‘I went to a body language expert to find out what I was doing wrong on dates’
On dates, perhaps the most important messages are ones that aren’t being said. With the help of relationship expert Amanda Lambros, one writer set out to untangle her body language and increase her chances of a successful date.
On a recent date, I thought with my Italian-waving octopus hands were making my intentions very clear. But it turns out, they weren’t; and my communication skills are not what I thought they were.
There was only so much my over-enthusiastic hands could convey, and using the rest of my body to show I was interested is something that I am surprisingly bad at.
So I raised my white flag to relationship and body language expert Amanda Lambros to find out how I could make dreams come true by learning the art of projecting and interpreting body language.
“Body language is one thing, but it is the intent behind the body language as well, and those two need to be congruent,” she tells me.
“You have to look at, ‘What is the vibe I am giving off?’ ‘What is my intent?’ You need to make sure that your body language and intent are congruent… It’s like you almost have to work backwards; what is the intent that you plan on having?”
Like what you see? Sign up to our bodyandsoul.com.au newsletter for more stories like this.
In my mind, I wanted to pounce onto the handsomely tall Viking-looking date that sat across from me the other week, but my non-verbals obviously sent some signal that no sort of conquering would be taking place.
On our date, my legs were crossed tighter than a clam, and my hands were flying everywhere but within a radius of my hot Viking’s body.
As the date went on, his interest seemed to wane. He looked less than amused, fumbling with the half-soggy coaster than to watch me speak with enough passion to potentially knock over his half-drunken pint.
He was SO not into this date, I thought, and soon enough, I concluded that my little fingers wouldn’t be wrapped in those long golden curls any time soon. But then he surprised me.
Out of the blue, my date gave me a goodbye kiss that resembled the same amount of intimacy and passion as a kid at Year 7 Blue Light Disco–self-conscious and awkward.
Shortly after we parted ways, he messaged to say that he did feel awkward (on his part, not mine) but he had wanted to see me again.
I was so confused; he gave me zero, nil, zip signs of interest, and then he kissed me?! And then he wants to see me again? How did we get each other so wrong? His intent behind his behaviour and his behaviour didn’t align. So how do we singletons correctly project our intentions?
What is their intent?
“When it comes to getting someone’s phone number or having a longer conversation to go on a second date potentially, then that has a different intent to it,” Amanda says.
“You can’t just go and touch their arm and have no intentions on dating this person, sleeping with this person, furthering a relationship with this person. If your intent is different, then the behaviour, the actions need to follow that intent.”
Unfortunately, we don’t have Cupid superpowers to read the minds of our love interests (if only), however, Amanda does give insight into how we can work with the cues that we have.
“[Intent] so multifaceted because you have to look at the context of what’s involved in it,” she explains.
“If you are in a bar to meet someone, you would make the ideal assumption, that they are there for the same intent; ‘I am here to meet you, have a one-night stand, develop a relationship etc’, so that those universal behaviours become the same within that setting.”
She continues, “If you took those behaviours and went to the ballet, it wouldn’t quite be the same. Like getting a drink versus touching someone at the ballet is not the same.”
Determining what behaviour means what
Amanda breaks the Da Vinci code when it comes to understanding the different levels of body language that could happen in each area to signal that your date is wanting more.
“In the very first meeting when you are making eye contact with someone, that first hand or arm touching would make an impact,” she says.
According to Amanda, these touches can include a gentle touch on the arm, hand or shoulder to thank someone for buying you a drink. Despite the contact being small, it can go a long way.
“A lot of people would say it’s not a big thing – it’s a massive thing because you are saying you are comfortable with touch.”
If the touch is reciprocal, then it helps to pave the way for a potential kiss. Amanda says it’s all about looking to see if your date shifts their focus from your eyes to your lips to determine if a kiss is available.
“As soon as you see that drop, that’s an automatic instinct that they are interested in kissing your lips,” she says.
Amanda suggests that the other thing your date may do is bite their lips to indicate they are ready to lock with your (ideally) Chapped Stick lips.
“The idea of plumping up your lips is getting ready to kiss someone,” she explains.
“If they are licking their lips, or biting, or plumping and then looking down slightly to your lips, that is a pretty good indicator that your date wants to kiss you.”
If there is a steady amount of lip looking, Amanda suggests then that is a good indicator for more intimate touch to occur from the shoulders up.
“A gentle hair touch signals that intimate touches are welcome.”
A subtle touch
Another sign to look out for is a simple hand on the back gesture.
“If you go in for a hug or a kiss, by putting your arm around them or putting your hand on the small of their back, that’s an indicator that they can do that to you.”
I ask Amanda about the case of the lingering hand that slowly encroaches on the leg.
“If their hand is lingering on your body (hand on the leg), then that’s an indication that you could put your hand over theirs. If their hand stays there, that’s pretty good.”
So what if you touch them and they don’t give you anything back?
“If it’s one-sided and not coming back, chances are the relationship would be like that too!” Amanda laughed.
Amanda cautioned me to beware of throwing yourself as you may give off bad vibes to date and potentially scare them away.
“Constant touching in quick succession of meeting them can wreak signs of desperation.”
It’s also important to be mindful of cultural cues, including out-of-control conversational hands (thank you, Italian ancestors) as those non-verbals can be misconstrued.
Maybe my Viking did not know how to interpret my over-enthused Italian hands, and he got it so wrong. Or, I got it wrong.
But now I know; less hand waving and more lingering touches, intense stares, and biting of lips are needed to speak a common language of love.