Over the summer my daughter and I were eating dinner at an outdoor cafe near our house. While we were partaking of StreetSide dining, we ran into an acquaintance-a cousin of my daughter’s cousin. The young woman is slightly older than my daughter and lives in the neighborhood adjacent to ours. I won’t go into whether or not this is a coincidence or whatever, because that’s a whole other rabbit hole.

So we see the young woman, A, and she is with a guy, B. We chatted and exchanged pleasantries, and then they went on their way.

I said something about not knowing that A had a boyfriend. My daughter responded that the guy was not her boyfriend. My daughter said she thought it was a platonic thing.

This was my daughter’s take:

  1. when A stepped close to chat with us, he stepped back
  2. B wasn’t introduced to us (wouldn’t it be awkward if his name was B and I’ve just actually named him?)
  3. His body language was closed off- arms crossed in front of him, vacant expression, and something I can’t quite remember about the stance of his feet
  4. He didn’t try to pet Betty, who was dining with us

My daughter said that everything he did reeked of friend, not boyfriend, and if indeed my daughter was wrong and he was her BF, then he was a lousy boyfriend, because he seemed totally disconnected to her, and if he was able to disengage was her while she was speaking to someone she knew, he really didn’t care about her.

So, though you haven’t actually seen the scene, what do you think of my daughter’s summation?

Does body language indicate how one feels about a situation or another person?

Do people give off “tells”?

If you were B in this situation, how would you have acted?

Have you ever looked at two people and tried to judge their relationship status?

Discuss anything you find interesting. And if you find nothing interesting, just say Hi…

50 thoughts on “Body Language

  1. I agree with daughter in that situation. Both A and B seemed to put off a vibe that: A didn’t think enough of him to even bother acknowledging him to either of you and, B was in his own awkward world trying to simply stay out of the way until they could leave. Body language is huge if you know how to read it. I think it’s a good idea to learn how and observe what you see. Lots of clues about a person by doing that. I however, even as a friend of a somewhat distant family member would at least have looked interested and of course I would have lavished love on Betty! He was either really rude or just extremely uncomfortable and socially awkward.

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    1. My daughters take is that this wasn’t a guy she would want to hang with…that something seemed off. But I thought it was an interesting avenue to take a stroll down

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  2. I agree with your daughter. But here’s the thing. My brain goes to a different place. IF he didn’t engage and stepped back it tells me he is being secretive. Or they are being secretive. It means he’s acting like he’s got a girlfriend and isn’t supposed to be hanging out with her or something else is up. I’ve been with male friends, and still introduced them. My youngest son is single and would have stepped up and shaken your hands because I taught both my kids from the time they were little to shake hands when greeting someone. My grandson does this too. It’s rude not to. It’s what you teach boys to do. My son taught his son to do that also. So, in my opinion, friend or foe, boyfriend or not, it’s appropriate. His behavior was rude. So my radar says something was amiss. And if she didn’t introduce him that’s odd. As the mother of two sons and a grandma to a middle school boy, proper etiquette for guys is to greet peers with a nod and Adults with a handshake. So to me “something was rotten in the state of Denmark… or NYC.

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    1. I agree with you. I always introduce someone I’m, I admit that was just off fir me. But this situation would make for a great start of a story….I mean…he could be married, or a spy, or just buried a body and doesn’t want to be recognized…

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      1. Yes, hopefully no bodies were buried. But it seems odd. Then again, it makes you wonder what’s up or who raised that young man? We teach our kids to acknowledge others and be polite. I suppose Sometimes that doesn’t work or sometimes it’s because they bury bodies…hmmm a pretty good scene from a good mystery…

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  3. From your description, my take was that B was shy, and anti-social, maybe an introvert. I don’t think it necessarily say platonic relationship – don’t you introduce your friend to your friends/family? Haven’t a friend you introduced to others ever hit it out with each other?
    Or, maybe he’s a pushy boyfriend who didn’t want her to stop and chat, and his reserved stance was his way to indicate he wasn’t thrilled with her.
    But…. maybe things are different at that age, your location and so on, so it’s totally possible that your daughter read the situation 100% right.

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    1. I like Jina’s many takes on how the situation could have been interpreted, which makes me wonder if your A would have been more likely to introduce B if B was “only” a friend and not a boyfriend? Would she have been more likely to avoid talking and just waving a hello if she wanted to avoid introducing him?

      Either way, I’m AWED by your daughter’s observational powers: I once read that less than 10% of communication is done through words alone. The tone of the voice, the facial expressions, the overall body language, squirming and sweating included, are the “other” 90%. Kudos to your daughter for capturing so much of it. Is her name Sherlock by any chance? 😁

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  4. Let’s give this guy the benefit of the doubt. If “A” (whether friend or girlfriend) didn’t take the initiative to introduce him to you–which is the polite thing to do–he may have felt awkward or uncomfortable. Perhaps he felt he’d be perceived as pushy or overbearing if he stepped in and introduced himself while his “friend” clearly didn’t intend to. Her motivation for not introducing him may have been poor social skills, being in a hurry, maintaining her privacy, or something else.

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  5. Or maybe A thought you knew B already. For example, I didn’t introduce my son’s girlfriend to relatives at my daughter’s bridal shower because I thought they already met because they have been dating for awhile. But with COVID they never got the chance to meet when I thought they did.

    Or maybe B is really shy. Maybe he doesn’t like dogs. Or maybe he is just a jerk. My daughter’s maid of honor is getting married soon to a guy that doesn’t acknowledge her friends. She invited a friend to their apartment and he refused to come out of the room to meet her. He also got mad a her because she didn’t want to leave the wedding at 9.

    It’s really hard to tell what the motive might be. Maybe she was unsure of the status of their relationship. Maybe it was a first date. Maybe he’s socially awkward. It’s hard to say…

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    1. I’ve never run into someone and not introduced the person I was with. If I didn’t, there would probably be an unsavory reason. And there’s no way we would have met this guy before. But I love the possibilities people have thought of

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      1. There are workarounds for that. Plus, we’ve known the woman for like 20 years and spent a lot of holidays with her and her family. Just saw them at my nephews bar mitzvah in May, they know our names

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  6. Interesting scenario. I’d love to hear the real relationship so we can see if all these guesses are right. I have found that my kids are much more in tune with body language and the actions/inactions of others so I would believe your daughter’s reasoning. It could also just be that A doesn’t know the social graces of introducing people. I will admit that I have forgotten to introduce my husband occasionally if we bump into someone unexpectedly, although him being who he is, he’ll introduce himself.

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  7. If I was in B’s shoes, I would have extended my hand and introduced myself. That A didn’t introduce him, means she was either not wanting to introduce him — or it was an oversight. But I trust your daughter’s judgment on the body language between the two of them.

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  8. I like how observant your daughter was and I would agree with her. IF he was a boyfriend and not only a friend I would be a ltitle concerned. For though I think she should have introduced him either way, why wouldn’t you introduce your boyfriend/girifriend to friends of yours? For that matter why not introduce your friend to them??
    So many possibilities but ti does make me wonder about him. is he controlling, and she knew that he wouldn’t want to be introduced for he probably didn’t even want her to say HI! Did he hang back and then give her the 20 questions after they left about who you and your daughter were?
    Oh how the mind can go down so many tracks!
    But yes, he should have at least said HI to Betty! 🙂

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  9. Hi! BTW. I was paying more attention to “tells” in a couple of recent settings, just because I think it was you, who mentioned the topic another time recently.

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  10. I think B was feeling awkward, partly since A didn’t introduce him. Or maybe he was not happy A had stopped to chat, because he had an agenda and she was spoiling it by stopping. Either way, it was rude of them both not to introduce him.

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  11. First I would ask my daughter if she has been able to determine relationships like this before. She may be empathic. I can tell a lot by people’s body language. As a nurse i somehow “knew” how to approach my patients. Is she sensitive to someone who is sad and tries to help them. Does she cry easily when seeing a sad movie or does she impulsively try to help people. There are videos on YouTube that may help her see if she is empathic how to help control some of the reactions we empaths to pain and sufering. But I consider being an empath a gift and a calling. I could be wrong but I could be right. She is very smart if she was right about the guy.

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    1. Oh my daughter is so not an empath. But she is a decent leader and I think has the ability to read a room. She also knows her age group better than I do

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  12. It sounds like most of the options have been covered in the comments already, so I’ll just say I love that your daughter used a combination of observation and gut to assess the potential scenario which unfolded.

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  13. I’ve never been a good “judge” about any of this and was just thinking this morning about how my idiot ex often seemed to know me better than I knew myself. Another example of my poor ability to judge is that I used to think of him as the best person I’d ever met. Another indication of the many red flags I missed in our relationship!

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