Like most areas in life, we get only one chance to make a great first impression when dating. Our body language speaks volumes about us. We're continually sending and receiving messages via our posture, gestures, facial expressions and non-verbal cues, and we may be totally unaware of it.
Recognising when someone's interested, excited, relaxed, bored, closed off or disinterested can be valuable when dating. It's also helpful to know how to increase your "attractor factor" to have more fun and positively influence your dating experience.
Understanding subtle physical clues will help you identify someone's interest through "go ahead" signals, or see their lack of interest in "warning" signs. These body language road signs form a map that will help increase your confidence through a series of dates or a relationship.
'Go Ahead' signals:
The Gaze - interest and flirtation
Men can be more direct than women. A gaze often roams the whole body, holding for longer than is usual (or comfortable in some cases).
Women use coyness, engaging interest with sideways or over-shoulder glances, and lowering and tilting the head away. Increased intermittent glances, leading to direct eye contact with dilated pupils shows definite interest.
The Preen - we want to look our best to attract a mate
Men's preening gestures include combing or patting down hair, tie fiddling, pulling up trousers, adjusting socks, buttoning or unbuttoning jacket.
Women also re-arrange clothing, stroke, twirl or toss hair and check makeup (particularly lipstick).
Attraction increases desire to connect through touch. During early stages of courtship people often self-touch erogenous zones (licking lips, touching neck, upper chest, inner wrists, thighs, ankles) or fondle objects (glass stem, cigarette, etc,) while looking at or thinking of the other person. This graduates to touching others on the hand, forearm, upper arm, leading to a full embrace if dating continues.
The saying "attention goes where intentions flow" is a reminder that whichever direction a person's body parts are directed in is where their interest lies. If their head, shoulders, torso and feet are pointed at you, they're fully interested.
Eyes are windows to our soul, so if someone is not interested in you they don't want you looking into their eyes. They'll limit eye contact, flick eyes side to side or avert their gaze.
Barriers may be placed between you to prohibit intimacy, eg, arms or legs may be crossed or pushed forward, warding off advances. Objects such as a handbag, wallet, briefcase, glasses, book, or even another person, may be positioned between you to maintain distance.
Movement, or lack of, shows intention. A tight rigid, upright posture, or their head pointed down, yawning, overly slow or very fast speech, leaning or turning away, agitated hand to face gestures or leg movements, hands removed or hidden, all tell you they are highly anxious or do not want to be there.
Distractions - when they are looking around, playing on their smartphone, continually getting up to go to somewhere, talking with others and their body is turned away from you more than 20 per cent of the time, their interest is not with you.
Suzanne Masefield is a body mind analyst and director of The Body Language Company.