The language of love may be universal, but the silent messages sent through flirting body language can be difficult to translate. Communicating through gesture, touch, and eye contact is a subtle mode of expression that most interpret unconsciously, according to body language expert Traci Brown.
Meet the Expert
Traci Brown is a body language and persuasion expert and author of Persuasion Point. TIME Magazine named her one of the country’s top deception detection experts.
"A huge part of our communication is body language," Brown says. "It's interpreted unconsciously, so it’s a way to send very strong messages without saying a word." When it comes to flirting, Brown believes that the body language expressed to show interest comes without a thought to most, "but smart folks figure it out and use their body language strategically to draw people to them."
Whether you're looking to step up your dating game or get a better read on a particular love interest, Brown has you covered. She deciphers specific body language gestures so you can be prepared for even the most subtle hints of flirtation (or lack thereof). Here, her top tips on how to decipher flirting body language.
Touching on the Arm
Next time you find yourself on a date, take note if your date touches you on the arm. "People touch each other when they want a deeper connection. This is typically a good sign on a date," Brown says.
Holding Eye Contact
Notice your date gazes off to the side, into the distance, or looks down while talking to you? It might be a red flag. "Gazing lovingly into each other's eyes is a sign of romance as old as time," says Brown. "Everyone wants to look at things that make them feel good—hopefully that's their date."
Crossing Their Arms
How is your date sitting? Are they relaxed with their arms at their sides, or do they keep them crossed the whole time? According to Brown, crossed arms is not a great sign if you're hoping for a love connection. "It could mean closed, cold, comparing, or needing comforting," she says.
Touching Their Leg
Leg touching requires some decoding. "It depends how you're touching your leg—is it just smoothing out your pants? That's often connected to self-soothing. Someone would do it if they're nervous," according to Brown. "Or is it a more purposeful stroke of the shin and calf area with a loving gaze? That's a come-on."
Standing or Sitting Close to You
According to Brown, standing or sitting close to you while on a date is a clear sign that love is in the air. "People want to be close to things they like. No rocket science here, she says.
Putting Their Hands on Their Hips
A date standing with their hands on their hips can be a good or bad sign, depending on how you look at it. "This can be a show of confidence or being ready for anything—even a fight," Brown says. "It makes you bigger and look more imposing." Your date may have total confidence in their feeling for you, but if their confidence feels intimidating or even somewhat aggressive, it could be a turn off to you.
Accidentally Brushing Your Arm or Leg
Always remember, according to Brown, there are few accidents when it comes to body language. If your date "accidentally" brushes your arm or leg, "this is a way to reach out and touch you," she says.
Leaning in During Conversation
If you're chatting and your date leans into you, consider it a good sign. "This is a way to show they're into you—or at least what you're saying," says Brown. "They're getting closer, showing attention and interest."