Dogs have it easy: a quick bum sniff and everyone knows where they stand. But trying to suss out the interest level of the woman on the other side of the table or WhatsApp thread requires more than an acute sense of smell. It demands a whole new kind of nosiness – identifying stealth body language signals, hearing linguistic cues, and doing some slick James Bond sleuthing (minus the misogyny).
Confused? Don’t worry: we’ll break it down. Notepads ready…
She Gives Good Text – And Sees A Future Beyond It
Dating apps used to be the perfect wingman: constant introductions to women, without the ulterior motive of your friend trying to get in there himself. Today, however, starting banter with a witty opening line is about as reliable a predictor of future happiness as depending on seeing the US in the World Cup semis.
Does she give great text, but become elusive when it comes to making a date?
The reason why became apparent when American consumer finance firm, LendEDU, investigated Tinder success rates and found that over 70% of users had never met up with anyone from the app.
Shocked, it then asked almost 10,000 people why they bothered using it. Only 4% said that their motivation was to find a relationship. The most common response? For confidence-boosting procrastination. Sorry, cupid.
For this reason, it’s important to suggest a real-life meet-up, stat – and to judge her reaction. “Does she give great text, but become elusive when it comes to making a date?” asks (and warns) relationship expert and business coach, Michelle Zelli. If so, you’re likely chatting to what Zelli calls a “flaky romancer”. And it’s a dead end.
She Follows Through On Her Suggestions
Things like: messaging you when she says she will, booking tickets to the movies as promised, connecting you with the work contact that could lift your business off the ground, lending you the new book that she’s finished reading and knows you’re itching to start.
It doesn’t matter what the action is, “It’s the integrity factor,” explains Zelli. “Does she follow through on what she says she will do? Can you trust her word? Integrity tells you whether you’re wise to put all your eggs into her basket.”
Note: bombarding her with Google calendar invites to fulfil any of the above is almost certainly overkill.
She Mirrors Your Mannerisms
One surprising attribute you want a woman to have in common with savvy politicians? Nothing to do with foreign policy; rather, the use of a psychological technique called mirroring.
If she is mirroring you, that could mean that she finds you as hot as you find her
“It’s the act of adjusting your body language – your movements, speech and mannerisms – to match the other person’s,” describes Dr. Becky Spelman, a psychologist and cognitive behavioral therapist at the Private Therapy Clinic in London. Mirroring establishes comfort, trust and rapport – which explains why politicians are so damn good at it (and often go through intensive body language training to get good).
But it also has much more romantic purposes than negotiating trade deals – mirroring is the connection that explains why long-term couples often walk in perfect synchrony with one another, or turn to face each other at the exact same moment. Signs of a ‘mirrored’ connection usually happen subconsciously, but can be spotted early on in dating.
“Try shifting position, or crossing or uncrossing your arms,” suggests Dr. Spelman. “If she instinctively does the same thing, she is mirroring you, and that could mean that she finds you as hot as you find her.”
Her Pupils Dilate
“When we see someone we find sexually desirable, our pupils dilate. Fun fact: the same thing happens when we see something tasty that we want to eat,” laughs Dr. Spelman. “Keep a close watch on her eyes – do her pupils dilate when she looks straight at you?”
Her pupils might be dilating because she feels the rewarding effect of being in your presence
Obviously, subtlety is paramount here. Dilation or no dilation, she’s not going to stay interested if the guy she’s on a date with keeps giving her the staring eye like that creepy Chucky doll from the slasher films. And if you’re rolling your eyes about the science of why it happens, it’s all due to the release of dopamine.
“Research reports that our pupils dilate wider when we are excited about something or someone,” explains Dr. Spelman. “Dopamine is produced when your body expects a reward, such as a sweet treat or attention from a romantic partner – and it causes the pupils to dilate while this is happening. Her pupils might be dilating because she feels the rewarding effect of being in your presence.”
She Gives You A Face-Crinkling Smile
Like burgers, hair products and whose turn it is to take the garbage out, not all smiles are created equal. Back in the 19th century, French anatomist Guillaume Duchenne identified a key difference between a genuinely happy smile vs. the smile you make when your boss asks if you’ll take their place on a five-hour IT course next Saturday.
A ‘Duchenne’ smile predicted a happy marriage up to 30 years later
The legit smile – called the ‘Duchenne’, after its discoverer – involves the contraction of two muscles: the zygomatic major (which raises the corners of the mouth) and the orbicularis oculi (which raises the cheeks and forms crow’s feet around the eyes). A fake smile – AKA what’s plastered over most of Instagram – only involves mouth movements because we can’t voluntarily contract the orbicularis oculi.
Thus the Duchenne smile – the cute, eye-wrinkly one – is considered the no.1 indicator of someone genuinely enjoying themselves. And subsequent studies have backed this up. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley compared the smiles from 141 women’s school yearbook photos with their happiness levels as adults and found that a Duchenne smile predicted a happy marriage up to 30 years later.
Another study, in the journal Motivation and Emotion, confirmed a correlation between low-intensity smiles in youth and divorce later in life. The takeaway: “Check for crow’s feet and closed eyes to know that she’s smiling from the inside,” says Zelli.
Great if you see it – just don’t tell her that you like her eye wrinkles. We all know what kind of expression follows that.
She Laughs More Than Your Jokes Merit
Look, we’re not saying that you’re not Chris Rock, it’s just… OK, we are saying that. Chances are that you have the odd guffaw-inducer in your repertoire, “But if she’s laughing long and loudly at all your jokes, especially if you have the sneaking suspicion that they’re not really as funny as all that, she may be trying to show you that you’ve got her attention, and she’s receptive to it,” suggests Dr. Spelman.
Who needs Gervais, after all?
She Points Her Feet Towards You
Foot fetish or not, “Look how she’s standing – our feet can give us away even when we’re sure that we’re wearing a poker face,” reveals Dr. Spelman.
In 2009, Professor Geoffrey Beattie, Dean of Psychological Sciences at the University of Manchester, found a new body language in which humans use their feet to give out signals.
Our feet may be giving us away… they are part of the body from which we have the least internal feedback
“While people might know what their facial expression or hands might be imparting, they will often have no idea whether their feet are moving,” he told The Telegraph. “The reason our feet may be giving us away is that they are part of the body from which we have the least internal feedback.”
The messages are also very different between men and women. Prof Beattie found that men don’t signal sexual attraction at all with their feet, but women almost certainly do.
If she’s not interested, her feet will be crossed or tucked away under her body. However, if she likes you and is laughing, her foot will move away from her body and she will have an open leg posture.
“If her feet are turned towards you, it may be an unconscious gesture that suggests she may be interested,” confirms Becky. Time to put your best foot forward and all that.
She’s Looking For Common Ground – Not Enemy Lines
Dating can be a conversational minefield, but if she’s dodging all the ex-bombs and trying to spark mutual interests, you’re off to a safe start, assures Zelli. “A good sign is someone who’s looking for things that you have in common, rather than things you won’t agree on.”
Save the battles for serious relationship discussions, such as who’s going to take the dog out for a wee in the rain.
But If Everything Fails, Accept Defeat Graciously
You can have the date of your life, but sometimes it’s a non-starter. In which case, bow out with class.
“Even if her body language appears to indicate that she might be interested, if she makes it clear that she isn’t – that’s your cue to politely and respectfully walk away,” adds Dr. Spelman.
Then have an honest think about whether you might have given her the Chucky-doll look.