If you have recently noticed a guy touching you on the shoulder you’re probably wondering what it might mean.
This post will try to help you figure that out and to help you to make sense of it as it happens in the future.
So, what does it mean when a guy touches you on the shoulder? Possible causes of a guy touching you on the shoulder are that he is attracted to you, he is being dominating, he’s mirroring your own behavior, he’s trying to reassure you or that he’s from a culture where they touch each other more often.
Since there are actually a number of reasons why a guy might touch you on the shoulder it is important to consider the other body language signals that he shows.
By doing so you will be able to get a better idea of the motivation behind why he does it.
Reasons a guy might touch you on the shoulder
Each of the different reasons why a guy might touch you on the shoulder are likely to come with a number of different clues in his body language.
Below, I will mention a number of different reasons why a guy might touch you on the shoulder along with the body language signals to look for.
He’s attracted to you
The reason that he touched you on the shoulder could be that he is attracted to you.
If this is the case then the touch on the shoulder would likely have seemed slightly unnatural and he would be less likely to also touch others on the shoulder.
If he did do it due to being attracted to you it would be likely that he would have been showing a number of other clues in his body language and behavior.
These can include:
- Glancing at you often when he’s not talking to you
- Laughing and looking at you
- Getting defensive when you’re with him and there are other men around
- Standing close to you when talking to you and staying in your general area when not
- Talking to you more than other people in the group
- Holding eye contact with you for longer than normal
- Looking at your lips
- Pointing his feet at you when talking to you and when he’s in your general area but not talking to you
- Pointing his toes upwards when talking to you
- Showing signs of nervousness when talking to you (ie fidgeting, touching the neck, rubbing the arms, legs, face or neck or tapping the fingers and feet)
- Talking with a deeper voice than normal
- Dilated pupils
- Facing his upper body in your direction
- Getting anxious when you’re talking to other men
When people are acting dominating they will often touch people. This could be the reason that he touched you on the shoulder.
The reason that he was being dominating could be because he was being aggressive, in which case the touch would likely have been harder or he might have been trying to show that he is higher status than you.
If he was doing these things then he would likely have shown a number of other dominating type behaviors such as:
- Taking up lots of space
- Placing his arms and legs on things that aren’t his
- Talking more deeply
- Tight lips
- Telling you to do things for him
- Standing with their hands on their hips
- Thumb displays
- Sitting and leaning back with their hands behind their head
- Lack of smiling
- Tense jaw
- Tightening of the eyebrows
It could be the case that he touched you on the shoulder because he was mirroring your own behavior.
When people are trying to fit in with a particular group of people they will often mirror their body language subconsciously. This could be what he was doing with you.
If he was mirroring you it would be likely that you will have touched him on the shoulder at some point yourself.
Mirroring can be due to being attracted to you but it also could be that he considers you a part of the group of people that he is currently trying to fit into. If it was due to attraction he would also likely show a number of the attraction signals mentioned above.
If he was mirroring you then it would be likely that he would also mirror a number of other of your behaviors as well.
This can include:
- Copying your smile
- Speaking at a similar pitch to you
- Speaking at a similar speed to you
- Standing and sitting in a similar way to you
- Mirroring your hand gestures
- Laughing when you laugh
- Walking in a similar way to you
He’s trying to reassure you
He might have touched you on the shoulder because he was trying to reassure you.
If that was the case then it would have been likely that you were talking about something that would make you emotional and you would likely have been showing some signs of being upset.
There are cultures where it is normal to touch people frequently when talking to them.
If the guy is from a different country to you then you should consider how they tend to communicate with each other. If they tend to touch each other when talking then it could be why he touched you.
If that is the case then it would be likely that he would show a neutral body language to you unless he is also attracted to you or he is trying to be dominating.
To emphasize a point
It could be the case that he touched you on the shoulder in order to emphasize a point that he was trying to make.
If that was the case then he would have likely been talking about a topic that makes him emotional and he would likely have shown body language signals of surprise.
These can include:
- Wide-open eyes
- Talking quickly
- Talking loudly
- Leaning in
- Quick breaths
- Redness of the face
Consider when he did it
The timing of when he touched you on the shoulder would likely be something that would be useful to think about when trying to figure out why he did it.
If he touched you right after you said something or when he made some kind of a statement about you then it would make it more likely that he wanted to touch you due to finding you attractive.
If he did it when trying to tell you to do something then it would be more likely that he was trying to emphasize that he’s in a position of authority over you.
Consider your relationship with him
The type of relationship that you have with the guy would also be something to think about.
If he is a guy that you have been dating then it would make it more likely that he did it due to attraction assuming he shows other signs of attraction. However, it could also be a warning sign that he has a dominating personality so you should consider the other body language signals that he shows.
If it was a friend then he could have just been trying to console you or to emphasize something that he was saying.
If it was a person that you have never met before then it would be necessary for you to consider how he interacts with others and to consider what type of body language he showed you.
If it was your boss then he could have been emphasizing his position as your boss.
Think about where he did it
The location that you were in when he touched you on the shoulder would also likely be something that would be of use to you.
If it was at a party then it would make it more likely that he was attracted to you or he might have been trying to get you to dance or to move around.
If it was in a business setting then he might have been trying to get you to do something.
Watch how he interacts with others
When trying to figure out why he touched you it would also be helpful to watch to see if he also touches others.
If he tends to touch other people then it wouldn’t be a strong suggestion that he finds you attractive but it could indicate that he has a more dominating type of personality.
If he doesn’t tend to touch other people then it would make it more likely that he finds you attractive but you should consider if there are other behaviors that he is doing differently to be sure.
If a guy touches your shoulder in public what does it mean? If he does it in a more public setting then he could have been trying to show his higher status. If that was the case he would likely show numerous other dominating signals such as taking up more space, standing with his hands on his hips and thumb displays. Alternatively, he might find you attractive in which case he would likely show body language signals of attraction.
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.