You know, I always find it strange when my girlfriends say they don’t know if a man is really interested in them. And most blokes seem to remain resolutely oblivious to the most obvious of flirtation signals. Prior to my becoming a respectable married woman (cough), I had quite a lengthy flirtation with internet dating. Now I know a lot of people are still quite sniffy about meeting a partner this way, seeing online dating as the refuge of the dateless and socially inept, but I found it immense fun and an excellent way of deciding what I wanted in a man.
A long-time single girlfriend of mine (and I mean years) would love to meet a special someone but won’t try online dating on the grounds that she’d have to have a profile picture. It’s funny how we’ll happily supply the most ghastly of photos for passports and driving licences but when it’s a question of our attractiveness being judged, nothing less than a photo-shoot with David Bailey will do. She also worries about work colleagues finding her out. Frankly, unless you’re ‘M’ at MI5, I’m not sure this is too much of a problem. Rather than view my dates as a nerve-wracking experiment, I pretended I was ‘auditioning’ the latest candidate, thus making him the one on trial rather than me. Possibly a weird mental switch, but try it, it works.
Anyone who works in HR or who interviews as part of their job knows that the first judgement of a candidate is normally made in the first few seconds of meeting and that most of our communication is non-verbal. Yes, what you say is less important than how you say it and the various signals you give out. I could read body language tomes all day from self-styled ‘sexpert’ Tracey Cox to the grandfather of body language study himself, Desmond Morris. So, when you are at a party or a date, take a moment to observe your potential partner in action. This is no bad thing because the late Helen Gurley Brown (Editor in Chief of Cosmopolitan Magazine) once said “if you’re doing all the talking, you’re boring somebody”. Silence is power.
Here’s what to look for.
- Prolongued eye contact – particularly if they look into your eyes and then at your mouth
- Proximity – are they sitting close to you or if not, are they turned towards you? If you are standing in a circle with others, have a quick glance at the floor to see if their feet are pointing towards you.
- Preening – I’m sure we all know the classic preening gestures such as toying / flicking hair or licking lips. Some men will hook their fingers in their belt loops unconsciously ‘pointing’ to their groin. Some women will stroke their throat, drawing attention to their breasts.
- Mirroring – if you both have a drink, look to see if you both lift your glasses to sip at the same time or, if you change your posture, do they change theirs too?
- Territory – if you are sitting across a table from each other, try putting your glass or a piece of cutlery down on their ‘side’ of the table. If they are comfortable, they’ll probably let it stay there. If they’re not, it’s likely to be handed straight back.
- Conversation – do you both finish each other’s sentences? Are your questions being answered without just a curt yes or no?
- Revealing gestures – the inside of the wrist is considered to be an erogenous zone – watch to see if there are lots of palm up / wrist revealed gestures. Revealing the wrist whilst smoking is a classic flirtation gestures and you could probably write a book about Hollywood’s use of smoking as flirtation. Now such a thing would be not quite Disney and I suspect that trying the same femme fatal routine with an e-cig probably won’t have the same effect. Far sexier these days not to smoke unless you’re happy to keep leaving the table this festive season to stand outside with the other lonely souls and light up in the rain while your date eyes up the other women in the restaurant.
- Lack of eye contact – that thing where you’re dancing and you just know he’s checking out other women over your shoulder
- Constantly checking a mobile – be honest. If they are checking their email or updating their Facebook status, they aren’t that keen
- Pomposity – they sit with both hands behind their head maximising their physical size and space. This is the gesture of arrogance and superiority. Him Tarzan, you probably one of many Janes. Either way, you’re not considered an intellectual equal.
- Closed answers – yes/ no answers that leave conversation in the air, not asking about you, talking about the Ex – no, no, no!
- No attempt to prolongue the date – if you finish the last mouthful of your dessert and they ask for the bill rather than coffee, not good. Some women think men should pay on the first date; I’m more pragmatic, particularly if you earn more than he does but if he splits the bill to the penny, run.