How to Read Her Body Language

Because the less you have to actually say with your mouth, the better.

You’ve read the books. You’ve watched the videos. You think you can decipher female body language, but whenever you meet a woman, you may as well have learned Esperanto. What are you missing? “Nonverbal communication is not a language,” cautions psychologist Ron Riggio. “The meaning of a particular cue varies, depending on individual factors, situational factors, etc.” In other words, you have to play it by ear. Here are a couple of clues to cues you can use.

1. Extra Smileage

Sure, she’s smiling at you, but what kind of smile is it? A researcher who studies smiling offers this tip: “In a genuine smile, you will see crow’s-feet wrinkles appear at the outer edges of the eyes. This indicates that the person is enjoying herself.” As will relaxed body movements that mirror her smile, showing that she really did find your joke funny. Otherwise, as with so many things, your target could be faking it and be actually pissed off about something you just said. Don’t fixate on the mouth; check out the whole package.

2. Skin Trade

Gabriel Ra’am, a nonverbal communications consultant and author of Men and Women Beyond Words, says a good rule of thumb is how much thumb she shows you. If she makes motions that reveal the palm of the hand, or she “uncrosses her legs, then recrosses, showing part of the thigh,” she’s opening herself up. A behavior deemed universal among interested women is the tilting or turning of the head just enough to expose the neck. Obviously, if she turns 180 degrees, the back of her neck is all you’ll get.

3. Conflicting Signals

Ra’am recommends watching fingers, eyelids, and lips. “When one of these twitches or shakes during conversation, there may be a problem with what is being said.” Additionally, if you’re engrossed in what you feel is a meaningful conversation and she stares off into space, back up a step or two. Other danger signs are excessive self-touching and/or arm or leg crossing, or lips pressed together. Basically, if she looks restless, uncomfortable, or downright pissed, she probably is. Time for you to chill out a bit.

4. Hair Play

It’s often said that a hair-toucher wants to be a you-toucher—though it all depends on what she’s doing with it. Gabriel Ra’am says women who are interested in a particular man will “play with [their hair], pushing it away from the face,” especially in a seductive manner. But if she’s holding it against her face or in front of her eyes, say Monica Moore and Tim Perper, two psychologists who have researched flirtation behavior, she may be trying to slow things down—for good.

5. Unhappy Feet

“Try watching her feet,” adds Dr. Jack Dovidio, a specialist in nonverbal communication. “If she shows impatience or is oriented toward the door, she wants out, no matter how pleasant she appears.” On the other hand, if she has started to slip her foot out of her shoe in a suggestive manner, your prospects look good. And if she has slipped her feet out of her shoes and is running her toes up your thigh, then you really should put the magazine down and get back to the real world.

6. Sides Matter

One sign everyone agrees on is isopraxism, or following your lead. “‘Doing the same thing is a powerful bonding agent in courtship,” says Dr. David Givens, author of Love Signals. “When people show rapport with each other, they swivel their upper bodies toward each other and align their shoulders in parallel.” See if she’s on your wavelength. “When the man shifts position, is it followed and reciprocated?” Then you’ve got isopraxism. If nothing else, at least your vocabulary is improving.

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