Flirting Body Language: Being Sure Of The Signs You Send

Medically reviewed by April Justice, LICSW
Updated April 29, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

It can be vital to properly assess body language when you’re interested in someone. If you’d like to flirt with a person, it’s generally best to ensure they’re open to your advances. Familiarizing yourself with body language cues like smiling, frowning, moving closer or further away, and initiating contact can be helpful. It may be best to err on the side of caution if you feel unsure about a situation, and apologizing for any mistakes can be beneficial. For additional help with communication and dating, you may consider working with an online therapist.

Assess the situation

If you are seeking a connection, you may first need to acknowledge that some places make more appropriate settings for flirting than others.

For instance, if you're out on a date with someone, then it might be appropriate for you to initiate physical contact with them if you seem to be getting favorable signals. The two of you will likely be in a situation where it can be socially acceptable for you to put your arm around them, or you might reach across the dinner table to hold their hand. These can be ways of initiating intimacy, but they are usually relatively benign. They're typically not considered to be as forward as leaning over for a kiss.

However, maybe you're on public transportation, and you see someone who seems to be looking at you with interest. If all the physical signs seem to be favorable, then it would probably be okay to move a little closer to talk to them. However, it may not be appropriate in that situation for you to try to put your arm around them or otherwise touch them without their consent. After all, you may be a stranger to this person, and there can be a chance you have misinterpreted a signal. While giving them a friendly greeting to see how they respond would be fine in most cases, it's generally not okay to get physical out of respect for both societal and personal boundaries.

Body language cues

Now, let's talk about some possible body language cues that a person might employ if they are trying to get your attention. We'll also go over some signals that an individual may send if they are not interested in you.

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Flirting doesn’t have to be hard
If you want to show someone that you’re interested in engaging with them, then smiling at them can be the easiest and most recognizable way for you to do that.

It's something that we can learn, even as babies: When someone smiles at us, it usually means that they feel good when we're around, and they're friendly toward us.

If you are sitting at the bar, for instance, and a young lady smiles broadly at you from a few seats down, then that can be a strong indication that she would welcome an advance on your part. In such a situation where you don't know the person, then walking over and introducing yourself would probably be fine. The smile can be an invitation of sorts.

However, it is usually not an invitation for you to put your hands on the person in question or to say something lewd to them. Telling them your name or asking how they're doing that evening can be acceptable. If they accept your advance and ask you to join them, then you may know you weren't mistaken about their intentions. If they inform you that they aren't interested, then you can return to your seat with no harm done.


By contrast, if you look at someone seated at the bar and they frown at you and turn away, that can be a clear signal that they don't want you to approach them. The frown usually indicates disapproval, as does breaking eye contact. Eye contact can be an indication that someone is trying to hold your attention, and breaking it deliberately likely means that the person does not want to engage with you.

Like a smile, a frown and broken eye contact is usually something we learn to recognize very early on as a sign of disapproval. If this is something that happens between you and a stranger, then it may be best to forget about engaging with them. 


Moving closer or further away

Someone moving closer to you or further away from you is also a body language indicator that can be hard to misinterpret. Let's say that you're out on the dance floor at a club. The music is probably loud, and it would likely be difficult to engage with someone in conversation without both of you raising your voices.

This is a scenario where it can be especially important to pick up on body language cues. Maybe you see a young man who is dancing near you, and you find him to be attractive. You catch his eye, and then you deliberately move in his direction. If he smiles and moves closer to you, then that can be a clear signal that your interest in him is returned. If he frowns, breaks eye contact, and steps away from you or turns his back, then that can be a signal to disengage. In such a situation, it’s usually best to move on to someone else who might make a potential dance partner.

Initiating contact

Let's say that you're at a restaurant on a first date with a woman. The two of you met through a dating app, and you're getting to know one another. You feel like the conversation has been going well. She laughs at your jokes, and she takes you up on your suggestion that the two of you go for a walk through the park nearby and enjoy the sunset.

As the two of you leave the restaurant, she slips her hand into yours. You may understand that this initiation of physical contact can mean that this person is into you and is interested in getting to know you further. You may feel thrilled as the two of you walk down the street with your fingers intertwined. 

If someone initiates physical contact in this way, then that likely means that they're interested in you. When these things happen, it is often best to follow their lead. If they want more intimacy, then they will likely let you know.

Knowing when to take things further

Let's go back to the scenario of your first date. You've enjoyed your walk through the park, and you have escorted the woman back to her apartment. As the two of you stop in front of her building, she tells you that she had a nice time. She turns in your direction, inclines her head toward you, and parts her lips slightly and deliberately.

Many people might realize that this could be the perfect moment to go in for a kiss. You might be a bit nervous at such a time. However, you may be surprised by how easily these moments can work themselves out.

Flirting doesn’t have to be hard

There is often a biological impulse to couple with others of our species. We can't all be the most sophisticated and suave, but when these opportunities come about, usually your body will know what to do. Going in for that kiss will probably feel right, and if you are sure that your date's body language is favorable, then it may mark the conclusion of a lovely evening together.

Knowing when to back off

There may always be occasions when body language can be misinterpreted. When this happens, it is typically best to apologize if you are in the wrong. You should generally pay close attention to their body language to avoid doing something that makes them feel uncomfortable. If you feel like there's a chance you might be overstepping your bounds, it’s usually best to stop what you're doing. 

If you're completely unsure of yourself, then it's also not a bad idea to take the mystery out of the equation and simply ask them. It is usually better to be too cautious rather than too forward when it comes to flirting and physical affection.

Are you unsure about how to proceed?

Do you feel like someone you know is giving you mixed signals, and you're not sure of the best thing to do? Talking to a licensed mental health professional through an online therapy platform may help you learn more about communication and body language, as well as tips for successful connections and relationships. As topics like flirting and relationships can be uncomfortable to open up about for some people, you may find you feel more at ease when connecting to a professional from home rather than sitting in a therapist’s office.

As this study explains, the efficacy of online therapy is generally equal to that of traditional in-office therapy. If you believe speaking with a therapist may be helpful for you, please don’t hesitate to reach out for the guidance you deserve.


Knowing the general meanings associated with basic body language cues can be helpful when you’re interested in flirting with someone. However, if you aren’t sure what a person’s body language may be communicating, it’s often better to be cautious rather than to do something that may make them feel uncomfortable. Working with a licensed mental health professional in online or in-person therapy can help you better understand nonverbal cues, communication skills, and general guidelines for successful dating experiences.
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