Sometimes it’s obvious when someone is flirting with you, such as when there’s prolonged eye contact, suggestive banter, and increasing physical proximity.
But other times, it can be difficult to know when someone’s interested. Here are a few ways men flirt that women often miss:
1. Finding ways to “accidentally” touch you
A touch on the arm, an accidental brush of the fingertips as you pass in the hallway, and an unnecessary foot tap under the table are all ways that a guy might “accidentally” touch a person he’s attracted to. This is not sexual assault–no one is grabbing your boob or rubbing up against you. It’s seemingly accidental moments of contact which he may not even be aware of, but which over time display an unmistakable pattern of attraction.
2. Turning everything into a joke
It’s no secret that women love men who are funny. Guys capitalize on this constantly, even when the situation doesn’t call for it. Natural humor is attractive, but some guys use jokes to diffuse their own discomfort with talking to women they like, or to deflect from moments of honesty that will make them feel vulnerable. So if you’re hanging out with a guy who cannot seem to take anything seriously, it’s likely that he’s really into you and can’t find a more appropriate way of expressing it.
3. Doing weird things with their hands
Sometimes all you have to do to figure out a guy is interested is to notice how uncomfortable he is around you. This is often most noticeable in what he does with his hands. Some guys fidget, some act like they have no idea where to put them, and some use them to illustrate whatever they’re talking about in a way that seems unnatural or overly dramatic. In all of these cases, they’re betraying their nervousness at being around you.
4. Being really clear about how equal they think women are
It would be great if every guy was a feminist and didn’t make a big deal out of it, but that’s not the world we live in. As a result, we are left with a sizable proportion of men who think that being performative about their respect for women will get them laid. If you have a conversation with a guy who tries very, very hard to explain to you how happy he is that some countries have female presidents or how much he hates men who brag about their sexual exploits, he is 100% trying to impress you.
5. Making up random reasons to spend time with you
If he’s insisting on seeing you in person to discuss something that could easily have been done over text, he’s interested in you. Even if he shows zero signs of flirtation otherwise or sticks to dull topics that have nothing to do with either of your personal lives, you can bet that the second he leaves, he’s kicking himself for not having the confidence to ask you out or hold your gaze for a split second longer.
6. Being overly formal
Everyone loves a gentleman, right? Some guys get very serious when they’re interested in a woman, and want to make it clear that they respect and admire her. This can come off as a bit awkward and uncomfortable if you’re the kind of person who enjoys flirting with jokes and innuendo, but it’s often just a character guys put on because they want women to know they’re not arrogant or just looking to get laid.
7. Insulting you in “lighthearted” ways
You know that kid who used to pull girls’ pigtails on the playground? Well, sometimes that kid keeps using that flirting tactic into adulthood. But while a little bit of lighthearted teasing can be sweet and playful, full-on insulting is a red flag. “Negging,” the practice of deliberately lowering someone’s confidence so that they feel vulnerable and more susceptible to your advances, is a recognized form of emotional manipulation in dating.
8. Ignoring you
Some men are so awkward when it comes to flirting that they think any move they make will embarrass them or be too heavy-handed. So they err on the side of total safety, which ends up looking a lot like indifference. The key is how indifferent they seem towards you. If it seems like they’re putting in an excessive amount of effort to avoid eye contact or speaking to you one-on-one, it’s likely to be an inept form of flirting.