Once you’ve mastered the art of flirting with your facial features, it’s time to pull out the big gun: the personal-space-invading tactic. When executed carefully and correctly, he won’t know what hit him … he’ll only know he likes it (and you). Again, these are gestures that are best practiced at home first, and even once you’ve perfected them, use them sparingly. Crowding someone for a short time is all right; bumping into him all night long will only make him think you have vertigo.
Defining Personal Space
So what do people mean when they say “personal space,” anyway? Are there set measurements that prevent men and women from occupying a given amount of the same square footage? No, there are no laws on the books (at least not yet), only general recommendations, which include:
• Professional areas. If you work in an office, take a look around and estimate the amount of space between desks. Most offices try to put at least six feet between work areas.
• Common areas. If you’re at the mall or the grocery store or walking down the street, you should have at least three feet between yourself and the person nearest to you. This advice also carries over to certain meetings and formal gatherings, especially where the people you’re chatting with are merely acquaintances.
• Friendly interactions. When you’re hanging with your friends, maintain a space of one to three feet, depending on how well you know them.
• Intimate interactions: Twelve inches are all you need between you and the one you love (or the one you think you might love).
Obviously, the better you know someone, the less personal space you need to maintain between the two of you. But when you want to get to know someone, the trick is to cut down on that space without making it insanely obvious.
Generally speaking, men need more personal space than women do. For example, it’s not unusual to see two female friends sitting or standing less than a foot apart, but you’ll rarely see two men positioned this closely to each other.
Sure, You Can Have Your Space (Wink, Wink)
Stealing someone’s personal space is easy, given the right set of circumstances. A standing-room-only meeting, a crowded party, a packed club … these are all great spots for sidling up to someone. Still, you can’t just attach yourself to his hip. Are there any ways to sidle in a sneaky manner?
Here’s a move that allows you to get into his personal space without making him feel as though you’ve taken up residence on the front of his body. You’ll need to have about a foot of air between the two of you. As you’re talking, slowly angle your body to the side, toward him. (Pretend you’re shifting your weight onto that leg.) Now take the arm that’s closer to him and put it on your hip, letting it bump up against him.
Bingo. Your torso is all of six inches from him now, you’re actually touching him with the arm on your hip, the pressure of eye contact has been reduced (because you’re on an angle now, you can naturally look off to his side without appearing to be uninterested in him), and he doesn’t feel walled off by your presence. The angle has opened up some space in front of him while eliminating it in another area. So you’re close … and yet, he doesn’t realize how close.
Touching is a definite intrusion of personal space. Men tend to accept touches from women; women tend to be less accepting of touches from casual male acquaintances. Touches are usually viewed as a sort of nurturing move, so they simply seem to be more natural and genuine if they come from a woman.
Nurturing is fine, but what if you want your touches to say, “Hey, this touching business is fun! Let’s do more of it!” What’s the secret? Well, you can go two ways here: you can shoot for subtlety or you can go for broke. There is no in between.
If time isn’t of the essence, subtle touches are a good way of breaking the ice between yourself and the guy you’ve set your sights on. If you’re sitting next to each other, let your leg bump his. Once you start getting really comfortable, let your leg rest right up against his. If you’re standing, reach out and touch his arm while you tell him about the most incredible thing that’s ever happened to you.
Touches on the arm or leg are one thing; touching his face is moving into fairly intimate territory, which is a great way to get your point across, but only if you have a legitimate reason to put a hand on his head. You can pretend to brush an eyelash off his cheek or ask to have a closer look at the diamond stud in his ear. Just make sure to use a gentle, feminine touch (which, again, shows him you’re harmless).
Going for Broke
Once you’ve sworn off subtlety, any touch will do. Rubbing your hands all over his body sends a very obvious message. And if you know without a doubt this guy is completely into you, you’re venturing into safe territory. If you have any reservations, though, it’s best to start off with something a little less obvious. There’s nothing more humiliating than being reprimanded for crossing that line.