How to Read Male Flirting Signals

Man and woman smiling at each other

Sometimes, it might seem like women and men are on opposite sides of the universe. According to Dr. John O'Connor, a psychologist with over two decades of experience, human behaviorist expert, author of Id Speak, and a guy all his life, at times, they are. "Men and women have a different mindset," stated Dr. O'Connor. "Knowing a guy's mindset and watching his behavior is the way to know if he's interested in you."

Cracking the Code of Male Flirting

Understanding the way guys flirt in general can be challenging, Dr. O'Connor warned, since each guy is different because of his background and his life experiences. Moreover, the type of flirting signals men send out is situational. Certain behaviors one does at a nightclub would probably not go over well at work, especially with sexual harassment being such a big issue.

Flirting While Out

If you are at a nightclub or bar and you're wondering if a guy is interested in you, Dr. O'Connor suggests to keep in mind a guy's mindset in this situation. "Guys will go out and see if they can gain attention from women in general. If they get a response, like a smile or some other sort of signal from you, they might buy you a drink or walk over and start talking with you." According to Dr. O'Connor, there are several examples of male flirting behavior.

  • Clears his throat - A guy might clear his throat or make some other loud noise just to get women to look at him. From there, he will try and read the looks he gets from the women in the room to see if anyone casts an interested glance his way.
  • Talks loudly - Men in a group might be having a good time, but underlying a lot of this loud talk could be a tactic to get women to look their way. Then they gauge the reactions they get to see if anyone is interested.
  • Doing something odd - He'll either bend down and pull up his socks, smooth his hair back, shake out his jacket, hold his beer up in the air, anything that will make him stand out.
  • Being a defender of women - Some guys will often find the smallest opportunity to be the hero and defend a woman's honor to gain attention. Establishing himself as someone that will stand up for you will hopefully improve his status in your eyes.
  • Brags loudly - Some men will talk about their real or imagined attributes to gain attention from women, and at a volume where they are sure you will hear it. They might even flash money in their wallet, which is a nonverbal form of bragging.
  • Smiles, winks, or looks at you - In the book, Interpersonal Communication: Evolving Interpersonal Relationships, the degree of eye contact and smiling has to be considered in order for it to be a flirting signal. Some guys just smile to be polite, or he could be having a good time. If he's smiling at you, staring, and trying to make eye contact with you, the smile could be one in a set of behaviors that will show he's interested in you. These and other body language signals can help you determine if a man is interested in you.

After these initial attention-getters, he will walk over and attempt to contact you in less subtle ways, such as starting up a conversation, asking for your name, or ordering you a drink.

Couple laughing at each other

Flirting While at Work

Work might seem like a perfect opportunity to flirt because everyone develops an ongoing relationship and gets to know everyone on some level, however, that's not necessarily the case. Some companies even have policies that forbid employees to date each other. Men have to be more toned down at work. That doesn't mean that a woman won't pique his interest, Dr. O'Connor stated.

Workplace flirting signals might be more subtle and less obvious. "In this instance," Dr. O'Connor explained, "you have to look at what a guy does to express his interest. Sometimes flirting can occur, but it is usually not as overt because companies have gotten sued for encouraging an environment of sexual harassment." Signs of flirting at work include:

  • Makes an effort to speak with you at every opportunity, sometimes creating reasons for you and him to have a conversation
  • Follows your routine, such as appearing in the lunch room the same time you do every day
  • Asks you out to lunch
  • Hand delivers a message to you
  • Brings you coffee
  • Listens to you intently
  • Is on his best behavior (minds his manners)
  • An occasional touch, such as "accidentally" brushing your arm
Colleague bringing coffee

Flirting in a Familiar Group

This is where guys feel most comfortable flirting with women. If the group is a close-knit group of friends, guys will often flirt, Dr. O'Connor stated, because everyone is familiar with each other. This is where women and men's definition on flirting is most similar. A man who is flirting with you might:

  • Smile
  • Joke
  • Touch you
  • Talk and listen to you
  • Compliment you

Even if you are friends, the chances for romance are there based on these signals, even if the guy reciprocates with many women in the group. If he doesn't reciprocate with anyone else, and only behaves this way for you, then he is interested in just you.

Flirting Signals According to Personality

"A guy's personality will often influence the way they reach out to women," Dr. O'Connor explained. Some variations Dr. O'Connor described are:

Shy Men

A shy guy will often flirt when he has befriended a woman. He may display a variety of behaviors such as:

  • Listening attentively
  • Offering a massage or comfort
  • Looking into your eyes while you're talking (Eye contact flirting signs are really important.)
  • Bringing you your favorite coffee or make excuses to see you
  • Being a shoulder to lean on
  • Putting other guys down, especially one of your love interests

Dr. O'Connor, who has taught self-esteem classes and has helped a great deal of shy men in his practice, explains that, "Usually, shy guys have trouble in a nightclub and rarely leave with someone. They will avoid eye contact and they may not smile because they are too nervous. They will often befriend a woman in the hopes that the woman will eventually see that he is the one that is right for her. However, the shy guy will have a great deal of difficulty telling her his true feelings. They fair better in situations where some sort of relationship is established."

Funny Guys

Funny guys tend to be the life of the party, or are often considered 'the class clown' type person. They may flirt by:

  • Cracking jokes to see who laughs
  • Using humor to gage women's interest
  • Making advances, such as touching your leg (but then joking about it if it upsets you)
Laughing young couple


Some men will bypass flirtation and go straight for the sexual advances, which points to more troubling behaviors. Dr. O'Connor states very strongly that women should steer clear of these types of men. "Some men engage in troubling behaviors, such as touching body parts within moments of meeting you. These men regularly engage in this sort of behavior because they want to see who is going to submit to them right away, so they can dominate the woman in a relationship. It is not a healthy behavior, and it is not flirting."

Attention Is the Ultimate Male Flirting Signal

All in all, it might seem like knowing if a guy is flirting with you is hard to figure out. Dr. O'Connor's advice is to keep in mind that if a man is showing you attention, it's the ultimate signal he's interested. Then you can flirt back with him to show your interest and help you move to the next stage.

How to Read Male Flirting Signals