Nowadays, flirting with a woman may feel more daunting than ever, and it might seem impossible to be know how to tell if a girl likes you. Even Hollywood hunk Henry Cavill, in a recent interview that stirred up a lot of controversy, said that he’s reticent to approach a woman in today’s sociopolitical climate for fear of being considered a creep.
It’s great that we’re encouraging more women to take initiative in their dating lives. But some men and women are more traditional and prefer it if a man makes the first move. Women send all kinds of signs to show that they’re interested, but it’s not always easy to decipher what they mean, especially since human perception is flawed. How do can you tell a friendly smile apart from a seductive one? How do you know if a woman is flirting with you or simply laughing at your joke because she thinks it’s funny? Honestly, how to tell if a girl likes you?
To help you sort out these signals, we’ve put together a list of things women have admitted to doing in order to hook a man’s attention—so you’ll always know how to tell if a girl likes you. And, men, if you’re looking to boost your chances of getting a “yes” when you ask a girl out, read 15 Little Things Men Do That Women Can’t Resist.
They’re Standing Really Close to You
A good rule of thumb for how to tell if a girl really likes you is to consider the context. If a woman is standing really close to you in a crowded bar, it’s very likely that she’s just trying to speak without shouting. But if you’re in an environment with acceptable noise levels and a fair amount of space, and she’s still leaning into you, there’s a good chance she wants you to ask her out. Just make sure you don’t shoot yourself in the foot by blurting out one of The 17 Worst Things a Man Can Say to a Woman.
She’s Touching Your Arm
Again, you probably shouldn’t read too much into it if a girl grabs your arm to prevent herself from falling when she trips in her heels. But if you’re sitting at a table, and a woman says something along the lines, “Oh, Brett, you’re such a sweetheart” and briefly squeezes your arm, that’s a pretty clear giveaway that she’s interested.
She’s Complimenting Your Clothing
One of the best ways for how to tell if a girl likes you is to be well-versed in what women are taught to do to convey attraction. In his bestselling book, How to Get the Guy, dating coach Matthew Hussey explains that back in the Victorian days, if a woman saw a man she wanted to get to know better while out for a stroll in the park, she would drop her handkerchief and continue walking, thereby inviting him to pick it up for her and give it back and engage in a little conversation.
One of Hussey’s tips for the modern way to “drop the handkerchief” is to compliment a man’s clothing. If a close friend or a colleague tells you they like you’re new shirt, it might not necessarily mean anything. But if you’re constantly wondering how to tell if a girl likes you, and you’re waiting for a drink at a bar and a random girl says, “That’s a nice sweater,” she’s probably dropping the handkerchief.
She’s Giving You “The Look”
In the same chapter, Hussey notes that most men are pretty clueless at picking up body language. As such, he tells women that flashing a guy a quick glance across the room isn’t enough, because, for all he knows, she might just be looking for the bathroom or scanning the room. He advises women to give two looks, one in which she locks eyes with him for a half-second, then looks away, and then a second look in which she locks eyes again and smiles. Regardless of whether or not she’s read the book, when a woman does this at a party or in a bar, it’s almost certainly a sign that she wants you to come talk to her.
She’s Focusing Her Attention on You
OK, let’s say you’ve overcome the first crucial step and are now having a conversation with a woman, but you’re not sure if she’s into it or not. A surefire way to tell if she’s feeling the vibe or not is to notice whether or not she’s got all of her attention on you. If she’s checking her phone or looking back at her friends, she’s probably trying to indicate that she’s not interested without having to explicitly say so.
But given what social media addicts we all are these days, if a woman doesn’t check her phone once in the span of 30 minutes, that means she’s at least engaged enough that you should feel comfortable to ask if you should continue the conversation over drinks sometime.
She’s Asking You to Teach Her Something
Women who are dating-savvy know that asking a man to teach a woman a new skill makes them feel more masculine, thereby boosting their ego and testosterone levels. And asking you to teach her archery or how to code is a great way of indicating that she’d like to spend more time together without explicitly asking for a date.
Talking About Sex
This one also needs to be taken in context. I write about sex a lot, so I often talk to men about oral sex the way that an anthropologist discusses the mating rituals of an exotic tribe, and men have gotten the wrong idea more than once as a result. But many women aren’t as comfortable speaking openly about sex. If the two of you are alone and she’s slipping all kinds of sexual references and innuendo, chances are she’s trying to turn you on. Even with me, there’s a big difference between summarizing a study about why you should have sex before a workout to a group of male friends and providing a vivid account of what I learned from a vaginal orgasm class to a date. And I know exactly what I’m doing when a man I like asks me how my day went and I tell him I just bought a new pair of thigh-high stockings and some lingerie.
On one hand, texting isn’t exactly great because you can’t read tone and there’s no body language to go on. On the other hand, texting has a pretty clear flirting handbook. If she sends you selfies, and responds quickly to your messages, and asks you a bunch of follow-up questions, chances are that’s a surefire sign for how to tell if a girl likes you. After all, no one is that interested in what kind of sandwich you had for lunch unless there’s a romantic appeal there. And if she sends you an emoji like 😘, she is hurling a handkerchief straight at your face. For some expert guidance on boosting your virtual exchanges, check out I Hired an Online Dating Coach and This Is What I Learned.
Saying Yes to the Date
This should be an obvious sign for how to tell if a girl likes you, but here’s why it’s not. Many women have been raised to believe that they need to “play hard to get” in order to “hook” a guy because men like the chase. Therefore, many men think that if a woman turns down a date or acts evasive, that might be a sign that he needs to “try harder.” This is a really easy way to get into trouble, because it’s very difficult to discern if a woman is genuinely not interested, especially via text, or just playing the game. Studies have shown that playing hard to get isn’t effective anyway, and given the problems it could cause, it’s better not to risk it. No one is going to fault you for asking a woman out in an appropriate setting (i.e. not if you’re her boss or either of you is married). But if she says no, the best thing to do is to politely excuse yourself and forget about it. There’s plenty more fish in the sea!
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