It’s no secret that people spend a large portion of their time with a first date wondering, Does this person like me?
And while you would think the signs would be clear, all too often they’re not. Even if your date has been smiling up a storm or raptly listening to your views on alternative fuel, he or she could just be acting
interested and secretly hoping the evening will end soon. But that’s not to say you need to be in the dark about your date’s true feelings. It turns out there are many signals your date may send that give away what’s really going on. Here are some of those subtle signs that, at first glance, might seem like nothing… but could mean there’s a real connection and raging chemistry between you two.
Your date says your name more than usual. Maybe your date says your first and last name, like, “So, Michael Malone, you up for a night cap after dinner?” Or maybe your date says just your first name three times, like “Jenna, Jenna, Jenna.” Either way, it can be a sign that your date feels so much chemistry, he or she can’t help but connect with your closest possession: your name. But only if your name is said in an enthusiastic way—not in a flat tone like the person behind the counter at the DMV. “Saying someone’s name is like a sign that you’re testing the magic you’re feeling, because you almost can’t believe they’re real,” says body language expert Patti Wood. “It also subconsciously elicits immediate focus from the person whose name is said,” says Wood, which is more proof of the chemistry: If someone is into you, he or she wants your full attention.
Your date squints at you. If you watch reality dating shows like The Bachelor and all the rest, when one party harbors a crush on the other, they’ll give each other a cute little squint, usually followed by a smile. What gives? It’s an unconscious bit of body language that shows the person is searching for more info about you. “Squinting is typically a gesture of searching deeper into something or testing it,” says Wood. “The same way you’d squint at a diamond to see if it’s real, squinting shows you’re focusing harder to be sure it’s not just a mirage.” And that, she says, is a great sign. That coy little spy tactic shows that your date likes you so much, he or she is looking more closely to see if you could possibly be as great as you seem. (Obviously you are!)
Your date asks the “why” and “how” questions. During dinner conversation, any polite date will ask you factual things about your family like, “So, do you have brothers and sisters?” But that’s not necessarily a sign they feel chemistry with you. It is a sign of chemistry, however, if they delve deeper and ask more probing questions. As in, “So, how did you get interested in accounting, anyway?” And “Why did you decide to move all the way across the country?” That’s one of the ways Jennifer Santana, 29, first noticed that she and her current boyfriend were clicking. “He asked questions about my family — not just the same old questions, but things like, ‘What are your parents like?’ People on first dates don’t really ask these kinds of questions unless they have some intention of meeting them some day.” These challenging questions are a strong sign that the person you’re with is seriously interested in you and not just making polite chit-chat.
Your date gets quiet midway through your time together. Rather than taking your date’s silence as a sign your date has lost interest, it could actually be the opposite: Your date may be feeling such a pull toward you that he or she is lost in thought about it. “Sometimes, a person feels such a strong attraction that instead of nodding and following the conversation, he or she is just contemplating you,” says Wood. So the next time your date seems to have missed the whole end of your story, don’t cast the person off too quickly. If you really can’t be sure whether the distraction is a bonus or a sign of boredom, go ahead and ask. “Say to your date, ‘Hey, where’d ya go?’” suggests Sharyn Wolf, CSW, a psychotherapist in New York City and author of Guerilla Dating. “If the person says, ‘What are you talking about?’ or acts defensive about paying attention, that’s not a good sign. But if you get a grin back and a, ‘Sorry, I guess I got distracted,’ that can be a great sign. It shows this new companion may have been imagining a future outing — or just a future — with you!”
You hear “you’re” a lot. If your date says to you, “You’re awesome” or “You’re so funny” or “You’re a trip!” or “You’re something else…” then you’re very lucky! Personalizing your admiration or approval of a date means a lot; it’s a strong sign of attraction, while statements like, “That’s awesome” or “That’s funny” don’t mean as much. Using the word you means that the person feels chemistry with you, versus just grooving on your story-telling skills.
Your date gives you a token of the evening. If your date gives you something you can hold onto and look at later, chances are he or she is feeling chemistry. Jennifer’s date once picked up a pack of matches from the restaurant they were in and said, “Here, for you.” He didn’t say, “Something to remember me by” or “So we’ll always remember this night,” but that, in fact, was the underlying message. It’s a sign that your date wants you to have something to remember him or her by… because clearly this person will be remembering your date as a great one.
Amy Spencer writes for Cosmopolitan, Real Simple, and other publications.