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How To Understand What It Means When a Woman Touches Your Shoulder - Dating Experts Explain


Understanding what it means when a woman touches your shoulder can be a tricky process. Judging women’s flirtatious moves is like walking on eggshells. She will touch and hit you, and she may give signs that scream out “I’m yours, come get me” at you.

And because you like her, you respond and ask her out, go for the kiss, or worse thinking she will be into it... But she isn't, and now you’re left thinking “I’m sorry if I made you think this way” to “WTF did I just do?”

Sad, heartbroken, and possibly fired or fined for sexual harassment… Oops.

On the opposite side, women also hate it when the guy doesn’t respond or understand their sexual hints. Women rarely initiate or ask a guy out for many social reasons. So they will often rely on your intuition to respond to their attempts, and they will resent you if you don’t respond well.

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So you must be very good at reading their cues in order to:

  • Respond well to the women who like you
  • Avoid misreading the women who don’t

And since arms and shoulders are hotspots for women to touch, I decided to make this post on different ways women touch men’s shoulders, and how to respond to each one…

What it means when a woman touches your shoulder

Men often misinterpret it when a woman touches their shoulder. It can mean a lot of things like:

  • You feel bad and she's comforting you
  • She hits you like a brother (women with brothers or many male friends often do this)
  • She wants to ask you a question
  • You have some dirt, hair or fluff on your shoulder and she wants to remove it
  • It’s cold and she wants to feel warm
  • She wants you to help her feel secure
  • It's just something she does with everybody
  • She really likes you and wants you to kiss her

You can easily tell which is which as you get better with women. We're going to go through several of the most common touches below from what it means when a girl hits you on the shoulder to what it means when a woman puts her arm around your shoulder. There are a lot of possibilities and we'll help you make sense of them.

Is a woman flirting if she touches your shoulder?

Yes, or no, but it’s a step forward.

It's good if a woman touches your shoulder or when she touches your arm. It means she can step into your personal space without fear and also means she feels safe being around you.

However, calibration is everything when you judge her touches. You have to put everything in context before deciding whether she’s flirting, being friendly or just playing for some male attention.

You should ask these questions before judging her intentions:

  • Are you together or in a group? On a date or at work?
  • Is there a legit reason for her behavior (like crossing the road)?
  • Is she trying to make someone else jealous?
  • Does her face say I like you? (Wide eyes, raised eyebrows, biting her lip, etc.)
  • How was your conversation before she touched you (Was she playful? Flirty? Friendly?)
  • Have you slept together before?

Woman hitting a man on the shoulder flirtatiously

What it means when a girl hits you on the shoulder

Women are good at hiding resentment. If they really hate you they will try to shove you away or even hurt you, not hit you on the shoulder playfully. So, it's a good bonding sign if she hits you on the shoulder while you're bantering.

I enjoy teasing women, and they normally respond by hitting me. However, to differentiate between the friendly hit and the flirting one, I often do the following:

  1. Stare at her eyes for a second or two, (see if she blushes or not), then
  2. Say something like “What did you just do?”, "hands off the merchandise" or "Are you trying to seduce me with that?"

If she likes you sexually, she will roll with it, and if she doesn’t, she will tell say something dismissive like “Come on, don’t be such a baby.”

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Signs she’s touching your shoulder to flirt with you

  • If when you grab her hitting hand she leans forward or looks you in the eye
  • If you accuse her of coming onto you, she might deny it with a playful look on her face
  • Her voice softens if you accuse her of coming on you
  • She hesitantly laughs (and or avoids making eye contact) when you accuse her of coming onto you

Signs she’s just being friends

  • She does this with everybody
  • If you try to escalate on her (e.g. move your face closer to hers, pull her closer, etc.) and she moves away or asks you to stop

woman leaning on shoulder

What it means when a woman leans on your shoulder

When a woman leans on your shoulder, it often excludes her from the “just being friends” zone and pulls her towards the “seducing” zone. However, as I said earlier, everything should be put in context.

Signs she’s flirting with you

  • She wants to tell you something personal
  • She wants to say something dirty
  • The girl wants to compliment your perfume or smell you (that’s when she’s deciding on whether to sleep with you or not)
  • She’s testing your physical strength (some women do this to decide if a man is worth a shot in bed or not)

Signs she’s just being friendly

  • She’s just gossiping and doesn’t want anyone to listen
  • She almost fell off and wanted to keep her balance
  • You’re way taller than her so she needs to lean forward to talk to you
  • She does that with everybody

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What it means when a girl taps your shoulder

A tap on the shoulder means so many things – and it's usually not sexual. So you must look for other sexual behaviors before judging her intentions.

Signs she’s touching your shoulder to flirt with you

  • She does it frequently and unnecessarily
  • She doesn’t pull her hand away immediately (she keeps it there for a while)
  • Shoulder tapping becomes shoulder-rubbing
  • She leans in closer when she tells you something

Signs she’s just being friendly

  • She asks an important question and sounds really interested in the answer and not in you
  • You look, so tapping your shoulder is the only way to get your attention
  • She quickly disconnects and moves her hand right away
  • She leans back

What it means when a girl not only touches your shoulder but bites it too

Ok, let’s be real. No stranger will ever bite you on the shoulder. Biting is usually a sign of sexual intimacy. If she bites you then she can be intimate enough to cuddle with you.

Signs she’s flirting with you

  • You’re together and no one is watching
  • She’s not sure how to respond when you say something flirty
  • You two are on a date. You have established some comfort and fun, and things are getting intimate
  • She doesn’t look like someone who does this for attention

Signs she’s just being friendly

  • She’s doing it to make someone else jealous (e.g. another girl who likes you or a guy she likes and wants his attention)
  • She’s just trying to be cute, and you’re the most convenient prop
  • It’s something she does to everyone
  • A snake just bit you and she’s extracting the poison

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What it means when a woman puts her arm around your shoulders

Attraction level: Above average.

Touching your shoulder and putting her arm around it is a very common behavior, especially in non-conservative cultures. But there are some reasons women do this even if they're not into you.

Signs she’s flirting with you

  • She’s the one initiating the move, not you
  • She pulls you closer in a non-aggressive way
  • The girl looks you in the eye (and probably stares, licks her lips or waits for a kiss)
  • She touches your neck (or moves down to your chest)
  • She keeps her arm around you for a while
  • She responds to your touch

Signs she’s just being friendly

  • Her arms remain dead around your shoulder
  • She aggressively pulls you closer (it may feel like a buddy hugging you and not a girl)
  • You’re taking a group photo
  • Something scary just happened and she freaked out
  • It’s raining and you’re sharing the same umbrella
  • She’s comforting you after you said something sad

What it means when a woman puts her arm around your arms

If I like a woman then I will try to kiss her on the first date to quickly find out if she likes me. One of these moments was with this beautiful Latina whom I met in Rome. She was super hot, and we kissed for half an hour on the street…

But the truth is, I was still reluctant to kiss her until she did something.

We were walking, so I gave her my arm and she held tightly onto it as if she's asking me not to leave. So when it started raining, I looked her in the eyes and asked if she’d ever kissed someone in the rain, and she said no. So I leaned forward and kissed her.

What am I trying to tell you (besides me being a good kisser) is that it's perfect to have the girl’s arms around you. However, you must read the situation first before making any move. Just like you should when you want to grab a girl's ass.

Signs she’s flirting with you

  • She’s the one initiating the move, not you
  • She touches your shoulder and runs her hands along the length of your arm
  • If you give her your arm, she will respond without much talking
  • She holds you tightly and pulls you towards her
  • She may lean/rest her head on your upper arm
  • Even after you’ve crossed the road or when the rain stops, she still holds onto you

Signs she’s just being friendly

  • You’re just crossing the road
  • She pulls away right after
  • She’s just cold
  • It’s nighttime and you’re in a sketchy area, so she holds onto you
  • You share the same umbrella

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Bonus: she touches your shoulder along with other body language signs

The only way to tell if she really likes you or not is by stacking up as many love signs as possible. Even if she touches your shoulder, you have to combine this with other signs to ensure that she's at least somewhat attracted to you.

Whatever she gives to you, don’t base your opinion on just one sign or two. Search for consistency and a variety of hints. A tap on the shoulder can be okay, but a mix of four or five behaviors will definitely tell if she’s into you.

Here are some of the “I-like-you” body language cues you should look for:

1. Pupil dilation (shiny eyes / raised eyebrows)

Do her eyes widen the first time she sees you? If yes, then that's a good thing.

When we see something or someone we like, our eyes widen automatically. It’s as if your mind is saying “I want to see more of that.” It's not easy for the untrained eye to catch this cue, but if you did, then it can mean you're doing the right thing.

2. She touches your shoulder while gazing into your eyes

Studies show that staring into someone’s eyes for one or two minutes builds intimacy and affection. She may not do it bluntly, but if a girl likes you, she may find herself starring at you longer than she should or a second longer than she normally looks at the rest of the group.

3. She says something funny then looks at you (in a group)

Another good sign is when she says something funny to the group and immediately looks at you. She wants to make sure you think she's funny too.

4. Her body faces you as she speaks

Is her body facing you as she speaks in a group? Does one of her feet point towards the door? If she likes you, she will give you her full attention. She might even touch your shoulder to make sure you're facing her direction too.

5. Twirling her hair

She plays with her hair, neck, or jewelry to show you extra skin... Her subconscious wants you.

6. Unnecessary touches

She repetitively touches you without any reason. Even if she's just sitting beside you, she'll move her arms so they rub against you or she'll shift her legs to brush against yours. Keep in mind that this only applies if she has enough space around her and yet she gravitates towards you.


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