Winking is one of those human quirks that can convey so many hidden meanings.
Is it flirting when a guy winks at you? Sometimes it certainly is, but not always.
In fact, there are lots of potential reasons why a guy sends a little wink your way.
What does winking symbolize?
Such a small little gesture often has so much more behind it.
Depending on the context and the relationship of the two people involved, a wink can be flirtatious, playful, reassuring, or downright creepy.
Ultimately winking is just a way we communicate using our body language.
As experts say anywhere between 70% to 93% of the messages we send to each other are non-verbal, it makes sense.
So important is the wink to us in social situations, that after being first introduced in 2010, it has become an essential emoji that carries the expression of winking into our text communication.
What does it mean when a guy winks at you?
1) He’s flirting
Probably the most commonly associated connection we all have with winking is flirtatious behavior.
If a guy winks at you it can be a little signal to show his attraction and to let you know that he is interested in you romantically.
But why are winks flirty? Well here’s the science behind it.
There is research that shows our pupils tend to dilate when we are aroused and excited. We are also likely to start blinking more.
It’s your body’s natural way of saying your brain is pleased by what it sees.
It’s been suggested that winking is a way we play off this natural phenomenon of increased blinking.
It’s a way of sending an obvious cue to the other person that says “I am excited by this” — which is why it is flirty to wink.
That’s also why when your crush winks at you, it’s likely to send your heart into a flutter.
2) He feels affection for you
Of course, winking isn’t always intended in a sexual way, but it still can signify a bond between two people. That bond may be platonic but still affectionate.
If you are close friends with a guy who winks at you, it can be a sign of warmth towards you. It will usually be accompanied by a warm smile.
It can be confusing and make you question whether he sees you as just a friend or something more.
But hopefully the energy around it will give this away, as this kind of affectionate wink feels more like one that a grandpa would give you.
There would also be an absence of any other flirtatious moves because it’s just a way of conveying sincere fondness.
3) He’s teasing you
Another incredibly common use of a wink is when we are joking around with someone and we want them to know it.
We don’t want them to take what we are saying too seriously, and so to show that we are being lighthearted and not serious we give a little wink after what we have said.
This can be particularly useful when you are saying something sarcastic or with a very dry sense of humor that is more difficult to interpret.
So, if a guy is teasing you, or gently making fun of you, he might wink to let you know that he means well and not to take any offense by what he is saying.
He doesn’t want you to take it personally and he wants you to know that he means it in an innocent way.
Whether this has flirty undertones depends on the situation, his body language towards you and what he is saying.
Teasing takes place between friends, but in some contexts teasing is also one of those signs he is attracted to you.
4) He’s being sexually suggestive
One step up from flirty behavior is using winking to signal something a bit more sexually explicit.
There’s a naughtier implication with this type of wink. It will most likely be accompanied by a sexy comment that is quite overt.
Even if it has a jokey tone, in reality, he is testing the water to see how you will respond.
For example, he may say that he’s “looking forward to getting you know you more intimately” and follow it up with a wink.
The action of the wink reinforces the meaning of the sexually suggestive comment he has made to you so that you fully understand the subtext.
5) He’s greeting you
Some guys wink as a form of greeting.
This may be the case if he winks at you when saying hi or bye.
Although it doesn’t have a specific meaning of “hello”, winking can be a way of simply acknowledging and connecting with someone.
The same goes for when a guy winks at you when saying bye. It’s a way of saying with his body language, “take care” or “see ya later”.
6) He’s being friendly
If you’ve ever wondered whether you’ve read too much into a guy winking at you, then the truth is many men will wink as a way of being friendly.
Not only does winking mean different things to different people, but it also can mean different things in different countries and cultures.
For example, whilst in Asia it is considered vulgar to wink, in western culture it has taken on far more meanings in which the context is needed in order to decipher what is meant by it.
Being friendly is one of the reasons someone will wink. Even a stranger might wink at you and it means nothing other than they are trying to be kind and friendly towards you.
It may be as simple as the cashier giving you your change at the gas station and winking as they tell you to have a nice day.
7) He’s trying to reassure you
A wink can be a comforting sign to someone that we are on their side and have got their back.
If something has happened to upset you, a guy may send you a little wink to try and cheer you up and offer silent support.
Perhaps you have been stressing out and he wants to reassure you. He may even send a wink towards you across a crowded room as a signal to ask “are you ok?” and check in on you.
It’s a way of showing you that he is looking out for you and perhaps he is feeling protective towards you.
8) He wants to get your attention
Winks between two people, particularly whenever you are with a larger group are a way of silently signaling towards each other — like a private message.
In this way, winks can almost be a code that two people use so they don’t have to say anything which will be a giveaway to the company they are in.
For example, in Nigeria, a parent will often wink at a child when they have guests over to let the child know that they should leave the room.
A wink can be a way of getting your attention when he cannot use words for whatever reason.
Similarly, it can also be used as a little signal to you of an inside joke.
Maybe another friend is saying something, and he wink’s at you and raises an eyebrow that suggests you two know something different to what is being said.
9) He’s telling you to chill out
A wink can be a signal that he thinks you need to relax.
Perhaps he is trying to calm you down or diffuse a situation that he feels is getting a little heated.
Whether this is cute or annoying will most likely depend on the situation.
If you’ve had an argument and he wants to put a stop to it, this could be a reassuring and peace-making move.
On the other hand, if he is trying to be dismissive of what you are saying, it’s unlikely to be seen as quite so charming.
10) He’s implying he’s just going along with something
Imagine the scene, you’re having a conversation and you have a difference of opinion. You might be debating something, or having a more personal disagreement.
Finally, rather than keep it going any longer, he tells you that “you win” and follows it up with a little wink.
In this context, it says he may not agree with you and his wink is a sign of that, but he’s going to let it go anyway.
It’s an “ok, whatever you say” kind of wink.
11) He wants you to play along
Has the guy in question just told a total whopper of a lie?
His wink towards you is your cue to go along with what he is saying and back him up.
Whether it’s a fib or a prank he is playing on someone, it’s his way of letting you know that you should play along and not to give the game away.
Take this as your sign that you two are now in cahoots.
12) He’s trying to be mysterious
For some reason, he thinks that saying something a little bit cryptic (that maybe doesn’t even make sense to you) and following it with a wink is somehow mysterious.
He’s essentially trying to be cool and wants you to think of him as a little bit sauve and smooth.
Whether you do or not, that’s another matter.
Whilst it doesn’t automatically mean he is attracted to you, he does want you to think of him as charming.
He’s basically going for the James Bond international man of mystery vibe.
13) He’s being silly
Some guys are a little bit goofy and love to play around.
Winking might be part of his repertoire and he is simply playing up to this silliness.
He might wink at you several times during a conversation, probably in outrageous ways to try and make you laugh.
This wink is him playing the court jester, and he is doing it for your entertainment and to play a role.
14) He’s up to mischief
When accompanied by a sly little grin, a wink sent in your direction may be preparing you for mischief.
If a guy is acting obviously suspicious, he may be about to pull a prank or is up to no good — but in an innocent and playful way.
It’s the sneaky little signal that he’s just done something or is about to do something naughty.
15) He knows your game
A guy might wink at you when he thinks he is on to you or knows what you are up to.
It’s a playful way of saying to you “you’re not fooling me”, I know what is going on.
Perhaps your insistence that you will go to the gym later or that you won’t have a second glass of wine is being met with a little bit of healthy skepticism or disbelief.
His wink, maybe accompanied by an “ok” or “is that right?”. It is his way of letting you know he knows the real score.
16) He’s entering into a pact with you
A wink is a way that two people become complicit in something.
If he winks at you this could be his confirmation that he is entering a silent agreement that you can rely upon his discretion.
He wants you to know that he isn’t going to give you away. The wink tells you that whatever it is, he’ll keep quiet and won’t let on to anyone else.
This can also work both ways, and he may be letting you in on a secret. By following it up with a wink he is saying that what he told you is in confidence.
17) He’s being cheesy
Some guys who dabble in cheesy chat-up lines and over-the-top come on’s may use winking in their repertoire too.
In the right context, it can actually be cute because underneath their pretense, cheesy guys usually just don’t know how to interact.
They end up overcompensating for their insecurity and pile on the “charm” (or what they hope is charming) to excess.
If you are fond of this guy you will most likely find it endearing, if not a little bit eye rollingly corny.
18) He’s showing off
You can tell when a guy winks at you to show off because it is usually accompanied by other self-assured behavior.
This type of man enjoys being at the center of attention. He’s the typical jock type who probably is very into himself.
He feels cocky and his wink to you shows you that. It’s a sign of his masculinity. He’s silently telling you that “he’s the man”
If you’re on a date, a guy may pick up the tab and give you a little wink as he tells the waiter that he will pay.
He’s confidently taking charge and asserting himself in the hopes of impressing you.
19) To tell you “trust me I know what I’m doing”
Have you asked for his help with something? Or maybe he has volunteered his services to you. After all, a guy loves a damsel in distress as it’s all part of his hero instinct.
If he is coming to your rescue or solving a problem for you, you may find that alongside letting you know it’s no problem, he gives a wink.
This is his way of saying “it’s alright, I got this”.
It’s not necessarily arrogance, but it does display healthy confidence that shouts “trust me I know what I’m doing”.
This type of wink tells you that you don’t need to worry because everything is in hand.
20) He’s breaking the ice
Winking can be some guy’s way of breaking the ice, especially if there’s some tension or nerves in the air for whatever reason.
For example, you may be meeting for a first date and he wants to get rid of any discomfort so the conversation can flow freely.
Just like other conversation starters, the wink can serve as a bit of an ice breaker to take away any awkwardness.
21) He’s telling you the conversation is to be continued…
Have you ever been chatting away with a guy when you’ve gotten interrupted?
In this situation, as he brings the conversation to a close he may say something like “we’ll speak later” or “we’ll continue this later” followed by a wink.
He’s letting you know that you two aren’t finished and he wants to pick where you left off.
There is most likely some unfinished business between you and he wants to make it clear that he intends to go back to it at some point soon.
It’s also a confident way of letting you know that he expects he will see you again.
22) It’s a habit for him
Let’s face it, particularly when we are interested in someone and trying to figure out if they feel the same, we can be guilty of trying to read into every little thing.
But the truth is that whilst winking does indeed have many potential cultural meanings and interpretations, it doesn’t have to mean anything at all really.
You will meet some men who wink as a habit.
They don’t even particularly realize they are doing it, they do it to almost everyone and they probably couldn’t even tell you.
In this situation, it may just be a part of his mannerisms. It doesn’t always have to mean a lot.
How to respond when a guy winks at you
Read the context
Your response is going to heavily rely on the context.
Was it your crush who winked at you? Because you’re obviously going to feel differently depending on not only who is winking at you, but in the situation.
Hopefully the 22 cute things it means when a guy winks at you will have given you plenty of clues to work out whether his wink is innocent or means something more.
Read the guy
As well as the situation, it’s just as important to use your intuition and judgment to figure out the type of guy you are dealing with.
Knowing the type of man he is will help you to know the intentions behind his wink.
Decide what message you want to send him
Do you welcome any advances he is making? Are you into him too, or do you just see him as a friend? Does his wink come across as cute or sleazy?
How you feel will determine how you respond to a guy winking at you. How comfortable and confident you feel with the situation will also play a part.
What should you do if a guy you like winks at you?
- Smile at him — which shows that you are accepting the wink in a warm way but it’s still quite a low-key or coy gesture that doesn’t give too much away about how you feel.
- Wink back — which is a great way to plays along with his potentially flirty behavior and show it’s reciprocated.
- Flirt with him — Winking certainly isn’t everyone’s style. If it’s not yours but you want to make it clear you’re attracted to him, make sure you flirt in other ways.
- Laugh — if you think he could be joking or meant it in a friendly and silly way, then laughing along shows you have taken it well.
- Make eye contact — we clearly tell people a lot through our eyes, as this article on winking has proven, and holding someone’s gaze sends a strong message that you’re interested.
- Raise an eyebrow — this is an understated but flirtatiously playful way of going along with things.
- Nod at him to show you’ve understood and are ok — this one applies to the reassuring winks that a guy may give to check in on you and see if you are ok.
- Ignore it — you don’t have to do anything in response to his wink if you don’t want to or are still too unsure of his intentions. Just pretend like it didn’t happen and carry on with the conversation.
Can a relationship coach help you too?
If you want specific advice on your situation, it can be very helpful to speak to a relationship coach.
I know this from personal experience…
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