So men are from Mars and women are from Venus? If we just don’t come from the same place at all, is there any hope of our ever understanding one another? Well, maybe….
Right chaps, listen up. This is important. In fact, girls, there’s plenty for you, too, so please read on. I have just received a lesson in understanding body language from a behavioural psychologist and dating coach. It was encouraging, disheartening and baffling all at once.
Let’s get the bad news out of the way first. It’s not easy being a man and here’s why. A woman is capable of giving off approximately 50 different signals through body language, whereas the less complex gentleman is only able to muster around 10. This makes men easier to understand, putting us at an immediate disadvantage. It gets worse. According to my coach, Jo Hemmings, females are better at picking up and understanding signals. But it’s a doddle for them, isn’t it? When they’re on a date, they only have to decipher a few signals.
Men, Hemmings tells me, struggle to appreciate what different gestures mean. But, surely we get confused because when we are out with a girl we have to unravel the meaning of dozens of signals. It’s not our fault! Apparently, males’ interpretations are based more on what they hear than what they see. So what body language signals should men look out for if they want to know whether a girl likes them or not?
Cocking of the head, maybe? Flicking of hair? Smiling?
‘People cock their head to listen,’ says Hemmings. ‘Just because someone is listening doesn’t mean they are interested in you, and flicking your hair is a nervous gesture. Smiling is, to a degree, a sign of attraction but it’s also something you can put on. You can fake a smile. It’s fairly easy to do.’
OK, what then? ‘A woman may pull up her sleeves.’
‘Yes, it’s a subconscious way to show you the soft, gentle, tender woman that she is. It is one of the unusual ones but it’s very common and fun to watch out for.
‘The other thing we like to do is shut the distance between us. I would push something towards you slightly. It could be a glass or a menu on a table. I’m leaning in and delivering a message that I want to get closer. It’s quite odd because it looks like you are pushing someone away but in fact you are drawing them towards you.’
Other indicators to look out for are stroking the rim of a glass, playing with a necklace, looking at you then looking away before she fixes her gaze back on you.
I’d have thought those were symptoms of nervousness. What was that about men being unable to read the signs?
The most important body language for both sexes is eye contact. ‘If you want to deliver a message without speaking you would hold someone’s eyes,’ says Hemmings. ‘The danger is it makes you look bonkers if you hold it too long. You need to time it perfectly.’
My coach says a man’s body language only really differs when he is lying or finds a woman attractive. So don’t cover your mouth with your hand. She won’t believe you.
If you are attracted to her you should subconsciously be giving off the appropriate signals. But, if you are so simple that you are incapable of even that, then fear not. It is, says Hemmings, possible to practise and rehearse the correct body language.
Pay attention girls. If you find a man doing the following don’t be perturbed, it’s probably because he likes you.
‘A clear sign is what is known as the flirting triangle. It’s looking to each eye, down to her mouth and then back up to her eyes to reconnect.’ Yes, I’m pretty sure I’ve done that.
‘Another thing men do is to hold their shoulders back. They breathe in and sort of puff themselves up.’ I’ve definitely done that but isn’t it just having good posture?
A third, Hemmings says, is ‘putting your thumbs through the belt loops of your trousers’. That’s ridiculous. I’ve never done that. Oh well, I suppose if you get your thumbs stuck in your trousers you could always tell her how you feel.
BODY LANGUAGE: A FEW INSTANT GIVEAWAYS
She likes you if…
• She pulls up her sleeves (the wrist is the softest part of her body)
• She pushes her wine glass – or yours – towards you (keen to close the distance between the two of you)
• She plays with her necklace and flicks her hair
He likes you if…
• He looks at each of your eyes, then mouth, then back to your eyes again (known as the flirting triangle)
• He breathes in and pushes his shoulders back (imagine a strutting peacock)
• He adopts a cowboy pose – hands on hips and thumbs in belt loops
So now we know. And it’s on to the next stage – learning to decipher each other’s actual words!
Written by Peter Hutchison, this article originally appeared in The Daily Telegraph