Things to Avoid
This section will examine a couple of body language cues that hurt and help your chances of attracting the right person. Perhaps you’ll find a pearl of wisdom here, something that makes you gasp and say, “So that’s what I’m doing wrong!”
No Public Grooming
Since the study of body language links human behavior to that of primates, you’d think that just about anything goes. Monkeys groom themselves in public, so that must mean that you can too! Stop yourself right there. No one of either gender wants to see a public display of personal hygiene. This includes picking at the ears, rubbing the nose, clearing spittle from the corners of the lips … These are nonverbal gestures that say, “I don’t really care about keeping my germs all to myself. Here, have some!” (Don’t be surprised if everyone else’s body language answers back, “Ew!”)
There’s one exception to this rule: Women and their hair can get away with a light grooming in public—say, a twirl or a push behind the ear. This doesn’t mean that you can pull out your brush and spray and refresh your locks in the middle of a date. That kind of behavior shows an obliviousness that’s beyond compare. Keep a little mystery alive—excuse yourself and groom in private.
In the realm of body language, keeping things simple is often the key to winning over the person you have your eye on. You’ve read about eye contact, angling your body, using friendly touches, and invading someone’s personal space in order to express your interest. Don’t cross the line into leering, groping, and hanging on someone who clearly isn’t on board with this behavior. How will you know if you’re being a little too outgoing? Read the other person’s body language. If your behavior is unacceptable, you’ll see some of the following cues:
• A fake smile, where the lips pull back toward the ears and the muscles around the eyes don’t crinkle.
• A glare, which shouldn’t be mistaken for prolonged, positive eye contact. The glare is usually accompanied by flaring nostrils and a jaw set in stone.
• An increase of space between the two of you, as the other person steps back or angles her body away from you.
• A lack of eye contact, where the other person is doing her best to pretend you aren’t there.
If you’re picking up on these behaviors, you’ve probably already blown your chances. You can scale back your nonverbal behavior considerably or you can call it a night and excuse yourself from the scene.