If you have recently noticed a guy put his hand on your shoulder you’re probably wondering why he did it.
This post will try to help you figure out why a guy might put his hand on your shoulder and to make sense of it as it happens in the future.
So, what does it mean when a guy puts his hand on your shoulder? Possible causes of a guy putting his hand on your shoulder are that he is attracted to you, being dominant, mirroring your own behavior, trying to reassure you or trying to emphasize a point.
Since there are a number of reasons why a guy might put his hand on your shoulder it is important to consider the context and the body language signals of when he did it.
By doing so you’ll be able to get a better understanding of the motivations that he had behind
Reasons why a guy will put his hand on your shoulder
Each of the different reasons why a guy will put his hand on your shoulder will come with a number of different clues in his body language.
Below, I will mention a number of reasons why a guy will put his hand on your shoulder and the body language signals to look for with it.
He finds you attractive
The first reason that a guy might put his hand on your shoulder is that he finds you attractive and he wants to touch you.
This would be more likely to be the reason if it’s only you that he does it to.
If he did put his hand on your shoulder due to finding you attractive then it would be likely that he would show that he’s attracted to you in his body language in a number of different ways.
They can include:
- Having more dilated pupils than normal when talking to you
- Touching you more than other people in the group
- Talking to you more than other people in the group
- Standing close to you when speaking to you
- Holding eye contact with you for longer than with everyone else
- Pointing his feet towards you even when he’s not talking to you
- Pointing his toes upwards when talking to you
- A lack of negative signals such as squinting, tightening the lips or clenching the jaw
- Showing signs of nervousness when talking to you
- Mirroring your body language
- Getting anxious when you’re talking to other men
- Adjusting his clothing or hair when he first notices you
- Asking your friends about you
He’s being dominant
It might have been the case that he was being dominant.
If he was then he likely would have done it when telling you to do something or when making a statement at you.
It could be the case that he was being dominant but that he is also attracted to you. If he was then it would be likely that he would show signs of attraction as well as signs of dominating behavior.
If he was being dominant then he would likely show it in different ways in his body language such as:
- Touching other people
- Putting his hands and feet on things that aren’t his
- Taking up lots of space
- Positioning himself to be in the center of things
- Talking over people
- Talking loudly
- Interrupting people
- Tight lips
- Tightened jaw
- A stance that makes himself appear to be larger
He’s mirroring your own behavior
When a person is trying to fit in with a certain group of people he will often mirror the behavior and body language of people in the group.
If you have touched him on the shoulder in the past and you both tend to hang out with the same people then it could be the case that he was mirroring you.
Mirroring can be a sign that he finds you attractive. If he did do it due to finding you attractive then he would likely show a number of the signals of attraction already mentioned.
If he was mirroring you then it would be likely that he would mirror other aspects of your body language as well.
Examples could include:
- Making similar facial gestures as you
- Standing and sitting with the same stance as you
- Copying your hand gestures
- Talking at a similar pitch and speed as you
- Smiling in a similar way as you
He wants to be more than just friends
If he has been your friend for a while and he hasn’t put his hand on your shoulder before then it would be likely that he wants to be more than friends.
If this is the case then he probably would have been showing other signs of attraction in his body language for a while now that you haven’t picked up on.
Since he hasn’t asked you out yet it would also be likely that he would show signs of nervousness when around you.
It would also be likely that he would stare at you when you’re with other men, get anxious when you’re with other men and that he would get defensive when other men are around.
He’s trying to reassure you
If you were showing signs of being upset and you were telling him about something that you was upset or unsure about then he might have put his hand on your shoulder to reassure you.
To emphasize something that he’s saying
Sometimes people will put their hand on someone’s shoulder when they are trying to emphasize something that they are saying.
This could be the reason he put his hand on your shoulder.
If it was why he did it then he likely would have been telling you something that he was emotional about and he likely would have shown signs of surprise in his body language. They can include having wide-open eyes, having the mouth open or rushing over to tell you what he was telling you.
It’s normal in his culture
It might be the case that he is from a culture where it is normal for them to put their hand on a person’s shoulder when talking to them.
Even if he is from one of these cultures it could still be the case that he did it for one of the reasons above which is why it’s important to consider the other body language signals that he shows.
Consider your relationship with him
When trying to figure out why he put his hand on your shoulder it would be helpful to consider what your relationship with him is like.
If you only slightly know him then it could be that he was doing it because he finds you attractive and he wanted to see if you would respond favorably.
If he has been your friend for a while then it would be more likely that he would like more than just a friendship.
Consider what his body language normally looks like
Knowing what his body looks like when he is around other women would likely be something that would be of use to you.
If he tends to put his hand on other women’s shoulders and he doesn’t seem to change his body language much when he does it to you then it wouldn’t be as strong of an indicator that he finds you attractive. It could be that he is either more on the flirtatious side or that he has a dominating personality.
Whereas, if he doesn’t seem to do it to other women and he does change his body language when he notices you then it would be more likely that he finds you attractive.
Think about when and where he did it
The timing and location of where he touched your shoulder would also likely be something that would be of use to you.
If he did it right after rushing over to tell you something then it would be more likely that he was trying to emphasize what he was saying.
If he did it when you were both alone together after already having shown a number of signals of attraction then it would be more likely that he was doing it because he wanted to touch you.
Think about groups of body language
When trying to make sense of a guy’s body language it would be helpful to think about it in terms of groups of body language signals and not single body language signals.
As mentioned above there is a wide range of reasons that a guy might put his hand on your shoulder which is why it’s important to consider multiple other signals that he was showing in his body language.
By doing that you will be able to get a more reliable idea of why he did it.
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.