When a guy looks you up and down, it means these 10 things

Have you ever come across a guy who looked you up and down? I sure did, and it made me curious – and a little bit concerned.

As I am no mind reader (though life would be better if we are, right?), I did some research on why a guy looks you up and down.

Here are the 10 common reasons:

1) He finds you attractive

Congratulations beautiful, it looks like you caught the eye of another guy!

While it’s often the case, you shouldn’t assume this outright. It sucks to come up to a guy, just to learn that his up-and-down look was not due to attraction.

For one, there are 9 other reasons why he’s looking at you (they’re all listed below).

So if you want to be 100% sure (and save face along the way), then you need to observe for these body language cues that say he’s really into you:

  • His eyebrows rise and fall at first look. Be quick to catch this, as it can only last for a fifth of a second!
  • He maintains slightly raised eyebrows while you’re talking. Not only does it show openness, but it’s also a sign of attraction. He just can’t help but look at you!
  • He’s touching his face a lot. According to psychiatrist Dr. Nyaz Didehbani, it could be the guy’s calming mechanism – especially if he feels nervous around you.
  • His lips part often. This is considered a strong flirting signal, especially if he licks it while he’s looking at you.
  • He has flared nostrils and an ‘open’ face.
  • He stands directly in front of you – and leans forward most of the time.
  • He ‘unintentionally’ touches you a lot.
  • He either messes or smooths up his hair. Like touching his face, hair play is a way for a guy to soothe his anxiety – especially when he’s talking to a girl he likes.
  • He’s quick to help you out, i.e. lend you his sweater or coat so you won’t feel cold.

2) He’s attracted to you – but he’s shy (and nervous)

While most guys find it easy to talk to women they’re attracted to, some men don’t have nerves of steel.

So if a guy looks you up and down – he may do so because he’s shy or nervous.

According to social worker Chris MacLeod, shyness can easily make a guy anxious, inhibited, and deathly nervous.

This nervousness, however, is a normal part of the body’s stress response. It’s a way of handling an ‘imagined’ threat. In this case, it’s the possibility of you writing him off.

Sadly, this guy may also be suffering from social anxiety or social phobia. Guys (and girls) who have this condition find it severely uncomfortable to meet new people.

As there are many reasons why a guy looks you up and down, it pays to be sure.

One way is to pay attention to these body language cues that convey nervousness:

  • Frequent blinking. The anxiety of talking to a girl (among many other things) can make a guy’s eyes sensitive to light and strain. This would explain the repeated blinking whenever he talks to you.
  • Rubbing his face, eyes, nose, neck, arms, or upper legs (this is another type of anxiety-soothing mechanism)
  • Fidgeting, finger or feet tapping, leg jiggling, and foot-to-foot shifting. Doing any of these can help shift the focus away from the feelings of nervousness.

3) He’s flirting with you

Yes, a guy who looks you up and down may be attracted to you.

But for some guys, it’s also a way of flirting with you.

Some men think that looking you up and down is flattering. It’s his way of saying “I like you” without muttering any word.

If you’re unsure if he is flirting with you, then you need to be on the lookout for these other flirtatious signs:

  • He’s flat-out staring at you.

Apart from looking you up and down, he just can’t seem to take his gaze away from you. But can you blame him? You look fabulous!

  • He’s all smiles whenever you’re around.

It might be a boring party, but he’s all cheery when you’re near. His friends may even think he’s crazy for smiling so. damn. much.

  • He likes getting close to you.

He’ll try to get as near to you as possible. He doesn’t care if his friends are on the other side of the room!

  • He’s being a total show-off.

You didn’t ask him to flex his muscles, but he does. And if they’re worth showing, why the hell not?

  • He’s trying to be funny.

He runs jokes here and there – even if they’re not funny at all! (Kudos to guys who can actually make you ugly-laugh.)

  • He constantly gives you compliments.

He likes your hair, makeup, dress, shoes – basically the whole shebang.

  • He recalls everything you had told him.

You mentioned that you had a cat – and he casually drops her name mid-conversation.

  • He tries to help you.

Lost your phone? He’ll flip the sofa and look in every nook and cranny to find your phone. He’ll even ask your phone number to call it (which, by the way, is a pretty nice move).

4) He’s trying to decode your body language

Say that the guy is totally into you. But before he moves in for the kill, he may look you up and down one last time.

This, of course, is a way for him to read your body language.

So why is there a need for guys to do this?

For one, no one likes to be rejected. Just when you think you’re in the clear, you surprisingly get a hard ‘pass’.

Rejection, while heartbreaking for both genders, can be pretty rough for men.

According to Psychology Today, it’s because men take rejection as a ‘challenge to their masculinity’. For some, it’s an insult to their place in today’s social hierarchy.

So if a guy goes berserk when you deny him a date, this is probably one of the reasons why.

To prevent this rejection, a guy may instinctively look you up and down to read your body language.

Of course, he’ll make a move once he sees ‘positive’ body language cues – a.k.a signs that you may be into him as well.

Here are some of them:

  • You’re smiling a lot. Who wouldn’t be happy to see a gorgeous guy?
  • You’re blushing. This reddening may be a result of the praise and positive attention you’re getting from the guy.
  • Your body is pointed towards him (a sign of open body language).
  • You’re preening or unconsciously fixing yourself around him.
  • You’re looking or staring at him as well.

And even if you show him that you’re just as interested, he might not make a move just yet.

Here are some reasons why a guy may be hesitant to approach you even if you’re good to go:

  • You’re constantly on the phone – so you better put it down, at least for the meantime!
  • You’re never alone. Maybe it’s time to tell your girlfriends to disperse for just a minute.
  • There’s a lot of guys around you. No disrespect!
  • You’re hesitant to make eye contact. Eyes are the windows to the soul, so it’s time to exchange looks as well.

5) He adores your body

As the lyrics go, it’s all about sex baby.

Your physical asset may be the key reason why a guy looks you up and down. Yes, he’s just making googly eyes over your body – thinking he wouldn’t get caught.

Apart from doing a good sweep of your physique, here are some other signs that he’s only interested in your body:

  • His gaze lingers at your cleavage, legs, or the junk in your trunk
  • He licks his lips while he stares at you
  • He tries to touch your hand, waist, or shoulders
  • He asks probing questions about your sex life
  • He shuts down as soon as you deny him sex

If you’re up for a casual rendezvous, then, by all means, go ahead! But if you aren’t, then you need to break it to him gently. Here’s how to turn a guy down – without unnecessarily crushing his soul:

  • Don’t ghost him. Be honest – but don’t be unkind or tactless.
  • Tell him face-to-face.
  • Don’t give any false hopes, but do try to offer friendship (if he’s up to it).

6) He thinks you’re interesting (or peculiar)

A guy who looks you up and down may do so because he’s interested. It may be your hair color, your fashion style, or something else that tickles his fancy.

On the other hand, you might be doing something that he finds truly interesting.

You could be playing beer pong with such precision – thus making him thoroughly impressed. He may be looking at you in awe, wondering how a girl like you plays like a pro.

On the other hand, his up-and-down look might be about your fashion decision.

It could be him musing, “Wow, I never thought that a girl could look dazzling in red cowboy boots.”

On the other hand, he could be thinking, “Why on earth is she wearing red cowboy boots in this formal function?”

Should this be the case, he may do a frown or a smirk as he looks you up and down.

Since it’s impossible to know what he thinks without asking him, striking up a conversation is obviously the way to go.

If it’s your first time doing this, then here are some useful tips on how to break the ice:

  • Ask why he’s at the party. Do you know Jeremy, the host?
  • Make small talk about the ‘current’ environment. This is a cool party, isn’t it?
  • Ask for a recommendation. What’s the food to eat from this table?
  • Compliment him. That’s a nice shirt! Where’d you buy it?
  • Ask for a small favor. Can you reach that thing up for me?
  • Make a suggestion. Know what pairs well with that cheese? This wine!

7) He thinks he knows you

A report has mentioned that you – and basically every other person in the world – will meet 10,000 people in your lifetime.

Now that’s a lot.

So if a guy looks up and down at you, it might not be because of attraction or threat. It might be because he’s just refreshing his memory.

He thinks he knows you – he’s just not sure from where or when.

He just wants to be 100% positive, as he doesn’t want to make a fool of himself when he approaches you.

Visual cues – such as looking you up or down – is a great way to recall information. With 65% of people being visual learners, a good start maybe his way of jogging his memory.

And who knows? This seemingly uncomfortable stare might be good for both of you.

You might be ‘the one who got away’ – the girl he had a chance encounter within the subway or the coffee shop.

So before you dismiss his stare, take a good hard look at him as well. You may be searching for him too!

8) You’re the subject of the conversation

Like every other social person, somebody might have talked to you regarding a certain person. And as you converse, you may unexpectedly find yourself throwing a quick look at this individual.

The same can be said with a guy who looks you up and down. He might consciously (or unconsciously) do this because you’re the topic of the conversation. 

In most cases, you’re the subject because he’s actually interested in you.

As it has been established earlier, guys hate to be rejected. To improve his chances, he may end up talking to his friends – especially those who know you – about you.

He may ask about your name, work, interests, basically anything that could come in handy in a  conversation.

And as he does so, his tendency might be to look at you now and then.

And while being the subject of the conversation is usually positive, it can denote a negative thing too.

For one, you may be the topic because he disapproves of you.

Another reason is that he perceives you as a threat.

Either way, he’s looking at you to confirm these thoughts.

Let’s explore these ‘negative’ reasons below, shall we?

9) He thinks that you’re a threat

While this sounds scary, it’s a perfectly natural thing.

Humans, after all, have an instinct to scope up looming threats. As a Harvard Business Review article puts it, we Homo sapiens have the innate impulse to fight when threatened.

In other words, “You can take the person out of the Stone Age, not the Stone Age out of the person.”

Taking this tenet of Evolutionary Psychology into action, a guy who perceives you as a threat will try to look you up and down.

This, however, usually occurs once – right at the first instance he sees you.

Why a guy sees you as a threat will depend on the situation or location.

Take this example. You’re applying for a high-paying job. It all boils down to you and another guy.

He may look at you up and down to see if you’re a threat to this employment. It could be his way of intimidating you as well.

As for the love department, research suggests that men view intelligence as a dating ‘threat’.

According to the researchers, “men’s avoidance of more intelligent or ambitious women could be due to fear of rejection by these higher quality women.”

10) He disapproves of you

While most guys look girls up and down because of attraction or desire, some do so because of disapproval.

This disapproval can stem from a lot of things.

He might have heard a nasty rumor (however untrue) about you.

Then again, maybe he thinks that you’re not good enough for his brother or soccer teammate.

Maybe you’re doing something that he finds socially unacceptable – say, smoking. And instead of just scowling at you, he just gives you a deathly up-and-down look.

Psychologists call these hostile eyes – fast and fleeting looks that make a profound impact.

These piercing eyes can make you feel unpleasant – eventually stirring up feelings of stress or resentment.

Scientifically speaking, it can cause a surge of the hormones cortisol and adrenaline. Having these in your bloodstream can trigger a fight or flight response.

Will you let him just stare at you? Or will you try to go out of the way?

The sad part here is there’s nothing much you can do about these judgmental, hostile eyes.

What you should do, however, is to properly deal with these individuals.

In an article, Dr. Carol Morgan emphasized the virtue of not taking it personally. You can’t change the way he feels about you, but you don’t have to let it affect you negatively.

Dr. Morgan is also keen on saying this: don’t sink to his level. Instead of being defensive, you should be the “bigger” person. Just shrug it off and ignore his disapproving gaze.

As Coco Chanel once said,

“A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.”

Final words

There’s a lot of reasons why a guy looks you up and down. While most of them are positive – i.e. he finds you attractive or interesting – some ‘looks’ can mean otherwise.

If you want to know for sure, there’s certainly one thing you can do: and that’s to ask him outright!

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