Female body language, or the body language of women, is not all that different from that of men. However, female body language does have a few noticeable differences that both sexes can make note of. Here is a video of my segment with AM Northwest on female body language, as well as detailed tips below!

In this ultimate guide on female body language, I’ll teach you the 15 cues that women “leak” that signal interest, attraction, and even a desire to do a little more. 😉

But first…

Are Women Better Than Men At Reading Body Language?

Sorry guys, but science shows that women are better at sending and picking up body language cues than men. Here’s how:

  • Monica Moore, a professor of experimental psychology at Webster University in St. Louis, found men often miss a woman’s first eye-gazing courtship signal. On average, women need to eye gaze three times before a man takes notice.
  • Women might be better at reading body language because more of their brain is active when they evaluate others’ behavior. MRI scans reveal that women have 14 to 16 active brain areas while evaluating others, whereas men only have 4 to 6 active.
The key to making a woman smile and winning her heart is being able to read her body language - Vanessa Van Edwards Quote

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How to Tell a Girl You Like Her

Let me bring you back to high school: You’re an awkward teenage boy, and you see your high school sweetheart staring you in the face. You don’t know how to ask her out, so what’s the best way to nonverbally tell her you dig her? Should you:

  1. smile at her
  2. wink at her
  3. show her your muscles
  4. flap around like a chicken

The answer?

Trick question—there is no right answer! By the time you’ve decided to signal your interest, she’s likely ALREADY sent you dozens—if not hundreds—of tiny micro signals that indicate if she’s interested in YOU. Signals that might have gone right over your head if you don’t know what to look for.

In fact…

Most early signaling is done by women. Women are truly the “selectors” who attract attention by displaying subtle nonverbal signals1. So if you know what to look for, there’d be no need for your awkward high school self to muster up the courage to face rejection in the first place.

Knowing how to spot the telltale signs of attraction will help you be ahead of 99% of men out there.

So what should you look for? Here’s what to look for to successfully read a female’s body language.

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Her Shoulders Will Move Toward You

Have you ever had a woman look over her shoulder or raise it? The shoulders may seem innocent, but they also mimic the woman’s breast and sexual healthiness.

A sideways glance over a raised shoulder highlights curves and the roundness of the female face. This signifies estrogen, exposes the vulnerability of the neck, and releases pheromones. Women instinctively do this when trying to flirt.

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She’ll “Accidentally” Touch You

Women actively seek chances to touch others they’re interested in. Most women won’t directly touch you to signal interest (unless you’re close), so they’ll test the waters indirectly by making it seem like an accident.

A subtle touch on the arm, her fingers grazing against yours, bumping her hips against your hips—you might be thinking, “Oh, that was just an accident!”… but chances are, you’d be soooo wrong!

In the world of body language, there are no accidents.

Don’t mistake an “accidental” touch for an accident. If you notice her touching you, it might be an accident, sure. But if it happens for a second time, or a third, she may truly be interested in you.

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Her Face Will Show Desire

Did you know women’s faces are generally more expressive than men’s? If you pay close attention, a woman who’s displaying interest cues will leak out signs of desire on her face.

If you’re familiar with the 7 different microexpressions already, you might be wondering, “There’s no desire expression, is there?” And you’d be right! Desire isn’t one of the 7 universal expressions. However, we can truly see desire in an attracted woman’s face through her lips and eyes:

  • Her lips will slightly part. Are her lips slightly parted? Slightly parted lips also mimic female genitalia. It suggests the genital “echo.”2
  • Her eyes will flutter. She may briefly flutter her eyelids at you. This may be more obvious with a slight downward tilt of her head.

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She’ll Stroke Her Knee

Studies show that touching and stroking the knees can signal sexual interest. Of course, if she’s stroking your knee, no need for further questions. But if she’s stroking hers, this may be a subconscious desire to stroke yours.

Side Note: You can think of the knees as 2 “large, leg-shaped arrows” that point at a person’s object of interest3. Look to see if her knees are pointing toward you.

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She’ll Open Up Her Body

Her body language will signal openness rather than being closed off. Things to look for include:

  • Arms. Are her arms more open around you? Are they freely moving and not held closely to her body? Women are more likely to fold their arms across their torso around aggressive or unattractive men, but if they find you attractive, they’ll open their body up4.
  • Legs. Crossed legs doesn’t necessarily mean she’s not into you—this could just be an attraction signal. Make sure to note the direction of her knees to see if she’s pointing toward you or away from you.

Watch her body language, as a more relaxed body indicates comfort and attraction.

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She’ll Expose Her Thigh

Even though crossing legs may be a closed-off cue, some women may cross their legs to expose their thighs. (Hint: they definitely know.) Women may do this especially if they’re wearing a short skirt, shorts, or tight leggings.

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Dr. David Givens, director at the Center for Nonverbal Studies, says that “rapid eyeblink (or ‘eyelash flutter’) means you’ve raised the blinker’s level of psychological arousal.” When a woman suddenly blinks faster, you may have increased her level of sexual excitement.

You might notice a sudden rapid eye blink when you tell an amazing story of you being a cool/exciting/funny guy. This is a subliminal way of saying, “You’ve captured my interest.”

Here’s the blink in action in an episode of The Bachelor (timestamp 3:29):

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She’ll Roll Her Hips

How does a woman shift, groove, and gyrate her hips?

Women naturally have wider hips than men, and a woman who is attracted to you might sway her hips back and forth more than normal. The back-and-forth motion can easily be seen when walking, especially if a woman goes to the restroom (she’ll likely assume you’re watching).

Look for the hip sway—this movement invites attention and exaggerates the fullness of her hips and buttocks.

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She’ll Stick Her Chest Out

Have you ever seen a gelada baboon? Their chests are very red, signaling sexuality and fertility.

Gelada Baboon displaying her red chest to attract a male
Not the most attractive mate, but she’s available.

Because the breasts are such a sexual signal, women who are attracted to you may stick their chests out to accentuate their curves. You may notice her lean closer, whip her shoulders back, and stand taller to display her goods more.

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She’ll Do the Hair Flip

If you’ve watched television before (like, ever), you may have noticed those Dove or Pantene commercials. Most of them have one thing in common: wildly exaggerated hair flips.

Women toss their hair or touch their neck when flirting because it exposes the armpit, which releases sex hormones, shows the curvature of the neck, and highlights shiny healthy hair. Hair flipping is done to draw attention5. Our eyes are automatically drawn to the hair when a woman flips. It’s a nonverbal way of saying, “Look at how healthy and beautiful my hair looks!” Even with coma patients, it has been shown they try to track movement with their eyes.

Take a look at this hilarious Saturday Night Live skit where Sofia Vergara and Penelope Cruz sell Pantene shampoo and you’ll know what I mean:

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She’ll Make Herself Look More Submissive

Women struggle with trying to stand their ground while not intimidating men. From a body language perspective, this happens in a number of ways. Women use cues of “submissiveness” to show vulnerability but can also employ certain moves for assertiveness, to show they are not pushovers.

  • Women pluck their eyebrows higher up their forehead because it makes them look more helpless. This causes a hormone release in a man’s brain connected with protecting and defending the female.
  • Oddly, a limp wrist or exposed wrists are a sign of submission, and both women and homosexual men tend to subconsciously do this when in a room with people they want to attract. Just like how weak prey in the wild might run limp away from its predators, a limp wrist invites another to dominate her. This is why while smoking, many women hold the cigarette with one wrist turned out and exposed.
  • When women want to be assertive, they can stand with their feet spread farther apart. This “claiming of territory” is a subconscious cue to men that the woman is feeling confident.

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She’ll Make the Marilyn Monroe Face

Like Marilyn Monroe, women who are trying to entice a man tend to raise their eyebrows and lower their lids because it looks similar to the face women make when they are experiencing pleasure.

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She’ll Preen Herself

Women will constantly preen themselves to maximize their attractiveness. When around a man she likes, preening behaviors may go up1:

  • Women stroke their hair and twirl it around their fingers. They might even do this unconsciously while talking to someone they like. Preening the hair not only makes it appear better groomed, but it also draws attention to the hair since our eyes are attracted to movement.
  • Some women may put on makeup, even during a date. If she excuses herself to the bathroom, and you notice a fresh coat of lipstick, this is a signal she’s trying to look her best. Pay close attention to her appearance before and after she goes to the restroom—you might notice small but subtle changes!
  • Glancing in the mirror. If you’re walking by a mirror or window, you might notice her paying close attention to her appearance. She might be checking to make sure she looks her best.

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She’ll Slowly Caress Nearby Objects

If the desire to touch is so strong, but it may be inappropriate to do so, you might see her behavior transfer to touching other objects:

  • A woman may caress, stroke, and fondle a wine glass or the cup she’s drinking from. This is a form of object transference. Objects that are phallic in nature may even come into play, such as a pen or even her phone.
  • Fidgeting with keys is another form of object transference. She might stroke her car keys or rub them between her fingers to release her pent-up energy.

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She’ll Lick Her Lips

A woman’s outer genital lips are proportionately the same thickness as her facial lips. It sounds raunchy, but lips are a form of “self-mimicry” intended to symbolize the female genital region4. If she’s attracted to you, she’ll lick her lips to make her lips shinier and more “inviting.” Licking also makes her tongue make movements that draw attention to them.

Licking lips can also mean that her mouth is drying out. But this can also mean attraction, since a dry mouth can be a side effect of increased breathing rate if she’s attracted. You might also notice her wearing glossy or red lipstick. Women do this to call attention to their lips.

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She’ll Move to the Groove

Is there ambient music playing? If you’re at a bar, club, or even networking event, you might notice her keeping time with the music by moving her body back and forth. It can even be very subtle.

Movements like these help illustrate that she’s keeping the social vibes high, and it’s also a nonverbal way to say she’s having a good time—all great signs when it comes to attraction.

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Female Body Language Tips for Flirting

Taking into account some of the female body language cues, here are some tips for both men and women to be a body language love expert:

  • When approaching a woman, men should never come up from behind, as this will put her on guard. They are better off coming in at an angle and then standing at an angle.
  • You do not need to have perfect looks to attract a man. Studies show that men are more attracted to a woman who engages in flirtation behavior to show she is available, versus the best-looking woman in the room.

What do people consider “likable” body language? Here are some of the behaviors that are attractive and likable across social, business, and romantic situations:

  • smiling
  • having an expressive face
  • keeping your hands below chin level (above can be seen as aggressive or overanimated)
  • minimal arm crossing
  • keeping hands outside of pockets
  • triple head nods to show interest
  • intimate eye gazing (from the eyes to the mouth to the body)
  • leaning toward the other person
  • subtle mirroring

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The #1 Most Attractive Cue, According to Women

Do you know which body language cue women find the most attractive in men? Is it:

  1. exposing the forearms
  2. flexing the arms
  3. biting the lower lip
  4. being taken
Click to Reveal Answer

The answer is d) being taken. A study by Oklahoma State University shows that 90% of single women were interested in a man they believed was in a relationship, while only 59% wanted him when they found out he was single.

So if you’re a single man looking for a woman, are you out of luck? Luckily, no! There is another attractive cue that anyone can work on: humor.

If you’re a guy, you’re better off being nice and funny than being tall, sexy, rich, or even taken.

Even Marilyn Monroe knew the power humor has on women.

If you can make a woman laugh, you can make her do anything - Marilyn Monroe Quote

Luckily, we’ve got an article all about being funnier, even if you’re as funny as a piece of cardboard. Check it out here: How to Be Funny in 7 Steps

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Bonus: Female Body Language in a Nutshell

I stumbled upon a comic this morning that sums up reading female body language:

Comic strip shows 2 women sitting next to each other. The one on the right displays typical male body language and asks for approval. The one on the left approves.

Even though I’ve given you 15 cues here, female body language is so varied and vast that EVERY woman can do things differently. Some women may be as cool as a cucumber but be madly in love, and others can’t help but wink at any guy who is even remotely OK looking (I had a friend who did this).

What do you think about these body language cues? Have you noticed any others I should add to my list? Leave me a comment below!


Sources:

1 Knapp, M. L., & Hall, J. A. (2014). Nonverbal communication in human interaction. Boston: Wadsworth Cengage Learning. 2 Morris, D. (2012). Peoplewatching: The Desmond Morris Guide to Body Language. London: Vintage Digital. 3 Driver, J. & van Aalst, M (2011): You Say More Than You Think: The 7-day Plan for Using the New Body Language to Get what You Want. New York 4 Pease, A. (2017). The definitive book of body language: How to read others’ attitudes by their gestures. London: Orion. 5 Navarro, J. (2018). The dictionary of body language: A field guide to human behavior. New York, NY: William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins.

Side Note: As much as possible we tried to use academic research or expert opinion for this master body language guide. Occasionally, when we could not find research we include anecdotes that are helpful. As more research comes out on nonverbal behavior we will be sure to add it!

About Science of People

Our mission is to help you achieve your social and professional goals faster using science-backed, practical advice. Our team curates the best communication, relationship, and social skills research; turning into actionable and relatable life skills. Science of People was founded by Vanessa Van Edwards, bestselling author of Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People. As a recovering awkward person, Vanessa helps millions find their inner charisma.

27 replies on “Reading Female Body Language: 15 Cues To Reveal Attraction”

  1. Don

    I have a female friend who does a lot of these body language things, then tells me what a great friend I am. It is very confusing. I try to pick up on body language, and every time I think a woman is interested, and I ask about a date, I usually end up getting the “I like you…just not like that” statement. I think in a lot of cases, women can be flirty and either don’t mean to be…or don’t realize it…it is just their personality. Just wish it was easier to read signals. So most of the time now…I’m like…I’m so bad at reading signals, a woman pretty much has to slap me across the face and say…I want you, you fool! lol

  2. Paul

    No woman is attracted to me so there are no signals to read. To think otherwise would be delusional.

  3. Joe

    Hasan, I’m afraid the only person who cares about your hostility to challenging ideas is YOU. Chill out. With wisdom we can determine what we can change and what we cannot. Ranting will not change others ideas, much less their lifestyle choices. The only thing we CAN change is ourselves, and in particular, our attitudes. So, take a deep breath and then exhale slowly …and repeat several times … then relax. Then ask yourself why others making different decisions about their own lifestyle bothers you so much. Ranting yourself into an early grave will achieve nothing. You are worth more than that.

  4. Bongstar420

    Oh christmas…”Women might be better at reading body language because more of their brain is active when they evaluate other’s behavior.”

    Feed those women Testosterone for a few years and watch their “perceptiveness” dissolve.

    Also feed dudes Estrogen and watch them become “emotionally connected”

  5. Drishti Narang

    If only men were better at knowing when a woman is into him…. I’m a forward woman and always come across this.

  6. Lauren Freeman

    I loved this article! I’ve learned so many new facts, and reinforced some that I’ve already heard before! As for men and women lying differences, I am personally guilty of lying to people to protect their feelings or make them feel better, it’s so interesting to note the gender difference in that!
    One thing that I’m very pleased about has been learning more about assertiveness and submissiveness. My body language used to be very submissive, and I’ve been actively working on that to change it to be more powerful. One thing that I’ve noticed is that, especially at work, my male coworkers try to take charge of the situations and not let me have a say – and immediately I take up a power pose and “claim my territory” as their equal, and it really does make a difference as they listen to me and it defintely gives me more power in situations where they try to portray me as submissive. Thanks for another great article, Vanessa!!

  7. Nikki Thornton

    Awesome post Vanessa! What i learned from this was about womens lips relating to their genitals, I didnt know that fact! So perhaps this is why women pout for the camera?! Amazing as usual Mrs Van Edwards ?

    1. Avijit Saha

      This article is very helpful, especially to men.
      I would like to know more about this statement, “and others can’t help but wink at any guy who is even remotely OK looking (I had a friend who did this).”
      Who do these kind of girls really like, love or attracted to?

  8. Liam Hayes

    It’s interesting that men and women have different body language when trying to attract a mate. Although this makes sense because primitive men and women had different roles and their evolution reinforced the skills they used to survive.

  9. Bella Perennis

    I disagree on the statement about a small nose and the full lips. In his book “The third Chimpanzee” Jared Diamond made a very sound argument about culturally reproduced beauty standards.

  10. Andrew

    I believe what’s definitely most interesting is I’m willing to bet a lot of women don’t even realize they’re doing these actions!

    1. Bongstar420

      Most women I’ve queried said they expect you to read body language like english

      its dumb and they delude themselves to its superiority

      Which is easier to interpretative.

      I want to have sex

      or

      any number of different combinations of body movements which are believed to be correlated with certain desires

      ??????????????????????????????????

  11. Robby Smith

    It’s so easy to see how we as men can mis these cues, when we haven’t been properly educated on these. Thank you Vanessa for sharing this!

    1. Bella Perennis

      I totally agree on your point about education. I wasn’t educated to see it either, my best friend (who is male) is way better at spotting people who are attracted to me than I am. He taught himself to consciously read body language and is a real people person in general.

  12. Sarah

    Love the information, but it doesn’t just apply to woman/man flirting interactions. Woman/Woman anyone? Come on Vanessa it is 2014!

    1. fistoffury

      Because it is 2014 does not mean every one agree with that. Plenty of people consider it abnormal to this day. Why not go make your own article for that abnormal sexual relationship? Life is centered around male and female and always will be.

      1. Ava

        You don’t know what is going to happen in the future society is always changing. And it is not “abnormal”. Just because you aren’t “different” don’t mean you can’t treat them the same way you want to be treated. Where all human we just want to be loved. What are you going to say next different racies shouldn’t socialize, should’t date? You know it would be boring if we were all the same.

      2. RodTrebZ3765

        We should pray for him, in the hopes that God will touch his heart, and he learns to love others, as Christ loves us all.

        Do you need a friend, Hassan? Has anyone ever loved you?

        Sometimes when we don’t feel loved, we express our hurt and anger by directing those feelings at others, even those who have never harmed us.

        Jesus loves you, Hassan, and Jesus only wants what’s best for you. Talk to Him, and ask Him to show you a better way. Tell Him about your feelings, and ask Him to help you.

        All you have to do is ask.

        Love in Christ,

        Rod T.

      3. Hassan Cheaytilli

        Fucking liberals trying to reform society when in reality it all ties down to biology.

        God now we have “Caitlyn Jenner” and this new transgender, agender, polygender “movement” going on. Bunch of degenerate mentally ill people runnin around these days.

      4. Bella Perennis

        Please stay respectful, degrading other people won’t help your argument. All you are saying is that biology is important because you don’t like people who are different from you.

      5. RodTrebZ3765

        It’s 2015.

        FYI: It won’t be long before any two humans, without regard to gender, will be able to produce offspring. That’ll probably happen in the next 50 years or so. Genetic engineering is the wave of the future in human reproduction.

        There are already organisms in existence which reproduce asexually, as well as organisms which can be either male or female.

        Love in Christ,

        Rod T.

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