheeky! He Strokes His Face
“Three cheers for this guy!” says Hogan. “He’s not trying to impress you; he’s just trying to listen to you.” He also may be mulling over his next move, and that could be one of a few things: Tonya Reiman, author of The Power of Body Language, thinks his next step will be emotional: “He’s contemplating an idea or thought.” But Cox says it may be physical: “We ‘self-stroke’ when we desperately want to stroke the person in front of us, but don’t feel like we can yet.” Regardless, this guy is a keeper.
Palm Sunday: He Reaches Out His Hand
When a man stretches out his hand, he’s asking for your permission, as in, “’I want to get close to you. Can I’?” says Reiman. But exactly how he does it determines whether he feels vulnerable or confident: “Palm up means he’s happy for you to take the lead from there. It’s a more submissive and innocent gesture,” says sex and body language expert Tracey Cox. “Palm down means he feels in control of what’s going to happen.” In fact, you can tell a lot about a relationship by how a couple holds hands: “The person whose palm faces down is usually the boss,” she says.
Getting Ahead: He Kisses You… On Your Forehead
If your guy chooses to plant one on your forehead of all places, it’s “a great sign of tenderness,” according to body language expert Patti Wood. Reiman agrees: “This is a signal of deep respect and affection, especially if he cradles your head simultaneously.” Tenderness, respect, affection… That all sounds well and good, but where’s the heat? “This is a parental gesture,” says Tracey Cox. “He cares for you deeply, but he may just see you as a friend.” Ugh, that’s what we were afraid of—but not so fast: “It could also mean he fancies you, but he doesn’t have the guts to aim for your lips.” There’s hope for you yet!
To read the piece as it’s intended to be read (as a slide show, pretty pictures and all), click here now.