Online dating: what you can learn from body language

Dating has come a long way in the past few years. With the rapid increase of technology like smartphones and the popularity of online dating apps like Tinder, Grindr and Hinge, it’s more likely than ever you’ll meet your next partner online.

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Tuesday, 12th May 2020, 10:44 am
The small signs given off through non-verbal cues that sometimes can say a lot more than words can
The small signs given off through non-verbal cues that sometimes can say a lot more than words can

But despite the rise in technology — and the multitude of apps available for singles looking to meet a match — online dating hasn’t changed the significance of the all-important first date. First dates remain as nerve-racking as ever; their success (or failure) can determine if you’ll be seeing a person for years to come, or if you’ll part ways and never speak again.

One of the best ways to tell if you’re date is going well? Psychologists say its body language; the small signs given off through non-verbal cues that sometimes can say a lot more than words can. Researchers have become more interested in this topic carrying out their own experiments; even this bingo site investigated body language on a date.

Here are some of the ways you can tell how your prospective partner is feeling based on their body language.

Pay attention to their pupils to gauge their true feelings

It’s all in the eyes

It’s been said that the eyes are the window to the soul. While experts might not be able to confirm this, someone’s eyes are a great way of learning a lot about them — especially when it comes to dating. An inability to make eye contact can mean boredom or disinterest. Looking downwards can suggest submissiveness or nervousness, while looking to the side is known to indicate deceit.

Pay attention to their pupils, too. Researchers have found that when cognitive effort increases (i.e. someone is paying attention to you or focused on what you’re saying) that the pupils will automatically dilate. Traci Brown, a body language expert and author says: “If their pupils dilate when they look at you, they’re totally liking what they see. If they shrink, they’re not so much into the view.”

Experts say that eye-contact is a great way of indicating whether your date has any interest in you.

Look out for blocking

Blocking doesn’t just happen online. Also known as “distancing language”, blocking is what happens when a person isn’t feeling a connection with another person or is unhappy with the way a conversation is going, thereby ‘blocking’ themselves emotionally through distancing. Looked out for crossed arms or an angling of the body (when someone feels connected and engaged, they’re more likely to square up with the other person or face them directly). Blocking is a non-verbal of telling you your date is on the defence and may not be interested.

The feet are a good tell

Want an easy way to tell if your date is going well? Have a look at their feet! Researchers have found that we tend to point our feet inwards when we’re trying to be more approachable.

And just like when it comes to blocking, feet pointing directly towards someone else indicates interest — while feet pointing towards the door means they want out of there.

Are you being mirrored?

Another simple way to find out if someone likes you is if you start to feel like you’re looking in a mirror. Mirroring is the mimicking of another person’s body language; it can include everything from the way you’re sitting, to touching your hair and even taking a sip of a drink just after you. It’s a non-verbal gesture that we do innately to build a rapport with someone else.

If you want to test this theory out, try switching up your movements or position; if they follow suit, there’s a good chance they’re trying to build a closer connection with you.

Their proximity

When it comes to a first date, proximity is important. If your date is standing or sitting close to you, it’s more likely that things are going well. Sitting across from each other at a table? Try and get a sense of whether they’re leaning in closer to you or pulling away. Leaning in is a non-verbal way of engaging with you. Psychotherapist Paul Hokemeyer confirms this. “A person who leans in towards you are revealing their interest in who you are, what you have to say and the addictiveness of your being,” he says. “It shows they want more of you rather than less.”

Hand signals

Just like the feet, a person’s hands can tell us a lot about how they feel about us. Hands in their pockets or hands on their head, for example, can indicate deception. Gesturing towards someone can indicate an affinity for them. Leaning in and resting the head on one hand is a sign that they’re trying to focus on what the other person is saying. The head resting in two hands, with elbows on the table, can indicate boredom or disinterest.

Watch out for hand-related blocking too. If your date places, or holds, an item between you they may be subconsciously trying to distance themselves!

Conversational flow

It’s not just about what your date says to you — it’s how they say it. Speed can indicate nervousness, as can tripping up on their words. Nervousness on a first date isn’t always a tell-tale sign of interest — but it sometimes it does indicate attraction. “When the attraction is strong it can turn highly intelligent adults into bumbling children,” Hokemeyer says. “So, if he or she stumbles on words or has a hard time putting together an evening of cogent thoughts, chances are it’s because they are very much into you.”

So the next time you are on a first date and are unsure on how it is going, remember the body language tips.