The other week, I made a list for Body Language associated with Flirting and had a huge response to the topic. Flirting is often a big component to teen fiction as well as any novel with a romance vibe.
Because Flirting is all about reading the signs, I thought it might be useful to also look at the Body Language used to show flirting disinterest. After all, not every character ends up with the girl or guy, and some are too clueless to understand their flirting attempts are a total turn off. As writers, sometimes our goal is to show the reader something that the characters themselves are unaware of, and this is where body language signals are so important. For sake of clarity, I’ll give examples where the male is the flirting initiator. 🙂
Sorry, I’m Just Not That Into You
A lack of eye contact If the girl is more into studying the contents of her purse, checking for texts or fiddling with her drink straw than him, this is your male character’s cue that as far as romantic matching goes, he isn’t on her radar.
Excuses If an excuse is used to get out of the conversation that does not involve a time constraint (bell for class rings, a work shift, etc), seems rushed or paper thin, move on. When under pressure, people often grab onto the first idea that will get them out of the situation. If her exit excuse sounds phony or nebulous, it probably is.
Closed body posture Crossed arms, rigid muscles, taking a step back or leaning away or to the side, holding a purse or jacket as a barrier between you…these are all ways she’s announcing a lack of interest.
Stiff reactions to humor If a weak smile or faked laugh is all his attempts at being funny elicit, it’s probably time to move on to a warmer reception elsewhere. If her reaction is veiled sarcasm or derision, then he should definitely take the billboard hint and get out of there.
Attention is elsewhere If your guy is trying out his moves and she’s scanning the room, checking out other things going on, looking for friends and only making a passing attempt at interacting, it’s like a clue gun to the head: NOT INTERESTED.
The Infamous BUT If she pays you a compliment and then tags a but onto it, that my friend is the kiss of death. You’re a nice guy, but… I like you, but… You’re a lot of fun, but… These are all examples of how maybe you were witty and fun, but she didn’t feel the chemistry.
Want your character to avoid instant rejection? Avoid these Flirting Don’ts:
—Don’t stare. A gaze should linger, but staring can be creepy and makes people uncomfortable.
—Don’t undress her with his eyes or have him make lurid comments unless she does first. Hot flirting at the right time is good, but making her feel like a side of beef isn’t. Never exceed the other person’s intensity.
–Don’t ignore personal space. No one wants their space invaded. Watch for signs she wants him to move closer–leaning in, moving herself closer, etc. If he moves too close, too fast, it will make her uneasy.
–Don’t talk too much or make it all about him. Nerves often make people feel more talkative. But if he monopolizes the conversation or doesn’t allow her time to respond or add her own thoughts, she’ll lose interest fast. Ditto if his idea of attracting her is to air all his excellent qualities, interests, abilities, etc. No one finds ego attractive.
–Don’t act insecure. He might be scared to death, but he can’t show it. If he walks up to her with failure on his mind, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.
–Don’t be over-touchy, especially on first encounters. Even if she’s sending signals she’s like to be touched or even touches him first, show some restraint. If he turns into an octopus, her good judgement ‘warning system’ will kick in and he’ll end up wallowing alone in #flirtingfail
Do you have any ones to add? How do you show the ‘not into you’ vibe without resorting to telling?
Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers, a portal to powerful, innovative tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.