Words are nice, and who doesn’t love flowers? That said, if you really, really want to know how someone feels about you, the answer lies hidden in his or her body language. That’s right: Learning how to read someone’s body language correctly is one of the best ways to sniff out a truly compatible match from someone who is just trying to make polite conversation with you.

Below is a turbo-charged tutorial on the subject from expert Patti Wood (pattiwood.net), author of SNAP: Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language & Charisma and Success Signals: A Guide to Reading Body Language. In her job, Ms. Wood has analyzed the body language of everyone from the most recent presidential candidates to on-the-rocks celeb couples for various press outlets. “You can send up to 10,000 body language cues in less than a minute,” says Wood. “And there’s no way to control all of them — even if you’re sly.” While some factors will influence body language (for instance, if a person is super-shy), there are some sure signs of attraction to look for. We offer up the top five for you here:

Body-language clue #1: Your date makes a “symbolic reach” towards you with his or her hand, which is a sign that this person feels longing and/or affection in your presence
The first universal sign of interest is something called “symbolic reaching,” says Wood: “It’s when your hand is subtly reaching toward the other person.” An example of this during a dinner date would be your date resting his or her arm and hand on the table rather than close to the body with this person’s fingers pointing toward you — think of it as though you’re ready to reach out and touch someone, but haven’t yet done so. (And if your date does reach out and touch you, so much the better: That’s an iron-clad sign of affection.) On the other hand, if someone sits on his or her hands or conceals them from you altogether, that indicates a lack of romantic interest.
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Body-language clue #2: Your date mimics your vocal inflections, language choices and physical gestures as a sign of respect and solidarity
Another sign of interest involves the hands and then some — it’s something called “matching and mirroring.” What’s that? It’s when your date mimics your gestures, voice inflections and patterns of communication, and it’s a good thing. “His or her voice will speed up when yours does or slow down along with yours,” explains Wood. “It happens subconsciously — when we’re attracted to someone, we tend to try and merge into one another in this particular way.” If you’re noticing that this happens on the first date — for example, your date is shrugging the same way you do when sharing a story, or places a complicated dinner order in the same joking way that you just did — well, chances are good that there will be a second date in the near future for both of you!

Body-language clue #3: Frequent blinking means your date is so attracted to you that it’s actually making him or her nervous
While some people give you full-on eye contact when they’re interested, here’s another little-known sign that your date is way into you: frequent blinking. “When you’re highly attracted to someone,” says Wood, “one of the natural responses is to get nervous and blink a lot.” So if that man or woman across the table seems a little flustered and is batting his or her lashes a lot, congratulations — this person’s very interested in you.

Body-language clue #4: The physical distance between you and your date measures his or her level of interest; pulling farther apart is a bad sign, while cuddling up close is a green light for romance
Part of body language is not just what you do with your body, but how close you position it to the person whom you’re dating. “If someone’s not interested in you,” says Wood, “he or she will leave a lot of space between your two bodies... say, two feet or so. But if a person sits or stands right next to you (or even 16 inches away), that reveals a desire for physical intimacy — and genuine romantic interest.”

Body-language clue #5: Your date moves his or her feet toward yours in a subconscious effort to bring you two closer together
Compatibility clues are even located in an area that’s ordinarily overlooked by most daters: the feet. “Where the feet go, the heart follows,” says Wood. “The lower portion of the body is under the least amount of control, and the feet are the most telling in revealing how someone else truly feels about you.” So if he or she is thinking, “Hey, I really like this person,” your date’s feet will move towards you — say, by stretching his or her legs out under the table at dinner. That’s a very clear declaration of “Let’s get a little closer,” whether your date realizes it or not.

Stephen F. Milioti is a New York-based writer and editor.