Flirty or friendly, flirty or friendly, flirty or friendly… how are you ever supposed to know?
Some men are super obvious when they’re trying to get a woman’s attention, but others thrive on the subtlety of seduction.
But how can you tell the difference between a man who’s actually trying to secretly show interest in you, and a man who is just being a normal friend?
This article dissects the key differences between 22 normal day-to-day interactions and the subtle differences between them that define the lines between friendly, platonic behaviors and flirty, seductive actions.
How to tell if a guy is interested in you or just being friendly
1. How he looks at you
Friendly: Keeping eye contact with another person during conversation is a simple hallmark of proper etiquette, so it should be no surprise if a man looks at you while you talk.
We do this to show the other person that they have our attention, and whatever they’re talking about is important to us.
He may look at you while you talk, and even glance at you from time to time during a group conversation.
It’s a way of making sure that you — as well as everyone else — stays connected and feel involved in the discussion, and it’s a great way of showing everyone that you’re a friendly and approachable individual.
Flirty: But his eye contact isn’t really just “eye contact”, is it? His gaze seems to linger, long after the point of simply being friendly was made.
It’s almost as if he wants you to notice that he likes looking at you. It’s his way of telling you, “I’m interested in you”, without saying those words.
After all, the last thing he wants to do is show interest in a person who doesn’t like him back.
Do you find him trying to catch your eye from across the room?
Do you feel the weight of his gaze even when your back is turned?
And does he seem to be “smiling” at you, smiling that beautiful smile with his eyes?
Then he might be flirting.
2. How he gets to know you
Friendly: One of the first things you do when you meet a new person at a party or at work or anywhere else where you have to engage in prolonged communication is getting to know them.
If the new cute co-worker at the office strikes up a conversation with you in the middle of the day, it doesn’t necessarily mean anything at all.
Some basic question might include:
- What did you study in college?
- What do you do for work?
- What are your favorite movies?
- What kind of music do you listen to?
- What mutual friends or interests do we have?
None of these topics fall too far out of “friendliness” territory, so if these are his chosen topics of discussion, then he’s probably just being nice.
Flirty: But the conversations with him crossed the line of “just getting to know you” several questions or discussions ago.
A man who is flirting with you will be interested in more than just the superficial top layer information that everyone else already knows.
They’ll want to know what makes you tick as a person; who you really are; what makes you, you.
Does he seem to care about the stupid decades-old stories from your childhood that make other people walk away?
Does he get lost in a rabbit hole of discussions with you that range from philosophy to funny cat pictures to politics to exes?
3. How he makes small-talk with you
Friendly: You may talk regularly enough but that doesn’t always mean he’s trying to build a connection with you.
If you see each other quite often — maybe you work together, go to the same school, or just happen to have the same social circle — it could be that he’s striking up a conversation because it would be rude not to.
Acquaintances who have no interest in you will stick to the most basic, impersonal questions possible.
Do you have prolonged discussions on how gloomy the day is? Do your chats exclusively revolve around work or school work? If so, chances are he’s just talking to you to be nice and pass the time.
Flirty: But if these small talks always seem to gravitate to something deeper, he could be using it as a front to get the conversation going.
And if he really likes you, he’ll be using the small talk to get to know you better.
4. How he talks about himself
Friendly: Let’s face it: we’re all a little self-absorbed.
When given the green light to share things about ourselves to a willing pair of ears, even the shyest person can go on and on about their life — their hobbies, their interest, their work, their frustrations, and everything in between.
We love talking about ourselves.
This means that the simple act of conversation in itself isn’t enough to prove that he’s interested in you.
If all he does is talk about himself and barely let you get a word in — or when you do get a word in, he uses it to segue back into his stories rather than let you expand on yours — then he’s probably more in love with himself than he’ll ever be with you.
Flirty: So how do you tell the difference between a self-absorbed storyteller and someone who actually wants to talk to you?
Simple: they might talk about their love life.
Whether it’s true or not, they’ll tell you about the best dates they’ve been on, the most romantic nights they’ve had with their exes, and the clear and undeniable fact that they are now single (and ready to mingle).
He wants you to know that he’s available, and he wants you to know that he’s the perfect boyfriend or partner; he just hasn’t found his right match yet.
So ask yourself: from all your friends and casual acquaintances, how many of them have been so upfront with their relationship status?
If he’s more open with his current status, then he’s probably letting you know for a reason.
Recommended reading: How to get a guy to like you: 17 no bullsh*t tips
5. How he greets you
Friendly: If you work in the same office, go to the same school, or even have the same walk to the same cafe every morning, then it’s absolutely natural for him to greet you with a “Good morning!” or “Nice to see you!” every time you pass each other by.
He might be giving the same greetings to a hundred other people that same day, so a greeting alone isn’t enough to prove that there’s any ulterior motive behind his smile.
In fact, it would be strange if he actively avoided greeting you despite knowing who you are.
Flirty: When a man is interested in you, he always wants to make sure that he shows a cool front.
Have you ever walked in a room where he was casually sitting, and noticed him suddenly straighten himself up when he noticed your presence?
Maybe he fixes his hair or adjusts his shirt, or even smiles every time he looks at you.
And when he sees you randomly in the world, he always has an interest in what you’re doing, where you’re going, and if applicable, whom you’re going with.
He never seems to be short on time when you bump into him.
He values the seconds he spends with you more than the minutes he would spend without you.
You just know that if you asked him for a quick favor, the answer would always be “Absolutely”.
6. How he jokes with you
Friendly: Depending on his sense of humor, he might love joking around with you.
But maybe he jokes around with everyone else, too; maybe he’s just the class clown, and he’s always up for a good time, no matter with whom it might be.
You guys riff off each other masterfully, bouncing zingers and one-liners back and forth like it’s no big deal.
He definitely enjoys your company because you know how to keep up with his humor in a way most people can’t.
But jokes are just jokes: they don’t really necessarily mean anything, especially if he never goes off into particularly lewd territory.
Flirty: So what’s the difference between friendly joking and flirty teasing?
Think about this: how much of his joking is actually teasing you?
He’s not just joking to get a laugh out of you and everyone else; he’s actively and directly teasing you to rile something up inside of you.
While some men may flirt with their good looks and sweet charm, other men flirt with their humor and teasing.
He loves trying to get a reaction out of you, and you’ve noticed that he’ll stop at nothing to try to get one over you.
Sometimes you just want to punch him in the face because of his excessive teasing and his smug smile.
And that’s precisely what he wants: making you obsessed over him, one way or another.
Recommended reading: How to flirt like a pro: 27 incredible tips
7. How he touches you
Friendly: Touching your friends is completely normal; even touching people you just met isn’t always inappropriate.
For most people, a touch on the hand or the shoulder isn’t a big deal, and if someone has brushed by you once or twice but nothing more, then there’s really not much there to think about.
Sometimes you really just can’t help but touch another person.
Humans are naturally social creatures, and the act of touching can be an entirely platonic act with no hidden meaning or intent behind it.
In most cases, you just need to forget about whether he touched you or not because it probably meant nothing.
Flirty: So how do you know when touching does mean something?
Ask yourself: do you know how his skin feels against yours?
Has he brushed against you often enough that you know how his forearm hair feels against your arm, or how his hands feel against your fingers or neck?
Remember: someone who is flirting with you wants you to know that they are flirting with you, so the line between platonic touching and flirty touching is one you will always have to answer with your gut.
Someone flirting with you will organically inflate the number of “natural touches” they do — he might lean towards you, or brush against you every time he passes by, or press the weight of his breath against your skin as he talks.
More than anything, he wants you to feel them because it’s one of the subtlest ways he can flirt without openly declaring his intentions.
8. How he acts around you
Friendly: Some people are just naturally affectionate, with touch or acts of service as their love language.
The way he interacts with his friends may be generally sweet and flirty.
Whenever you see him talking across the room, you see his hand touching someone’s shoulder or maybe he’s engaged deeply and chatting animatedly with someone.
For this kind of guy, usual flirty signs like staring at your eyes when you talk or brushing up against you may be completely normal for him, making it a little tricky to figure out whether his interactions with you are flirty or just friendly.
So focus not so much on how he interacts with people but what he talks about with them.
Guys who are naturally flirty might be sending signals across the room but will only open up to someone he really likes.
He might be smooth-talking, sure, but does he actually take the time to talk about you and show a vulnerable side to him?
Flirty: Look at the nuances and not his general demeanor. Slight changes in behavior can be telling if a guy likes you.
For example, a normally confident and outspoken guy may be more attentive when talking to you.
Instead of hoarding the spotlight, he might be consciously prompting you to speak more so he actually gets to know you better.
When a man is interested in you, he tries to step out of his comfort zone to match your own demeanor.
When he’s normally touchy and flirty around other people, does he seem more reserved towards you?
Does he seem more self-conscious, shy, or thoughtful in his interactions?
More importantly, find out if he’s only this way towards you. Are you the only person that makes him a little nervous?
If so, there’s a good chance he’s flirting with you, and doing so makes him feel a little more vulnerable.
9. How he talks about other women
Friendly: If you thought only girls had girl talks, think again. Guys can’t help but talk about the women they like either.
They talk about them with friends and try to dissect the little things to find out if she likes him, too.
So if the guy in question is constantly using you as a soundboard to discuss his latest prospects, chances are he sees you as a friend and nothing more.
Despite what most people like to think, guys are pretty sensitive. They can pick up if you like them or at the very least interested in them.
If a guy senses this and wants to try something with you, he won’t talk about other women with you simply because he wants you to know he’s available.
Flirty: On the flip side, he might still talk to you about his love life and share his dating escapades, but instead of focusing on what’s going well, he might be giving you hints that he’s not so happy with his dating life.
You’re all too familiar with stories of bad dates, poor connections, or just introductions that fizzle out; his stories about his dating life will revolve around how unsatisfied he is with it.
He’ll always make it a point to mention how he thinks his real connection is somewhere out there, and if he’s feeling bold enough, he might even explicitly say that he’s looking for someone like you.
At this point, you don’t really need much confirmation. A guy who has his sights set on you will make his intentions known.
Even if he doesn’t outrightly ask you on a date, going for the “what ifs” and “maybes” about your possible relationship together is his way of expressing interest without putting it all on the line.
10. His energy levels around you
Friendly: It’s perfectly normal for conversations to fizzle out. Sometimes a true test of attraction is being able to sit together and still be content in each other’s silent presence.
You could be in the same room, doing nothing at all, and still think that’s the best place to be. Just being around you is enough to keep him engaged.
But if you notice that the guy you’re talking to seems to be drifting in and out of conversations, looking around while you talk about something, and looking absolutely bored, chances are he’s just talking to you to pass the time.
Flirty: Alternatively, a guy who’s keen about you will cherish every single moment he has with you, even the dull ones.
Notice how conversations that seem to be dwindling to a halt always get to a more exciting rhythm.
Right when you think you’re done talking about something, he segues into something to keep you interested.
Even the most mundane interactions are exciting to him.
There’s a twinkle in his eye every time you talk and you can tell that he’s just having a good time.
He’s constantly engaging you and making sure you’re not bored with him, and his body language speaks volumes: eye contact that could practically pierce through you, animated body language, and a tendency to lean towards you as if he can’t help but be magnetized towards you.
11. How interested he is in understanding who you are
Friendly: Again, human beings can be self-involved individuals. We like talking about the things we believe in and the things we like.
And when we realize that there are people out there who are more like us, it’s easy to fall into a rabbit hole discussing everything from favorite tv shows to political inclinations to top restaurants.
But even then, a guy who’s just your friend will approach these subjects with politeness.
You’ll notice straight away if the person you’re talking to is eager to learn more about you — they’ll ask a dozen questions, ask your opinion on things, and more importantly, highlight the very things that make you similar.
Flirty: Perhaps one of the easiest ways to tell if a guy is flirty is by seeing how he reacts to your similarities.
Someone who sees you as a friend will still engage you on these topics, but they won’t really care much about the fact that you enjoy listening to the same songs or engage in similar hobbies.
A guy who’s trying to get on your radar will be quick to point out all these similarities as if to say, “Hey, isn’t how cool how compatible we are?”
It’s not enough that you like the same things; this guy will make it a point to make you aware of how amazing he would be as a partner.
Instead of “I like that too”, expect him to say something like “I like that too, isn’t it great how similar we both are?”
12. Eye Contact
Friendly: They look you in the eyes and keep eye contact during the conversation. They may look away from time to time but they will give you the respect and courtesy to stay attentive while you are talking.
Flirty: They look longer and with greater intensity as if they are really trying to speak to you telepathically with just their gaze. There is an unironic intensity in the eye contact – instead of a nod, the person might lean towards you instead.
13. Their Questions
Friendly: They don’t really care about any specific thing, but they want to be friendly by engaging with you and making you lead the conversation.
They can ask casual questions – what brings you here, how are you, what are you into, and more.
Flirty: The main difference in flirty questions is the agenda.
There seems to be a direction to the conversation, and they’ve been dictating the direction with each question. They eventually get into more personal questions such as your love life and sex life.
Friendly: Friendly banter is just part of everyday life, especially if you’re a girl with guy friends.
Friends turn each other into the butts of their jokes all the time, so a few light (and sometimes heavy) jokes don’t necessarily mean that they like you.
Flirty: They seem to go overboard with their teasing, and even your friends or the other people in your friend group get that feeling.
You are the target of their jokes much more often than anyone else, but they don’t like it when other people start to tease you.
Friendly: It’s normal for friends to pay attention to each other, and this includes giving each other eye contact during conversations, replying to each other’s messages, and asking each other about their days and how things are doing.
Flirty: Attention can go from friendly to flirty if they simply up the ante, and they start becoming attentive in a way that may seem unnatural.
For example, if they remember special dates that you might have mentioned to them, or they surprise you with something you like such as food or movie tickets. If they like you, they make more of an effort to impress you with their attention.
If after all these points, you think that he’s just being friendly, then here’s what you need to do:
If you’ve read all the points above, and you’re convinced that this guy is being flirty with you, then it’s pretty obvious that he likes you.
All you really need to do is flirt back and watch the connection ignite between the two of you.
But if he is just being friendly with you, and you know you really like the guy, then you need a game plan for how to seduce this guy and get him to like you.
To do this, you need to trigger something deep inside him. Something he desperately needs.
What is it?
To take action and be with you officially, he has to feel like your provider and protector. Someone that you genuinely admire.
He needs to feel like your hero.
I know it sounds kind of silly. You’re an independent woman. You don’t need a ‘hero’ in your life.
And I couldn’t agree more.
But here’s the ironic truth. Men do still “feel” like a hero. Because it’s built into their DNA to seek out relationships that allow them to feel like a protector.
Men have a thirst for admiration. They want to step up to the plate for the woman in their lives and provide for and protect her.
This is deeply rooted in male biology.
When a guy feels like a hero to their woman, it unleashes his protective instincts and the noblest aspect of his masculinity.
Most importantly, it will unleash his deepest feelings of love and attraction.
And the kicker?
A man won’t fully commit to a woman until this thirst is satisfied.
He won’t commit until his hero instinct is triggered.
And it’s nothing to do with dramatic rescue scenes or playing the damsel in distress. James Bauer, the psychologist who discovered the hero instinct, found simpler ways to speak to the male psyche.
You can learn more about the hero instinct with this excellent free video.
Thanks to Bauer’s research, triggering this innate drive within your man can be done simply by making small changes in what you say to him. Rather than inflating his ego, it’s about knowing how to appeal to his inner desire to be the man for you.
So if you want to turn him from friendly to flirty, the hero instinct is your best shot in making him see you as more than just a friend.
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