I recently spoke to Jena Pincott, author of Do Gentlemen Really Prefer Blondes?: Bodies, Behavior, and Brains — The Science Behind Sex, Love, and Attraction. She had some interesting insights into the basics of flirtatious body language, which I thought I'd share with you....

Me: What subtle body language works best when a woman wants a man to know she's interested?

Jena: The answer is deceptively simple: Smile and make direct eye contact. Guys usually approach women only after she has made eye contact. *One study showed that it takes about thirteen glances before the average guy gulps down his inhibitions enough to approach a woman!*

Me: Thirteen glances? Wow! I always feel like I'm being a total floozie if I return a look more than two or three times. But to hell with the shyness, huh?

Jena: Yes. The smile, whether a broad grin or a coy pursing of the lips, usually seals the deal — it reduces any ambiguity about your intentions.

After contact is made, women make their interest known subconsciously...we tousle our hair, caress our wineglass, lick our lips, rub our necks, position our bodies in the man's direction. *What I like about body language studies is that they prove that behavior matters as much, if not more than, looks. One study found that women who make thirty-five or more signals in an hour are approached by an average of four guys, whereas women who don't signal, even if they're prettier, often don't get approached at all.*

Me: That is pretty awesome...What does a man do when he wants to let a woman know he's into her?

Jena: Before the man walks over to you and makes his move, he might put on a show from across the room. Not unlike alpha male chimps, some motivated men might make "space maximization movements" — like spreading their legs while sitting, throwing their arms over the back of adjacent chairs, or slapping their friends' backs. This is appealing to women because it displays social dominance, which many women find sexy. (Not all of us, though: I personally go for the nerdy guy who watches the whole scene, amused, and has more subtle ways of asserting himself.)

Me: What kind of body language from men is a sure sign he's NOT interested — no matter how friendly he might seem?

Jena: *For both sexes, folded arms, even if accompanied by a smile, suggest tentativeness and defensiveness.* Another intimacy-avoidance move is the sideways turn. If a person positions his or her body at a ninety-degree angle from you when being face-to-face is just as easy, that doesn't bode well. Lack of eye contact is the most obvious sign. If he's looking over your shoulder (or if you catch yourself looking over his), or if he appears distracted in any way — don't fool yourself into thinking there's chemistry (unless he's really shy and nervous).

What Do You Think?