The NonVerbal Dictionary of Gestures, Signs & Body Language Cues

Love Signal

"The reason of the unreason that afflicts my reason, in such a manner weakens my reason that I with reason lament me of your comeliness."--Miguel de Cervantes (Don Quixote; 1605:26)

Courtship1. A nonverbal sign exchanged in the process of courtshipflirtation, and seduction2. A nonverbal message designed to attract sexual partners. 3. In modified form (i.e., presented less seductively), a sign to help establish rapport.

Usage I: A great deal of our nonverbal communication bespeaks sexuality. Despite speech, courtship is best transacted in an unspoken medium, e.g., through lip-poutshead-tilts, and shoulder-shrugs. (Saying "I love you," before showing love in gesture and deed, is apt to scare a partner away.)

Usage II: Loving feelings are powerful, yet intangible emotions housed in the mammalian brain. Love signals themselves, however--from a shy head-toss to a subtle display of toe cleavage--are tangible cues which can be seen and identified. Love is an intangible, but courtship runs on physical mood signs.

Usage III: Love signals are messages about physical proximity and psychological closeness. We trade gestures to tell each other (apart from words) to come nearer and nearer until we touch (see TOUCH CUE). Facial nuzzleskissing with the lips, and caressing smooth, hairless terrains of skin with the fingertips (used as tactile antennae; see FINGERTIP CUE), are necessary if men and women are to achieve sexual intercourse.

Blindness. "'You're just like most guys, but you look for different things,' Erik [Weihenmayer, 33, the first blind climber to scale Mount Everest] says. 'Smooth skin, nice body, muscles--that stuff becomes more important.' And the voice becomes paramount. 'My wife has the most beautiful voice in the world,' Erik says" (Greenfeld 2001:60).

Courtship. In all cultures human beings attain the closeness of sexual intimacy through courtship, a slow negotiation based on nonverbal cues. All vertebrates from reptiles to primates reproduce through mating, i.e., via internal fertilization of the female's body. Through its five phases(see LOVE SIGNALS IIIIIIIV & V), courtship is the means by which individuals close the gap and become loving pairs.

Media. Social psychologist Timothy Perper and anthropologist David Givens ". . . spent months in dimly lit lounges documenting these flirtation rituals. Like the ear wiggles, nose flicks and back arches that signal 'come hither' in rodents, the women smiled, gazed, swayed, giggled, licked their lips, and aided and abetted by the wearing of high heels, they swayed their backs, forcing their buttocks to tilt out and up and their chests to thrust forward." --Psychology Today (Rodgers 1999)

E-Commentary: "Dear Dr. Givens--I read your book on love signals when it was first published and I still love it. The concept of reptilian. mammalian, and human brain has fascinated me all these years. This may sound funny but, in 1983 I was a fresh college graduate and an unconfident, socially awkward geek with zero courting skills. By using your book as a reference guide I SCORED! In fact, I found my wife (who I have been with for 16 years) by monitoring her 'love signals.' Thank you." --Wes (5/8/01 11:13:43 AM Pacific Daylight Time)

RESEARCH REPORTS1. "Flirtation, courtship, and seduction are labels for an exaggeratedly affiliative and submissive-like social orientation [signaled chiefly by covert nonlinguistic cues] that may, in many instances, culminate in sexual intercourse" (Givens 1978:357). 2."Two of the most detailed analyses of the courtship process come from Givens (1978) and Scheflen (1965, 1974). Givens's conclusions come from an examination of commonalities between humans and other species in the basic courtship sequence and signals" (Burgoon et al. 1989:325).