Why did you wink at me?
March 22, 2008 8:03 PM   Subscribe

I am a woman, and I've been winked at by a few men in my day but recently after being introduced to another woman, she defintely winked at me. This has never happened to me before so I'm wondering if this is something that other women do, and if so, why?

According to the body language research a wink usually means "we share a secret" so what secret did we share?

A long-time male aquaintance introduced a much younger woman to me at a social event and a few moments after we were introduced, I happened to look back and she winked at me. It was very disconcerting as this has never happened to me before. It seemed to come across as condenscending.

Although in the context of the event, it was entirely appropriate for my friend to introduce me to the young lady, it did later turn out that he was having an affair with her. I didn't know anything about this at the time and his wife was present at the event. So was the wink the young woman's subconscious way of letting me know? Or am I overthinking this and lots of women wink at other obviously straight women shortly after being introduced?
posted by tamitang to Human Relations (25 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Not a woman, but honestly curious as to your self-characterization as an "obviously straight woman"?
Maybe she was flirting?
posted by Dizzy at 8:08 PM on March 22, 2008

Please forgive my lack of clarity. What I mean is, perhaps she thought you were not straight?
posted by Dizzy at 8:10 PM on March 22, 2008

I have a professor who, when surrounded by a group of people after a presentation or otherwise talking to someone else, will wink to acknowledge you/say hello instead of waving (i should note that it's not the least bit creepy the way he does it...). Maybe it could've been something similar? "hello, you are looking at me, i'm looking at you, we're sharing this moment of looking at each other", maybe?
posted by lisawin at 8:13 PM on March 22, 2008

Sometimes people wink by accident, or as a nervous mannerism. Sometimes they wink in greeting. Or by way of acknowledgement. Or to convey inclusiveness. It's impossible to know what this woman's intentions were, but personally, I wouldn't read anything into the gesture.
posted by hot soup girl at 8:17 PM on March 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

Might have been a tick, might have meant "doesn't that other person in our immediate vicinity seem like a nut/jerk/twit/doofus/', might've just meant "I think you're a cool person". I myself am not used to winking at all (I thought it had gone the way of the pocket watch and spats), but my S.O. of the past 4 years winks at me sometimes and I take it as a 'buddies' gesture, like a fellow-footballer rump-pat.
posted by fish tick at 8:19 PM on March 22, 2008

It could just be a flirtier equivalent of a head nod, just a way of saying "hi!", without sexual subtext.
Or she could be coming on to you.
posted by signal at 8:25 PM on March 22, 2008

was the wink the young woman's subconscious way of letting me know?

Was the wink her conscious way of marking the relationship that she thought you might be aware of?

Often a wink is something between a flirt and an invitation, as your sexuality reference implies, but there are a large number of winks that express no sexual message. Many of them are misinterpreted.
posted by megatherium at 8:30 PM on March 22, 2008

You're thinking about this way too much. You glanced at her, she noticed, and she winked to let you know. Some people nod, some people smile and some - the more mischievous of us, perhaps - wink.
posted by wsp at 8:41 PM on March 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

You are: a) wondering if the wink was a come-on; or b) wondering if the wink was a "hey, there's a secret here and I think you're in on it." The reality is probably c) some people wave, some people nod, once in a while you meet a winker.

In other words, don't overwink a plate of beans.
posted by sonofslim at 8:46 PM on March 22, 2008

I wouldn't read too much into it. My father-in-law is constantly winking at me for no apparent reason, and I'm pretty sure he's not coming on to me. Also, people will sometimes wink at you as a way of silently commenting on something another person in your party has just said. Could that have happened in your case? Was anyone spouting a wacko theory or saying anything else notable?
posted by Enroute at 8:58 PM on March 22, 2008

She could have been consciously assuming that you knew about the affair, due to some remark your friend made. Was there anything that he said that could have been in air quotes?

/helping you overthink.
posted by klangklangston at 10:11 PM on March 22, 2008

I've been winked at by other women. I've always taken it as a "sisterhood" sort of thing, as in sharing a joke (or a secret - as you mentioned). Often it's in the context of two wives and two husbands at a social gathering, where one of the husbands is being a bit of a dick/chauvinist, saying something along the lines of "Yeah, me and the little woman blah blah blah," and the wife will wink at the other wife as if to say "Yeah, he's an ass, but I love him."
posted by amyms at 10:30 PM on March 22, 2008

Response by poster: self-characterization as an "obviously straight woman

Well, by this I meant that I was with my SO who is a man and the conversation consisted of nothing more than introductions.

Knowing the back story later probably it was nerves considering she was being introduced around to a large group of his friends.
posted by tamitang at 11:56 PM on March 22, 2008

Overthinking. Most likely acknowledging the look or eye contact. Maybe she's a winker. Think of strangers in elevators- most people, especially men for some reason, will nonverbally acknowledge each other's presence. But there are those who wink, especially when they're amused, or as you said, have a secret. The story about the affair is telling.
posted by bartleby at 12:27 AM on March 23, 2008

I have winked at and been winked at by lots of different people for lots of different reasons. To the extent you're right that it means "we share a secret," I think the secret would usually be something playful or trivial, like "see, I'm drinking something other than the Chardonnay you just criticized," as opposed to something grave, like "we both know I'm breaking up this marriage."

Particularly since she was younger, you should probably treat it as the live-action equivalent of the emoticon ;-) which I have always interpreted as a sign of levity. (Sorry, I know I need at least one comma there, but am not sure how that's done without altering the emoticon.)

I suspect you're back-projecting based on what you later learned. I also suspect that I will be watching my winking in the future. ;-)
posted by lionelhutz5 at 12:35 AM on March 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

I am an occasional winker, and were it I winking at you as you describe, it would have been the wink we winkers know to be the nod-as-wink wink. You might best interpret this optical twitch to mean "Yep, I see you lookin' at me. Howdy yourself, pard!" No proposal of shenanigans should be inferred.
posted by mumkin at 1:44 AM on March 23, 2008 [2 favorites]

You're sure he didn't turn to look back at the same time and thus she was actually winking at him?
posted by Jacqueline at 1:51 AM on March 23, 2008

You're probably overthinking it. I know several straight females who regularly wink at other women, to say "hi" across a room or even to indicate "you know what I mean?" when they're talking to someone. It's sort of their schtick.
posted by korres at 5:43 AM on March 23, 2008

In certain situations that make me nervous or uncomfortable, my right eye twitches involuntarily. It makes me look as though I am winking, but it's just a tic.
posted by emmastory at 5:58 AM on March 23, 2008

I'm with mumkin. When I'm in a particularly jolly mood I tend to wink when I smile at someone. It's not something intentional, just sort of communicating upbeat camaraderie.
posted by pammo at 9:36 AM on March 23, 2008

people always think i am winking at them, but in fact it is that my contacts are irritating my eyes.
posted by apostrophe at 11:18 AM on March 23, 2008

My wife is a winker. For a long time it kinda threw me off. I think its kinda like that thing that some men do where they shoot you with a finger-gun and say "Pshew!".
posted by ducktape at 11:30 AM on March 23, 2008 [2 favorites]

She could have a weak eye. My right eye has significantly worse vision than my left, and when I am stressed, I wink unintentionally. Being in the same room as your secret lover and his wife must be pretty stressful.
posted by indienial at 4:37 PM on March 23, 2008

I'm a woman and I've seen this often with little elderly ladies who seem to be saying, "Other people might not get my little joke, but I know you do!" or "We're fun gals, aren't we?" In this case, it is meant as a compliment to your humor or wit and is an innocently friendly gesture. I know one younger woman who is a confirmed winker and it has much the same import, though I did find it odd when I first met her. She may have been raised by little old ladies.
posted by Morrigan at 6:51 PM on March 23, 2008

I wink at people as a not so subtle way to let them know that I am lying. I may be saying something that I know most of the room will know is not true, but then there is that guy in the corner staring at me dumbfounded. A wink eithers points out I'm lying, or distracts him completely.
posted by Monday at 12:52 PM on March 24, 2008

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