How to read male body language

The dating world can be a tricky one to navigate.

Texting etiquette, decoding subtle subtexts in your conversations, or even what outfit to wear out on a date can cause anyone to stress out about the whole dating scene. I've had friends who have temporarily deleted dating apps to give themselves a break from the sometimes confusing and frustrating world of online dating. And what about when you finally meet? That's an entirely different story with its own set of rules and social cues.

I spoke to Jonathan Bennett, counselor, dating expert, and life coach to help you decode male body language. If you're out there dating and having a difficult time reading the signals, here are some things to look for in a guy's body language to see if he's interested in you.

Posture

You may not think about this at first, but how a man's posture is around you could indicate whether or not he's interested in you.

Bennett said when you're spending time with a date, observe his posture. For example, "is he consistently leaning towards you when you talk? If he does, it's an indication he's interested in you and what you have to say," he said. "However, If he is leaning away and seems focused on other things, he likely is bored or distracted," which is never a good sign.

Just think about how you behave when you're focused on something interesting. If you're into it, you're likely sitting in attention.

His eyes

They say the eyes are the windows to the soul, and maybe they're right. "If he makes eye contact with you while talking or seems to be staring at you, he probably finds you attractive," said Bennett. "If however, he won't look you in the eye or is always looking at other things (like his phone), then he probably isn't into you."

Another way you can tell through someone's eyes is if their pupils are dilated. "This subtle signal means can mean he's into you, because dilation is your brain's way of responding to something you like," Bennett said. "It's as if your eyes want to try and see as much of that thing you like as possible."

Touch

This might seem like an obvious one, but physical contact is one way to tell if he's interested. To show interest, Bennett said that men are likely throw out subtle, non-sexual touching if they're into you. "It might be as simple as touching your arm while talking or briefly putting his hand on your shoulder when he's walking by you," he told me.

He also said that if a man totally keeps his hands to himself, he probably doesn't find you attractive. Do consider, however, that if someone refrains from physical contact, they could also just be respecting your space, which is not a bad thing, and doesn't necessarily mean that they aren't interested in you at all.

Proximity

Have you ever felt the urge to physically be nearer to someone you're interested in romantically? That desire to get closer to someone you're interested in is true for men as well.

"If he makes it a point to get closer to you, like when you're walking, that's a good indicator he's into you," according to Bennett. "On the other hand, if he keeps a lot of physical distance between the two of you all night, he probably doesn't think of you romantically."

A good way to test this is to move in just a little bit closer, perhaps by leaning in to sit closer to him during dinner. "If he maintains that closeness, he's probably interested," said Bennett.

Smiling

Another way to tell if he's interested that seems like a no brainer is in his facial expression — particularly in his smile. "He might not be grinning ear to ear the whole time, but if a man is having fun spending time with you, he'll likely bust out a smile or two," said Bennett. "When a man feels really happy, he's not likely going to hide that fact."

Just think of those butterflies you've felt when you've been really into someone, the feeling makes it almost impossible not to smile, so trust that if they're interested, they'll be feeling the same way as well.

How he sits next to you

A more subtle clue to look for if you're trying to read a man's body language is to take note of how he sits when he's next to you — particularly how he crosses his legs.

"If a man crosses his legs in a way that turns his torso and upper body away from you, this could be a sign that he isn't interested," said Bennett. According to him, if a man is interested in a potential partner, they're going to turn their attention to you, figuratively and literally.

Holding hands

When a man is interested in you, one clear sign that usually doesn't need a lot of reading into is whether or not he holds your hand. "Hand-holding expresses a desire to connect," said Bennett. Naturally, when someone wants to connect with you, it's likely because they're interested.

From my personal experience, when I was newly seeing my current boyfriend, one of my earlier clues about whether or not he was interested in me was how he held my hand when he was walking me home one night after a date. Not only was it a sweet gesture, it was also one that told me that was definitely interested.

Red flags

Body language doesn't just tell you all the ways he could be interested in you. There are also ways to tell if you should maybe keep your distance.

If a man shows signs of "aggressive or invasive body language," Bennet said that this is a red flag that "you're probably dealing with a creep." Other examples of this, according to Bennett, are unwanted and continuous efforts at sexual touching and invading your personal space.

If this continues throughout the night, you might want to take precautions and call a friend, or have the someone at the restaurant or bar call you a cab if you feel like slipping out inconspicuously is the safest way to go. Whatever you do, if your gut is telling you that something about someone you're seeing doesn't feel quite right, trust your instinct. Stay safe!

Dating should be fun

If you're playing the field and dating right now, try not to focus too much on whether or not someone's into you or not. While that matters to some degree, you should also keep in mind that dating and getting to know new people should be fun, too!

Even if a date doesn't turn into a long-term relationship, that doesn't mean that you can't enjoy that person's company while you're going out with them. And who knows, they may not become your boyfriend, but they could become a friend — you never know!