Whether you’re on a dinner date, side-by-side at a basketball game, or on the couch before Netflix and chill (or Disney+ and thrust), you and your partner’s body language when you’re sitting can speak volumes about your closeness. I spoke with body language expert Traci Brown about what you can gather from the way you and bae position your bodies in relation to each other, from the direction of their legs and feet, to how they use their hands.
In terms of overall body language, Brown says you shouldn’t base your sole understanding of how your partner feels about you on each individual body language cue. “You’re going to want to see more than one thing at once to get a good ‘read’ of what’s going on. Because if you just look at one movement by itself, you’re not going to get the picture of what’s really going on,” Brown tells us. Additionally, it’s important to remember that body language can only tell you so much about how someone really feels. The best way to understand your partner is to ask them any questions you might have directly, and remain in consistent communication about your feelings.
Here’s what body language experts had to say about what your partner’s sitting posture can mean for your relationship dynamic.
First, Look At The Distance Between You & Your Partner’s Bodies
“You want to look for how physically close they are to you,” Brown tells us. If you and your partner are sitting super close together and your bodies are touching, that’s a good sign you two are emotionally intimate.
But if your partner (or your date!) is on the other side of the couch, take note. Blanca Cobb, body language expert, previously told us that someone who’s not romantically interested in you will probably keep their distance. She said that if they “pull back, or turn their shoulders away from you when you get close to each other,” you might want to ask them what’s up.
Take Note Of Their Legs & Feet
Have you ever noticed the way people sit in chairs or on couches? Maybe they have both feet planted firmly on the ground, or one foot on the ground and the other curled under their leg. Brown acknowledges there’s an “element of habit” in how people sit and with body language across the board, but when your legs are crossed toward someone, “you’re generally more into them,” Brown says. “You can also look at their feet. Are their feet pointed toward you?” If so, that’s a good sign. Body language expert Patti Wood also agrees that feet pointing toward you bodes well for attraction.
“[It’s] a limbic brain response — where the feet point, the heart follows,” Wood previously told us.
Don’t Ignore Their Arms & Hands
Brown recommends taking note of how your partner touches you when you’re sitting next to each other. For example, bae leaning forward with a hand over yours, or their hand on your arm are both signs they’re feeling passionate. “If you see those together, it’s a pretty good sign that they’re into you,” Brown says.
On the other end of the spectrum, take note of any body language cue signaling your partner is bored. Brown gives an example of a couple she saw out on a date. One person was talking incessantly, while the other had their elbow on the table and their chin on their hand. “Things like that can be really telling as well,” she says. “Boredom is not a win.” Wood also told us that apart from turning away or slumping on the table, “lazily resting their arm around the back of the chair” might indicate your partner has checked out of your interaction together.
Brown reiterates that studying your partner’s body language, while helpful, shouldn’t be the only way you gauge how they’re feeling. “With body language, you’re getting a snapshot of an instant. The question is: Can you piece them all together to get a potential list of what could be on their mind?” she asks. “Body language can tell you you what’s on someone’s mind, but it doesn’t tell you why.” Ultimately if the dynamic between you and your partner feels off, don’t be afraid to face the tough conversation and ask them what’s up.
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