If a guy you know bumps into you while you’re walking next to each other, using his shoulder to gently push you while you walk past him, or hits his leg against yours as he sits down next to you, you might wonder what’s going on with him.
It’s hard to know if he’s being friendly, trying to annoy you, or wants to get to know you better.
1. He’s Flirting With You
He might be into you. This is the most likely reason why a guy continually bumps into you.
Initiating physical touch is a common method of flirting, and if you notice this behavior, he’s probably interested in you romantically.
Below, we’ll explore more about why he’s choosing to bump into you rather than choosing other flirting methods:
Bumping into you is a low-risk way to show his affection without getting shut down.
None of us like being rejected. Sure, some of us can handle it with more grace than others, but it’s not anyone’s favorite feeling. People avoid rejection just like physical pain since the brain processes them similarly.
With that being said, bumping or touching are ways to introduce the idea of some sexual attraction without being outright rejected.
For example, if guys go in for a kiss or try to hold your hand, you could turn away or un-intertwine your fingers, which is a more overt rejection of his advances. This can make situations awkward.
He may also be bumping you politely to avoid violating your space more severely.
Checking Your Interest
A slight bump while you’re walking by can act as a way for him to gauge your interest.
If you mirror his behavior by bumping him back or playfully teasing him, he might go in for that kiss or handhold.
If you get annoyed or tell him to stop, it’s easy for him to say it was an accident or dial back his behavior while saving face and protecting his feelings.
He also might bump into you even if you’ve been dating for a long time as a way to flirt. You might find that he still taps his leg against yours while you’re walking or nudges your shoulder as you guys watch a movie.
2. He Wants to be Physical With You
As you spend more time together in the relationship, you’ll be able to see what your partner’s signals are. Bumping may be one of them.
This casual touch could signal that he’s open to a sexual encounter and wants to know if you are. While sex isn’t everything in a healthy relationship, it can be an important part.
By doing this, he is being physical without taking it too far and can receive a rejection much more smoothly than if he went in for a kiss.
He may also bump into you if he thinks you don’t realize he’s flirting. Both men and women struggle to identify flirting behaviors, so testing the waters with behavior like bumping may help him set the scene.
Humans are shockingly bad at recognizing flirting, so a series of escalating behaviors is usually necessary. Bumping might be his entry point.
3. He’s a Physical Flirt
There are different flirting styles and contexts, and if he’s an extrovert, he’s likely to use behaviors like bumping to show his interest.
In a 2020 article published in “Psychology Today,” Dr. Jeremy Nicholson discussed flirting styles, which researchers in 2010 defined as:
- Traditional: Men and women both flirt while adhering more strictly to the traditional gender roles.
- Sincere: More based on emotion and making the person they’re interested in feel comfortable around them.
- Playful: Tending to flirt for its fun and seem to flirt constantly and effortlessly.
- Polite: More reserved and cautious when flirting, minimizing the possibility of rejection.
The last category was the physical flirt. Dr. Nicholson summarizes a physical flirt as “Expressing sexuality, desire, and interest through nonverbal behaviors like open body language and touch.”
That’s a sign that he’s using his physicality to signal his interest.
You might not share that flirting style, so since you wouldn’t intentionally bump into someone as a way of flirting, you may be confused by this behavior at first.
However, this physical style of flirting is used to create relationships more quickly than other flirting styles, and those relationships have higher levels of physical chemistry and emotional connection.
Remember that none of these styles are inherently better than the other, but they will cause potential partners to act differently. If you’re in a different category than your partner, interpreting those signals cannot be easy.
Also, if you see him engaging in these behaviors with many people, he might be a playful flirt, and you likely shouldn’t take his flirtations very seriously.
Other Signs of a Physical Flirt:
We send a lot of nonverbal signals to each other. Studying and understanding body language is a complex field of study, but most of us can recognize the basics.
If he’s using his body to show you that he’s interested, he’s likely showing off open or expansive body language.
This would include things like having his arms open on a table or stretched across the back of a chair (even if you’re not sitting nearby) rather than having his arms crossed or his hands shoved into his pockets.
He’s also likely to lean towards you when you’re talking.
4. His Love Language Is Physical Affection
He might also use physical affection to show his desire if he wants physical affection.
People often give to others what it is that they want for themselves. So if a guy loves and finds connection through physical touch, he’s probably going to find ways to use physical touch to show you that he would be a good partner.
This is true even if your primary love language isn’t physical affection.
Manufacturing ways to initiate that touch casually is critical for those who emphasize physical affection as their love language. If you enter into a relationship with a guy who bumps into you a lot, you’ll likely notice other signs of his love for touch.
If he wants to hold hands while you drive or cuddle while you watch a movie, that physical closeness is probably really important to him.
If he feels happy when you run your hands through his hair or lean on his shoulder, it’s likely his love language is in that physical category.
What If Your Love Language Isn’t Physical Affection?
Two people in a relationship with different love languages can make it work! At first, there may be some tension, but you can smooth out the bumps with good communication.
Say your love language is quality time. You may not understand why your partner is on his phone while you’re curled up in his lap or why he would want you to sit shoulder-to-shoulder while you’re reading a book.
To him, when you’re just focused on each other (say, playing a board game with the phones face-down on the table or going bowling together), just that physical side of it could be more important even if the attention isn’t one-on-one.
Neither is wrong, but you would both have to balance what’s most important to each other in the relationship.