The Art of Body Language

Body Movin'

How is it that a guy can land an F-14 on a heaving aircraft carrier in the middle of the ocean by watching some dude wave a couple of flags, but still manage to totally screw things up when a hot girl is sending off vibes a mere 10 feet away at a party or local bar?

They may not be wearing reflective vests and holding flashlights, but they're trying to get your attention all the same. In other words, they're sending signals! Sure, they're subtle, but at least they're trying.

Read on, and you'll understand how to decipher the subtle art of body language -- female body language.

The Drifter One minute, the girl you've been staring at is clustered in with her friends, then all of a sudden she steps away from them to order a drink or feed the jukebox quarters -- all by herself. That's probably no coincidence, especially since no woman on earth can even use a restroom unless another female accompanies her.

"What she might be trying to do is set herself up in neutral territory for you to enter," Phyllis Mindell, Ph.D., and author of A Women's Guide to the Language of Success, says. Women are very understanding in these situations, and they understand that talking to a group of her friends is far more intimidating as opposed to a one-on-one encounter.

You better work fast though -- once she's on her own away from her friends, there'll be about a dozen other guys offering to buy her a drink.

About Face Does she keep swiveling on her barstool only ending up to face your direction? That's because she's interested -- otherwise you'd be staring at the back of her head for the night. When she directs her body toward you, she's inviting you into her world -- or her subconscious, anyway. Her body movement doesn't have to be overt either -- a small step, a reaching hand, a bend in your general direction -- whatever. All are signs that you at least have her attention.

Go Ape OK, admittedly, this one's kind of creepy, but hey, you're both in a bar, and everything goes. With that said, try delousing your sweetheart.

"Doing something primal like picking lint off her sweater signifies intimacy," Dr. Mindell says. Self-grooming also distracts her from how nervous she is that you're looking at her, and buys you both some time to decide what to do next.

The High-Pro Glow Most animals use their feathers or fur to attract attention. Because we're the only primates whose head hair continues to grow, many anthropologists -- mostly male ones -- think a woman's mane signals health and status.

"By keeping her hair clean, shiny and full, she's telling you she's a good reproductive bet," anthropologist David Givens, Ph.D., says. When she tosses and twirls her hair with her fingers, she's telling you she's a playful little minx. It's dumb, but it works, and guys fall for it every time -- plus it's cute.

The Neck The neck, as we should all know by now, is a highly erogenous zone. When she moves her hair to expose it, she could be giving you a subtle sign. Bonus: She's also exposing her ear, a widely recognized sexual hors d' oeuvre!

Feet Don't Fail Me Now The foot can be enormously sensual -- that is unless you're trying to chat up the captain of the girl's weightlifting team. Still, exposing them in a public place by letting a pump or heel dangle in that provocative way can be a sexual sign. She's not wasting any time -- she's starting to get undressed already, subconsciously that is.

Lucky Lips According to Dr. Givens, girls may lick their lips as an unconscious way of reminding you of another, umm, pair of lips.

Seriously though, in an informal poll taken the night before this article was written, three out of four girls admitted that when they casually lick their lips during a conversation with a guy they've taken a liking to at their local bar, it's not because they're battling a nasty case of chapped lips.

As Lisa Sexton from Orange County, Calif., said during last night's research experiment: "The mouth is an orifice. It's wet and you put things in it -- what more of a hint does a guy need?"

Of course, she was on her third Manhattan when she said that.