Recognising the signs she likes you

Dear Duana,

My superhero name is Captain Clueless.  I’ve done the “shot down at the bar” scene and lived the “she wanted me, but I found out after she married someone else” fiasco.  To round it out, I’ve also dated women who gradually faded away while promising more time together—as if they just couldn’t bring themselves to say the words, “Let’s break up.”

It’s worth donning the cape to find the future Mrs. Clueless, but saving some pain and confusion along the way would be great.  Are there are any reliable signs she likes you?


Dear Scott,

Heroes like you possess a vital superpower:  Bravery.

Thank goodness.  Without it, you violate women’s prime directive to find a *willing* provider.  After all, if you’re running away, how willing can you be?   Ardent pursuit, on the other hand, is downright valiant.  If risking your heart and other sensitive parts isn’t chivalry, I don’t know what is.

But if three’s a crowd and two’s company, one’s a stalker.  Plus as you know, getting rejected and led on really hurts.

Fortunately, you need not be reckless or blind in your bravery, because… 

Interested Women Usually Make The First Move.  (Kind of.)

About 2/3rds of the time, women are the first to show signs she likes you —and do it in reliable ways.

Apparently, though, we pay too high a price when we’re obvious.  Just as we want willing pursuit, you guys prefer quarry that is a bit elusive, discerning, and for long-term purposes, Not Easy.

So to avoid being branded as nuts or sluts, we initiate things without speaking or moving towards you.  No wonder you’re clueless!

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to learn to recognize  the signs she likes you. 

Signal #1:   The Smile/Look Combo

Monica Moore’s extensive barroom observations—in the name of science, of course!—yielded a whopping 52 nonverbal come-hithers women employ.  But you need only recognize two, and only in combination:

The Smile:

Whether you’ve been on zero dates or dozens, the Woman Who Wants You smiles.  At you.  And she smiles with genuine, eye-crinkling pleasure.    No eye crinkles = fake smile = why waste your time?

The Look:

Women in love can’t take their eyes off of yours.  So, if you’re dating and she’s avoiding your gaze, that’s a huge not-into-you, she’s-lost-that-lovin’-feelin’ tip-off.

The Look is for strangers, too.  Interested women level three different kinds of looks at men they don’t know…yet:

—the Entire-Room Scan, which (along with Dancing By Herself) indicates general openness to being approached;

—the Brief, Darting Glance that is repeatedly directed at one specific man; and

The Look men find hard to resist— the steady gaze of longer than 3 seconds’ duration.

Three seconds seems like a loooong time to look a stranger straight in the eyes, and it is.  But unlike Gotham City, where just one signal brought out the Batman, a woman hoping to be approached may need to target a specific man with The Look upwards of once every two minutes—35 times per hour!

Upshot?  A woman’s real smile paired with the right eye contact is kryptonite of the Come Here, Lover variety.  And the more a she likes you, the greater the number of times she sends out her signal.

So memorize this: A Real Smile Plus Repeated Eye Contact is *the* most reliable sign she likes you.  It is a dead giveaway that you should be striding purposefully across the crowded room, carelessly throwing back your cape, and confidently introducing yourself.

Signal #2: The Turn & Touch

Timothy Perper has identified, in order, what happens when an initial encounter goes well.  After the woman lures you over with smiling eyes, couples.

Again, the process isn’t random.  If a woman is Interested in you when you’re speaking, she’ll begin turning towards you as you turn towards her.  And she’ll typically initiate the first touch—usually on your arm.

Signal #3: The Mirror

Watch others, and you’ll see it: The just-met-you Interested folks copy one another’s eye contact duration, facial expressions, voice rhythms, and body positions.   And the happiest long-marrieds tend to look similar in part because they’ve spent decades mirroring one another’s expressions.

This does not mean you should start mimicking women like crazy.  Like most human mating behavior, mirroring is unconscious, and if you draw attention to it, it could make you look like Weirdo/Stalker Guy.

But do become aware of when a woman is mirroring *you*.  It means your superpowers are doing their super thang.

And if she’s not copying you at all—she’s just not that into you.

Signal #4: Reciprocity

Of course, in love there are two ways to fall.  And when a woman wants to end things, she should employ the art of the break-up to tell you—clearly and kindly—that it’s over.  In life and in science, I’ve never yet met anyone who preferred a vague, dragging-on, non-ending kind of ending.

But until everyone gets that memo, you’re stuck deciphering women’s non-verbal behavior to gauge how things are going.  And what you’re looking for is an over-all *pattern* of Reciprocity.

Women who are into you probably don’t lead the dance; that’s too risky (see nuts/sluts, above).  They often take things—especially sexual things—more slowly than you would.  But whether you’ve known them for two minutes or twenty years, Interested women follow your lead by *returning* some of the Interest you show!

And so, Captain Scott, your best signs she likes you is not her words—not at the beginning, certainly, and not necessarily later on.

Instead, you can read her feelings in her eyes, smile, touch, reciprocity—and above all, in her joy at being with you.  If those are there, she’s all about you.  Keep pursuing, Brave One!

If the signs she likes you aren’t there, though, she’s just not that into you, and it’s time to find another worthy damsel.

After all—bravery like yours is super, and a super, interested woman will appreciate that.




The author wishes to acknowledge the following scientists and sources: 

Monica Moore, for cataloging the 52 nonverbal courtship patterns of women

Timothy Perper, biologist and author of , for outlining the stages of successful initial encounters

David Givens and James Dabbs, for further work about nonverbal signals in human courtship

Ben Jones, Lisa DeBruine and others of the Face Research Lab at the University of Aberdeen, for work showing why smiling is so alluring

Paul Ekman, for his lifetime research on facial expressions and genuine, eye-crinkling smiling

Martie Haselton, for research on why men sometimes overestimate a woman’s sexual interest, and underestimate her lack of interest

All material copyrighted by Duana C. Welch, Ph.D. and Love Science Media, 2010


© Copyright 2014 Duana WelchPh.D., All rights Reserved.