Table of Contents
- Attraction Cue #1: Mirroring
- Attraction Cue #2: Understanding Space
- Attraction Cue #3: Belly Direction
- Attraction Cue #4: Asking Questions
- Attraction Cue #5: Eye Contact
- Attraction Cue #6: Emotional Attentiveness
- Attraction Cue #7: Preening
- How to Know if Someone is Attracted to You
- How to Tell if a Woman Likes You
- How to Tell if a Man Likes You
- How to Tell if Someone Likes You on Tinder or Text
- Bonus: How To Tell if People Like Each Other
Do you know if someone likes you? Whether you’re at a networking event, want to know if your boss or coworkers like you, or are eyeballing a potential romantic partner, this is the only guide you’ll ever need.
In this article, you will find out how to tell if someone likes you:
- in 10 seconds or less
- through their body language gestures
- more than just a friend (or if they’re looking for a little bow chicka wowwow)
- on Tinder or text
- and more!
Do you have someone in your life you’re unsure about? If so, keep that person in mind as we go through each of the 7 cues of attraction.
Attraction Cue #1: Mirroring
Mirroring is when someone is subtly copying/mimicking your speech or speech patterns and nonverbal behavior. This is a way to test the waters regarding someone’s level of interest.
People will mirror your behaviors if they like you, even on a subconscious level. Here are some verbal and nonverbal cues to determine if the other person is mirroring you:
- Does this person face you with their entire body? When someone’s top, torso, and toes are angled toward you, this is known as fronting.
- Do they mimic your standing or seated posture?
- Do they copy your vocal volume and cadence?
- Do they use the same words or language as you?
- Does their facial expression change as yours does? Or does it stay completely flatlined?
Attraction Cue #2: Understanding Space
When you are in the same environment as others, the space between you and them can tell you a lot about the relationship. The fancy word for space is proxemics. Here are some ways you can gauge another person’s level of interest:
- Does this person get really intimate with you by entering your intimate space zone? The intimate zone is 0–18 inches from your face.
- Leaning: Does this person lean in toward you or do they move away? Leaning is a nonverbal cue of partnership, agreeableness, and camaraderie.
- Touch: Does this person find subtle ways to touch your arm or hand? We use touch to signal connection.
Attraction Cue #3: Belly Direction
In a 1930s study, researcher W.T. James determined that the direction of the torso plays a key role in determining interest. Depending on the belly direction, you can identify one of 4 different emotions1:
- Belly facing toward you: interest
- Belly withdrawing or away from you: disinterest
- Belly expanding: heightened interest and confidence
- Belly contracting inward: nervousness or slightly reduced interest
Pay close attention to the belly during a conversation. In group settings, you may be able to spot the person who is most interested in you by looking at the belly pointed closest toward you.
Attraction Cue #4: Asking Questions
This is a really big one. It is so easy to get lost in our own world that we forget to ask questions. When you are with this person, do they ask you deep questions and truly want to understand you, or do they just graze the surface with boring social scripts?
Attraction Cue #5: Eye Contact
Eye gazing and eye contact are like superpowers when you understand the meaning behind them. When you are with this person, do they make eye contact with you for a longer time than with the average person?
If this person is making deep (intimate or extended) eye contact with you, you know you have the green light. They like you, either romantically or as a friend/coworker/etc. Direct eye contact triggers a little hormone called oxytocin that helps us to feel connected and bonded to another person.
Do they drop their eye gaze by making a pattern from your eyes to your chest? This is known as intimate gazing.
One experiment with “Don Juan” pickup guys: they preferred women with constricted pupils rather than dilated, which is the opposite of most men. Why? Don Juans prefer nonloving people to loving ones; they are wary of potential lovers who become too clingy and complicate their lifestyle2.
Attraction Cue #6: Emotional Attentiveness
People who are emotionally attentive to their surroundings have a high level of empathy. When you are with this person, do they do any or all of the following?
- Do they offer you their coat when it is cold outside?
- Are they attuned to your primary or secondary Love Languages?
- Is this person fully engaged in conversation with you, or are they constantly distracted by their phone?
- Do they ask deep questions and use responsive listening techniques?
As you were reading through these cues, did the person you have in mind match all four? If the answer is a definitive yes, you can take the next step of displaying a mutual sense of attraction and begin the process of getting to know them and experiencing them on a deeper level.
Attraction Cue #7: Preening
The definition of preening is when a person performs behaviors that are aimed at maximizing their physical appearance. Studies have shown that people in the process of building an intimate relationship did more preening than those whose intimate relationship was already established for some time3. However, preening isn’t just for lovers—people also preen when they want to impress others.
Watch for these subtle but noticeable preening behaviors:
- brushing their hair away from their face
- straightening a tie or sleeves
- checking the mirror or glancing at their reflection in the mirror
- reapplying makeup or lipstick
- fixing a collar or picking lint off their clothes
How to Know if Someone is Attracted to You
Body language is an essential ingredient of attraction. When we talk about love, dating, and romance, body language plays a big role.
You are not alone if you struggle with these basic attraction questions:
- Is she attracted to me?
- Does he like me?
- Why didn’t they call?
Body language will give you the tools to know where you stand.
To understand modern-day nonverbal signals of attraction, it is helpful to look at the history of where our body language comes from. Our caveman ancestors used the same body language we use today.
Here are the messages we are trying to send to potential mates with our body language and what is seen as attractive:
- I’m open
- I’m harmless
- I’m interested
- I’m approachable
- I’m fertile
You want your nonverbals to show two attractiveness signals:
- Availability: Both males and females find people with available body language the most attractive. Available body language is smiling, uncrossed arms, uncrossed legs, and upward gazing (not looking down at shoes or phones).
- Fertility: From an evolutionary perspective, humans are tuned into cues that signal fertility and youth. Luckily, these can be emphasized with body language. For men, standing up straight, squaring the shoulders, planting feet slightly more than shoulder width apart, and displaying hands are all signs of fertility. For a woman, keeping your hair down, tilting your head to expose pheromones, and keeping hands and wrists visible to display the soft skin of the wrists are highly attractive for others.
These also help us know when someone is attracted to us. Here are the typical signs someone is attracted to you:
- They lean in.
- They tilt their head as you speak (a sign of engagement).
- They smile at you.
- They make eye contact with you.
- They reach out and touch your arm, hand, back, or leg.
How to Tell if a Woman Likes You
How to know if a woman is attracted to you:
- She exposes her neck (to release pheromones).
- She tilts her chin down and looks up through her eyelashes (called the “coquette look”).
- She touches her hair (to release pheromones and call attention to her health).
- She touches her lips (to call attention to their shape).
- She raises her voice and sounds more feminine when around you.
How to Tell if a Man Likes You
How to know if a man is attracted to you:
- He claims your space by draping an arm over your chair or shoulders.
- He leans in toward you as you speak.
- He takes any opportunity to touch you.
- He rubs his chin or the back of his neck (to release pheromones).
- He deepens his voice or becomes more expressive when talking to you.
How to Tell if Someone Likes You on Tinder or Text
Tinder is a great app for matchmaking—but how do you tell someone likes you with the apparent lack of nonverbal cues?
It turns out, the body language of emoticons can be a powerful indicator. You don’t have to only look at a person to tell they like you. You can also see by how they message you:
- Do they use smile emojis a lot? Smile emojis indicate happiness, but if they sprinkle smiley faces in almost every text, it can be a subconscious way they’re telling you that they are smiling when they’re reading your messages.
- Do they use heart emojis? Did you know hearts have different meanings depending on the color? Read the meanings of emojis in our guide above.
Special Note: Not everyone will use emoticons. But if they do, emoticons can be a subtle way of expressing interest.
Bonus: How To Tell if People Like Each Other
Strangers, an established married couple, a young new couple—they may all look similar at first, but there are a few key giveaways that you can use to distinguish if people are attracted to each other… and even how long a couple has been together.
Here’s what to look for2:
The Body Guide
A body guide is done by guiding a companion’s direction of movement by touch. You might notice a man lightly pressing his hand on the back of his lover while they’re going inside a building. The body guide is a muted version of what parents do to their children and signals dominance.
The Arm Link
Have you ever seen a woman hook her hand through the bent arm of her male friend? Sometimes you may see it while walking down the street, but the arm link is also reserved for social or formal occasions, like walking down a church aisle. The arm link nonverbally says, “He’s mine!”
Hand In Hand
Walking together hand in hand is an obvious one. We have done it since we were babies in order to prevent us from falling. For older children, it is to keep them close, and to young lovers, hand holding indicates a sign of mutual attraction.
Pro Tip: There is no “upper hand” in hand holding. However, you can observe the more dominant person in a relationship by noticing whose hand is on top.
The Waist Embrace
The waist embrace is when a couple presses against each other with the front or side of their body touching. Waist embracing is limited almost exclusively to a courting pair, since contact is very close to the private area.
You might see the head-to-head gesture in movies, where couples are reunited and their foreheads lean on each other. It’s an effective nonverbal way of shutting out the world, especially with closed eyes. The head-to-head gesture is a way of saying, “It is more important for us to touch than be alert to outside events.”
The caress gesture includes stroking, rubbing, and squeezing your partner’s body. You might not see this a lot in public, but young couples who caress are prepared to ignore the world in favor of concentrating exclusively on discovering each other’s bodies. Caressing can also be a totally unconscious behavior.
The body support is when a girl sits on a boy or is carried by him. Usually we don’t see it often in adults, but sitting on a male evokes feelings of adolescence, when we were used to sitting on our parents’ laps.
Play fighting includes arm punching, hair ruffling, ear nibbling, body pushing, grabbing, and squeezing. The attacker nonverbally demonstrates that he/she can “attack” without the slightest fear of it being misinterpreted as hostility. Play fighting is common in couples, but rarely will you see it in strangers2.
The greatest masters of relationship detection may be hotel receptionists, who see couples come and go daily. They can usually tell if couples are married to each other, on a honeymoon, etc2.
New ties are like lovebirds who are fully captivated with each other. They are super alert and they may never take a break from being “on” around their newfound partner. If they have not made love yet, then they may have more or less nonstop conversation2.
Couples who have been together awhile may not be so outwardly flirty. This doesn’t mean the attraction or love has died! It’s just a natural progression in a relationship. Look for indirect signs of attachment from older couples2:
- an engagement ring on their hand
- wedding photos or a picture of them on their phone lock screen
- pictures of children on an office desk
How do you tell a real couple from a fake one? The first biggest mistake is they may be too demonstrative toward each other2. Fake couples might hug each other too tightly, act too clingy, or overplay their attachment.
The second biggest mistake is the complete opposite: fake couples may overcompensate by being too casual and lack that synchrony that naturally develops over time as a real couple. You might notice them walk together off sync, awkwardly hug, or have body language that doesn’t mirror each other at all.
Now that you’ve gone through this list, did you notice any of these behaviors in the person you were thinking about? If not, pay close attention to your next conversation. You may be surprised to find out they secretly like you!
1 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 2 Morris, D. (2012). Peoplewatching: The Desmond Morris Guide to Body Language. London: Vintage Digital. 3 Knapp, M. L., & Hall, J. A. (2014). Nonverbal communication in human interaction. Boston: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.
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!