He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not
All right, maybe we’re not talking about love here. Maybe the title of this section should be more along the lines of, “He’s interested … wait, no, he isn’t … is he?” How can you tell if someone is being friendly or if he is enthralled with you? Ideally, everyone would follow the same body language protocol and make things easy on society in general. In reality, people have their own quirks and emotional baggage affecting how they view the world and express their intentions, even when it comes to simple physical attraction. Herewith, the lowdown on interested versus noninterested body language.
Have you ever spotted someone who instantly intrigued and intimidated you? Despite your best efforts, you can’t look away. You feel compelled to get to know this person, but you know you won’t make the first move because … well, because you lack the confidence. This is a sucker punch to the ego that manifests itself in a voice in your head that says, “Don’t waste your time. He’s way too [good looking/wealthy/successful/tall/young/old] for you. You’ll be shot down inside of one second.”
Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there. Your insecurity also expresses itself in your body language, like so:
• Lack of eye contact
• Angling away from a person
• Angling the head down
In short, you try to make yourself as invisible as possible. You reinforce your own insecurities because no one is going to take notice of someone who’s intentionally keeping a low profile. It’s a vicious, self-perpetuating cycle. And for all you know, that person you have your eye on might think you’re kind of cute, but your behavior is saying that you could not possibly be less interested in him. Is there any way to improve this scenario?
There is. Go back and reread the beginning of this chapter. You don’t have to be a supermodel to win the affections of others, but you do have to show others that you’re worth getting to know. And the way to do this is by using confident body language.
We Have (Eye) Contact!
Aside from laying your hands on someone and verbally telling her that you’re falling head over heels for her, eye contact is the easiest way to send out the positive vibe to someone—or to receive it from someone else.
Jake is a painfully shy graduate student living on the West Coast; his family lives on the East Coast. During a cross-country trip several years ago, Jake’s connecting flight was canceled due to a blizzard. Local hotels were full, and he was looking at spending the night on the airport floor surrounded by strangers.
Hold your head up high, smile, and make eye contact with other people. You might be surprised to learn that just by acting secure, you’ll feel at least a little confident—and that will also express itself in your body language. Call it a self-fulfilling prophecy: “I think I’m sexy and worthwhile, therefore I am.”
Now, Jake isn’t one to make conversation with people he doesn’t know well. In fact, Jake isn’t one to look up from his books long enough to give other people the chance to be friendly to him, but as luck would have it, he’d done a fair amount of reading on the first leg of his journey. Fatigued, he sat and surveyed the other stranded passengers. He caught the eye of a redhead girl as she walked by and remembered her from his first flight. Perhaps she remembered him, too, because she smiled at him as she kept walking, trailing her suitcase behind her. Jake was so pleasantly surprised by her simple friendly gesture he smiled back at her before he knew what he was doing. (Jake is also not one to take chances, socially speaking.)
Eventually, a bored Jake pulled out a book and continued with his reading—until he heard a voice asking if the space on the floor next to him was taken. It was the redhead, who had just spent an hour waiting to hear the status of her own flight, which had also been canceled. The two spent the evening talking and discovered that they had similar interests and lived just blocks away from each other. Before their respective flights took off the following morning, the two had exchanged phone numbers. It was a match made in an airport … and it all started with a little eye contact.
Get a Little Closer
Edging in on someone else’s territory sends the unmistakable message that you want to be closer to her. People often base personal space on specific relationships, so the amount of space that exists between you and your girlfriend is less than the amount of space you keep between yourself and a store clerk. (More on the subject of personal space in Chapter 17.)
When you’re interested in getting better acquainted with a man or woman, is it a good idea to attach yourself to his or her hip, figuratively speaking?
While this may be effective in some cases, it might be seen as overly aggressive in others. It’s best to leave about a foot of space between you until you’re invited to get closer.
When someone who doesn’t belong there enters into your personal space, take that as a sign of interest.
At a social gathering, you can show increasing signs of interest by:
• Angling your body toward him
• Tilting your head as he speaks
• Employing lingering, friendly touches
• Using prolonged eye contact
Just keep in mind that no matter how good you are at working these tactics into your interaction, they’ll do you very little good if you insist on maintaining more than a foot of distance between you and the target of your attention. Getting closer is the first step to securing a successful outcome.
Move It Along
So what kinds of nonverbal cues will you be getting if someone’s just not interested in you? Fleeting eye contact or a complete lack thereof is a good tip-off. Even though some people are unskilled at the art of appropriately timed gazes, if someone is interested in you, she should want to look your way. Not doing so is an indication that she is polite enough to tolerate you for the moment, but has no intention of carrying things any further.
Angling away from you is another sign of lack of interest. If you’re speaking to someone and she doesn’t bother to turn to face you, that’s not good. If she actually turns her head away as you speak, or keeps taking little steps away from you, that’s also not good. Take your own steps toward someone who’ll give you the time and attention you deserve.