If a guy recently patted you on the shoulder then you’re probably wondering why he did it.

This post will help you figure out why he did it and it will help you to understand why other guys might do it in the future.

So, what does it mean when a guy pats you on the shoulder? It could be a sign that he likes you if he only pats your shoulder and not other peoples as well. He might also be trying to emphasize what he is saying, trying to reassure you, being dominant or he might do it naturally with everyone.

Since there are a number of reasons why a guy will pat you on the shoulder it is important to consider the context of how he did it and the body language that he showed.

By doing that you’ll be able to get a better understanding of why he patted your shoulder

Reasons why a guy will pat you on the shoulder

Each of the different reasons why a guy will pat you on the shoulder will likely come with a number of clues in his body language.

Below, I will mention a number of reasons why a guy will pat you on the shoulder and the body language signals that you should expect to see with them.

He likes you

If he only pats your shoulder and he changes his body language in a positive way when you are around then it would be likely that he did it due to being attracted to you.

Guys will often come up with excuses to touch a girl that they like so if he did it when he seemingly made up an excuse to pat your shoulder then it would be more likely that he does like you.

If he does like you then it would be likely that he would show other signs of it in his body language and behavior when he is around you.

These signs can include:

  • Having more dilated pupils than usual when he’s with you
  • Pointing his feet at you
  • Sitting up straight as soon as he notices you
  • Adjusting his clothing as soon as he notices you
  • Holding prolonged eye contact with you
  • Staring at you then quickly looking away when you notice
  • Looking to see if you’re also laughing when he is
  • Mirroring your body language
  • Standing close to you when talking to you
  • Asking your friends about you
  • Sticking around when you’re with other men and getting agitated when you are
  • Getting defensive when other men are around
  • Uncrossing his arms and legs when he sees you
  • Blinking more frequently than usual
  • Standing and sitting with his feet apart

He’s trying to emphasize what he’s saying

If he patted your shoulder when he was telling you something dramatic then he might have done it in order to emphasize what he was saying.

If that is why he did it then it would be likely that he would have been telling you about something that was emotional for him and he would have done it when he told you the key part.

He also likely would have rushed over to tell it to you, had wide-open eyes, he might have been keeping his mouth open, leaning into you and he might have been talking faster and at a higher pitch than normal.

He’s trying to reassure you

He might have patted you on the shoulder in order to make you feel better.

If that is why he did it then it would be likely that you would have been talking to him about something that made you feel sad in some way. You might also have been showing signs of sadness such as watery eyes, taking deeper breaths, talking faster and at a higher pitch and inhaling through the nose quickly.

He’s being dominant

If he did it firmly, it was in front of other people and he did it while telling you to do something then it could have been that he was being dominant.

This is because men and women will often touch the people around them when they are being dominant.

If he did pat your shoulder for that reason then it would be likely that he would show other signs of dominating behavior which can include:

  • Touching the people around him
  • Putting his hands and feet on things that don’t belong to him
  • Talking over other people
  • Interrupting people that are talking
  • Staring at people while talking to them
  • Having tight lips while other people are talking
  • Squinting when looking at other people
  • Standing with a stance that makes his body appear larger
  • Taking up lots of space in the way that he sits

He wants to be more than just friends

If he is your friend then the reason that he patted your shoulder could be that he wants to be more than just friends.

If that is why he did it then he probably would have been showing other signs of attraction in his body language when around you and you might not have noticed them.

He would be particularly likely to get agitated when you’re talking to other men, get defensive when other men are around and to make plans that are based around your schedule.

He wants to see your reaction

It might also be the case that he is attracted to you but he’s unsure if you’re attracted to him so he patted your shoulder to see how you would react.

If that is why he did it then it would be likely that he would have been showing other signs of being attracted to you in his body language when around you.

Consider how he reacts to seeing you

The way that he initially reacts when he sees you will be a helpful thing to consider when trying to figure out why he patted you on the shoulder.

When he first sees you if he sits up straight, uncrosses his arms and legs, raises his eyebrows and smiles, his pupils become dilated and he adjusts his clothing or hair then it would make it likely that he is attracted to you.

Consider how he behaves around others

Thinking about the way that he interacts with other people will also likely help you in figuring out why he would pat you on the shoulder.

If he tends to pat other people on the shoulder and he doesn’t really change his behavior and body language much when he is around you then it would be more likely that he was just doing it naturally and perhaps to emphasize what he was saying. It could also be that he was showing dominant behavior so you should consider if he behaves in a dominant way.

Whereas, if he doesn’t seem to do it with other people and he does change his body language around you then it would be more likely that it was an excuse to touch you.

Think about your relationship with him

The type of relationship that you have with him would also be a useful thing to consider when trying to understand why he patted your shoulder.

If he has been your friend for a while then it would be more likely that he did it either to emphasize what he was saying, to make you feel better or because he wants to be more than just friends with you. The context of how he patted your shoulder and the body language that he shows around you would help you in figuring out the exact reason.

If it was a guy that you didn’t know very well then it would be more likely that he was showing dominant behavior, attraction or both.

Consider when and where he did it

The timing and the location of when he patted you on the shoulder would also be a useful thing to consider.

If he did it in front of other people while also telling you what to do then it would be more likely that he was showing dominant behavior.

If he did it when he was telling you about something that made him feel emotional then it would be more likely that he was trying to emphasize what he was saying.

If he patted you on the shoulder when you were both alone together then it would be more likely that he was showing attraction to you but he might also have been trying to reassure you.

Look for multiple signs in his body language

When thinking about what he was suggesting with his body language it would be helpful to look for multiple signs of it in his body language.

This is because he might show one body language signal for a variety of different reasons. Whereas, if he shows multiple different body language signals that all suggest the same meaning then it would be more likely that it is why he is actually showing them.

If you want to learn more about body language, a book I would recommend would be The Definitive Book of Body Language (on Amazon). It shows you how to interpret body language and understand people's true intentions.

Author

I created and currently manage Body Language Central, one of the premier sources for body language-related knowledge. Body language plays a key role in our daily lives. I hope that my website can help condense the wide amount of body language information available and allow you to make full use of it in your daily life. You can read more about me and my website here.