Sexual tension occurs when individuals are drawn to one another in a sexual way before (if ever) having sex together. Whether it’s a total stranger or someone you know, It’s normally characterized by a longing for them that is either forbidden (due to dating other people, friend group dynamics, etc.) or might happen, but just hasn’t yet.
If you’ve experienced it, you’ve probably acted pretty weird, right? It happens! Here are 14 telltale signs that you’re experiencing sexual tension, and a few tips for how to handle it:
1. Eye contact
Eye contact is one of the most common forms of nonverbal flirting Think about all of the times you’ve caught the eye of someone across the bar — you hold it for just a moment longer, right? Eye contact established immediate intimacy with another person. If you and a certain someone are constantly flirting with your eyes, there may be some sexual tension to explore.
You’re finding every excuse to touch! Whether it’s a playful hit on the shoulder after a joke or holding a hug a little longer than normal, nonsexual touching could definitely indicate sexual attraction.
3. You Want to Be Near Them
You look for ways that you can brush elbows while passing by, or sit next to each other while you’re hanging with friends. If it feels good to be around this person, and they seem happy to be around you too, then it could be worth pursuing something.
4. Your Voice Changes When They’re Around
Whether you’re nervous, excited, or trying to play it cool, your voice might change when you’re around someone you’re attracted to. (Even if you’re talking about boring, everyday things!)
5. You Laugh More
When you have sexual tension with someone, every joke they tell is the funniest thing you’ve ever heard. You’re giddy and nervous! You also probably feel lighter and more carefree around someone you’re crushing on.
6. Nonstop Flirtation
This is one of the most telltale signs of sexual tension. You’re in flirt mode 100% of the time, whether you want to be or not. You find yourself doing anything and everything to get their attention!
7. They Show Up in Your Dreams
Your crush is always on your mind, and when there’s sexual tension, it’s almost guaranteed you’ll dream about them at some point. Your dreams play out the scenario you’re wishing for in real life!
8. Awkward Conversations
While flirting is mostly fun and games, sexual tension is often characterized by getting super flustered. Needless to say, this can lead to awkward conversations. Maybe you’re too focused on the sexual tension or too nervous to act normally. Either way, you’re bound to be uncomfortable at some point.
9. It’s Awkward When Sex Comes Up
The topic of sex is bound to edge its way into the conversation at some point, which is what you’re both trying to avoid. It’s awkward! You might look away or divert the conversation because if you start talking about it, you might accidentally reveal your inner thoughts.
10. Other People Notice
It’s way more obvious than you think! Even if you’re trying to keep the flirtation to a minimum, people around you will notice if you and someone else have sexual tension. If your friends start asking “what’s up” with you and your secret crush (even if nothing has actually happened), it’s a telltale sign of sexual tension.
11. You Second Guess Yourself
Sexual tension can often lead you to feel insecure or second guess yourself when you are around the other person. Of course, it’s totally unnecessary! Think about what is causing you to feel way. Perhaps pursuing the relationship and actually exploring the sexual tension can help?
12. Your Heart Skips a Beat When You See Them
You’re always super excited to see them, and your heart may even feel like it skips a beat! The other person may not know it, but you’ll feel completely giddy whenever you get the chance to spend time together.
13. You Feel the Need to Be Secretive
There’s no need to be secretive, yet you feel a strange obligation to do so. Even though nothing has happened, you might feel the need to keep your friendship or relationship secret from other people. Why? You may feel protective over the other person and the possibilities that you have together. Or maybe you feel silly for having these strong feelings without having hooked up. Instead of keeping it bottled up, it can be helpful to talk to other people about it and get an outsider’s opinion before making a move.
14. You Get Butterflies When You’re Around Them
Sexual tension boils down to chemistry, which means that when you see the other person, you’re overwhelmed with butterflies! Even if your personality is more on the serious side, sexual tension can completely overtake your body and cause you to feel excitable whenever you’re around the other person. Whether you love the feeling or can’t stand it, it’s a sign that all that sexual tension might be worth exploring!
While sexual tension can be fun, flirty, and worth pursuing, there are some instances when sexual tension is not okay. For example, if it’s unwanted by the other person (or a co-worker), then it’s not sexual tension — it’s uncomfortable at best and harassment at worst. Flirting can be fun when it feels like risky behavior and you aren’t sure how the other person will react, but in some cases, it’s important to check in with the other person to make sure that you’re not crossing any boundaries.
On the other hand, if the other person is reciprocating your flirting, it might be a sign they’re into you, too! Trust your gut, keep things light, and be honest about your feelings if you believe it’s the best option.