How To Interpret Men’s Body Language

Medically reviewed by Laura Angers Maddox, NCC, LPC
Updated May 1, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Want to know how to read body language?

Body language is a key form of communication, often helping us better understand another person’s intended message and learn more about how they’re feeling. In fact, it has been suggested that body language makes up 55% of communication, with the other 45% consisting of tone and words.

While many nonverbal cues can be interpreted the same way regardless of gender, men often stand, gesture, and use their eyes in specific ways. A man’s body language can provide additional insights into his attitude and feelings that may not be conveyed by his words. Below, we’re going to discuss several of these nonverbal cues and how you can read them. 

What are examples of male body language?

Body language includes any purposeful or reflexive movement of the body used to communicate a message or emotion to the outside world. Body language can be conscious—like reaching our hand out to introduce ourselves—or unconscious, as when we react to a bee sting. Studies have found that males across cultures utilize many of the same mannerisms, gestures, and postures when interacting with others. Continue reading to learn more about how to interpret male body language.


The pose that men adopt when they stand can say a lot about their attitude and emotions in a particular situation. A man who is nervous or fearful might subconsciously take on a slouched or defensive stance, while a man who is attempting to embody confidence may broaden his shoulders and raise his head.

The stance men take during conversations may largely be a reflexive movement. However, some men consciously use this type of body language to convey information about themselves. When a man stands with their shoulders squared off, hips facing forward, and hands down at their sides, that is considered a dominant stance. A dominant stance can be a purposeful or unintentional display of confidence. It is often used when a man is attracted to another person. It is also frequently used to project superiority in business settings. 

Men often take a more defensive stance when they feel threatened, worried, or fearful. A man in this stance may keep his arms close to his body, his shoulders hunched, and his feet turned away from the person with whom he’s communicating. 

Male hand gestures

Men frequently employ subtle hand gestures to deliver an intended message. While these motions may be used intentionally to get a point across, the position of the palms during hand gestures and other signals can sometimes show the real attitude or emotion of a man who is speaking.

  • Open palms tend to display sincerity, trust, and openness. A man may be trying to indicate that he is trustworthy or non-threatening. The open-handed wave employed by politicians and celebrities is one example of how this body language is used on a routine basis.
  • Hiding the palms by facing them inward or closing the hands into a fist can convey aggressiveness or defensiveness. A man with a closed hand may be experiencing anger, stress, or similar feelings.
  • Touching the face can be interpreted many ways. While face touching was once considered a cue that someone was being dishonest, it is no longer thought to be a reliable indicator of deception. Some men touch their faces when they are deep in thought. A man may also touch his face in potential high-anxiety situations, such as job interviews or first dates. 


Men have trouble sitting still for a variety of reasons. Fidgeting may be a sign that a man is bored. It can also signal that he is nervous—restlessness is a common symptom of anxiety and chronic stress. Fidgeting in men can manifest as foot tapping, fingernail biting, or shifting in one’s seat.


Handshakes are a common form of greeting for people of all genders, but particularly men. Many men want their handshake to convey confidence. They may also use someone’s handshake to appraise their character or abilities. The following are ways a man may communicate through various types of handshakes. 

Want to know how to read body language?

  • Dominant Handshake: A hand that is turned palm down while being offered for a shake can be a sign of confidence. A dominant handshake may also be firm and accompanied by eye contact. Some men use a dominant handshake to try to display power or authority. 
  • Submissive Handshake: Offering the hand with palm turned upward can signal openness and trust. A man offering his hand palm upturned may also feel intimidated by the person they are shaking hands with, or they may be subordinate to the individual in some way (in a boss/employee relationship, for example). This handshake can also put people at ease if they appear to be intimidated by you. 
  • Two-Handed Shake: Here, one hand comes up to grip the inside of the other person's shaking hand and the other clasps or pats the outside of the same hand. Using this handshake typically shows that a man feels comfortable with the other person. 

Eye contact

The eyes can convey a great deal of information not expressed through words. Men frequently communicate through their gaze, both purposefully and involuntarily. For example, while a few blinks only at random are likely just normal eye movements, if blinking is rapid, that could indicate a sign of stress. A man who is rapidly blinking may be agitated, worried or nervous. Blinking that is slow and deliberate, however, may be a sign of boredom or tiredness. 

A naturally focused gaze, particularly on the lower half of the face the man is talking to, is a sign that they are paying attention to what is being said. Meeting another person’s gaze can also be a sign of interest—eye contact often signals attraction. There is even evidence that eye contact can indicate whether a man is experiencing love or lust. 

Other examples of body language

Some other body language and gestures might indicate an overall mood. Keep in mind that many people are aware of these body language movements and can purposely employ them. For example, someone who is self-conscious could appear domineering simply by changing their body language.

  • Crossed arms: When a man crosses his arms, it could indicate defensiveness. Men often cross their arms when they feel intimidated or argumentative. Crossed arms may also indicate disinterest
  • Lowered head: Hanging one’s head is a common sign of low mood. When a man lowers his head while talking to others, it may mean that he feels sad or fearful. A lowered head could also be an indication of remorse or guilt, particularly if the man is being reprimanded by an authority figure.

  • Reduced personal space: Reducing personal space is a sign that a man may be intimidated. A man who is intimidated or submissive to the other person will consciously or unconsciously pull their body in closer to them to take up as little space as possible. Taking a more open stance exudes confidence and can make you feel more confident.
  • Turning to one side: Shifting the body to the side slightly can be a sign of aggression. It is an open stance with the side of the body facing the other person, even if only slightly. When someone stands in this way, it generally means that they are bracing themselves for an argument or a physical fight, or they are in the midst of an argument, and they are trying to regain control of the situation.

Healthy communication through online therapy

Reading body language can be a useful skill, potentially helping you in social settings, the workplace, and at home. If you find that you struggle understanding nonverbal cues, therapy can help. Working with a licensed therapist, you can learn about common forms of body language and find out how you can both utilize and interpret them. For someone who is looking to talk through challenges regarding communication, online therapy may be a more comfortable environment than in-person therapy. 

Studies show that online therapy can help individuals conveniently work through symptoms of mental health conditions while also learning to communicate in healthy ways. In a study on the effects of online therapy for anxiety, researchers found that treatment led to reductions in both anxiety symptoms and negative expressions of emotion. 

Online therapy can be a convenient and flexible way of honing your communication skills and addressing other mental health challenges. With an online therapy platform like BetterHelp, you can talk with a therapist in the manner that you prefer, through video call, voice call, or in-app messaging. The ability to message your therapist anytime allows you to ask questions you may have forgotten during therapy or work on your communication skills outside of sessions. 


Learning how to read people’s body language, regardless of gender, can be an invaluable skill. It can help us interpret someone’s intended meaning, avoid miscommunications, and provide support. If you’d like to learn more about nonverbal communication or similar topics, a licensed therapist can help. With the right support, you can better understand others and learn how to communicate in a wide variety of ways.
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