How to tell if someone likes you: 28 surprising signs!

I don’t need to tell you that it’s incredibly difficult to figure out whether someone likes you or not.

I’ll be honest, I’m a socially awkward person and I’ve found it virtually impossible my whole life.

But the truth is, when you do some research on human psychology, you start to realize that it’s not as complex as you might think.

So today I’m going to go through every sign that someone likes you that I’ve found from my research.

(Sign #1 will surprise you but it’s a hot topic right now in relationship psychology).

But before we dive into the 28 signs that someone likes you, let’s talk about why people find it so difficult to figure out.

Why is it so hard to tell if someone likes you?

No one ever said that love is easy, but the difficulties begin long before “love” actually happens, but when two people first meet.

As a single person looking for someone to call your own, there is no struggle more agonizing than trying to figure out if someone likes you or not.

You might attribute every smile and second glance to their unsaid affection, simply because you want it so much to be true.

These mind games can be exhausting, and in many cases the other person might not even know that a game is going on at all.

Some people spend months and years casually flirting with a friend or colleague, waiting for that “perfect opportunity” to sweep in, but only if they can be sure that their attraction is reciprocated.

But why exactly is it so hard to tell if someone likes you or not?

There are the obvious reasons: we can be shy and withdrawn when it comes to sharing our emotions to people we’re attracted to; we don’t want to embarrass ourselves by sharing our true feelings to someone who might not feel the same way; and we don’t want to potentially damage a relationship by crossing a line.

But is there more to it? Here are some scientific explanations as to why this can be such a struggle:

1. Error Management Theory

Error Management Theory is one of the most popular theories in social and evolutionary psychology discussing the topic of mating and romantic relationships, and the “mind reading” that occurs between two people attracted to each other.

According to the researchers behind this theory, men and women work differently when it comes to the way we perceive attraction and approach possible relationships, simply because of the roles that we play in reproduction and childbirth.

The biggest difference between a man and a woman’s role in creating a child together is their contribution and time.

A man’s contribution is minimal – making love to the woman and giving her his sperm. A woman’s contribution lasts nine months at the minimum, followed by nursery and of course, raising the child.

Because of this, it is believed that men are programmed to go after every possible sexual opportunity, perceiving female attraction and desire even when none is present.

In simpler terms, men are more likely to think women like them because it requires much less time and effort for a man to contribute in mating.

The opposite is true for women, who need to find men who will invest in them further than their “initial contribution” and stick around to help during pregnancy and childrearing.

This is why a woman can miss even the most obvious and sincere signs that a man likes her, because she is naturally programmed to avoid men who might leave.

2. Men and women express themselves differently

Another reason explaining why we can’t tell if the opposite gender likes us is because we aren’t speaking the same language.

Men and women naturally express themselves differently and act differently in relationships they value, meaning there is a level of compromise that both parties have to figure out to really “get” each other.

For instance, men want deep and intimate companionship just as much as women do.

Yet men are much more emotionally unavailable than women.

I know about emotionally unavailable men because I am one myself. You can read more about my story here.

However, the problem isn’t the woman. The problem isn’t even with the man.

The simple truth is that male and female brains are biologically different. For instance, did you know that the emotional processing center of the female brain is much larger than in men?

That’s why women are more in touch with their emotions. And why guys can struggle to process feelings, leading to serious commitment issues.

I learned this from relationship expert Amy North. She’s smart, straightforward and one of the world’s leading experts on relationship psychology and why men act the way they do.

In her excellent free video, she gives you the solution for dealing with emotionally unavailable men.

The key is communicating with him in a way that he’ll actually understand. Because there are words and phrases you can say that will instantly draw him to you.

Amy North reveals exactly what to say to make a man commit to a relationship with you. Her scripts work surprisingly well on even the coldest and most commitment-phobic men.

Here’s a link to Amy North’s free video again.

If you want science-based techniques to attract men and get them to commit to you, this video is well worth checking out.

Here are some characteristics of men and how they treat their relationships:

– Men tend to be more selfish, even the nicer guys. This means they are less likely to be naturally empathic unlike women; instead of a measured and calm response, they are more likely to solve and confront problems

– Men have low maintenance relationships with their buddies. Little to no drama that requires no maintenance or give or take

– When men start to feel attraction towards another person, they have to begin engaging with their emotional side. It takes a significant effort to maintain this empathy as it doesn’t come naturally

As for women, their characteristics showcased in relationships are the following:

– Women are more naturally in-touch with their emotions than men, and they expect other people to value their emotional connections the same way

– For women, the concept of friendship revolves around having another person to act as an emotional buffer in your day-to-day life. It’s more about having a mental companion than a physical one, and relationship imbalances can be very destructive to the health of the relationship

– Women require a certain level of emotional connection from their relationships that most men are only willing to give once they are attracted to a woman

These differences and more can often make both men and women feel that they’re talking to someone from another species.

The friendship relationship that a man has with another man – a buddy – isn’t the same as a friendship relationship between a woman and another woman.

This can make an emotional exchange difficult between men and women, especially if they aren’t accustomed to having friends from the opposite sex.

Now let’s get into the signs to know if someone likes you.

Let’s start with the obvious signs that you should be able to notice right away. Here are 28 signs someone likes you:

28 surprising signs someone likes you

1. Does he protect you? Do you let him?

A surefire way that a guy likes a girl—and I mean really likes—is that he wants to step up to the plate for her. He wants to provide for her and protect her.

When he does this, something has been triggered deep inside him. Something he desperately needs.

What is it?

To commit to a relationship, a guy needs to feel like he’s protecting the woman in his life. Against the little and big things in life. And he wants her to genuinely admire him for this.

In other words, he needs to feel like your ‘hero’.

There’s actually a psychological term for what I’m talking about here. It’s called the hero instinct. This concept is generating a lot of buzz at the moment as a way to explain what really drives men in relationships.

I know it might all seem kind of silly. In this day and age, women don’t need someone to rescue them. They don’t need a ‘hero’ in their lives.

But this misses the point about what the hero instinct is all about.

The hero instinct is an instinctive need that men have to step up to the plate for the woman in this life. This is deeply rooted in male biology.

Although you may not need a hero, a man is compelled to be one. And if you want him to fall in love with you, then you have to let him.

When a man genuinely feels like your hero, he’ll become more loving, attentive, and committed to being in a long-term relationship with you.

But how do you trigger this instinct in him?

The trick is to make him feel like a hero in an authentic way. And there are things you can say, messages you can send, requests you can use to trigger this natural biological instinct.

If you want some help doing this, watch James Bauer’s excellent free video here.

He tells you everything you need to know about the hero instinct, including how to trigger it in your man.

I don’t often recommend videos but the hero instinct is one of the most fascinating concepts in relationship psychology I’ve come across. And James Bauer is the real deal when it comes to relationship advice.

Here’s a link to his unique video again.

2. Exchange eye contact

If they’re locking eyes with you on a regular basis, then there’s a good chance they’re into you. Unless of course, you have something on your face.

If they’re a direct and forward type of person, they’ll lock eyes with you and maintain their gaze.

They may even maintain their gaze with a smile on their face. That’s a pretty obvious sign that they’re into you.

If they’re not so direct, they may lock eyes with you then quickly look away. That’s also a good sign that they’re into you, especially if it happens repeatedly, rather than just a once-off-accidentally-look-at-you kind of thing.

According to Jack Schafer Ph.D. in Psychology Today, people look at people they like and avoid people they don’t like.

He says that elevated oxytocin levels increase mutual eye gaze and provide a sense of wellbeing and increased mutual attraction.

3. They stand taller, pull their shoulders back and suck their stomach in

This type of body language goes for both guys and girls. If you notice that they’re pulling their shoulders back and sucking their stomach in around you, then it might be that they’re into you.

After all, if they like you, then subconsciously they want to impress you. And we all intuitively know that we will look good when we have better posture.

There’s a reason people do this.

A study found that having an “expansive posture” may make you more attractive.

The researchers behind the study suggested that open posture might be more attractive because it hints at dominance, and that’s why people who stand or sit in that way appear more attractive.

This is probably going to be easiest to notice when they walk past you. Are they walking like they’re on the catwalk?

If you think they might be, then it’s fairly certain that they’re trying to impress you – even if they don’t consciously know it themselves.

4. Where are their feet pointed?

Psychologists say that this is one of the best nonverbal cues to know if someone likes you or not.


Because when you think about it, we’re not really conscious of what our feet are doing. So where they’re positioned might indicate what our mind is thinking.

For example, when someone wants to leave a room, they may point their feet towards the door.

And if they like you, they may point their feet towards you.

If their feet are positioned away from their body, that may indicate that they are relaxed and comfortable around, which is a good sign.

“When the feet are pointed directly toward another person, this is a sign of attraction, or at the very least, genuine interest.” – Vanessa Van Edwards in Huffington Post

5. Is their body facing towards you?

In the same vein, if their body is consistently facing towards you, then that may be a good sign that they’re into you.

Just like our feet, we subconsciously turn our body towards what we’re interested in and what we’re comfortable with.

So keep an eye out for where their body and feet are positioned in relation to you.

If they’re talking to you without moving their body towards you, then that may not be a good sign that they’re into you.

6. How do they respond to touch?

According to behavior analyst Jack Schafer, “women may lightly touch the arm of the person they are talking to. This light touch is not an invitation to a sexual encounter; it merely indicates she likes you.”

This may be the same for a man as well – either putting their arm around her shoulder or even a playful punch.

Another indicator that someone likes you is if they start preening you. Preening means fixing a piece of your clothing or picking off lint off your clothes.

This obviously means they’re comfortable around you and they’re comfortable with touching you.

Now one technique you can use to see if they do actually like you or not is to lightly touch them on the arm and then to see how they respond.

If they’re comfortable and move closer to you, that’s a great sign that they like you.

If they quickly pull away and look almost embarrassed when you touch them, then that may be a sign that they’re not that comfortable with you.

Keep in mind that if they pull away, it doesn’t explicitly suggest that they don’t like you. It might be that they’re just not a touchy-feely person.

7. Do you make him feel essential?

Men have a built in desire for something that goes beyond love or sex.

Simply put, men have a biological drive to feel essential to the woman in his life. Feeling essential is what often separates “like” from “love”.

This biological drive compels men to provide for and protect women. He wants to step up for her, feel essential, and be appreciated for his efforts.

Relationship psychologist James Bauer calls it the hero instinct. I mentioned this concept above.

Watch his excellent free video here. He explains exactly what the hero instinct is and how understanding can rocket your relationship to the next level.

James argues that men are not especially complicated; we’re just driven by primal instincts when it comes to women.

We all know that instincts are powerful drivers of human behavior. James Bauer simply takes this a step further and applies it to the romantic behavior of men.

I don’t often pay much attention to new fads in psychology. However, I think the hero instinct is a compelling explanation for what drives men romantically.

No one is saying that women need a hero to take care of them. Today women can change a tire, open their own jars, and generally fend for themselves in life.

While women may not need a hero, this doesn’t mean men still don’t want to feel essential to the woman they care about.

That’s why it’s important that women understand what the hero instinct is all about and how they can use it to their advantage.

Here’s a link to James Bauer’s free video again.

Some ideas can be life changing. And for relationships, I think the hero instinct is one of them.

8. They blush around you

Blushing is developing a pink tinge in the face from embarrassment or shame.

It’s common to blush when you receive an unexpected compliment or you like someone.

When you are attracted to someone, blood will flow to our face, causing our cheeks to get red.

According to behavioral investigator Vanessa Van Edwards in Huffington Post, “this actually mimics the orgasm effect where we get flushed. It’s an evolutionary process to attract the opposite sex”.

Interestingly, this is why red is known as the sexy color.

So if they’re looking slightly red in the face when they’re around you, that could be a good sign that they’re attracted to you.

9. Their pupils dilate

This one is a little more difficult to notice, but experts suggest that dilated pupils are a sign of attraction.

Body language expert Patti Wood told Cosmopolitan, “Dilation is a brain response that occurs when you like and are attracted to something,”

Keep in mind that if the lights are dim, then their pupils will naturally dilate.

10. They are copying your body language and slang

This is a pretty big indicator that someone is into you. It’s something we all do subconsciously when we’re trying to build rapport and impress someone.

Jane McGonigal, Ph.D. told Big Think that “mirroring” suggests that you’re compatible with someone, personally or professionally.

Here’s what to look out for:

  • Are they copying your hand gestures? If you use your hands when you speak, are they suddenly doing something similar?
  • Do you talk slow or fast? Are they starting to mirror you with the speed at which you talk?
  • If they like you, they’ll also copy the words you use as well. For example, if you use a particular sort of slang, they might start to use the same slang.

If they do any of these, then there’s a good chance that they like you.

11. They’re preening themselves

We mentioned preening before, but in this case, I’m referring to fixing their own clothes or hair when they’re around you.

After all, if they want to impress you, then they want to look good!

According to Helen E. Fisher in Psychology Today, preening is used as a way to draw attention to the whom they’re attracted to.

“Young women begin the attention-getting phase with many of the same maneuvers that men use—smiling, gazing, shifting, swaying, preening, stretching, moving in their territory to draw attention to themselves.”

12. They lean in and tilt their head

We all lean in when we want to show that we’re engaged.

This is a particularly big sign if you’re in a group of people and they’re leaning in towards you.  According to Science of People, this is a telltale sign that they’re interested in you and want to engage with you.

On the other hand, if they around looking around the room, or over your head, then this may indicate a lack of interest and sensitivity.

13. They’re visibly nervous around you

It goes without saying that we all get nervous or shy around someone that we like. This is because we want to make a good impression so we start to put pressure on ourselves.

Remember that this is probably more relevant in the early stages of attraction when you don’t know each other that well.

So, how can you tell whether someone is visibly nervous?

According to Business Insider, there are seven signs to look for to tell if someone is nervous:

  1. They touch their face.
  2. They blink more frequently.
  3. They compress their lips.
  4. They play with their hair (also a sign of preening, mentioned above)
  5. They contort their hands
  6. They rub their hands.
  7. They yawn excessively.

So if they’re showing these signs around you, it might be that they like you and they’re feeling nervous around you.

Once they become more comfortable around you, those nerves should start to dissipate.

14. Changes in personality

Subtle changes in personality are a surefire way to tell whether someone likes you. On the other hand, it may also indicate the opposite.

Of course, this is going to be more relevant to you if you know them, rather than it being a first-time meeting. If you know them, you’ll be able to get a baseline of how they usually act.

But once you have a baseline, here’s what to look out for when you’re with them:

  • Are they more bubbly and enthusiastic when they’re around you? Does their energy increase? This is a great sign that they’re excited to be around you.
  • Are they less enthusiastic than you’ve seen them with other people? This is a bad sign unless they’re nervous and shy around you.
  • Are they treating you differently to other people? Are they touching you more than they touch others? If so, this is an indicator that they are comfortable around you and you’ve got a solid rapport with them. Again, this is a good sign that they like you.

15. Their friends already know about you

If their friends already know about you before you’ve met them, that’s a great sign that they’ve been talking about you.

You wouldn’t talk about someone you’re not interested in. It means you’ve become a significant part of their life and they’re at least intrigued by you.

And this makes sense. When someone is in love, they can’t stop thinking about that person, so it’s likely they’ll talk about them to their friends.

In the book “The Anatomy of Love,” by biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, she says that “thoughts of the ‘love object’ begin to invade your mind. …You wonder what your beloved would think of the book you are reading, the movie you just saw, or the problem you are facing at the office.”

16. They’re paying attention to you

In a similar vein to eye contact above, if they’re giving you their undivided attention and they’re relishing the time you two have together, then that’s a great sign that they’re enjoying spending time with you and they’re engaged.

According to Jack Schafer Ph.D. in Psychology Today, not only will you have their attention, but they’ll also remove barriers between the two of you:

“People who like each remove any obstacles between them. People who don’t like the person they are with often place barriers between themselves and the person they don’t like.”

Of course, on the other hand, if they’re distracted by their phone or they’re not really present when they’re around you, or they’re creating barriers between the two of you that may not be a good sign – unless of course, they’re shy or nervous if it’s the beginning of your potential romance.

17. They get flustered when you’re talking to another potential competitor

Jealously can be a sign of attraction, according to Bustle.

So if they are acting weird, flustered or angry when you’re talking with someone else, that could be a sign of jealousy.

They may glance over multiple times to check out how the conversation going.

If you see them after, they may ask you about the conversation.

The facto of the matter is if they’re intrigued like this about the conversation you just had, then that may be jealous because they like you.

Keep in mind that this may also spur them into action and ask you out. But it may also do the opposite, where they think they’re no longer a chance.

If that’s the case, you may want to single your intentions sooner rather than later.

18. They meet your eyes more often than with other people

Our brains just have a way of knowing when someone is looking at us, and when you meet someone’s eyes because you felt someone’s gaze, it’s usually an indication that they were looking at you. If you keep meeting eyes with someone, it might be because they can’t get you off their minds

19. They move things out of the way

If there are objects between you two, they will tend to move things out of the way, clearing the area between you and them.

20. They don’t behave the same way around you

This can be slightly difficult to tell since you don’t really know how someone acts when you’re not around.

But when someone likes you, they will usually change their behavior as compared to when you’re not around

21. They ask you a lot of questions

If someone likes you, they’re definitely interested in you, and that means they’re interested in getting to know everything they can about you.

They will ask questions about your personality, your likes and dislikes, and your history, questions most people wouldn’t think of asking

22. They laugh a lot at your jokes

Whenever this person is around, you’re suddenly a hilarious comedian. All your jokes seem to hit with this person.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re faking it; it just means that they’re happier and thus easier to tickle while you’re around

23. They find reasons to touch you (without being creepy)

Touch is a big part of attraction, and someone who likes you will always come up with reasons to touch you; the brush of the elbows, rubbing shoulders, or even just bumping into each other.

If you find that one person seems to always be in your personal space, it might be because they like you.

24. They get super happy when you’re around

Your presence naturally brings great joy to their heart and improves their day immediately. They can’t stop smiling and they engage in conversation with you.

25. They want to stay around you physically

Whenever you ask them to go out, they will almost always say yes, or try to work their schedule to make it happen

26. They gravitate towards you

When you are around them, they lean towards you without realizing it. This can either be the tilt of the head or their arms pointed towards you

27. They mirror your actions

This is known as the mirroring effect; when we like someone or admire someone, our body naturally tends to mirror the actions, behaviors, and postures of that person

28. They say your name a lot

When we like someone, we tend to say their name more often than necessary. While speaking or mentioning the person, just saying the name can trigger some of the joy that we experience when they’re around.

So someone likes you. Now what? Breaking the wall between friendship and first date

You finally cracked the code – they do like you. Distinguishing between friendly and flirty signals is just the tip of the iceberg.

Now comes the most important part: actually asking them out.

The good news is that asking that person out is easier now that interest has been established. Instead of having to wade through the awkwardness, all you have to do now is actually ask them out on a first date.

Here are some tips the transition from being friends to possible lovers easier:

Don’t make the date feel too formal: If you’ve been friends longer than you’ve been prospective lovers, try not to put so much pressure on the first date.

Just because you’re trying something new doesn’t mean you have to have an official transition.

Spend time together in the way you usually do, but in the context of a date. It doesn’t have to be a fancy dinner; if you’re used to hanging out together just watching movies at home, don’t hesitate to stick to what you know.

Ask the right questions: Think of first dates as a compatibility test. In a job interview, you ask questions to determine if the other person is a good fit for you.

Use this opportunity to learn more about them and go beyond what you already know.

Do a little bit of research: It’s always nice talking to someone who’s interested in you. Before going on your date, do a little bit of social media snooping (within reason, of course) to find out what they’re interested in.

This way, you can avoid the typical awkward silences during first dates because you’ll have more to talk about.

Be yourself: There’s a reason why this advice comes up on every dating article ever – it’s because it works.

Now that the initial attraction is founded, it might be tempting to agree to everything they’re saying to try and score a second date.

But faking your personality to match theirs will only be a burden in the long-run. Be yourself from the get-go and see if they respond to it.

And if they don’t, there’s no point pretending to be someone you’re not just to get someone to like you.

Wading through the getting-to-know-you phase can be nerve-wracking, but at the end of it all, remember that you’re just going on a first date.

Overhyping it can make you feel even more nervous and frozen.

At the end of the day, this is an opportunity to learn more about someone. Talk to them as you would with any other friend.

After all, there is nothing more attractive than a person who actually pays attention.

There really aren’t any psychological tricks involved with having a good time – as long as you listen, talk sincerely, and have a good time, you’re already one foot in getting a second date.

In conclusion: Now what?

The confusing bit about working out whether a guy likes a girl is that he may not even know the answer…

Men are wired differently to women. And they’re driven by different things when it comes to relationships.

I know this because I’ve been an emotionally unavailable man my whole life. My video above reveals more about this.

And learning about the hero instinct has made it crystal clear why I’m like this.

It’s not often that a mirror gets held up to my lifetime of relationship failure. But that’s what happened when I discovered the hero instinct. I ended up learning more about myself than I bargained for.

I’m 39. I’m single. And yes, I’m still looking for love.

After watching James Bauer’s video and reading his book, I realize that I’ve always been emotionally unavailable because the hero instinct was never triggered in me.

Watch James’ free video here for yourself.

My relationships with women involved everything from ‘best friends with benefits’ to being ‘partners in crime’.

In hindsight, I’ve always needed more. I needed to feel that I was the rock in a relationship. Like I was providing something to my partner that no one else could.

Learning about the hero instinct was my “aha” moment.

For years, I wasn’t able to put a finger on why I would get cold feet, struggle to open up to women, and fully commit to a relationship.

Now I know exactly why I’ve been single most of my adult life.

Because when the hero instinct isn’t triggered, men are unlikely to commit to a relationship and forge a deep connection with you. I never could with the women I was with.

To learn more about this fascinating new concept in relationship psychology, watch this video here.

Be the first to comment on this article at Ideapod Discussions

Lachlan Brown

Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the editor of Ideapod and founder of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 6 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. If you to want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter or Facebook.


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