18 Examples Of Female Body Language

Updated September 3, 2022 by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Understanding and reading female body language can help men understand women better. For example, many men study female body language as a means of determining when women are attracted to them. They look for female body language cues to figure out what women are thinking. Men in heterosexual relationships may study female body language to better interpret the moods and attitudes of their partners or spouses.

Let’s take a look at what body language actually means, what does it mean to be a woman, and then how women convey their emotions and attitudes through their body language cues. Keep in mind that there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to reading female body language, or reading body language for anyone. What female body language and facial expressions mean to one person might mean something else to another, including the experts or clinical psychologist. Even the person exhibiting the body language might have a different interpretation of why they’re standing or using their arms a certain way. In the end, the only person who can interpret their body movements is the person exhibiting that body language in the first place.

The Science Of Body Language

It Can Be Challenging To Understand The Meaning Of Body Language

By definition, body language can include any reflexive or non-reflexive movement or gesture of all or part of the body. The study of reading both female and male body language is called kinesics. This is a largely understudied area of psychology, although there are many more studies being done to define and examine body language across cultures and life experiences. Clinical studies, like those carried out at Webster University, have shown that body language sometimes contradicts verbal messages, making it an important study for people, especially though who use open body language as a good sign of attraction.

An important aspect of the science of body language for those interested is that it changes across world cultures. You have to read body language in its cultural context. The body language we notice in people in some parts of Europe, for example, may differ greatly from body language exhibited by women in the U.S. For this article, the body language of most women in the U.S. is listed by examples.

Researchers agree that while words are used as primary communication, body language does a better job of conveying attitude and emotion. In some cases, body language may be a substitute for verbal communication. Because of this, it is important to be able to interpret the body language and nonverbal communication of the women in your life accurately, especially if you are trying to determine emotional attraction or even love interest.

Body Language Of Women

The body language of women in the U.S. is fairly standard and is based on centuries of cultural biases and expectations of women. Many women feel the need to be polite and perhaps even meek in their verbal communications due to the place that women have traditionally held in society. This is true in most of their social interactions, from the professional sphere to a first date or even a conversation with a male friend. However, their body language will often tell the tale of how they are feeling, even if they happen to feel the opposite of what they’re expressing with their words.

Head Tilts

The tilt of the head can show people that you are listening to them or encouraging them to continue speaking. It shows that the listener wants to signal interest in the question or answer being presented to them. Many women tilt their heads when having conversations with people, especially in conversations with people who they feel hold authority over them.

A head tilt can also be read as a sign of submission. Many men see a woman tilting her head as an indication that she assumes that the men are in positions of control. The woman may not mean to convey this, but it is often how men in authority read that signal. For women, if you want to exude self-confidence and authority, keep your head straight when talking to a man who you perceive to be in a position of control. Someone women will tilt their head often with a double or triple head tilt, but confidence and authority often comes from a straight head.

Height And Space

The height and space that a person takes up can show a lot about their attitude and emotions. Many women condense themselves to take up as little space as possible. This is a form of female body language that has been passed down through generations, as women have been submissive to men and typically not in positions of authority. This behavior is a direct result of the cultural expectations that women hold. A woman condensing herself into a small space or having a slouching posture shows that she is submissive and not in control.

On the other hand, a woman who is sitting or standing very straight, shoulders back, and feet spread apart shows an air of commanding and authority. When a woman is using this body language, it shows that a woman feels she is in control of the situation and she is demanding respect. She’ll want people to pay more attention to them, and she expands the physical presence of her body by putting her arms out, keeping her legs tall and straight, holding her head high, and showing an overall air of control with a strong posture.

Pacifying Gestures

Gestures during talking or listening to others, such as playing with hair or jewelry, grabbing upper arms, or touching the neck can often mean that the woman is nervous or stressed. A man might try to read into women twirling their hair or rubbing their shoulders, and he’ll make a wrong assumption that she’s attracted to him. Some people claiming to be experts tell men that playing with hair or jewelry or touching the neck is a sign that the woman is attracted to you.

In reality, physical touch or fidgeting of hair or jewelry is a sign of distress. It can show that women want more space, or that they are nervous in the current situation. As a man, it is important to be able to read this body language of women for what it is and make her more comfortable with the conversation or end the conversation entirely if she is nervously fiddling with something like her hair or jewelry.

Smiling

It Can Be Challenging To Understand The Meaning Of Body Language

Most people assume that when someone smiles it is a sign of friendliness and happiness. However, what many people don't realize is that many women smile (or at least curve their lips upwards) when they are nervous like when they exhibit preening behaviors. This means that some women may smile excessively or at inappropriate times, making their emotions and nonverbal cues hard to read. A smile isn’t as obvious a sign of interest as most men think.

In most cases, it is important to really listen to the words of the woman you are talking to rather than just paying attention to her smile. Pay close attention: watch, listen, and determine if the smile is genuine or just put on. Look for other body language cues that might let you know that she is distressed rather than happy and friendly. Nervousness will usually show itself in other ways as discussed above like playing with hair.

Nodding

Many women nod much more frequently than men. There are jokes about women seeming like bobble-heads for this reason. When a man nods, it usually means that he agrees with what is being said. This could be true of a woman as well, although a head nod might also mean that she is listening or encouraging you to continue speaking.

As a woman, it is important to be aware of nodding. Men often do not understand that a nod can mean anything other than agreement or submissiveness. If you nod too frequently, your body language can be easily misread, and men might wonder why you agree with them when in reality you are just listening intently to what they have to say.

When you see a woman nodding her head when you talk to her, respectfully ask if she’s agreeing with you or listening and understanding you. When you nod when a woman is speaking with you, tell her that you agree with what she’s saying.

Leaning Forward

Many women lean forward when they are involved in an intense conversation. However, this can often be misinterpreted as a way for the woman to draw attention to herself. However, that’s not their reason to lean forward. Women also lean forward when they are flirtatious, and this is often how men interpret this female body language.

It is important for men to read this body language in context with the situation and the conversation. If in a professional environment and a heated or intense conversation, it is likely that the woman is simply very engaged rather than actively flirting. At the same time, women need to be aware of this tendency and how it may be interpreted to signal interest.

Emotionally Expressive Hand Gestures

Many women "talk with their hands," meaning that when they get emotionally invested in a conversation, they use expressive hand gestures. It’s true in situations with their friends, partner, or even in professional settings. This can create the appearance of being emotionally invested in the current conversation. Using a lot of emotionally expressive hand gestures can convey to the other person that the woman is overly emotionally involved or invested in the topic of the conversation. Along those same lines, we see these body language signs with men. When men are overly emotional, they will usually puff out their chests, deepen their voices, and increase the volume of their voices.

It is important for women to understand that overly expressive hand gestures in the U.S., particularly those at or above the shoulders, are usually read as a sign that the woman is not in control of herself or her emotions. If a woman wants to be taken seriously or seen in a position of authority in a workplace that’s mostly made up of men, any hand gestures should be minimal and kept at or below the waist.

Handshake Strength

How a woman shakes your hand can say a lot about the woman. A weak handshake can convey to the recipient that the woman is submissive, shy, intimidated, nervous, or all of the above. In another situation, a strong handshake lets the recipient know that the woman is confident and in a position of authority and control. It can also speak to her strong personality and presence of mind.

Eye Rolling

Many women are prone to frequent eye rolling. Rolling the eyes is usually a sign of impatience or frustration. When you see a woman rolling her eyes, but being verbally quiet or reserved, this could be a sign of her trying to remain polite but losing patience. It is important to read this sign for what it is and change your tactic with the conversation or end the conversation completely.

Eye Contact

Direct eye contact, or the lack of some, can be read in a variety of ways. When women hold direct eye contact, they are usually fully engaged in the conversation and are not being submissive in any way. They may be making eye contact to let you know that they are paying attention to you. Some men read direct eye contact as a sign of attraction, but this is not always the case.

At the same time, a lack of direct eye contact in a woman might be read as a sign of submissiveness. When a woman looks at you then looks down, it can be considered flirtatious but also a gesture of being submissive to the man she is talking to. Lack of eye contact can also be a sign that she’s keeping something to herself. A change in the pupil size during eye contact can carry the same meaning.

If you’re passing a woman in the hall at work, for example, and she doesn’t look at you directly in the eye after you say hello to her, that could mean that she’s letting you know she’s not interested in you. Your intention might not have been to convey this type of interest, but she doesn’t know that. She might avoid looking at you directly, for fear if she did, you might misinterpret this behavior as interest. If she did look you in the eye though, you might then approach her with the hope of getting to know her better or even asking her out. Again, this might have been the furthest thing from your mind, but again, she doesn’t know that. Rather than take the risk of rejecting someone who could potentially and maybe dangerously retaliate against her, she avoids this situation altogether by not looking at you directly in the first place.

Crossing Arms

When a woman crosses her arms (or her legs when she’s sitting), it can draw attention to one of several things. Many people cross their arms when they are feeling defensive such as during an argument or in a situation where they feel threatened. Women also cross their arms to express disagreement with someone during a conversation or argument. Some women also cross their arms when they are bored with the conversation and are ready for it to end. And, some women, or people in general, cross their arms when they feel cold. It is important to consider the words she says when you read body language that the woman is using to interpret this message correctly.

Tapping Or Drumming Fingers

The tapping or drumming of fingers on a table or other surface is usually a sign of impatience or boredom. The woman who drums her fingers on the table is tired of the conversation or situation that she is in. She may be tired of waiting, or she may be becoming frustrated with a one-sided conversation. Another reason for tapping or drumming fingers is when a woman is thinking about something or about to make a decision. So, if you see her tapping her wine glass, it might be time to drop or change the conversation, or to let her think.

Open Palm Or Exposed Wrist

Some women might expose a wrist or show an open palm when they feel submissive, often without realizing that they are doing so. They do it without a conscious input from their brain. A bared wrist or palm might be a sign that the woman is ready to do as you ask of her, which means she is bowing to your authority. Another reason for the bared wrist or palm is that she is open to suggestions of what you would like to do or say next.

It’s important for women to recognize these types of gestures, so they can be aware of what others might misconstrue as submission or signs of affection. However, if a woman feels submissive, she can change her stance by pointing her feet toward the person she is listening or talking to and keep her head straight and her hands by her side. If a woman is open to suggestions, then along with this gesture, she can verbalize that she’s open to suggestions. This won’t necessarily mean she’ll agree with those suggestions, though.

Overall, an open palm or palms can have varying meanings. Seeing anyone with an open palm(s) could then be read in multiple ways. This is one reason reading body language can be a challenge to learn and do.

Locked Ankles

When a woman locks her ankles either while sitting or while standing it can be a sign that she is nervous or distressed by the conversation. If a woman is open to a conversation at first but then she’ll lock her legs at the ankles as she continues to sit, it might be a signal that the conversation has entered a place or topic with which she is not comfortable. However, this is not necessarily true of all women, as some women cross their legs at the ankle naturally.

Some women were also taught that if wearing a dress and sitting, then they should lock their ankles. The idea behind this gesture is to show people that the woman is a lady. Fortunately, this sexist idea of a woman having to be a “lady” and display “lady-like behaviors” is being relegated to the trash heap.

Dilated Eyes

Research has proven that the eyes dilate when the individual sees something that they want. This is true of women just as much as it is true of men. If you are talking to a woman in a social setting and her eyes dilate when you ask her for a date, she is letting you know then and there that she is interested in going out with you. If you present a woman with an option that she’s interested in, such as a promotion or a coveted project, you will also get this response.

Rapidly Blinking Eyes

Some men think that blinking eyes are a sign that a woman is attracted to them. They see this as a method off flirting. However, this is most frequently not the case. Most often, women rapidly blink their eyes when they are nervous or uncomfortable in some way. If you approach a woman and her eyes are rapidly blinking, it is a sign that she is anxious and possibly feeling threatened.

Lip Gestures

Women often bite their lips, including their lower lip when they are stressed, worried, or anxious. However, many men incorrectly interpret biting lips to mean attraction and desire. Most often, if biting lips is meant to represent desire, it will be accompanied by intense eye contact. Otherwise, a body language expert might tell you to take biting lips as a sign that she is nervous or stressed.

One lip gesture that can always be interpreted correctly is the tightening or pursing of the lips. When a woman tightens her lips, it means that she’ll feel disapproving or distrusting of the person she is talking to. If you approach a woman socially and she’ll tightens her lips when you try to talk to her, abandon the effort and move on.

Hands On Hips

Many men can relate to seeing a woman put her hands on her hips during an argument or when an argument is about to be launched. Putting hands on hips is universally seen by men as an act of aggression on the part of most women. Hands on hips can also mean that the woman feels she is in control of the situation, which can draw attention.

What Are The Signs Of A Woman Flirting?

Reading female body language in this context can be difficult to read, as not every woman will act or react the same. Many signs of a woman showing that she’s attracted or interested in you include that she’ll be smiling with more than her lips and display physical touch, strong eye contact, and laughing. However, as stated earlier, signs like smiling could indicate nervousness, so be sure to pay attention to other signals as well as to avoid making assumptions about any attraction or future potential relationship.

What Are Signs Of Attraction?

Many of the same indicators of attraction are shared between men and women, but one sign of attraction is laughter. According to speed dating experiment held in 2018, laughter was determined to be a possible indication of attraction. Other signs of attraction can also include eye contact batting of the eyes and smiling. Physical touch can also be an indicator of sexual interest. If she’s attracted to you, she’ll stroke your arm or do something that draws attention to her own physical attraction as you are interacting. Prolonged and consistent eye contact is another indicator of close attention and possible attraction.

How Can You Tell If A Girl Likes You Through Body Language?

Body language that could be a sign that a woman is interested often include strong eye contact during conversation and showcasing that she’s comfortable around you. This can be shown in her relaxed posture, where her arms might not be crossed and she is active in the conversation you are having. Another great sign of sexual excitement is when she’ll lick her lips. Licking lips is a subtle thing, but it draws attention to her sexually attractive features, and to make you think about kissing her. However, it could also just mean that she has a dry mouth and lips, so don’t read too much into this signal.

Another obvious sign that she is attracted to you is that she will also likely smile and laugh throughout the conversation, showing that she is engaged and interested in what you have to say. If she smiles genuinely and maintains eye contact throughout the conversation, it’s a great sign that she could be interested in you romantically.

Getting Help With Communication

If you find that you are frequently reading your partner incorrectly, you might want to get some additional help with communication. An in-person or online therapist can help you learn how to (mostly) correctly interpret female body language and facial expressions, and teach you how to have more open and constructive conversations with your partner or spouse. If you’re a woman, you might want to explore if you feel submissive in certain situations and how to garner more confidence in your body language and facial expressions, so you’re not sending a submissive message to others. This can be especially beneficial in personal and work relationships for those interested.

Whether you want to learn how to respond to women better or you’re a woman who wants to exude more confidence to the outside world, online therapy has been shown to be just as effective as face-to-face therapy. In a study of 26 participants receiving online and in-person cognitive behavioral therapy (changing negative thoughts and behaviors) to treat symptoms of anxiety, stress, and low quality of life, results showed that online therapy was comparable to traditional therapy. Online cognitive behavioral therapy was also shown to significantly reduce depression symptoms.

How BetterHelp Can Support You

BetterHelp has licensed online counselors and therapists with expertise and experience in how body language is used as a form of communication. With the help of a therapist, you will understand the role body language plays in your life and your relationships. You’ll learn how to use body language to improve your quality of life. You can meet with a counselor from the comfort of your own home or anywhere you feel most comfortable. Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp counselors from people experiencing similar issues.

Other Commonly Asked Questions

How can you tell if a girl likes you through body language?
What are the signs of a woman flirting?
What is flirtatious body language?
How do you tell if a girl has slept with a lot of guys?
How do you tell if a girl is slowly falling for you?
How can you tell if someone is checking you out?
How does a woman flirt with a man?
Can a girl like you but not show it?
What are signs of attraction?
Can a man tell if a woman has been with someone else?

For Additional Help & Support With Your Concerns

Speak with a Licensed Therapist
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.