18 Examples Of Female Body Language
By: Michael Arangua
Updated January 28, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Audrey Kelly, LMFT
Understanding 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. 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 and then how women convey their emotions and attitudes through their body language. Keep in mind that there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to body language, anyone’s body language. What body language means to one person might mean something else to another, including the experts. Even the person exhibiting the body language might have a different interpretation of why they’re standing or using their arms a certain way.
The Science 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 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. Clinical studies have shown that body language sometimes contradicts verbal messages, making it an important study for people.
An important aspect of the science of body language is that it changes across cultures. The body language that is exhibited by 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 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 of women in your life accurately.
Body Language Of Women
The body language of women in the U.S. is fairly standard andis 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. However, their body language will often tell the tale of how they are feeling.
The tilt of the head can show people that you are listening to them or encouraging them to continue speaking. Many women tilt their heads when having conversations with people, especially 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.
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. 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 she feels she is in control of the situation and she is demanding respect.
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. However, many men misread these gestures. 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, fidgeting of this nature is a sign of distress. 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.
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 when they are nervous. This means that some women may smile excessively or at inappropriate times, making their emotions hard to read.
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. 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.
Many women nod much more frequently than men. There are jokes about women seeming like bobbleheads 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 believe 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.
Many women lean forward when they are involved in an intense conversation. However, this can often be misinterpreted. 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.
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. 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 that with men. When men are overly emotional, they will usually puff out their chests, deepen their voices, andincrease 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.
How a woman shakes your hand can say a lot about the woman. A weak handshake conveys to the recipient that the woman is submissive, shy, intimidated, nervous, or all of the above. On the other hand, a strong handshake lets the recipient know that the woman is confident and in a position of authority and control.
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, she is likely 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.
Direct eye contact, or the lack of same, can be read in a variety of ways. Women who are making direct eye contact 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.
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 notinterested 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.
When a woman crosses her arms, it could mean 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 and other female 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.
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. 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.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.
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 locks her ankles, 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, thenthey 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.
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 likes, 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 of 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.
Women often bite their lower lip when they are stressed, worried, or anxious. However, many men incorrectly interpret this female body language to mean attraction and desire. Most often, if the movement is meant to represent desire, it will be accompanied by intense eye contact. Otherwise, take it 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 is disapproving or distrusting of the person she is talking to. If you approach a woman socially and she 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 women. Hands on hips can also mean that the woman feels she is in control of the situation.
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 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, so you’re not sending a submissive message to others. This can be especially beneficial in personal and work relationships.
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 receivingonline 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 haslicensed online counselors and therapistswith 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.
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“I highly recommend Rosa Gomez Duque (LMFT). She's trustworthy, understanding, and knowledgeable. She gave me tools to identify my emotions and process them in a healthy way. She also helped me improve my confidence and assertive communication skills. I feel my mental health is in a much better place after my time with Rosa.”
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