Is flirting taking place? Watch for these gestures

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Breaking down dating body language 101 (KTRK)

When you're at a restaurant or bar, do you know what your date is really thinking? Body language expert Jan Hargrave broke it down for us.

"Fifty-five percent of our communication is nonverbal. Thirty-eight percent is from our voice inflection and only 7 percent comes from the words we say," Hargrave explained.

So what are the tell-tale signs to watch out for? First, let's break down the good.

"It's all a part about flirting, maybe licking the lips," Hargrave said.

If she's showing her wrists, that's a good thing.

"Exposing the wrists is very sexual. It's very sexy," Hargrave said.

If they're twirling a straw in their glass, it's usually an indicator that he probably wants to talk with you a little bit further.

"Pulling up with the socks is a big courtship gesture. Years ago, men often said, 'You need to see this girl, she'll knock your socks off,'" Hargrave told us.

Another sign to watch for is the way they're sitting near you.

Hargrave said, "When a couple is seated next to each other, we generally cross our legs towards people we'd like, and away from people we don't like."

These general flirting gestures can signal approachability:
  • 4-min. value judgement/appearance inventory that we make on others and that they make on us

  • Over 85% of all flirting gestures are started by women and women who begin flirting gestures typically get positive responses.

  • Eyebrow lift

  • Smile

  • Eye contact (flirting triangle: eye-eye-mouth; eye-eye-mouth)

  • Genuine smile (wrinkles in corner of eyes)

  • Standing tall; unhurried walk, easy strides

  • Sitting positions

  • Keeping time to music

  • Marilyn Monroe smile (biting lower lip)

  • Using accidental touches

  • Sexual peek-a-boos (glancing over a menu, newspaper, etc.)

  • Wearing sexy clothing


In women, these gestures may indicate that they are indeed flirting:
  • Slowly crosses and uncrosses her legs toward male

  • Licks her lips/slightly bites on her bottom lip

  • Excessively sways her hips

  • Dangles her shoe (once her legs are crossed toward the male)

  • Flicks or smooths her hair

  • Clasps (holds on to) her crossed knee

  • Sits on her leg

  • Purposely exposes her wrists

  • Slightly tilts her head

  • Lowers her voice so that he need to get nearer to her to hear

  • Smooths her hands over her hips while she's standing


In guys, these gestures may indicate their attempt at flirtation:
  • Preening, pushing hands through hair

  • Straightening his tie and/or shirt cuff

  • Excessive buttoning and unbuttoning his jacket button

  • Pulling/adjusting his socks

  • Squeezes objects in her presence (Coke can/stem of wine glass)

  • Cow-poke stance (thumbs tucked in belt with fingers pointed toward zipper area)

  • Using space/size to command more power (widening his body stance)


Hargrave said to keep the "Rule of 3" in mind when observing your date. If you see at least three of these gestures, they validate that flirting is taking place.

Signs that show your date may not be into you begin with the arms. Are they crossed in front of his or her body? Hargrave says this could be a sign of disagreement. Also, pay attention to their eye contact.

"If you're looking around too much while you're having the conversation with someone else, it means that you're looking for an exit and you want to get out of that conversation," Hargrave said.

If they're looking to end the date early, they may look at their watch repeatedly. Take a look at their hands, as well.

"Too many left handed gestures are associated with someone being uncomfortable with what they're saying to you," Hargrave said. "Rubbing of the eye too much with the left hand in the left eye says, 'Do not see very clearly what I'm saying, because I'm not being fully honest with you.'"

Here are some negative flirting gestures to watch. In guys:
  1. Sitting in a slouched position, means he is not interested

  2. Fake smile indicates he is unhappy

  3. Drumming on table probably means he is bored

  4. Clasping his hands behind his head probably means he is overly confident

  5. Straddling chair, indicates a defensive demeanor


In girls:
  1. Arms tightly crossed across her body (defensive)

  2. Quickly kicking crossed leg (boredom)

  3. Touching left eye, left ear with her left hand (deception)

  4. Tightly crossed ankles (holding back)

  5. Clinched fists (anger)


For more information on body language expert Jan Hargrave, click here. Special thanks to Page Parkes and Dish Society for their contributions.

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