You and a pretty redhead are tucked away in a corner table at that impossible-to-get-into new French bistro. And lo and behold, you notice she’s laughing at your jokes, twirling her hair, and giving other crystal-clear signs she’s into you. Or is she? Problem is, it can be hard to tell sometimes whether a woman is truly interested or just going through the motions. But luckily, there are plenty of ways to tell the difference. The signs below are the real deal.
1. She touches herself up
If she’s excusing herself to the restroom between courses, it’s doubtful she has a weak bladder. Nope, more likely she’s in there freshening up her makeup or making sure her hair is in place... all for you. “If she’s into you, she’ll be concerned with how she looks,” says Alison James, author of the forthcomingBetter Off Wed? “Or, if she’s at the table, she’ll be fixing her shirt or brushing her hair back, maybe checking that her bra strap isn’t showing or adjusting her necklace — the kind of stuff you do when you’re worried about your appearance.”
2. She asks about your family
“When a woman likes a guy, she doesn’t want to get to know just him,” says Jillian Straus, author of Unhooked Generation: The Truth About Why We’re Still Single. “She wants to know about his family and friends — she’s looking for clues about what life with him would be like.” Indeed, especially if you’ve been set up or are on a blind date and know very little about each other, your relationship with your family says a lot about you — and a woman interested in you won’t hesitate to probe. “I think family is very revealing about a person’s personality,” says Tina Andreadis, 35, of New York City. “If he’s close with his family, it shows that he’s probably a warm person who values relationships and who would want a family of his own. If I am not interested in him, I won’t even ask because I just don’t care.”
3. She’s attentive
Let’s put it this way: no matter how busy she is, she’s not whipping out her BlackBerry if she’s interested in what you have to say. “If she’s not checking her watch, email or cell phone, it’s just one more sign that she’s paying attention to you,” says James. “When you like a guy, you’re hanging on his every word. When you don’t, you’re distracted easily.” Same goes for any preoccupations she has with the immediate environment, whether she’s people-watching or admiring the restaurant décor or even the food. If she’s saying things like, “This restaurant is beautiful. Hey, doesn’t that girl over there look like Marisa Tomei?” she may be enjoying herself, but not necessarily because you’re there.
4. She’s touchy-feely
If you find your date engaging in a little physical contact along with witty banter, chances are you’ve made a very good impression. From tapping your knee to emphasize a point or touching your forearm to get your attention, if a woman’s attracted to you, she won’t hesitate to reach out and let you know. Megan, 35, from New York City, employs this trick with guys she finds attractive. “I pretend to steady myself when I don’t need to be steadied,” she says. “When I’m climbing onto a stool, I’ll grab onto his shoulder or leg when I clearly don’t need to,” she laughs.
5. The date lasts longer than you expected
Ask any woman desperate to wind down a date, and she’ll tell you she skips dessert or declines an after-dinner stroll. Naturally, then, if she’s having a great time and doesn’t want to see you go, she’ll gladly take the waiter’s suggestion and try the chocolate cake, or join you in the cab ride home. And if you’ve agreed to meet for coffee and after a few sips she takes you up on your offer of dinner? That’s a bright green light, my friend. “Only if I’m into the guy will I agree to go to dinner if he suggests it on a ‘meet for coffee’ date,” says Diana, a 38-year-old from Boston. “If I’m meeting a guy and I’m not into him, I’m definitely not going to agree to get food after.”
So now that you know the signs that she’s really enjoying your time together, use them! Ask her for another date, have a goodnight hug or smooch... and things should move in a most positive direction.
Cate Mitchell is a freelance writer in New York City.