Reading Body Language on a First Date

You know how it is on a first date. Every mistake gets magnified, every emotion seems five times stronger than it is, and every word seems to have a dozen hidden meanings. But, while you’re conducting your CIA-like analysis of everything that takes place on your first date, don’t forget to look at body language.

The next time you have dinner with a close friend or family member, pay attention to how much of your communication with them is not verbal. When you get to know somebody, you can learn more from a look than from anything they have to say. Of course, you don’t have that level of intimacy with a first date―at least not yet―so you need to pay attention to what clues you can to try to learn what your date is saying without talking.

Reading the Face

When you’re on a date, is there a body part you spend more time looking at than the face? Don’t answer that—let’s just assume for the sake of propriety that it is, in fact, your date’s face that you’re looking at. That’s a good thing, too, because the face tells us a lot about what someone is thinking or feeling.

The eyes are the window to the soul, so let’s start there. Does your date keep fairly steady eye contact with you? If so it means that they are confident and into you, or at least curious about you. If their eyes are shifting around a lot, you’re making them uncomfortable and they’re looking for a way out, or maybe they’re just shifty. Here’s another trick: Observe the pupils of your date’s eyes; the wider they are, the more they like you.

Smiles can be misleading, but they can still tell you a bit about who you’re with. A genuine smile, of course, means that your date is having a good time. A strained, obviously fake smile means “Please God, let me get out of this without ending up in the trunk of their car.” Some people never smile—good luck getting a read on them.

Blushing can also be part of body language if your date’s skin tone is such that you can read it. It’s usually a good thing. If someone blushes, for whatever reason, it means that they care enough about your opinion to be embarrassed by whatever was just said or done.

Reading the Hands

The hands are a bit harder to read, unless they’re slapping you, but they can still be a good indicator of what is going on in your date’s head. First, watch out for negative signs. Crossed arms or balled fists mean that your date is rejecting you, or whatever you are saying, completely. When you see signs like that, either change topics or ask for the check so you can go home and look at some more dating profiles.

Open hands are generally a good sign; a sign of acceptance. Keep an eye out for nervous habits, too; things like nail-biting or playing with silverware and such. Nervous habits, coupled with other positive signs like smiling and giggling, could mean that they are really into you and they’re afraid of blowing it.

Reading Space and Contact

Is there anything more annoying than someone who violates your personal space? Well, on a date, if you really like the person you might just want to restrain yourself from jabbing their hand with a fork when they touch your wrist. Some people show that they’re into you by being touchy-feely.

Assuming your date isn’t jumping in your lap and grinding on you within the first few minutes of meeting you, there are other more subtle forms of contact and sharing of space that indicate approval. Any attempt to move closer to you on a date is a positive sign, even if it’s under the pretense of warming up, reading over your shoulder, or getting out of the way of a speeding car. Similarly, touching your arm, playing “footsie,” or leaning against you is a clear-cut sign that your date wants to touch you, and that’s ultimately what you want, isn’t it?

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Sometimes people send you a very strong non-verbal clue as to their feeling about you by their actions. If they talk on their cell phone to other people, especially other “friends,” throughout your date, they are either very rude or they don’t think very much of you. Similarly, if they are constantly checking other people out, it’s pretty clear that they’re looking for someone to rescue them from you.

On the other hand, there are some actions that are quite positive. If you’re in a restaurant and your date eats their food in a suggestive or seductive manner, you can guess where that’s going. If they play with their hair, lick their lips, or make a little too much effort to show of their muscles, breasts, or other prominent features, they clearly like you and want your attention. Pushing the table aside and kissing you passionately can sometimes be a good subtle hint of attraction, too.

We all love to have a date we can talk to easily and comfortably, but attraction often comes down to the physical, not the verbal. With that in mind, you need to watch for physical clues like eye contact, facial expressions, use of hands, and general actions to give you the full picture on how your date feels about you.