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Sexual Tension: 14 Signs That What You’re Feeling Is Real

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When the two of you are together, you can practically see the sparks flying…

But you’re not quite sure if the sexual tension that you feel you could cut with a knife is real, or if it’s all in your head.

It can happen at any time, anywhere, and not necessarily with the people you’d expect.

It might be when you’re on a date, and you’re not sure whether to make a move. It might be with someone you’ve met at a party.

But it might be a bit more complicated than that.

Sexual tension can develop between friends, or even between colleagues standing around the water cooler…

…and it often does.

And, importantly, it’s not the same thing as flirting.

Although flirting can lead to more, people can also flirt totally innocently and without intending to take it any further, with someone they’re not at all attracted to.

Flirting is just a way that certain people interact with members of the opposite sex.

They might do it with an ulterior motive, like to get something they want from the other person, but it might just be for fun, or as a way of developing a friendship.

But sexual tension is much more than that.

Sure, there’s probably flirting involved, but there might not be, as some of us just don’t quite get the concept of flirting.

If there’s one thing for sure, it’s that it’s next-level stuff. It’s a feeling of heightened sexual attraction that can only develop when the two of you are both feeling it.

And whilst some of us have a natural ability to read body language accurately, many of us struggle.

On top of that, many of us don’t trust and act on our instincts, always second-guessing ourselves and convincing ourselves that what we think we’re feeling or seeing isn’t real.

Are you a bit confused as to whether the sexual tension you’re feeling is real and mutual?

The signs below will help you figure it out.

Whilst they won’t necessarily all apply in every case, as everyone shows their attraction in a different way, things are looking good if you can tick a few of them off.

1. There’s lots of eye contact.

This is one of the most basic signs of sexual attraction.

We all know that making eye contact is polite and so will normally make an effort with the people we meet, but if we’re attracted to them, it suddenly isn’t quite so much of an effort.

Just bear in mind that if someone’s shy or feeling flustered, they might struggle with eye contact, even if they are attracted to you.

On the other hand, avoiding eye contact could also mean they’re not feeling it. It’s down to you to read the signs.

The fact they’re making deep eye contact with you can also mean they’re trying to figure out how you’re feeling about them.

2. The smiles are contagious.

When they smile at you, they really smile from ear to ear, and you just can’t help but smile right back. It’s contagious.

3. You’re ultra-aware of any physical contact.

If things are getting tense between you, you’re going to be very aware of even the tiniest brush of skin on skin.

If they touch your hand or your back innocently, you feel the sparks fly. It’s pure sexual chemistry at work.

If you do the same to them, you might notice them tense up a little, smile, or look at you to try to tell if you’ve touched them intentionally.

4. When there’s no eye contact, it’s because you’re checking each other out.

Your eyes won’t just stay locked on each other’s faces.

If there’s sexual tension between you, you’ll find yourself staring at their lips, their arms, their chest… and you’ll probably catch them doing the same thing to you.

They might try to cover up when they’re staring at you or do it secretly, especially if they’re shy, but you should be able to clock them.

5. Things can feel a little awkward, or the opposite.

If it’s the woman you keep bumping into by the microwave at work, then things probably do feel a little awkward between you, as you struggle to come up with topics of conversation when all you can think about is ripping their clothes off.

On the other hand, if you’re already on a date with a guy, you both kind of know what the deal is, so the silences between you won’t be awkward, but they will be loaded.

6. You both lean in and talk softly.

This applies as much to the person you’re crushing on at the gym as it does to someone you’re on a date with.

If they’re leaning in to explain an exercise a little closer than they strictly need to, or explaining the latest report they’ve written in a soft voice, even getting close enough to whisper, then that’s a big indication that their sexual tension between the two of you.

7. You stay close to each other.

You don’t just lean in to say something to each other, but you stay as close as you can.

If you’re at a bar, you’ll be sitting next to each other or within earshot. If you’re in a different kind of environment, you’ll find ways to get as physically close to them as possible, probably subconsciously.

8. You face each other.

When you’re with each other, if your bodies are angled toward each other, then you’ve got their full attention.

It’s the type of body language that indicates an open and warm feeling between the two of you since we often turn to the things we desire.

9. You’re always in contact.

This might not apply in every case, but if there’s sexual tension building, things between you might be hotting up in the virtual world too.

If you’re spending a lot of time texting or they’re finding reasons to send you unnecessary work emails, that’s a sign you’re on each other’s minds.

10. The compliments are flying.

Sometimes the compliments will be overt and clear, but sometimes they will be subtle, and you’ll have to do a bit of digging before you realize that they were trying to compliment you.

We instinctively compliment people we like in order to get them to like us back, so if there are a lot of genuine compliments coming your way then don’t be afraid to reciprocate.

11. Talk turns to sex.

Nothing has happened between you yet, but you may well have found yourself discussing sex with them.

If you’re on a date, you might get into a cheeky discussion about kinks or sexual experiences.

If you haven’t got to date territory yet, your minds are probably both on sex, so it shouldn’t take long for the topic to be alluded to, even if only in a roundabout way.

12. You feel like you’re a teenager again.

When you see them, you might well lose your cool, even if only on the inside, and start acting like the nervy teenager you thought you’d left behind in high school.

This person has you acting a little bit crazy, and you’re not sure what to do or what to say, and feel like you keep putting your foot in it.

13. People have commented on the vibes between you.

You’re not the only ones to have picked up on the tension.

If other people have remarked that you could cut the air between the two of you with a knife or rolled their eyes and told you to just get on with it already, that’s a very good indication that you’re not imagining things.

14. You just know.

Deep down, you’ll know when you’re sexually attracted to someone that’s attracted to you too.

It’s an indefinable feeling you’ll struggle to put into words or explain to your friends, and it’s easy to fabricate reality in your head when you’re attracted to someone…

…but if you’re honest with yourself, you’ll know if the sexual tension between you is real.

So what do I do about it?

Now, it’s important to point out here that just because there are signs of sexual tension between you, it’s not a free pass to overstep the mark.

Whatever you do, don’t let yourself get overexcited or nervous.

Go with the flow and respond to the signs they’re giving you, but don’t push things too far too soon, and remember, they or you can always change your minds at absolutely any point.

Sexual attraction can be a fickle thing and can fade away at any moment, so just because the signs are right at one point in your interaction, that doesn’t mean it’s a done deal.

The rule is, if you’re not sure if someone is interested in you sexually, ask.

It might be a bit awkward, but it’s far less awkward than what could happen otherwise.

Consent is a tricky business, but, essentially, it should be obvious that the other person is really, really into it, and you should be too!

If nothing’s yet happened between you, it can be tricky to know how to proceed, but you just need to make it clear that you’re feeling it, and then give them space to come to you, or not, as the case may be.

Do you remember that film ‘Hitch’ starring Will Smith?

Whilst the vast majority of the dating advice in that film was highly questionable, the 90/10 rule is a pretty good one. Make your intentions clear by doing 90% of the work, but let them come the rest of the way.

What if it can’t happen?

Unfortunately, sexual tension doesn’t always develop between two people who are both free and available to pursue it.

It can develop with someone who it’s entirely inappropriate for you to have a sexual relationship with, or you can even feel it for someone when you’re already in a happy, committed relationship with someone else.

If you want to save that relationship, or just make sure your sexual drive doesn’t lead you to make a bad decision, then the best thing you can do is keep your distance.

Sexual tension develops when we’re in close proximity to someone, so intentionally staying away from them as much as you can will give you the best chance of getting over it sooner rather than later, with no damage done.

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About The Author

Katie is a writer and translator with a focus on travel, self-care and sustainability. She's based between a cave house in Granada, Spain, and the coast of beautiful Cornwall, England. She spends her free time hiking, exploring, eating vegan tapas and volunteering for a local dog shelter.