17 Signs Of Sexual Tension You Cannot Ignore — And What To Do

Love and Romance | | , Copywriter & Sports journalist
Validated By
Sexual Tension You Cannot Ignore

So you’re sitting next to each other in a crowded bar. Your elbows touch, and the subsequent eye contact sets off fireworks in your brain. Somehow, all you’re thinking about while staring deep into this person’s eyes is how nice it would be to pull them in and then kiss them. Could this be sexual tension you’re experiencing? And if it is, are the feelings mutual? In your mind, you’re probably convinced it’s mutual. But how does one become sure of that?

Can you be sure that you’re feeling the signs of sexual tension from someone you’re sexually drawn to? When you’re looking deep into their eyes, it may feel like the rest of the world doesn’t exist, right? (No, it’s not just your little “secret”. Your friends are already gossiping about you on the group chat). But forget the friends and the group chat for a second, the gossip mill isn’t your biggest concern right now, the sexual vibe check is.

If you read the room wrong and presume that the awkward tension with a crush equals sexual tension when there isn’t any from their end, you could find yourself on a slippery slope of putting someone off with your advances to your actions bordering on harassment.

That’s why before you act on what you assume to be a sexual vibe, it’s crucial to know the answers to the following questions: Are you feeling sexual energy from someone? What do the signs look like? Will it amount to something, or is it just one of those fleeting crushes that you’ll soon forget about when the next subject of your infatuation comes along?

Let’s talk about everything you need to know about the unspoken tension in the room, with the help of clinical psychologist Devaleena Ghosh (M.Res, Manchester University), founder of Kornash: The Lifestyle Management School, who specializes in couples counseling and family therapy.

What Is Sexual Tension And What Causes It?

Right off the bat, let’s address the biggest component of sexual tension. By definition, signs of sexual tension are mostly mutual. If you’re looking at someone across a crowded coffee shop, waiting for them to make eye contact with you, it doesn’t fit the criteria of sexual tension. There is an unspoken tension for sure, but it is not sexual in nature yet.

The signs of sexual tension actually feel a little like this. It’s an electrifying, stomach-turning, more-than-a-crush feeling that you get when two people want to have sex with each other but can’t. In some cases, it’s positive, when it arises because you’re both single and willing but you can’t get your hands on each other since you’re either at work or in an equally formal setting where acting on your desires isn’t possible even if you’re really turned on by the other person and them by you. Trust us, feeling the signs of sexual tension with a coworker at your workplace is exhilarating but so frustrating.

Devaleena says, “Sexual tension usually feels like a sold intense and mutual attraction, almost as powerful as a thunderbolt. Even the slightest touch, which may just be very casual, will feel like a huge deal. Both individuals involved will react to that touch. There’s also a lot of fidgeting and urgency in bodily sensations, along with a great sense of connection.”

In some other cases, it may also be negative, when your best friend’s boyfriend won’t stop making eyes at you, and you don’t exactly want him to stop either, but oh-my-goodness this is so wrong! As good as it may feel, this awkward tension with a guy or a girl can be extremely stressful as well. Research suggests that you know the kind of relationship you want to have with someone the second you meet them. So if there is any sexual tension, some level of it is bound to be there from the start. 

Related Reading: 18 Mutual Attraction Signs That Can’t Be Ignored

What Does Sexual Tension Feel Like?

Sexual tension, typically, brews between two (or more) individuals before they’ve engaged in any form of sexual activity. Based on their interactions with one another, the two people feel a strong sexual desire for each other. This sexual desire can manifest in the form of that feeling of butterflies in the stomach, sweaty scalp and/or palms, and daydreaming about what it’d be like to kiss them or be intimate with them.

What does sexual tension feel like? The term “burning with desire” can be used to aptly describe a sexual vibe. Whether you’re asking, what does sexual tension feel like for a guy or what does sexual tension feel like for a girl, this description holds.
You may experience a rush in your loins, an electric feeling when touching someone followed by a tingling or burning sensation. In the case of guys, this may be followed by an erection. And in the case of girls, wetness. The bottom line is that when there is sexual tension between two people, they feel really turned on in each other’s presence and even by each other’s thoughts.

The feeling of sexual tension can also translate into having elaborate sexual fantasies about the person, fueling your moments of self-gratification. It can also be described as a feeling that you and the other person need to engage in something sexual to cut the tension between you. In some cases, this feeling may linger on for weeks, months, or even years after sexual contact is made.

In most cases, the signs of sexual tension include positive feelings, filled with anticipation of what’s to come and how it’d unfold. However, sometimes, it can even be shrouded in negative feelings of guilt, shame, or anger. This typically happens when you feel a sexual vibe with someone you can’t have or someone with whom it’s inappropriate to have a sexual connection – a friend or sibling’s partner, a teacher, or a mentor, for instance.

And now that you know that liking 10 of his Instagram posts in a row doesn’t amount to sexual tension (that’s just kinda creepy), let’s take a look at intense sexual chemistry signs. Read on to learn how to identify sexual tension, determine if it’s healthy, and how to handle the situation depending on whether or not you can act on the sexual vibe you’ve been feeling.

I like two guys. How do I choose? Quiz

Sexual Tension: 17 Signs To Watch Out For 

On their way back from clubbing on a Saturday night, Brad, Cindy, and Jacob shared a cab. For Brad and Cindy, the ride back seemed normal, even though they did indulge in a little bit of shared laughter and a little bit of flirting with the eyes. Brad and Cindy thought this palpable energy they shared between them was a sort of “secret”, as though Jacob was oblivious to it.

They continued to exchange giggles, touch each other a bit more, laughing away at their inside jokes. Their assumptions came crashing down when Jacob said, “Get a room, you two”, after they locked eyes for the fourth time. And that’s when Cindy found herself wondering, “It’s weird and intense to feel electricity with someone, do they feel it too?”

So, just like Brad and Cindy, are you completely unaware of just how obvious the signs are and also wondering, does the other person feel this unspoken tension as well? Let’s find out whether this awkward tension with a crush that you’re so confused about actually amounts to anything.

Related Reading: Sexual Compatibility – Meaning, Importance And Signs

1. You’re flirting every chance you get 

“You guys go ahead, we’ll be right there”, you say, so you two can finally be alone and you can proceed to tell them how cute they look today. A clear example of sexual tension is if you two are flirting with each other literally every chance you get. Sometimes even in front of people, which obviously seems obnoxious to them.

Subtly flirting with the eyes or going all-out and using words to make the other person blush and skip a heartbeat qualify as signs of sexual tension between two friends, two coworkers, or just about any two people who’ve got the hots for each other. When you feel sexually drawn to someone, flirting becomes the first tool for expressing that desire either stealthily or overtly.  

2. Your friends can feel it

And when you flirt in front of your friends, they’ll catch up on the energy you two have between you. Though it may feel like nobody in the world can sense what you’re feeling, your friends definitely know – and they’re probably gagging mentally. If you’re feeling sexual energy from someone, rest assured that you’re not the only one feeling it.

Devaleena tells us, “If the friend is close enough, they can often understand and sense the signs of sexual tension between two people. They will be able to pick up on the apparent gestures or behaviors that the two people experiencing sexual tension exhibit. There’s a lot of eye contact, touch, and hovering around one another, thus making it easier for friends to pick up on it.”

Know the expression, “You could cut the tension between those two with a knife”? The reason that it exists is that electricity between a man and a woman (or between any two people, frankly) is usually palpable from a mile away. If your friends are nice, they’ll probably say something like, “You two will be so good together”, but if you’re hanging out with a best friend, they’re probably going to say, “You guys are gross.”

3. You’re always trying to be alone with them

If you’re feeling sexual energy from someone, you will look forward to being alone with them somewhere. Rest assured, the minute your friends go out for a smoke, all you’re going to be thinking about is kissing this person. You two might even end up forming your own private conversation space when out in groups, creating some “alone time”.

One of the signs of sexual tension with coworkers may be that you two are always trying to steer clear of your workgroup and trying to grab lunch by yourselves. You like to enter the break room when nobody else is around and spend time in complete isolation from the rest of the office.

This need to be alone together, even when you’re part of a big group, is one of the most telling signs of sexual tension between two friends, coworkers, or acquaintances. So, if there is that one friend you can’t stop thinking about and peeling away from the crowd just so you can have them to yourself, even if it is for a brief two minutes, is a definite sign of a sexual vibe. Cute? Maybe. Obnoxious to your friends? Definitely. 

4. There’s no better intense sexual chemistry sign than that electric feeling when touching someone

Undeniably, one of the best intense sexual chemistry signs is the way you find any excuse to touch each other. An accidental touch here, a suggestive, flirty hand on the lower back there. But hold on, platonic friends touch each other too, right? The difference here will be the intention behind and the energy of the touch.

A touch charged with sexual tension will be a few Mississippis longer. Plus, you don’t feel electricity running down your veins when you touch a friend, do you? Needless to say, this person will send shivers down your spine if they touch your neck provocatively. Lingering physical contact, be it in the form of an accidental brush of hands or a hug that lasts a few seconds too long, indicates that there is a sexual vibe running like a strong undercurrent between two people.

Signs To Watch Out For 

5. You’ve been diagnosed with a severe case of butterflies

Increased heart rate, sweating and an insatiable urge to impress? No, you do not have a panic attack on your hands; you just really like this person. What does sexual tension feel like for a guy? Or what does sexual tension feel like for a girl? Irrespective of the gender or sexual orientation of the person in question, sexual tension is marked by feelings of nervous excitement and feeling unusually self-consciousness around the person you desire.

You’re both probably trying to put your best foot forward as you try to navigate your feelings of this awkward tension with a guy/girl you might be into. This is especially true when you have sexual tension with someone you can’t have. Well, you’re going to make sure you do all you can to leave a good impression. Just make sure your infatuation doesn’t lead you to ignore any obvious red flags.

6. Suggestive and flirty eye contact

When you feel electricity with someone, do they feel it too? When you feel attracted to someone, do they feel it too? Questions like these may weigh on your mind when you’re really turned on by someone but don’t know whether or not the feeling is mutual. The answer, my friend, lies in their eyes. The eye contact you make with each other will tell you all you need to know about signs of sexual tension.

Sure, you make eye contact with multiple people every day. But this, this one’s going to feel different. You’re not just looking at each other for the sake of it; an intense yearning that’s screaming out but also being pushed down inside of you is evident. If they’re flirting with their eyes, you’ll probably be able to tell because of that giddy feeling you get.

7. If it feels taboo/secret, it’s an intense sexual chemistry sign

Remember when you successfully managed to sneak out of your house at night and sneaked back in when you were a teen? Or that time you hopped the fence to get to a private pool. The thrill made it exhilarating, didn’t it? The electricity between two people who are into each other will feel just like that.

Locking eyes with each other, you’re probably letting out a wry smile that indicates the forbidden thrill of it all. This is especially the case when you feel sexual tension with someone you can’t have. PS: It isn’t as “secret” as you think it is. The energy is palpable; everybody knows about it. As Jacob said, get a room!

Related Reading: Eye Contact Attraction: How Does It Help To Build A Relationship?

8. Making each other laugh is at the top of your to-do list

Devaleena explains, “A lot of times when you know people who have developed sexual tension among them, you’ll see how they keep laughing a lot among themselves. They will keep giggling at each other’s jokes and are a lot more expressive in general too. This is indeed one of the intense signs of sexual tension but is also a sign of nervousness around that person. Since there’s a serious crush going on, there is a lot more laughter and banter arising out of the unspoken tension and attraction.”

Who knew you had a stand-up comedian hidden inside? Well, that’s what it’s going to seem like when you’re blitzing through your A-grade material and funniest stories, trying your best to make her laugh or have him in stitches. And your friends are painfully aware of how hard you’re trying. To them, your jokes aren’t funny, but the oh-so-obvious way you’re head over heels for this person is hilarious.

It’s clear as day to everyone around you that you’re trying to cut the sexual tension with humor or at the very least mask it. Except your body language is giving it away. Just the way you end up feeling sexual energy from someone, they can feel it too if you’re really turned on by them. More often than not, so can others around you.

9. They’re leaning in or removing physical barriers between you

Speaking of signs of sexual tension between two friends, two coworkers, or two people on a date, the importance of male and female body language signs of attraction cannot be overlooked. Removing barriers and leaning in toward the other person is almost a subconscious way in which your body responds to something you like.

As a way of saying, “I’m interested, tell me more”, this sexual tension or intense attraction sign will end up making you close the distance between you two. And before you know it, you’re close enough to kiss each other. That’s probably right about the time when they say something like, “Is it me or is it getting hot in here?”, in the movies.

10. Positive body language can point to that awkward tension with crush

Positive body language as a whole can be a sign of sexual tension, though in some cases, it might just be because someone likes you as a person. Are they displaying open gestures? Are they leaning in, increasing the intimacy? Are they giving you a playful smirk? Their arms aren’t crossed, right? All of these are encouraging signs that they are just as drawn to you as you’re to them.

It won’t be too outrageous an assumption to say you’re feeling sexual energy from someone whose body language on a date is warm, open, and welcoming. We’d still strongly recommend that you have a conversation with them before swooping in for a kiss. Always remember, consent is king, sexual vibe or not.

11. You’re both visibly happier around each other

And that’s the best thing about sexual tension! Picture this: you’ve been invited to a house party and you’re not expecting this person to show up. But when you see them walking through the door, the entire world around you ceases to exist and you’re probably over the moon. One of the clearest sexual tension examples is when you’re both noticeably happier around each other.

You’re suddenly all smiles and jokes, and, of course, the playful touches aren’t stopping any time soon. When you feel this awkward tension with a crush or someone you’ve been pining hard for, go ahead and do the happy dance internally. This is an encouraging sign that the sexual vibe is flowing both ways.

You can honestly even feel someone’s energy through text. It’s possible that they’ve had a busy and long day at work, but the moment they text you, both of you are all smiles and are super excited to talk to each other. On text, you will definitely notice how there’s a happier vibe and atmosphere in your romantic texting.

12. There may be a bit of awkwardness

Did you say everything you possibly could about that recent trip you took to Brazil? And now you’re stuck in a “Ha-ha… yeah… So, what’s up?” loop? But your brain is probably screaming out, “Just kiss me already!” Congratulations, that’s one of the signs of sexual tension. Unlike what all the other signs may suggest, it doesn’t have to look like a palpable surge of energy flowing from both of you.

Devaleena says, “This awkwardness is often because the two people in that situation are both extremely flustered and nervous.” Sometimes, it can just be an awkward smile. You may find yourself tongue-tied around this person, unable to hold a normal, pleasant conversation or keep up with even banal small talk because you’re really turned on in their presence and can’t get over how much you want to kiss them and more.

13. There’s an elephant in the room and its name is sexual tension

Yup, that’s what awkward tension with a guy or girl feels like. It’s like you’re playing a game of chicken where you both know the other person wants to kiss you, but you’re also not completely sure. What if you lean in and make a fool of yourself? But those suggestive eyes that won’t stop looking at your lips are telling you otherwise.

You both feel it, you’re both walking on eggshells, and everyone pretty much knows what’s up. If you’re wondering about the question, “When you feel electricity with someone, do they feel it too?”, just ask that elephant lingering about in the corner. It’ll know.

Related Reading: 23 Signs Your Soulmate Is Thinking Of You – And They Are All True!

14. You seek each other out in group settings

When you’re feeling sexual energy from someone, you’re definitely not going to spend time with anybody else but them. Why would you want to hear about your friends’ dating app tirades when you could flirt with Cindy, who’s been making eyes at you anyway? 

And when your friends all take notice, they’ll probably leave you two to it. Sometimes, they probably won’t even have an alternative, considering how you two always manage to gravitate toward each other sooner or later. This need to always be in each other’s orbit and feeling the world fade out is one of the strongest signs of sexual tension between two friends.

15. When there’s sexual tension, your voices will probably change

Devaleena tells us, “Voice plays an important role in the signs of sexual tension between two people. It is more common than you think. When there is an unspoken tension brewing, people start sounding a lot sweeter to each other. Even men seem a lot more pleasant in the way they communicate. There is a different or more suggestive tone in the voice of the person, be it a man or a woman.”

You might not have noticed this yet but think about it though; you don’t talk to this person the same way you talk to all your other friends, do you? Your voice is probably a lot cheerier, the pitch is definitely higher and let’s not forget all the jokes you’re trying to crack. If he’s fighting his feelings for you, you may just see him trying to be uber-cool with the fakest deep voice ever.

Studies prove that when you’re talking to someone you’ve got the hots for, your voice changes. This may just be the perfect person to sing a high-pitched duet with. Now that’s a date just waiting to happen!

More on sex

16. One of the signs of sexual tension is you keep finding reasons to meet each other

Did they just get a bonus? That calls for a celebratory glass of wine, right? Perhaps their lamp isn’t working. You better go check it out immediately, after all, it’s an emergency! The point is, when you’re feeling sexual energy from someone, you’d find yourself looking for excuses to meet them. When you find yourself rushing to put on your shoes the second this person texts, “Come over?”, you’re in far too deep. 

17. Sex eventually comes up in your conversations

Or something along those lines most certainly will. When things really start heating up, you’re probably talking about steamier subjects too. Kinks? Fetishes? Best sex you’ve ever had? Those conversations are bound to lead to something more between the two of you. One of the best sexual tension examples is when conversations around steamy subjects are mixed in with physical touch and eye contact.

When you’re not together, this sexual vibe may find its way through in the form of flirty texting. No matter on what note you start a conversation with them, it eventually veers into the naughty territory and it’s as if you were both waiting for that to happen. And if you still can’t tell what’s going on, you’re either just a man or very, very imperceptive.

What To Do About Sexual Tension

Now that you know what causes sexual tension as well as the signs, hopefully, you won’t misjudge what’s going on in your situation. Time to move on to the next step: what should you do about it? When push comes to shove, you have two options here: you can either pursue things to see where they lead, or you can back off, which might be the right thing to do when you’re feeling sexual tension with someone you can’t have.

Devaleena suggests, “There may be a lot of angst and confusion around these feelings of attraction and awkwardness with somebody. First and foremost, one should know that having sexual tension is really not a bad thing. If you are in a healthy setup and if there is mutual consent, you should think of it as a good thing.

“When it comes to approaching somebody, do go slow in your efforts but make sure the other person is open to it. If you have the slightest indication that the other person is not ready, consider removing yourself from that situation. Healthy boundaries are essential. Also, do note that sexual tension is not a gateway to jumping into sex with someone, ” she adds.

When you want to see it through 

When the situation feels right and nobody’s cheating on anybody by taking it forward, go ahead and let the sexual tension build. The magnetic attraction between you will take care of those awkward silences. As is the case with any other relationship, be respectful, communicate with this person, and make sure you don’t send mixed signals.

A few good dates, a few more intense sexual chemistry signs, and you’ll eventually reach a place where it’ll be impossible to keep your hands off each other. In the meantime, you probably shouldn’t “go and spoil it all by saying something stupid like ‘I love you!’” Just saying. 

Related Reading: 12 Creative And Impressive Ways To Tell Your Crush You Like Him Over Text

When there’s sexual tension with someone you can’t have

When you find yourselves at a crossroads such as this, the most important thing you can do is set boundaries about what you’re comfortable with and what you’re not. Among other things unique to your dynamic, you must keep the following in mind: 

  • Communicate honestly and bluntly about what isn’t okay
  • Set clear boundaries
  • Don’t be afraid to distance yourself if things get out of hand
  • Stand your ground and don’t get persuaded 
  • Establish the no-contact rule if required

Key Pointers

  • Sexual tension is not a bad thing. It can reveal itself in the way one laughs or talks around the other, and there is a lot more physical touch
  • When you two have a palpable sexual tension, you will want to spend more alone time with each other. You may even discuss your sexual fantasies
  • Consent is the most important thing. If you feel the other person backs away, you should also remove yourself from the situation

Feeling sexual energy from someone is an exhilarating experience. More often than not, you’re confused by the whole thing, but still looking forward to holding this person’s hand any chance you get. Hopefully, with the help of the signs we listed out for you, you won’t end up misreading the situation.


1. Is sexual tension usually mutual?

By definition, sexual tension is supposed to be mutual. If it’s one-sided, it’s more of a crush than sexual tension. If your advances of physical affection and flirting have been met with cold responses, perhaps it’s time to back off.

2. How to stop sexual tension?

If you’d like to stop sexual tension, the best thing you can do is distance yourself from the person. Set clear boundaries about what you’re comfortable with and what you’re not, and don’t be afraid to call them out if things get out of hand.

How To Impress A Girl On A Date And Make Her Want To Go On More

The 7 Techniques Of Stealth Attraction To Use NOW

9 Signs You Are In A “Right Person Wrong Time” Situation

Ask Our Expert


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.