Have you ever had a time where you’ve felt a spark with someone you’re talking to? Maybe it’s a blind date or someone you’ve met at a bar, but it feels like there’s a connection. Or maybe it’s something you’ve read about in a romance novel, and you’re curious about in-person sexual tension.
Sexual tension is a pretty interesting thing that we can experience when we connect with someone. It’s usually when we feel sexual attraction or chemistry with someone, but don’t have sex—either right away or ever. Our brains can often judge how we feel about someone quickly, and a lot of times, our bodies respond to the signals our brains send out.
Now, as with all aspects of sex and sexual attraction, it’s important to be aware that some signs of sexual tension can be misread. What you might think of as awkward but fun flirting might be someone else’s “I’m feeling uncomfortable”. So, go slowly with these things and be careful about reading the signs.
Here are 8 signs you might experiencing sexual tension.
The first—and very obvious—sign of sexual tension is attraction. We can feel a connection with a new person that isn’t sexual at all, so a big difference between this friendly connection and a more romantic one is the attraction part. So, your first question to tell if what you’re feeling is sexual tension is to ask yourself: am I attracted to this person? Do you find yourself checking them out? Remember: our brains know these things sometimes before we realize it. Take a moment to think about what you think about this person. It’s a good way to get in touch with your own thoughts and feelings before you go further. You might not be able to tell if you’re person feels the same, but maybe with some of these other signs, you can get a better idea.
This isn’t always present, but sometimes if we’re attracted to someone and still figuring out our own thoughts and feelings about them, we might feel awkward. Sometimes, we’re too busy thinking about what the right thing to say is—or just keep quiet to make sure we don’t say the wrong thing. This can lead to a bit of awkwardness until we’re a little more sure of ourselves and the other person. But it’s important to remember that awkwardness can also be a sign of other things, such as shyness. So, while awkward conversations can be a sign of sexual tension, it shouldn’t be the only way you judge it.
On the complete opposite side of awkwardness, you might both feel an intense and instant connection to one another. You’ve probably heard people describe the feeling of “having known this person for a long time despite having just met.” You might feel that same sense of connection as you talk to this person. This chemistry, the way you two just seem to click, could indicate a level of attraction or sexual tension.
Jittery Stomach or Speedy Heart
We usually tell kids that butterflies in the stomach means we like someone. That’s not far off. Does your stomach jump when you see each other? What about your heart? Does it start racing and you become a little worried that they might hear how fast it’s beating? These may be signs that you yourself are experiencing some sexual tension with your person.
Touch that Excites Both of You
Are you both feeling a little touchy? No, I don’t mean you’re feeling grumpy, but are you both finding little ways to touch each other? This could be the brush of a hand, or a light touch on the arm, or even leaning closer to one another when talking. If you’re hugging, you might notice that you both hang on a little longer than you would with others. When we find someone attractive, we want to get closer to them, and one of the ways we do that is through touch. But the touches are usually ones that affect both of you; you’re both feeling some level of excitement from the touch. So, if you’re finding that both of you are touching each other slightly more, that may be a sign you’re both experiencing sexual tension.
You Enjoy One Another’s Company
Do you both find you can’t get enough of one another? You can talk for hours and hours, and still not be tired of each other? Maybe you realize you feel immediately comfortable with each other, or you both feel secure in each other’s company. And you might even be a little worried that when you both separate for the evening, you’ll miss the conversation or feel like you even missed an opportunity. Sure, some of these signs can also mean you’re experiencing a friendly connection, but when you combine it with the attraction part, it’s usually a good indicator that sexual tension is occurring.
Your Conversations are Very Flirty
While you’re enjoying your endless conversations, you might also be finding your talk is a little flirtatious. Are some dirty jokes coming up? Does complimenting each other come naturally, and are you finding you’re both bouncing off each other in the same playful way? If so, this may be a good sign you’re both feeling sexual tension. But if you’re finding you’re a bit alone on the flirts, don’t be too pushy; there’s nothing that will kill sexual tension quicker than trying to force the connection.
You Continue Thinking About Them After You’ve Separated
A big sign that you’re feeling sexual tension is that they’re still on your mind even after you’ve been separated for a bit. Are you constantly thinking about your conversations, or how good they looked in their outfit, or trying to figure out what your next conversation will be? Or maybe you’re thinking about when you’ll next see them? If they’re constantly on your mind no matter how much time you’ve spent with them, you might be experiencing some attraction on your end. If you find out the other person is feeling the same, that’s probably a good indication you’re both feeling sexual tension.
Navigating the world of dating and sex can sometimes be a challenging thing. What we think is a sign of attraction can be someone’s shyness or even uncomfortable. It’s important to remember that even using these signs, it needs to be felt on both ends. And while we can’t always tell what someone else is feeling, it’s good to understand our own feelings about someone else.
Sexual tension can be a fun and exciting start to something more meaningful, but only if we’re sure both people are feeling that same pull.
- Campbell, K., Nelson, J., Parker, M. L., & Johnston, S. (2018). Interpersonal chemistry in friendships and romantic relationships. Interpersona: An International Journal on Personal Relationships, 12(1), 34. https://doi.org/10.5964/ijpr.v12i1.289
- DiDonato, T.E. (2021). Is it Love or Sexual Attraction? Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/meet-catch-and-keep/202102/is-it-love-or-sexual-attraction
- McDow, C. (2021). What Is Sexual Tension? Very Well Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-sexual-tension-and-is-it-healthy-5191220
- Santos-Longhurst, A., & Brito, J. (2019). Do We Have Sexual Tension, or Is It Just Me? 22 Signs to Watch For. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/healthy-sex/sexual-tension
- University of Kansas. (2015, February 12). Research defines more behaviors that reveal romantic attraction. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 12, 2022 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/02/150212154627.htm