How to decode your date's body language

How to tell if your date is bored, feeling defensive, or flirting with you

Caucasian mature couple at nice restaurant drinking wine and talking and laughing.


Online dating sites are a great way to meet new people. Once you've mastered the art of writing the perfect profile and sending a friendly "wink", it's time to meet in person! But even if you've been around the block a few times, reading your date's signals can be tricky. Are they really into you, or just being polite?

Non-verbal signals account for 55 per cent of communication, 38 per cent from the tone, speed and inflection of voice and only seven per cent from the words we actually use. So, how can you tell if the person sat opposite you is bored, lying, trying to dominate you, fancies you or is feeling defensive?

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See also: Dating in your 50s-plus? What NOT to ask on a first date

See also: Dating after divorce - dos and don'ts

1. Signs that your date is bored
Do they look at you when you're talking to them? Glancing around the room is a sure sign of boredom, particularly if they are looking at the clock or the door. In fact, a person who is bored will be looking anywhere but at the person who is talking to them. Watch out for doodling, fidgeting, tapping feet or drumming fingers. Signs of tiredness, such as yawning, slouching and lolling, also indicate boredom.

2. How to tell if your date is lying
People who are lying are usually anxious about being found out, so watch out for signs of anxiety. Sweating, facial twitches around the eyes and mouth are common give-aways. Liars typically show signs of over-control as they're trying not to give themselves away. Look out for forced smiles, jerky movements and clumsiness or hiding their hands in their pockets.

3. When your date is trying to dominate you
Are they standing erect with their hands on their hips and legs apart? These actions are designed to make the body seem bigger and therefore more dominant. Space invaders display their dominance by standing too close to you, sitting on your chair, putting their feet on your furniture or playing with your belongings. Dominators tend to stare without blinking, frown and rarely smile.

4. Signs that someone is flirting with you
Are they holding eye contact for slightly longer than normal? When we first meet someone we fancy our eyebrows rise and fall. It may only take a split second but it's a sure sign of attraction. Preening gestures, such as twirling hair or brushing clothes, say, "I'm making myself look good for you," while stroking the face, arms or legs is a clear sign of wanting to be caressed. Watch to see if they lean towards you, point a foot, knee, arm or head in your direction, mirror your movements or find opportunities to touch you.

5. How to tell if your date is feeling defensive
Defensive postures are highly primitive and designed to protect the body from attack, even if that's highly unlikely. The chin may be held down to protect the neck, hands placed on the knees to cover them, legs crossed to protect the groin or arms crossed to defend the chest. People who are feeling defensive may also look for a physical barrier to put between them and the perceived threat of attack – such as standing behind a table or chair.