Ways to Flirt Confidently and Successfully

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Flirting isn’t an inborn trait; it’s a skill people can develop and learn, and science can help. Different flirting styles work better at certain times; playful flirting is best for short-term relationships. Research shows there are specific facial expressions and ways to stand that are more effective. Once the conversation is going on, finding the other person funny is essential.

When you’re single, meeting people is hard and when you see someone attractive and hope they’ll find their way over to you and start an amazing conversation. If only it were that easy, instead, you need to take a little initiative to get the sparks going. If that feels awkward, or you’re thinking, “I don’t know how to do that,” don’t worry. Being good at flirting and meeting people isn’t a trait you’re either born with or not.

When flirting, is it better to be subtle or more obvious?

Research finds that those being flirted with accurately perceived that the other person was interested only 28 percent of the time. In other words, roughly 3 out of 4 times people flirt, it goes undetected. Females were especially bad at accurately detecting male flirting, notably, outside observers did even worse.

Flirters are hard to read because they’re being too subtle, likely because they want to protect their self-esteem and avoid rejection. However, if someone doesn’t even know you’re flirting, what’s the point? Put yourself out there, be a little vulnerable, and make your flirtations more obvious. Direct is best.

Do people have different flirting styles?

There are many flavors of flirting and identified five distinct styles: physical, playful, polite, sincere, and traditional. Physical flirts rely on body language, playful flirts treat interactions like a game, polite flirts are cautious, sincere flirts seek to establish an authentic connection, while traditional flirts rely on typical gender roles where guys pursue and women aren’t too forward.

Playful flirting is better for short-term relationships. Men were more likely to be playful, while women were more likely to be traditional. Overall, those using physical, playful, and sincere styles all had more dating success.

Overall, what are the best flirting tactics?

The single best tactic for both men and women was finding the other person funny by giggling or laughing at their jokes. Women flirted more effectively when they used physical contact and didn’t use hugs or humor because those suggested more of a friendly intention. Men were most effective when they focused on having good conversations, giving compliments, and using humor.

What’s the best flirty expression for women looking to attract men?

77 percent of men perceived a specific expression—head tilted to the side and slightly downward, eyes forward, with a slight smile—as flirtatious. To pull it off, avoid too big or too small smiles, which can be seen as simply friendly rather than flirty.

Are certain body positions more flirty and effective?

A study of participants at a speed-dating event found that having an expansive body posture—such as taking up more physical space with a wider stance and having your arms open and out to the side (vs. crossed over your body) made both men and women more desirable. The researchers speculate that being more expansive is a subtle sign of dominance in a dating context, greater dominance may also signal greater confidence or social status, which are both appealing.

Once the conversation gets going, what should I do?

Everyone wants a partner who will be there for us when we need them. In other words, we want a responsive partner who pays attention to our needs, wants, and goals. In a dating context, the easiest way partners can show responsiveness is through being a good listener. You can do this by facing the other person, maintaining eye contact, nodding, giving good facial expressions, asking follow-up questions, and giving your thoughts. Showing sincere interest can be extremely attractive.

A 5-Step Flirty Challenge

It can feel intimidating to go out in the world and start flirting, even at a social gathering. To make it less daunting, you can start small and improve little by little with micro goals. For example, you could give yourself this challenge the next time you’re in a social setting:

  • Make eye contact with seven people.
  • Smile at five people.
  • Say “Hi!” to three people.
  • Ask two people an innocent question or for help.
  • Flirt with at least one person.

The other key is to give yourself a deadline. For example, from the moment you get there, you have 5 minutes to make your first eye contact. Once you get started, you’ll see that it gets easier and easier. Have fun with it. You’re not doing this to meet your forever person, just to be social and meet interesting new people. Who knows where that will lead you…