Is She Sending Mixed Signals?

A new study reveals that a woman’s body language can give guys the wrong idea. Here’s why—and what confused singles should do about it.

By Riki Markowitz

t’s a situation nearly every single man and woman has experienced (and is none too glad about it, we might add): Boy meets girl. Boy is thinking Wow, I think she’s really into me! Meanwhile, girl is thinking Why can’t this dude take a hint and leave me alone?
Many women
give off positive courtship cues even when they’re not into a guy.
Why are mixed signals like this so common? To get to the root of this misunderstanding, researchers at the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute in Vienna, Austria, observed pairs of men and women who had never met before as they interacted for ten minutes at a time; they then asked the women whether they were attracted to the male subject. The results offer plenty of clues as to why dating is confusing: Whether they know it or not, women gave off positive courtship cues (such as hair flipping, chest thrusting and fidgeting with clothing) even when they were not into a guy. Even more frustrating, women gave off more negative courtship cues (arm and leg crossing) when they did like someone. What gives?

“There was hardly any difference in the number of courtship signals given off by those women who did express an interest and those who didn't,” said Professor Karl Grammer, who headed the
If you’re interested, let him know with a flirty hair toss; if not, cross your arms instead.
research. “And the women who said they were interested in the man gave off more negative signals than those who weren't interested.”

Why women do this is not completely understood, but if you want to avoid sending men mixed messages, make sure your body language supports your agenda. If you’re interested, let him know with a flirty hair toss; if you’re not, cross your arms or legs instead. Meanwhile, a guy who could swear a woman is lusting for him—or is aloof—may want to avoid any snap judgments and gather more info first.

Riki Markowitz is a writer living in Brooklyn.
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