If you have recently noticed a guy putting his arm around your back you’re probably wondering why he did it and what it might mean.
This post will try to help you figure out why he put his arm around your back and to help you to make sense of it in the future.
So, what does it mean when a guy puts his arm around your back? Possible causes of a guy putting his arm around your back are that he is attracted to you, he is consoling you, being protective, seeing how you react to it or mirroring your own behavior.
Since there are a number of reasons why a guy might put his arm around your back it is important to consider the other body language signals that he shows when he does it.
By doing so you’ll be able to get a better idea of the motivations he has behind doing it.
Possible reasons why a guy will put his arms around your back
Each of the different reasons why a guy might put his arm around your back will likely come with a number of clues in his body language.
Below, I will mention a number of reasons why a guy might put his arm around your back along with the body language signals to look for.
He finds you attractive
There is a good chance that if a guy that puts his arm around your back would be attracted to you.
If that is the case then it is likely that he would show numerous other signals of attraction in his body language when he is with you.
These can include:
- Having dilated pupils when talking to you
- Talking to you more than others
- Finding excuses to touch you and touching you more than other people in your group
- Holding eye contact with you for longer than normal
- Pointing his feet towards you even when he isn’t directly in front of you
- Pointing his toes upwards when talking to you
- Glancing at you often and quickly looking away or smiling when you notice
- Asking friends about you
- A lack of crossed arms, crossed legs, squinting, jaw tension or tightening of the eyebrows
- Showing signs of nervousness around you
- Showing signs of anxiousness when you’re with other men
- Getting defensive when other men are around
- Standing close to you
- Adjusting his clothing or hair when he sees you
He’s consoling you
Sometimes people will put their arms around someone’s shoulder when they are trying to make that person feel better.
If you were talking to him about something that made you upset and you were showing signs of being upset such as crying, quivering, speaking differently or a closed body language then he might have been trying to make you feel better.
He’s being dominating
Sometimes, when a guy is trying to be dominating, he will put his arms on things that aren’t his including people.
It could be the case that the reason he put his arm around your back was that he was being dominant.
If he did it when telling you to do something or when making a statement to you it would make it more likely that this was the reason. It would also be more likely to be the reason if he did it when you were both sitting down next to each other but you’re not dating him, especially if he was leaning back as well.
It is possible that he was doing it due to being dominating while also being attracted to you. If that is the case then he would likely show signs of being attracted to you (mentioned above) while also showing signs of being dominating that I’ll mention below.
Signs of being dominating include:
- Taking up lots of space
- Standing and sitting in a way that makes himself appear to be bigger
- Tightening of the eyebrows
- Tight lips
- Clenched jaw
- Speaking over people
- Talking loudly with a deeper voice
- Interrupting people
- Putting his hands and legs on things that aren’t his
- Showing his thumb (ie putting his hands in his pockets with his thumbs showing)
He’s being protective
One reason that a guy might put his arm around your back is that he is trying to be protective.
If that is the case then it would be likely that either he is your boyfriend or he did it at a time when there was some uncertainty about the situation. For example, he might have done it when you were walking through a crowd together.
He wants more than a friendship
If you have been friends with him for a while and he hasn’t touched you before then it would be likely that he was showing you that he wants more than just a friendship with you.
If that is why he did it, he would likely be nervous around you since he wouldn’t have overtly told you yet that he has feelings for you.
If it is why he did it then it would be likely that he has been showing a number of the signs of attraction mentioned in the first section but you haven’t picked up on them yet. Next time you’re with him observe subtly to see if he does any of them.
He wants to see how you’ll react
It could also be the case that he is attracted to you but he is unsure of whether or not you find him attractive. If that is the case, then he might have put his arm around your back to see whether or not you would react positively or not.
Again, if this is why he did it, he would likely show a number of signs of attraction towards you when he is with you.
He’s mirroring your own behavior
When people are trying to fit in with a certain group of people they will often begin to mirror the behaviors of people in that group.
If you have put your arm around his back in the past and you both tend to hang around the same people then it would be likely that he was mirroring you.
Mirroring your behavior can also be a signal of attraction. If he is attracted to you then it would be likely that he would show it in his body language in other ways as well.
If he was mirroring you it would be likely that he would mirror a number of your other behaviors as well.
These can include:
- Mirroring your facial expressions
- Mirroring your laugh and smile
- Speaking at a similar speed and pitch as you
- Walking at a similar speed as you
- Standing and sitting in a similar way to you
- Mirroring your hand gestures
He’s in love
One reason that he might have done it is that he is in love with you.
If that is the case then he would likely have been your boyfriend for a while and he would have done it to get closer to you.
Consider his normal behavior
When trying to make sense of a guy’s body language signals it would be helpful to be aware of what their ordinary body language looks like.
If he tends to touch other people a lot as well then it would make it less meaningful in terms of figuring out what it might mean when he does it to you. However, if he shows numerous body language signals pointing towards one thing such as attraction, mirroring or domination then it would still be likely that it’s the reason he did it.
If he doesn’t normally touch other people but he did it to you then it would make it more likely that he did it for one of the reasons mentioned already. You should consider what other aspects of his body language appeared different to figure out why.
Consider when and where he did it
The timing of when he put his arm around your back and where it happened would also likely be something that would be useful for you.
If he did it when you were both alone together and he went quieter when he did it then it would be a strong signal of attraction.
If he did it in a social setting when there were other people around then it would be a more public display of dominating behavior. But, it would still be worthwhile to consider the other body language signals that he showed.
Consider your relationship with him
The type of relationship that you have with him would also be something that should be considered.
If he is someone that you have been friends with for a while and he did it out of the blue then it would be likely that he actually is attracted to you.
If he isn’t your friend but he is someone that you see often then it would be more likely to have been dominating behavior.
If he’s not a person that you have met before then it would be more likely that he was either showing attraction for you or he was being dominant or both.
What does it mean if a guy puts his arm around your shoulder while walking? He could have been trying to be protective, he might have been being dominant, he might have been showing attraction for you or he might have been trying to show you that he wants more than just a friendship.
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.