Dating would be so much easier if you could tell whether someone was interested in you romantically right off the bat. Just think of how much time and energy you'd be saving on someone who sees you as "just a friend." Luckily, a new study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior has found there's one way to tell if someone's actually interested in dating you or just being friendly. It's all in the eyes.
"Eye contact is probably the most intimate action someone can participate in without physically touching another human being," Paige Berger, dating expert, tells Bustle. Out of all the signs that point to whether someone likes you or not, a person's body lanuage and non-verbal cues can be very telling. For instance, it's been found that if a person's feet are pointed towards you, that can signal attraction or at the very least, some kind of interest.
For this particular study, researchers from the University of Kansas and Wellesley College were interested in seeing how someone's eye movements could possibly give them away. They conducted a study of 105 heterosexual undergraduate students. Each participant was told to view photographs of men and women and identify if they viewed them as a "potential mate" or a "potential friend." At the same time, researchers tracked the participants' eye movements using an eye-tracking software.
Here's what the study found:
If Someone's Interested In Friendship, They'll Focus Their First Gaze Lower
Participants who identified people as more friendship-material spent the first moments gazing at the person's feet and legs. "If you're only interested in friendship, you don't want to make eye contact and give the wrong impression, so the natural reaction is to look away, causing your eyes to drift further from the person's face," Berger says.
If Someone's Attracted To You, They'll Look Longer
This one shouldn't come as too much of a surprise. But people who were romantically attracted to the person in the photo gazed at their head and chest areas much longer than those who just saw them as friend potential. Men were also more likely to focus on the chest area, followed by the waist.
If Someone's Interested In A Relationship With You, They'll Focus On Your Chest And Legs
Researchers even tried seeing if they could predict if someone would say they were interested in a relationship based on what they already knew through their eye-tracking experiment. Although it wasn't perfect, they did find some commonalities. For instance, women who focused on men's hip-to-waist ratios were more likely to report romantic interest in a person than women who focused more on a man's head. Overall, people who focused on the chest and leg areas were also found to show more interest.
"At the end of the day regardless of someones characteristics and fun personality there is the underlying primal pull of attraction to procreate," dating and relationship coach, Carla Romo tells Bustle. "Even if you are not intending to start a family or have a child we naturally look at different areas on someone for relationship versus friendship."
According to Romo, looking at a person's hip to wasite ratio and chest is intimate. "If someone is interested in a woman, they may subconsciously look at the hips for perspective of bearing a child and the chest for breast," she says. "If someone is interested in a man one might look at his chest to see how broad his shoulders are for strength."
But if you're just looking for friendship then legs and feet are pretty obvious since there isn't much sexual reproductive action going on. "Ultimately, when we want someone romantically, we subconsciously look at the areas that will provide us with information that this potential mate would be someone ideal to procreate with," Romo says.
It might be a bit of a challenge to observe your person of interest's eye movements. But luckily there are so many other body language cues you can look out for, too.