If someone touched your arm recently then you’re probably wondering why and what it might mean. This post will try to help you figure that out and to help you to figure it out as it happens in the future.

So, what does it mean when someone touches your arm? It can mean that they are attracted to you, they might be reassuring you, they might be trying to show that they are higher status than you or it might be normal behavior for them.

To figure out why they might have done it you will need to consider the other body language signals that they are showing. It will also be helpful to think about when they did it and to think about the environment that it happened in.

Why someone might touch your arm

There are many reasons that someone might touch your arm. Below I will mention a number of reasons why someone might do it and I will mention body language signals to expect to see along with it.

Attraction

When people are attracted to others they will often touch them more frequently than others or try to find excuses to touch them.

The reason that they might have touched you could be because they were attracted to you.

If it was due to attraction it is likely that they would also have been showing multiple other signs that they were attracted to you.

  • Proximity

If they are attracted to you it is likely that they would tend to stand at a close distance to you when talking to you. They would also likely stand in your general area when with a group of people.

  • Eyes

When we are with people that we find attractive it can cause our pupils to dilate. This means that if they tend to have more dilated pupils around you it would suggest that they find you attractive. However, it could also suggest that they just feel happy around you.

If they find you attractive then you might find that they tend to give glances in your direction or that they stare at you when you’re not looking. If they do stare at you and you catch them then they might smile or quickly look away. You may also notice that they tend to look at your lips when talking to you.

Additionally, when we find people attractive then we begin to engage in gazing behavior which is where we hold eye contact with them for longer. If they are attracted to you then they would likely hold eye contact with you for longer when talking to you.

  • Feet

You might not have thought it but the feet can actually tell you a lot about how a person might be feeling. People learn ways to control how their face looks but they rarely think about what they might be doing with their feet.

If they find you attractive then they will likely point their feet in your direction when they are with you and when they are with a group of people. They will also likely lean in your direction with their legs and face you with their upper bodies.

In addition to touching you on the arm, they would also often touch your feet with their feet.

  • If it’s a woman

If it’s a woman that’s attracted to you then you should expect her to play with her hair more with her palms facing you, she would likely tilt her head more and brush her hair to the side. You would also likely notice that she tends to speak at a higher pitch around you and that she talks to you more than others.

  • If it’s a man

Men don’t tend to give as many signals with their body language as women do but there are some things that you should look out for in addition to the things already mentioned. They will likely speak more deeply than usual, talk to you more than others, and they might suddenly change their body language when they see you.

They’re trying to reassure you

One reason that they might touch your arm is that they are trying to reassure you.

If that is the case then the conversation topic is more likely to be on something that you are worried about and it would happen when you show signs of anxiety yourself. It’s also more likely to happen with a woman and another woman than a man with another man.

They’re trying to claim you

One reason that people will touch other people is that they are trying to show that they are in of a higher status.

This type of touching may be combined with them trying to tell you to do things.

It will also likely be combined with other body language signals that point towards dominating behavior.

One way thing that they would likely do is to take up more space than the people around them and they might sit on or put their feet/arms on things that are yours.

They will likely stand and sit with their legs wide apart and would have their arms spread out instead of having them crossed.

You should observe how they interact with others in your group. If they do the same sorts of things to them then it would suggest that they are trying to establish themselves as the dominant person or it may be how they naturally behave.

Mirroring

When we like other people we will often begin to mirror their behavior. This is because it helps us to be accepted to their group and it helps us to build rapport with them.

If the person likes you then it may be that they touched you on the arm because they were mirroring your behavior. You should consider if you tend to touch them on the arm if you do then it would make it more likely for them to touch you back.

If they are the opposite sex to you then it would make it more likely that they are mirroring you due to attraction.

Culture

It could be that they are from a culture where it is normal to touch people on the arm. For example, in Italy, they will often hold people’s arms while they are talking.

Emphasizing point

It could be that they touched you on the arm to emphasize what they are trying to say. If this is the case then they would likely have been talking about something that they find slightly shocking or that they had a strong emotional response to.

Consider the location

When trying to figure out why it was that they touched you on the arm it would help to consider where it happened.

If it happened in a social setting and the person was the opposite sex to you then it would suggest that they did it because they find you attractive. In this case, you should look for other signs that suggest attraction.

If it happened in a business setting then it would make it more likely that it was because they were trying to show that they are of a higher position to you. Although it could still have been due to attraction, emphasizing a point or to reassure you.

Consider what you know about the person

It’s also important to think about what you know about the person when you’re trying to figure out why they touched you on the arm.

If it was a person that you are dating then it will make it much more likely that they touched you on the arm due to attraction.

If it was a friend that tends to be quite emotional then it would make it more likely that they touched you on the arm to emphasize what they were saying.

If it was your boss then they would probably have touched you on the arm since it is a behavior the people in positions of power will tend to do.

You should also consider the sex of the person and their age. Obviously, if they’re a similar age to you and they are the opposite sex then it will make it more likely that they will touch you due to attraction.

Consider how they interact with others

When trying to understand what the body language signals people are showing mean it would normally be very helpful to know what their normal behavior looks like.

If they tend to touch other people on the arm then it would make it more likely that they would touch you on the arm. It would also mean that touching you on the arm would carry less meaning than if someone that doesn’t normally touch people were to do it.

Think about when it happened

It would also be helpful to think about what was happening when they touched you on the arm.

If it was when you were upset it would make it more likely that they touched you on the arm to reassure you.

Body language signs to look for

When trying to figure out why someone might have touched you on the arm it would be helpful to look at the other body language signals that they were showing.

If they had a clenched jaw, their fists were clenched, their lips were tight and hidden, they were staring hard, they were squinting and they had pupil constriction then it would make it very likely that it was an aggressive touch.

If they were quivering under the eyes and mouth, rubbing their arms, legs, face or neck often, covering or touching their front of the neck often, speaking quickly, breathing more heavily and their facial color was lighter than usual then it would make it likely that they were in a very emotional state.

If they were lending towards you with their feet and lower body’s, facing you with their upper body, holding their gaze with you, had dilated pupils, were talking to you much more than others, laughing and looking at you and their feet were pointed upwards when with you then it would make it more likely that it was due to attraction.

Related

What does it mean if someone touches your arm while talking? If someone touches your arm while talking then it would suggest that they find you attractive, were trying to emphasize what they were saying or that they was being dominating.

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.