If you're over 50 and have just got back in the dating game, it's only natural to second-guess yourself. Are they flirting with you or just being friendly? Whether you've met someone through friends or an online dating site, the last thing you want is to misread the signals.
So how can you tell if someone is flirting with you? Here are five subtle signs to watch for.
See also: Dating in your 50s-plus? What NOT to ask on a first date
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1. They invade your personal space
A more obvious flirt might touch your arm or knee, but a subtle flirt will test the water by standing close to you – before they move on to making physical contact.
Body language experts say that the bubble of air 18 inches around our body is our personal space - and that the laws of social etiquette dictate that we get no closer than that when first meeting someone.
If you're talking to someone and they find an excuse to step into this zone, for example to take a glass of wine from a passing tray, then step back and see what happens. If the person is drawn to you, they may respond by moving closer to you.
Look for other subtle signals of attraction – holding your gaze a moment longer than necessary, for example. There's a big difference between someone who smiles and finds an excuse to step into your personal space while talking to you, and someone squeezing past you to get to the toilet.
2. They 'accidentally' touch you
A brazen flirt will put a hand on your back while you're waiting at the bar. A subtle flirt will lightly brush against you – for example, their fingers may fleetingly touch yours as you take a drink from them. Generally, these kind of touches aren't obvious to anyone else in the room – and the fact only the two of you know it took place heightens the intrigue.
What if someone touches your arm in conversation while making a point or sharing a joke? It could be a sign of flirtation, or they might just be tactile by nature. Look for other subtle clues and watch if they touch every person they talk to, or something they only do with you.
3. They hold your gaze a moment too long
Body language experts describe the "flirting triangle." When we're attracted to someone, we tend to study each of the person's eyes, and then drop our gaze to their mouth and back to their eyes. A more obvious flirt may drop their eyes to include more of the person's body, before returning to their face. Watch to see if the person raises their eyebrows when listening to you, and if their pupils are dilated.
A good test is to make an excuse to get up and leave (go to the bar or the toilet for example). Just as you leave the room, look back over your shoulder. If they are still looking at you, instead of others in the group, there's a good chance you have their full attention.
4. They ask your advice
Most of us love imparting our wisdom or advice. If a man or woman asks you for your opinion it could be a sign that they're interested in you romantically. Of course, it depends on the question. A woman who says she's thinking of getting her hair cut and asks for your opinion (while simultaneously lifting up her hair to show you her neck), is sending very different signals to a woman who asks you how to unblock a drain.
A subtle flirt may ask a question that plays to your interests and gives you an opportunity to talk about something you are passionate about. For example, a man who is attracted to a florist might approach her in a coffee shop and ask what flowers he should buy for his sister. (When there's a good chance that a) he doesn't have a sister or b) she'll get a bunch of carnations as always). Likewise, if you're a keen gardener and a woman without a window box to her name asks for your advice on how to grow roses, there's a chance she's hoping that something more will blossom between you.
5. Leaning forward and closing the gap
Both men and women tend to lean forwards when listening to someone they find attractive, and may lean in and then out, as a way to subconsciously draw the person closer.
Another sign is someone who pushes an item towards you slightly, such as placing a wine glass or menu closer to you on the table. Rather than pushing you away, this signals that they're attempting to close the distance between you – and inviting you to do the same.
Don't worry if a man leans back and stretches out his arms – he may be trying to impress you with his physicality. Likewise, don't be concerned if a woman doesn't touch you or objects in your space and instead prefers to play with her jewellery. Repeatedly touching a necklace or bangle can be a subconscious desire to draw your eyes to her wrist or neck.
Flirting signals can be hard to read. If you want to know for sure, look for several signs – and watch how the person behaves with others.