I always like to preface any discussion on body language by making a disclaimer:
Reading body language is about gathering evidence and being a detective rather than just a casual observer. We often misread body language because we don’t know what the signs mean and because we assume that one single gesture is the tell-all. You cannot rely on just one cue. You must look for groups of cues that combine to tell a whole story.
Belly Button Rule
This is a rule that encompasses a whole lot more than sexual attraction. One of the ways to discern if someone is interested in you, what you’re saying, or really clicking with you, is to check their belly button. That might sound a bit silly, but one of the ways that we unconsciously signal disinterest or dislike about what’s being said is to angle our belly button and feet away from the speaker (often towards the door). If you’re out on a date and your companion is angled away from you, this may be an indicator that they are less than interested in the direction of your conversation. Here’s an earlier entry going into more detail.
1.) Adjust the topic of conversation so that you can re-engage them. A good bet is to ask them about themselves. Keep asking them questions and you might start to see their body turn back towards you. If your stomachs line up then you have brought the date back to a better place.
2.) If you’re able to do so, position yourself so that your belly buttons line up. Do this by moving your chair more in front of them. However, turning away can be a signal of discomfort so be wary not to push the envelope.
3.) Do nothing. It might just be that your date is waiting to use the restroom and is unconsciously signaling you that they need to step away for a moment.
Open Body Language
Using open body language is key to appearing receptive, amicable, and approachable. You are going to have better luck talking to someone who is exhibiting these types of gestures:
1.) Arms uncrossed and at their sides or resting on their knee. (Self-caressing of the arms, legs, or knee are not necessarily an indicator of being turned on. This may actually be what is called “soothing self touch,” behavior that is exhibited in times of stress or anxiety that helps the person calm down.)
2.) Body angled out towards the bar as if they are surveying the landscape.
3.) Person is leaning in towards you rather than away.
4.) Maintaining eye contact. (Love stories always include phrases like “our eyes met” and “we locked eyes” for a reason! Be sure to check back for more on eye contact soon.)
Things To Keep in Mind
1.) Everybody has a different norm or stance that is comfortable to them. Standing with your arms crossed doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re unapproachable but it has a tendency to send that signal. Be wary of doing it but keep an open mind to those that make this gesture a lot.
2.) Look for the variation and trigger point. If you approach someone who is exhibiting open body language and as you begin to talk to them you see that they fold their arms and turn away from you slightly, they may not be open to conversation or you may have said something they did not appreciate. The adjustments that people make to their normative stances are the key points that reveal their feelings. This requires practice on your part but once you begin to pick out people’s norms, finding their trigger points or gesture changes will become much easier.
The woman pictured here is clearly not interested in the man approaching her. What about her body language tells you that’s the case?
Part 2 of this series is coming soon. I will be covering eye contact and other facial gestures, including lip licking.