That beauty sitting next to you at the bar let you buy her a drink, laughed at your jokes and, wait, did she just brush your knee? She may be flirting—and maybe not. Because women are raised to be polite, guys sometimes mistake friendliness for flirtation, says Bree Maresca-Kramer, M.A., relationship expert and author of It’s That Simple! For Men.
“We weren’t taught how to get out of an uncomfortable situation, so we’ll just try to be nice.”
But that can backfire when a woman really is interested. “Often women think that they’re giving clear signals, and if the man’s not responding, they take it as a rejection,” she explains. “He’s just not aware, and they both walk away unfulfilled.” To clear up the confusion, here are eight signs a woman wants you.
1. She’s primping
Maybe it goes back to our primal instincts to present ourselves in a way that attracts the best mate, but if she’s doing things such as smoothing her blouse, playing with her hair or adjusting her posture, she’s into you. “Most of the time she’s not aware she’s doing these things, so if a guy notices them he’s going to be clued in,” Maresca-Kramer says. Compliment her efforts, and if you make her blush, even better.
2. Her pupils grow
“When a person is emotionally or sexually aroused, the pupil dilates and becomes up to ten times larger,” observes Jena Pincott, author of Do Gentlemen Really Prefer Blondes: The Science Behind Love, Sex, and Attraction. This involuntary action is a sure sign of attraction. “Interestingly, women who prefer ‘bad boys’ have a preference for guys with big pupils too,” Pincott adds.
3. Her lower body likes you
“If she’s sitting with her legs crossed and her top leg is slightly swinging, or if her foot is pointed toward him, she’s attracted,” Maresca-Kramer notes. Mimic her posture by turning your hips toward her to signal that the interest is mutual.
4. Her language style matches yours
If a woman repeats your phrases or uses words similar to yours, she’s flirting. “In one study, couples whose speaking styles were in sync more than average were nearly four times as likely to desire a second date as those that were not,” Pincott says. To increase your chance of seeing her again, repeat one of her quirky phrases later in the conversation.
5. She talks funny
When flirting, women will speak in a higher pitch, and use more “I” and less “we” in their speech, Pincott says. “Both genders convey intended flirtation by laughing more and speaking faster. Men ask more questions when they are flirting.” In all of human history, asking more questions of a woman has never been a bad move.
6. She asks questions
“A lot of guys look at meeting women in the wrong context,” notes Christian Hudson, dating coach and founder of thesocialman.com, a website that teaches men how to be more charismatic. “They look at a woman who is kind of responsive to them and they say, ‘Oh, she’s interested in me.’ What you really want is a woman who is very engaged.” If she’s asking questions, she’s invested in your conversation. Answer her slowly and vaguely to build intrigue.
7. She thinks deeply
Hudson encourages his clients to use this test when trying to determine whether the lady they’ve met is “feeling the same temperature that you are.” Ask an open-ended question such as “If you could travel anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would it be and why?” about 10 minutes into the conversation. “The depth of her answer is going to be a good gauge of how into you she is.”
8. She’s into your touch
When all else fails, rely on subtle touching. Try “accidentally” touching the back of her hand with your hand, or let your foot brush up against her foot. “If she allows it, that’s a good sign she’s feeling your physical presence and she’s enjoying it,” Hudson says. Note: This is not an invitation to lunge for her breasts…yet. Be subtle, man. Subtle.