Interpreting Body Language

Your body speaks louder than words. So does your date's. How many dates will tell you flat out that they're having a rotten time? Few, if any. Yet how many will catch periodic glimpses of their watch? Hopefully, not many.

Flutter those lashes, girl

A German scientist, Irenaus Eibl-Eibesfeldt, once studied women's flirting behavior and found that nearly all women make the same facial movements when they flirt, in the exact same order. They

2. Lift their eyebrows in a fast, jerky motion.

3. Open their eyes wide (a sign of sympathetic system arousal, which means that the "Hey, pay attention!" part of our nervous system has kicked into gear).

4. Lower their eyelids.

5. Tilt their heads down and to the side (a universal sign of submission in the animal kingdom).

Sound like anyone you know? These flirting gestures are so universal that Eibl-Eibesfeldt believes they're innate sexual signals evolved from the beginning of human history.

Body language quiz

Just for fun, try to match the behavior with the interpretation below to see how well you can really read your date.



_ 1.

Playing with hair

a. Impatience

_ 2.

Rubbing eyes

b. Confidence

_ 3.

Biting fingernails

c. Lying

_ 4.

Stroking chin

d. Insecurity

_ 5.

Drumming fingers

e. Doubt

_ 6.

Hands on hips

f. Anticipation

_ 7.

Tugging at ear

g. Lack of self-confidence

_ 8.

Rubbing nose

h. Aggression

_ 9.

Hand on cheek

i. Indecision

_ 10.

Walking briskly

j. Dejection

_ 11.

Rubbing hands together

k. Trying to make a decision

_ 12.

Walking with hands shoved in pockets (don't even think that)

l. Evaluating all the options

Answers: 1. g.; 2. e.; 3. d.; 4. k.; 5. a.; 6. h.; 7. i.; 8. c.; 9. l.; 10. b.; 11. f.; 12. j.

Answers: 1. g.; 2. e.; 3. d.; 4. k.; 5. a.; 6. h.; 7. i.; 8. c.; 9. l.; 10. b.; 11. f.; 12. j.

In the mating game, women use their heads, and men use their chests. Literally. Women toss their hair or sweep their heads back as a sign of attraction; men simply puff out their chests. It's a throwback to our primitive pasts when big, burly Cro-Magnon men and savvy Cro-Magnon women were the kings and queens of the veldt. Now, in our modern jungle, the signs are still there. You just have to know what to look for.

If you spend all your time looking at nonverbal cues, you're not going to be focusing on what your date is saying and you're not going to be doing your part about spontaneously responding. So chill out here and don't spend more than a millisecond of your precious time together "studying" your date. If you do, you'll both be miserable.

Reading body language is far from an exact science. It's one part observation, two parts interpretation. People cross their arms when they're cold as well as closed off. Look for consistent groups of gestures or a suddenly inconsistent movement. Look for patterns, but don't get hung up here. Focus on what you're saying verbally to one another and look to nonverbal clues only when in doubt.

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