Dating can be hard enough with trying to decipher text messages and emojis. Then there's the part where you decode body language on the actual dates, a crucial life skill.
This video explainer by Casually Explained, a YouTube channel aiming to answer life's big questions, sheds some light on what body language means, and how it progresses at different stages of the dating cycle.
On the first encounter, eye contact is used to show interest. The narrator explains this concept through the example of heterosexual couples. A shy girl may get flustered and look away quickly, whereas those more confident might maintain eye contact and smile. Staying within close physical proximity of one another is another way people show initial interest.
Body language becomes more nuanced as the relationship progresses. During the rapport building stage, touching someone lightly on the arm or high fiving them can be small indicators of interest. Posture is also an indicator: Since people cover their wrists and necks when they're uncomfortable, if a girl is comfortable in a situation, she might tilt her head and expose her neck. People will also try to close the gap in personal space. For example, if there's a purse between two people seated on a bench, moving the barrier out of the way may be a sign of interest. Other indicators include biting or licking one's lip.
Body language is not just important on dates. It's also crucial in communicating power and confidence in business, or signalling to strangers how to approach you. Keeping your eyes wide makes you appear more approachable, for instance, while changing body position during a conversation might indicate either that you're bored—if you change position when someone is in the middle of making a point—or that you're engaged with them, if you change position when the direction of the conversation changes.
This all might seem pretty straightforward on paper, but if you've been on the dating scene you know that there's no Rosetta Stone for body language.