What are the signs that someone is flirting—conveying subtle nonverbal cues of sexual interest? Some of these signals are obvious and some quite subtle. Here are 8 body-language cues that suggest sexual interest.
1. Prolonged Eye Gaze. Holding another’s eye gaze a bit longer than usual is a sign of interest. Mutual eye gaze—looking into each other’s eyes—can be arousing, so we usually hold it briefly. Prolonged gaze suggests that there is attraction and a desire to connect.
2. Open Body Position. Sitting directly facing the other person, leaning forward, eyes wide open, with open arm positions (not using crossed arms as a “barrier,” for example), suggests that a person wants to become more intimate. These are sometimes called cues of “immediacy.”
3. Lip Licking. When sexually attracted to someone, tongues can become more active, and more frequent moistening of the lips can occur. This slow lip-licking can be an intentional and obvious flirtation cue.
5. “Accidental” Touch. Sitting together so that legs touch slightly, or allowing one’s hand to brush up against, or rest upon another’s body are seduction cues.
6. Smiling More Than Usual. Although we smile frequently when interacting with other individuals that we like, when sexually attracted to someone, the rate of smiling tends to increase. In addition, there tends to be more open-mouth smiling when someone is sexually interested.
8. Prolonged Body Glances. On the more obvious end, prolonged glances at another’s body—scanning and “sizing up” the other person—is a definite sign of interest.
Decades ago, in our studies of emotions, we asked people to portray “seduction” while being videotaped. What we discovered was that some individuals were very good at looking seductive, while others were terrible at it. This suggests that there are individual differences, with some engaging in more obvious (and sometimes awkward) seduction cues, but others who tried to appear sexually interested but came off as portraying negative emotions and not very seductive at all.