Whether we’re single and loving it or shopping for promise rings, we’re constantly giving off strong signals to the guys around us even if we don’t mean to do it. It’s nice to know that our bodies do most of the talking for us; this means that we collegiettes can have control over the way those wannabe-boy-toys (and all other guys in our vicinity) view us simply by being self-aware. We can’t help but worry, though: what if we’re unconsciously sending out the wrong messages? Whether you want to wink your way into a friends-with-benefits situation, catch your next serious boyfriend, or make it clear to the creepers that you’re already spoken for, check out these expert tips to mastering your signals to “come hither” or stay clear away.
“We are always communicating, even when we’re not talking,” explains Patrick Wanis, a human behavior and relationship expert. “The majority of our attitude, in other words our feeling and emotion, [is] expressed nonverbally. We do that through our body language and through our facial gestures.” What does this mean for those of us looking to catch a cutie’s eye at a party? For starters, we don’t need to blow kisses across the room in order to get noticed!
Step 1: Be approachable
This doesn’t mean sitting with your arms outstretched, prepping for a hug (though wouldn’t that make things simpler?). According to Arden Leigh, author of The New Rules of Attraction: How to Get Him, Keep Him, and Make Him Beg for More and co-founder of the Sirens Seduction Forum for Women, it’s all about the angles.
“You want to angle your body towards someone because the moment that you open up to them – I like to think of it as if you’re pointing at them with your collarbone – you’re inviting their approach,” says Leigh. If you’re leaning against a wall or a bar and are facing out to the crowd, arms uncrossed, you’re signaling that you’re open to communication, and more specifically, to a healthy dose of flirting with Mr. Right.
“Sometimes just by throwing off the right body language, you signal that you’re available to approach,” she explains. “Things like tossing your hair [and] arching your back a little bit are good signals.”
Even if you’re sitting with a friend, you can send out “I’m approachable” vibes just by angling yourself towards the rest of the room. As Wanis notes, if your legs are crossed towards your friend, you’re leaning in, and your back is facing most of the other partygoers, your body language is saying, “If you want to talk to me, you’re going to have to come and tap me on the shoulder.”
Not the most welcoming of messages. Instead, if you really are interested in meeting someone (and the friend you’re talking to is in fact your wingwoman), angle your collarbone and knees towards the rest of the crowd and look around every now and then to survey the room. That way, you’re indicating that you’re not so deep in conversation that you’d be peeved if a hottie came over to interrupt.
Step 2: Be accessible
According to our experts, where you place yourself in a room says just as much about your interest level as how you place yourself in a room. “Don’t sit in the corner,” warns Wanis. “Sit in a place where someone can easily approach you and [he] can easily sit across from you or next to you. Don’t put yourself in a position where someone has to reach over ten people or [has] to climb over three chairs just to get to you.”
A girl who wants to meet people isn’t waiting around in the corner away from everyone else. She’s right up near the doorway, near the bar, or wherever it is that’s getting the most amount of traffic. Be that girl! Wanis explains, “If you’re sitting at the bar and facing towards the crowd, the guys who just walked in and are heading for the bar are going to say [to themselves], ‘Oh, I’m going to talk to her, she’s easy to approach. I don’t have to go to the side, I don’t have to tap her on the shoulder, I don’t have to do anything difficult to get her attention because her attention is already on me.’” And isn’t that convenient? You get his attention because your body language suggests that he already has yours. Genius.
Step 3: Contact him
No, not on your phone (though fingers crossed that happens soon)! Your initial contact is all about (surprise, surprise) body language.
Mary Waldon, a dialectical behavior therapist and expert in effective communication, behavior modification, and female empowerment emphasizes the importance of eye contact. “If you’re not making a lot of eye contact, you’re not really engaged with the person in the moment,” she explains. On top of the approachable and accessible signals you’re already sending out, this direct contact (accompanied by a smile) is the push you need to turn an across-the-room crush into a conversation-starter.
Leigh also uses eye contact as an icebreaker by surveying the whole room, even when she’s set on a certain someone. “When I catch a guy looking at me, I’ll look back at him, and it’s almost like I caught him staring at me, when the truth is that I was kind of just waiting for him to do that so I could catch him,” she reveals. “But at the point, he knows that I’ve seen him looking at me, and usually he is going to come over and say something to me, or if not, it kind of gives me the invitation to go over and say something to him.”
Then comes time for even more direct contact: actual, physical contact. “If you’ve made eye contact, then you know that you can go into the next phase of talking to him,” advises Leigh. “If you’ve been talking for a little bit, you know you can touch him; you can reach out and touch his hand for emphasis on a particular word [that] you’re saying or what have you.”
Wanis suggests touching him briefly on the arm, the hand, or the shoulder while laughing. “The moment you start touching him, you’ve broken that personal space, you’ve broken that barrier,” he adds. “As soon as [you do that], he goes, ‘Oh! She’s interested.’ If you’re touching him on the side of his shoulder gently, you’re showing him that you are willing to get physical to some extent.”
Step 4: Show off
Unless the guy you’re into is insanely slow on the uptake – and therefore likely not worth your coveted collegiette time – he’ll have picked up on the signals that you’re interested. Duh. The most important question is, just how interested are you?
According to Wanis, “The more you lean forward and lean into someone, the more interest you’re showing in [him or her].” He specifies, however, that leaning in can mean any kind of interest, not necessarily romantic or sexual, so it doesn’t tell the whole story.
“If [you] want to let [a guy] know that [you’d] like to take things to the next level and make them more sensual, more sexual, [and] more physical,” Wanis explains, “for a woman, that could be twirling your hair or rubbing your hand down your arm or leg.” Nothing overtly sexual, of course – no Meg Ryan-style diner scenes please! “Drawing attention to your body parts, for instance just rubbing your collarbone, is a sexual gesture,” he continues.
Leigh says other sexual cues like hair-flipping, a way that you hold your body by sticking your chest out, or keeping your hands towards your back pockets, which draws attention to your butt are body language cues that communicate to the guy that you’re interested. So once you’re aware that you’re having that reaction to someone, take control of the behavior! Adjust your signals to fit what it is that you want from the guy. If you’re interested in something purely physical, make your interest obvious by leaning in, touching him, and sending other sexual cues; but if you want to take things slower, you don’t want to mislead him with overly strong body language. They key is being able to send the signals clearly when you want to and to rein them in when you don’t want to.
Step 5: Be direct
Knowing how your body communicates whether you’re interested or unattainable is one thing; having the confidence and savvy to take control is entirely another. What if you actually are interested in meeting someone but your bad habits (or plain old nerves) are getting in the way and sending the wrong signals? The trick is to keep your body language open, be direct, and above all, be a confident collegiette! As Leigh explains, “I think there are a lot of women who think that if a guy rejects them, it’s a personal reflection on them. That’s just not true, and life is really too short to not go after what you want.”
More importantly, college only lasts four years, and that’s way too short to not make moves on that campus cutie!