So, you’re harboring a crush, and you want to know if they feel the same. Perhaps you would like something more with a friend or you keep running into a new guy at the gym you’re interested in. How can you read the signs to know if a guy likes you but is hiding it? Researchers have asked the same question for ways to decipher body language and social cues. Many of these signals are universal across genders and paired couples. We’ve compiled some signs to look out for beyond gender stereotypes or coy dating advice. You can never be certain until you ask, of course. So, we turned to a dating coach about how to express interest without needing to spend your time guessing how the other person feels.
How to start a conversation with a new crush
While trying to decipher the signs of whether a guy likes you can be fun, being open, honest, and direct, is a better first plan of action. Having a conversation with your crush to tell them how you feel, and ask if the feelings are reciprocated, is the best way to tell if a guy likes you. While it might seem awkward, the good news is that initiating a conversation doesn't have to be a big deal. “Telling a crush you like them doesn’t need to be dramatic,” says Kelly Gonsalves, certified sex educator and dating coach. Gonsalves tells O.school, in most situations, it’s as simple as telling them you think they’re cool and asking if they want to hang out one-on-one.
For example, maybe you have a crush on the barista at the coffee shop down the block. Gonsalves explains that you can tell them, “Listen, I think you’re pretty cute, and I always enjoy talking to you. Would you want to grab a drink sometime?” This approach also works by text, when an in-person talk isn’t possible or feels too difficult.
How to ask if a friend wants to be more than friends
The stakes only seem to increase when you’re wondering how to tell if a guy likes you who you already know as a friend. Perhaps you’re not sure if it’s a date or a hang out, or the goal is to let them know that you’re feeling something more than friendship. Gonsalves recommends for a pre-established relationship, such as a friend you already spend time with regularly, to speak to them in a private setting.
The dating coach recommends keeping the conversation casual but direct, such as: “I think I’m into you as more than just friends. Where are you at? Because I’d love to take you out out sometime and see if there’s something here.” You can (and should) make the conversation feel natural to you, such as adding romance and personal gestures. Pay attention to verbal and nonverbal cues (see the list of signs below) to make sure the overtures are welcomed, Gonsalves says.
Addressing a crush you’ve known for a while comes with the added pressure of not wanting to ruin a friendship. In reality, many relationships start off as “just friends,” writes writer Mary Elizabeth Dean at Regain, and honesty contributes to the foundation of any relationship. Deans says to be upfront about what “expectations are in the relationship and what you will do if you end up not working out.” She warns awkwardness can stop the transition from platonic to romantic relationship if you attempt to move too fast. It can be best to temper the desire to state all of your proclamations at once or enter a sexual relationship before developing confidence as a couple.
Five signs a guy likes you back
If you feel too uncomfortable or awkward to have a direct conversation with your crush about how they feel about you, there are some signs to look out for to give you clues they may be on the same page. Though there isn’t a blanket answer on how to tell if a guy likes you, researchers have found signals such as body language can be indicators. If you aren’t sure if you’re ready to initiate a conversation, then you can watch for the following five signs that might indicate he feels the same way. Just remember that while these may be indicators he likes you, none are tell-tale signs that can definitively give you an answer on how he feels. Again, the best plan of action is to simply ask and start a conversation.
- His body language is inviting. One sign that may indicate he likes you is if he angles his body toward you. "If he is romantically interested, he’ll be angling his face, chest, and shoulders so that you are directly in front of him," writes Steven Finkelstein for BetterHelp. If you're both standing, his feet might be angled toward you. “Pay attention to eye contact and, more broadly, if this person’s energy seems to be directed toward you in the space that you’re in,” Gonsalves tells O.school. This includes when he’s looking at you from across a room and seems focused on you in a group setting, she says.
- His pupils are dilated when looking at you. Elevated oxytocin levels provide a sense of well-being and can increase mutual attraction, writes Jack Schafer for Psychology Today. Oxytocin can also cause dilated pupils, an indication a guy could be interested. You can use this nonverbal clue as a technique to demonstrate your own interest. Maintaining eye contact while turning your head away shows interest without staring, says Schafer. If the guy maintains eye contact, then they likely share the attraction.
- His gaze focuses on your head or chest when talking. A study in 2017 in the Archives of Sexual Behavior found looking at a woman’s chest could indicate a guy thinks of her as a potential romantic partner. Potentially more surprising is that a guy is more likely to look at a woman’s head when interested in her sexually. The study found they look at the legs and feet more when assessing potential friends. Results also showed single people are more likely to display this behavior when assessing potential mates versus coupled individuals. Paying attention to where his gaze lies could indicate how he thinks about you and if he’s available.
- He’s engaged in the conversation. If a guy is trying to keep the conversation going it may be a sign he’s interested in you romantically. Gonsalves tells O.school it's a good sign if the person seems actively engaged in the conversation, contributing ideas, asking you questions to get to know you. “If they’re responding with really brief one-word answers or just laughing without contributing another idea to keep the conversation going,” she says it suggests he might not be as invested in deepening the connection. Initial conversations might also include awkward pauses and lulls. The important indicator is that he’s making an effort, not sitting on the phone or paying more attention to what’s going on in the room around you.
- He replies right away. If you’ve been chatting with a guy who texts often and responds quickly, all those flirty emojis could be a sign he likes you, according to eharmony. We all have lives and responsibilities, so texting back almost immediately signals you’re a priority. Texting can be a fun and low-key way of flirting. If he’s quick to send heart emojis, then it’s likely a sign you’re on his mind. That said, not everyone can respond right away. Try not to write off a new crush if a few hours go by without a check in.
Here’s what to do if your crush isn’t on the same page
Rejection stings, but putting yourself out there only gets easier with practice. Gonsalves reminds readers these might be signs that a person could be interested in you in a romantic way but aren’t definitive. You might be able to tell if a guy likes you as a person or is open to connecting, which isn’t always the same as being romantically interested. After all, people out there might exhibit all of the following signs in their friendship. The dating coach says, “Look for a collection of signs that together give you a strong hunch that things are leaning that way, and then just be direct and make a move.”
As much as you might really like this person, the truth is, there are so many other amazing people out in the world for you to meet, connect with, and swoon over. “Respect and celebrate this person’s right to say no, create a little space between you for at least a little bit to help you move on from your feelings, and then look toward making some new connections.” says Gonsalves. The best way to get over a crush? She recommends finding a new one.
The bottom line
Knowing how to tell if a guy likes you can be as simple as paying attention to body language and engagement levels. Gonsalves advises against falling into the trap of stereotypes dictating men are more assertive, whereas women are submissive to allow men to chase them. Instead, paying attention to the other person and being direct about your intentions will deliver better results.