The only surefire way to know if someone likes you is if they tell you directly—you shouldn’t make assumptions. However, there are a wide variety of clues that may signal how someone feels about you. Here are 18 behavioral and physical signs of attraction to look for, according to sex and relationship experts.
Physical signs of attraction:
Pupils dilate when they look at you
People commonly associate dilated pupils with drug or alcohol use or the experience you might have at an optometrist's office, but someone's pupils dilating when they look at you could also be a powerful sign of attraction.
Your pupil is right in the center of your eye's iris, which lets light pass through. To help your eye focus and adjust to light, your pupil dilates. However, physiological responses like attraction or sexual excitement release a surge of oxytocin and dopamine into your brain—aka happy or love hormones—which can also affect your pupil size.
Sex and relationship therapist Courtney Geter, LMFT, CST, says this nonverbal response is similar to "erection or engorging of the labia or the vulva, [where] the blood vessels open up to allow blood to flow in to cause engorgement, which then causes the nerves to become a bit more sensitive." Just like your skin can't help but tingle when the person you like touches you, your pupils will dilate as they process attraction.
Blushing and flushed skin
People often blush because they feel angry or humiliated, so context matters with this one. But this involuntary emotional response can also be an indicator that someone is attracted to you. Our faces flush from a rush of adrenaline or excitement—like after an orgasm—because they're the primary source of communication and emotion, says clinical psychologist Mary C. Lamia, Ph.D. "Blushing is an honest response," she says, which you can trigger when "you feel 'caught' being sexually excited about another person."
Tonal voice changes
To show you they like someone, people sometimes change their voice when they engage in conversation as a sign of unspoken attraction. Men might deepen their voice to appear more dominant in response to sexual attraction, whereas women may make their voice more high-pitched. Whether it's subconscious or intentional, a person changes the tone of their voice because they want to stand out from the crowd to catch your eye—or your ear, in this case. That'll happen easier if they distinguish their voice from everyone else around you. If you notice you both do this with each other, consider the attraction mutual.
Open body language
Some body language cues that are signs of attraction in men:
- Grazing your skin as you talk with each other.
- Limiting interruptions or distractions.
- Angling his pelvis toward you.
- Nervously stumbling over his words.
- Stealing glances at you when you look away.
Some body language cues that are signs of attraction in women:
- Stroking her hair while she gazes at you.
- Licking her lips softly.
- Laughing at your jokes, even the bad ones.
- Making attempts to touch you, like your hand or shoulder.
- Fiddling with random objects.
Wherever your love interest falls on the gender spectrum, it's always a great sign they're attracted to you when they smile at you a lot, lean in close as you speak (more on that below), or if they intently face you during a conversation to be fully attentive.
Leaning closer to you
Have you ever noticed how close you want to be to the object of your affection? A power sign of attraction is the way they sit or stand in your presence—for instance, if they lean or tilt their body toward you or if they angle their chair closer to yours during dinner.
Conversely, you might not want to pursue a date that noticeably pulls away from you when you lean in since that's not indicative of a romantic or sexual dynamic.
Mirroring your behavior
When someone is attracted to you, they'll subconsciously adopt some of your mannerisms and behaviors. To create a bond or feel more aligned with you, your love interest might hold their coffee cup like you, use the same phrases you do, or even mimic your stance.
"People begin to mirror each other when they're comfortable," explains Geter. When the object of your affection finds you attractive, mimicking the things you do will be their way to show you they're engaged in your interaction.
Although opposites attract, people tend to like those they have more in common with—the more alike you are, the more you'll grow to like each other, and the stronger your bond will be.
Sneaky gestures to enhance their appearance
As your crush talks with you, they may wonder if they have out-of-place hairs or overlooked any spinach in their teeth from lunch. Someone who's into you will do everything they can to ensure their hair and clothes are in check. Watch out for gestures that show they want you to find them visually appealing, especially if the gestures happen when you look away for a moment. If they like you, they'll use that chance to impress by stealing a moment to remove lint from their clothes, adjust the fit of their shirt, or reapply lip balm to present their most supple, moisturized lips. Consider the attempts to adjust various facets of their appearance a signal of their attraction to you.
Increase in body temperature
Common terms such as "the heat of passion," "steamy sex," or "warm embrace" all refer to this one powerful sign of attraction: the rise in your body's temperature when you engage someone you're attracted to.
Similar to how blood rises to the surface of your skin when you're flushed or blushing, an increase in body temperature will elicit the same physical response, but what follows is sweat because of your rapid heart rate. We often sweat because of physical exertion, stress, or anxiety, but the increase in your body's temperature is also a byproduct of sexual response. "There's some kind of attraction present," Geter notes, "but it might not always be an emotional attraction, so take some time to understand [if they're] having an emotional attraction or just the physical."
Holding deep gazes
If the object of your attraction holds deep stints of eye contact with you, they're not just gazing into your eyes for no reason. In a room full of people—or over a candlelight dinner for two—any prolonged eye contact is a sign they're attracted to you. Typically, holding eye contact with someone can feel a bit awkward, so you might both quickly break the gaze within a few seconds and avert your stare. When it's the right person, eye contact can be a strong emotional link between you and your potential mate.
If you want to be certain, behavior analyst Jack Schafer, Ph.D., suggests increasing the mutual gaze by maintaining eye contact as you turn your head to break the gaze. "The other person doesn't perceive your extended gaze as staring because your head is turning. If the person you're with maintains eye contact, they like you."
Here's the caveat: If your love interest is on the autism spectrum or struggles with social anxiety, Geter says extended eye contact would make them uncomfortable. Rather than assume their lack of interest, she says, "It may just be this one particular behavior is uncomfortable for them, or it's a sign of nervousness."
Behavioral signs of attraction:
Fidgeting in your presence
A person's body may react to their anxiety or excitement around a crush by fidgeting or being awkward as they speak. Fidgety behavior might include fiddling with their earring, stroking their arm, or even rotating the same button on their shirt.
Granted, nervous glitches could be a sign of someone's disinterest, too. If they check their watch or phone a lot or distract themselves with something on the table rather than give you eye contact, that could mean they're uncomfortable or want to leave.
If you notice someone goes out of their way to spark or extend conversations in person, over the phone, or through text, take that as a good sign. Naturally, you want to talk to the people you like. Not only does this mean they're attracted to you, but this person also wants to foster a connection that goes beyond the surface. They want you to get to know them, and they also want to let you learn more about them, too, in hopes the attraction will be mutual.
Flirty physical contact
We know physical touch can be a love language. If you notice someone always finds opportunities to touch you as you engage each other, that's often a sign of attraction. These kinds of touches often occur under the guise of an "accident," for example where a person brushes up against you or attempts to bump into your hand as you both reach for the wine bottle. Or they might reach out and touch your hand or playfully hit you when you make them laugh. All seemingly innocent actions, yes, but if you notice it's frequent, take it as a show of interest!
Sometimes, these signs differ by gender. Signs of attraction from a woman include softer touches. "Women may lightly touch the arm of the person they're talking to," Schafer says. It's not an invitation to a sexual encounter, so don't misinterpret the signal; "it merely means she likes you."
On the other hand, a man may place his hand on the crook of your elbow or tuck your hair behind your ear. Plus, there's always this age-old sign: When a guy puts his hand on your lower back to guide you as you walk across the street or onto the dance floor, that's often a sign of attraction.
Asking a lot of questions
Someone who's attracted to you wants to ask you personal questions to build your bond. This telltale sign of attraction is easy to decipher because whether your crush asks you about yourself and your thoughts relates to their level of interest in you. When you answer their question, do they follow up with another? If you ask them a question, do they direct it back to you after they answer?
Removing physical barriers
When a person is attracted to someone, they'll remove physical barriers that are between you. For example, if you're at a restaurant, they'll move aside all the condiments, menus, silverware, beverages, and other obstacles to create a clear pathway between you across the table. This lets you into their personal space, makes you feel physically closer, and makes it easier for them to reach out and touch your hand.
Takes the lead on making plans
Someone who’s attracted to you will consistently ask to make plans. Instead of waiting for you to do the heavy-lifting, this person will take the lead on how often you spend time together. (Though take note: There’s sometimes a tendency to see women who do this as being “pushy,” so some women may opt out of being this forward.) But in general, if a person only ever asks to hang out last-minute, that may not be a sign of genuine attraction. When a person actually likes someone, they’ll be open to meeting up during the day (not only at night), consider your interests when planning dates, and plan them out in advance rather.
Whether they notice all the minute details or recall the big and small things you share with them, attentiveness can be a sign of attraction because it shows they're concentrating on everything you're saying and trying to build a connection with you. They might surprise you with gifts you mentioned in passing, compliment the haircut you thought no one would notice, or send you a thoughtful text because they know you appreciate it.
You score an introduction to their loved ones
An unprompted introduction to someone's friends and family often means they think highly enough of you to bring you into the intimate parts of their life. Plus, they know they'll receive tons of opinions about you from their social circle, so if that's a risk they want to take for you, consider this move as a sign of attraction from the object of your affection. Even if you haven't been on an official date yet, this move shows they want to parade you around and invest in your burgeoning relationship.
The bottom line.
There's no foolproof way to know if someone likes you without directly asking, but there are some specific physical and behavioral signs that can help you gauge whether there's underlying interest. But don't read too much into everything your crush does since some signs may be reflections of their personality, Geter notes.
All things said, Geter says a major key when you search for a partner is to "connect with someone who has the same level of response to you because that's obviously someone who's on your wavelength." Otherwise, you might wind up in an anxious cycle with someone who toys with your feelings.
When in doubt, if you're not sure if someone likes you, just ask.
Farrah Daniel is a freelance writer based in Colorado. She has a bachelor's degree in Digital Media Studies from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. Her work has been published at The Penny Hoarder, The Write Life, and elsewhere. Daniel manages and creates content for small businesses, nonprofits, and lifestyle publications. With five years of professional writing under her belt, her diverse portfolio includes topics such as wellness, personal finance, sales and marketing, shared micromobility and equity, and more.