Body Language Project: Dating, Attraction And Sexual Body Language
If you are closer than arm’s reach, than you are in someone’s personal space. This is the first lesson you must learn. To create more space in crowded areas such as elevators and bars, people often tense up and use their arms as protection. They will hold them close to their body – often crossed – and will also avoid eye contact. If a woman you know is doing this in your presence and you are not in an elevator than she is sending you a strong message of disinterest. You will not get very far with a person who holds closed postures so you would be best advised to give them some space, back up a few paces, and allow them to reduce their tension. If a woman steps back when you approach her, it does not necessarily mean that she does not like you, she just needs more time to get comfortable. People guard their space passionately, wherever it is, and will not appreciate it if you invade it. Respecting people’s intimate space involves not invading it with objects, like your bag or jacket, or with body parts unless they are welcomed.
The need for space is particular to a specific person and is normally a function of their environment. If they live in a densely populated area and frequent busy malls, elevators and so forth, they will be more accustomed to having people in close proximity. Normally, city people will tolerate someone in their space more so than those who live in rural settings. However, it is quite common to give strangers as much space as reasonably possible. For example, in an empty elevator, it would be unreasonable to be so close as to touch a stranger (even one you like). This is completely reversed however in a full elevator, where it is assumed that some accidental touching will occur.
Being sensitive to a woman’s need for space is a given. If you act dominant and enter her space without her permission, you are guaranteed to leave her with a bad impression. All women perceive men as threatening who enter their personal space without an invitation and a woman will not reciprocate attraction to someone she fears. This doesn’t mean that you are never to enter the intimate zone of a woman, but rather, you should wait for the right cues before doing so. When you approach someone physically, it is the same as if you were to approach them emotionally, and you should wait for a woman to give you signals that an approach is welcome before moving closer.
Never use positions of power when approaching a woman. That is, keep at eye level if possible. However, if you and she are both standing then it would be acceptable to use height as an advantage. Height can be exploited by men to display dominance. The king of the castle holds literally in this case since the higher a person is, the more power is projected onto them. If the woman you want to approach is sitting though, it is best to approach her from a bent or kneeling position initially. Once the woman becomes more comfortable with you and you establish a common dialogue, then it becomes safer to exploit your height differences. Your goal should never be to dominate over a woman, especially initially. Your goal should always be to make her feel comfortable in your presence and to break down all the barriers that separate the two of you.
Importance should also be put on the fact that proximity norms are different in different cultures. For example, Japanese people tend to stand much closer than Americans when in conversation. This proximity could be misconstrued as a sexual advance if it took place between two cultures, but in reality it is merely a function of upbringing. The point should also be made that there is a fairly large range in levels of touching and proximity norms between cultures and also within cultures. Some people will be comfortable being close, while others might reject this proximity altogether. If you are curious to know if a woman’s proximity to you is an advance or simply her way, all you have to do is examine how she behaves around other people generally. If she is commonly a touchy-feely sort of person toward everyone, then it can be assumed that this is simply person specific and is not any sort of sexual advance. It is also true that the location of the interaction plays a big role. For example, in a crowded bar or amusement park, it would be acceptable to stand fairly close, however in an area that is more open, it might come across as imposing to be closer than necessary.
Normally, one should expect that a distance which separates two people from each other’s reach would be appropriate for strangers. Sometimes this can be even further. It is not always obvious to everyone what is sufficient for proximity. The point was well made in an episode of Seinfeld with the “close talker.” The character immediately jettisoned within inches of the person he was communicating with, turning the situation awkward. As you approach a woman, be careful to measure her response. If she moves back, you are best to respect that distance and maintain it as a buffer instead of continuously trying to close the gap. As the conversation continues and the level of trust grows, you will probably notice that closeness is gradually more permitted and welcomed. Generally, comfortable distances go as follows:
Intimate – touching to about 10 inches (for close friends, family, and couples)
Casual-personal – 18 inches to 4 feet (informal conversation with friends)
Social – 4 to 12 feet.
A social distance of 12 feet might seem unlikely. However, for strangers who have never spoken, this is a comfortable distance to speak from. If you don’t believe this to be so, give it a try for yourself.
Images In This Section
Image 8487: Dave is doing a really good job at making Scarlett uncomfortable by towering over her. You can see her defensive posture as she pulls her coffee toward herself and slightly tucks her chin in toward her body. Her left shoulder is moving forward and away from the wall in order to face her nearest and easiest exit. Her eye contact is harsh and comes across as a glare.
Image Crop: Intimate – touching to about 10 inches (for close friends, family, and couples)
Image Crop: Casual-personal – 18 inches to 4 feet (informal conversation with friends)
Image Crop: Social – 4 to 12 feet.
Image 8549: Dave is making another poor approach here by ignoring body positions and levels. He has cornered Scarlett into the booth. She is showing that she is not impressed by folding her arms across her body. She is trying to act passively confrontational by avoiding eye contact. Dave should even the planes of their bodies and resume positive dialogue as Scarlett isn’t receptive to his current advances.
Image 8520: The tables have been turned in this situation. This illustrates the importance of body positions and levels well. Scarlett is towering over Dave making him feel subordinate and intimidated. The plane her body makes encroaches near, and possibly over, the halfway mark on the table. Dave is showing that he is being aggressed upon and is pulling his drink toward himself and trying to avoid direct eye contact by moving his chin away from her. It is evident that Scarlett is putting Dave down and asserting her position over him. These are all indicators of disinterest as she is using body language to establish control over the relationship.
Image 9315: Dave is using body language to his advantage in this situation. His hands are out where people can see them and he is using them to emphasize points in his speech. His hands are also facing upward, which is an open posture showing both honesty and the desire to offer something. In this case, Dave is probably offering a story, but the hardwiring for body language is the same as if he were giving a gift or other tangible item. We can also see that Scarlett is taking well to his posture as she is showing a slight smile and eye contact. She is still a bit unsure of Dave though since her arms are serving to block herself off
Image 8609: Whispering by either sex is a great way to force people to move into their personal space. Since Scarlett is doing the whispering, Dave could take this to mean that she is interested and wants him to move closer.
Image 0644: Proximity as initiated by a woman is a powerful message of interest.
Image 0601: Here, Mark is allowing Julie to shrink the final bit of space between them. He has engaged her in conversation instead of pushing himself on her and invading her space. Mark’s posture is open, welcome and dominant and Julie is taking well to it.
1008: This is welcomed touching and was initiated by Julie. She has moved into Mark’s personal space and would very likely accept a kiss since she is looking at his mouth. She is also touching his tie which is a strong signal that she desires his closeness.
Image 0635: Julie is giving off some very strong positive signals. She is pushed right up against Mark and is leaning in toward him closing the distance even further. Proximity is almost always a form of intimacy.
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