Flirt like a pro...
You see him on the elevator every morning. Even through your pre-morning coffee haze, you can feel the instant attraction. When he stops the elevator doors from closing as you approach, he flashes you a gorgeous smile that tingles from head-to-toe. In the crowded elevator, you slide in next to him and feel your face flush. As you glance at him out of the corner of your eye, he gives you a steamy sideways glance and smiles again. You look away, embarrassed, and when you finally get the courage to return his smoldering gaze, you realize that you’re staring at his back as he exits the elevator.
Discover your inner flirt with these fool-proof tips.
If this has ever happened to you, don’t panic. You’ve just experienced the beginnings of a ritual mating dance we call “flirting.” As exasperating or confusing as it may seem at times, flirting can be a lot of fun and, if done right, can lead to possible romances and meaningful relationships.
Although flirting is ingrained in all of us, to differing degrees, it’s hard to know when and how to turn it on, and when or where it will be successful. But with a little know-how and practice, gaining flirting confidence is a breeze. Here are some tips and tricks to get you on your way.
The Science of Flirting
In evolutionary terms, flirting is nature’s way of sorting of potential mates. Outside of a select few, most of us simply don’t have the time or the patience to pursue a relationship with every person that crosses our path. With the aid of flirting, we can weed out the people we’re not interested in and make a connection with those that strike our fancy.
Findings through behavioural research show that flirting can be conveyed through several measures that we’ve all seen at one time or another: body language (eye contact, casual touching), posture (leaning forward), stylized gestures (“Protean” signals, which are ambiguous wooing signals like playing with one’s hair or batting the eyelashes), and language (teasing, using double entendres). Men are more likely to focus on the verbal elements of flirting but, in fact, the non-verbal signs of flirting are more important, and more so in the initial stages of a courtship. A successful flirting session will comprise of 55 per cent body language, 38 per cent tone and speed of voice, and a measly 7 per cent on actual conversation.
A study by social psychologist Timothy Perper and anthopologist David Givens found that flirting almost always occurs after the initial attraction. By casually observing couples at a hotel bar, the Mecca of most sordid affairs, the pair found that women exhibited idiosyncrasies not unlike those found in lab rodents trying to attract a partner. In addition to smiling, gazing, giggling, and licking their lips, women also emphasized their breasts and buttocks by arching their backs and sitting in a rigid, forward-leaning position. Men, on the other hand, were likened to baboons as they used grand gestures like swaggering, bursting into laughter, and puffing out their chests. In the same study, Perper and Givens outlined the natural progression of a flirtatious date: women giggle and laugh, hair twirl and head toss, while men lean back in their chairs, arch their bodies, and put their hands behind their heads. Later, tentative touching begins with the likes of the time-tested “lint pick” and the accidental hand brush. If all goes well, the couple will begin to close in on their space by shifting in and leaning forward.
There are many benefits to flirting. It can raise self-esteem, and strengthen social bonds. On the down side, research has shown that men often mistake friendly behaviour for sexual flirting, so signals have a chance of getting crossed. Women, on the other hand, are better at interpreting and responding to courting advances.
It’s All In the Body
Successful flirting is the ability to convey interest, not the ability to show off and impress. Keeping this in mind, the window to a flirting invitation comes through body language.
Most often, when we glance an attractive person from across the room, eye contact is the first point of exchange. Here are some pointers on how to make the magic work.
As the initial eye contact flourishes, chances are that one person will be approaching the other. In this close proximity, there are a few things to keep in mind. The “social zone” (four feet to 12 feet apart) is usually reserved for strangers, acquaintances, and people encountered in professional settings. The “personal zone” (four feet to 18 inches) is penetrable by friends and family. And the “intimate zone” is set aside for lovers. As a general rule, people engaged in flirting should keep their distance at the “personal zone” – too close for a formal meeting, and too far as to not invade someone’s personal space. (If you happen to be sitting side-by-side, a shorter distance is acceptable.) If the other person exhibits signs of being uncomfortable – folding arms, shifting awkwardly, recoiling in horror – take a step back. Remember, if you’re close enough to whisper audibly, you’re probably too close.
- Hold the eye contact longer than usual; normally, more than one second works. But don’t stare too hard or for too long – you don’t want to come across as a lecherous creepy person.
- What works for women: look down as he meets your gaze, and then look up and meet his glance. The coyer, the better. What works for men: look at her with darting eyes.
- If you are being introduced, make eye contact right away.
- In normal conversations, we look more often when the other person is speaking, and look away when we are talking. In a flirtatious encounter, it might seem natural to initiate more eye contact, but this could potentially only serve to make the other person uncomfortable. Keep the eye contact natural at this point.
- The patented eyebrow raise, which is a universal greeting signal, works well in crowded situations. For extra effect, prolong the raised eyebrows and smile to show interest.
- If the other person doesn’t seem to be initiating or engaging in as much eye contact as you are, it’s safe to say that you should cut your losses and move on.
Posture plays a large role in conveying our true feelings, especially towards another person. Male and female flirting posture rituals usually emphasize the masculinity and femininity of each sex, like the puffing out of the chest for males, and the arching of the back for females. Usually, posture is a gesticulation that leaks out subconsciously. Watch the other person’s posture to gauge their feelings. “Closed postures” such as crossed arms and legs are bad; “open postures” such as leaning forward, tilting the head, and sitting face-to-face are good. The degree to which a person leans towards someone has been shown to correlate to the level of attention a person is ready to give. Another sign to look for is the positioning of the body. If someone likes you, they will position their hands and feet towards you.
[ Reading into his smile, conversation starters, closing the deal. Part II of the article. ]