So, you’ve seen a complete stunner across the room; this person could be ‘the one.’ You’ve got a feeling in your heart…or at least somewhere else in your anatomy. What are you going to do about it? Well, flirting may be a good start!
Men tend to worry about coming across as creepy when they flirt. It’s one thing to show that you’re into someone, but it’s quite another to come on strong and give off the wrong vibe. Here’s a quick guide to help you get it right.
The Telltale Signs of Flirting
Before you get in the ring, you need to understand what the rules are, right? You might think that flirting is something that comes naturally to everyone, but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the reality is that many people—both men and women—find it strikingly hard to understand the art of flirting.
Social anthropologist and self-proclaimed ‘flirtologist,’ Jean Smith, might just have the answer. When she delivered her TEDx talk back in 2015, she offered a goldmine of information to all those wondering what the secret to good flirting is. She explained that over the last ten years, the way people flirt has changed in a serious way.
Since we’re all more reliant than ever on the likes of smartphones, tablets, and laptops, the way we communicate has changed too. The modern-day man is more likely to send a quick emoji than write reams of heartfelt declarations. We already know that.
What some of us don’t know is how to notice the signs of flirting IRL (in real life!), which could be a major problem. That’s why Smith put together her H.O.T.A.P.E. theory of flirting—an acronym for some of the most common signs that someone digs you. Here’s what you need to know:
The first sign is humor. Why do you think that having a good sense of humor (GSOH) is such a cliché in dating ads? If you’re talking to another person and they’re cracking joke after joke… and you’re laughing at every punchline… they could be flirting with you!
As Smith explains, having a shared sense of humor is very important when it comes to building a relationship. It’s one of the major ways you can check if you ‘click.’ Should you find the same things utterly hilarious, you might just have a connection.
Open Body Language
Spoiler: Underestimating the power of nonverbal communication is a mistake. When a person has closed off body language (for example, if they have crossed their arms) it means that they are trying to hide away. They are not open to this interaction and are trying to figuratively and literally protect themselves from it. Yikes.
Open body language is quite the opposite. Shoulders back, arms open, and forward facing. If someone is standing in front of you with this type of open body language, it’s definitely a good sign. Equally, if you’re trying to attract someone, you should be doing the same darn thing.
Want to figure out whether someone is flirting with you? An easy sign is to see whether they’ve touched you. Smith explains that touch creates a ‘positive physiological response’ but that the contact has to be made in a ‘safe place’ such as the shoulder or arm.
If you fancy flirtatiously touching someone in a non-threatening (and non-creepy) way, sticking to the arm is a good start. Gently tapping someone on the hand is an intimate touch and can be pulled off when you know the person relatively well. You could accompany this gesture with a well-timed compliment.
Question time: When you’ve got the hots for someone, what do you do? The answer should be obvious. You pay them…attention. Everyone does this whether they are consciously aware of it or not. When you notice that someone is paying you extra attention, there could be a good reason for that. Read the signs!
The first thing that you need to understand here is that people are drawn to one another—literally. When you find another person attractive, your instincts will tell you to lean in closer to them or even to walk across the room just so that you can stand next to them.
Pay attention to where people stand when they’re talking to you or in a group scenario. If it seems like that person is going out of their way to be by your side, they could have a subconscious thing for you. Return the favor and go out of your way to stand by them.
You might have already guessed this one. Eye contact is the number one way that people know when another person is flirting with them. But wait, how do you know whether someone is just being friendly and polite or whether they are actually flirting with you?
It’s pretty simple. When someone is flirting, the gazes or little looks will happen frequently and they may last longer than you’d usually expect. While you’re in conversation with someone, be aware of the type of eye contact they’re using. If it seems intense, that’s probably because they can’t keep their eyes off you.
Now that you understand the main signs of flirting, you won’t get caught off guard and miss out on a potential date. Understanding these subtleties means that you can quickly figure out when someone is attracted to you and strike while the iron is hot.
Where and When Should You Flirt?
There’s a time and a place for flirting. According to the Social Issues Research Center (SIRC), where and when you flirt could be just as important as the way that you flirt. Here are some of the places that have been identified as socially acceptable scenarios in which you can flex your flirtatious muscles:
- Drinking places (pubs, bars, clubs, etc.)
- Sports/hobby clubs
- Spectator events
In these last two places, you have an extra advantage. The fact that you and the other person are attending the same club or event means that you already have a shared interest. That common ground is priceless! It means that you might be compatible.
Golden Rules For Flirting (Without Being Creepy!)
So, you’ve found yourself in a situation where flirting is acceptable and you want to give it a go, what do you do next? Well, the last thing you want is to come-off creepy or weird. (Hey, it happens to the best of us!) With that in mind, here are some golden rules that you need to stick to when flirting:
#1. Avoid over-flirting
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when it comes to flirting is coming on too strong. As expert Rachel Dealto explained, flirting with someone constantly can come off as desperate and needy—not attractive qualities.
As she puts it, flirting can be a ‘cat and mouse game.’ You have to give a little—wait—and then see what you get back. If the other person isn’t responding to your gestures, it might be best to give them some space.
#2. Test the waters
There are two major reasons you shouldn’t flirt with someone who has zero interest in you. First, it’s a waste of your time as you’re unlikely to win them over with sheer charm. Secondly, you may end up annoying them or crossing social boundaries. Bad move.
Before you jump into the pool headfirst, stick your toe in the water. The SIRC suggest looking for some of the signs—that we’ve already discussed—to see whether the person seems interested. If they aren’t, walk away.
#3. Ditch the cheesy one-liners
You: “Did it hurt?”
Her: “Did what hurt?”
You: “When You fell down from heaven?”
Picture the scene. You’re talking to a potential date and the above conversation plays out. How do you see it going? While—in your mind’s eye—you might imagine that this scenario would end with you and her riding off into the sunset, the reality is more likely to see her walking away swiftly and never once looking back.
Why? It’s basic stuff—no one likes one-liners or cheesy chat-up lines. According to a study published in the Sex Roles journal, neither men nor women favor pickup lines. You’re far more likely to pique someone’s interest by asking them a genuine question about who they are, what their interests are, or what they do. Keep things simple.
#4. Sync up with the other person
Feeling flirty? One of the best ways to show the other person that you’re into them is to get in-sync with their body language and stances. You might have heard of this technique before—it’s often called ‘mirroring’—and means that you copy the other person’s gestures and movements in the subtlest way possible.
Synchronization is a ‘highly effective flirting technique,’ according to the SIRC guide. Much of the time, people sync up naturally when they feel comfortable or when they are attracted to each other. However, you can fake it until you make it. If you feel that an interaction isn’t going so well, start mimicking the other person. It may help to get things back on track and create a sense of compatibility.
#5. Don’t be a conversation hog!
Whether it’s because you’re feeling a tad nervous or just that you love the sound of your own voice, there are few things as unattractive as stealing the limelight. Flirting is about showing an interest in another person—not about selling yourself and bragging about how great you are. Take a breath. Ask a question and then let the other person speak.
The rule here is easy to remember: according to the SIRC, you should make your part in the conversation equal to that of the other person. So, when you start speaking, take a pause, and allow them to talk for roughly the same amount of time as you did. Of course, you don’t have to be as regimented as that, but make sure that you’re not chatting away without giving them a chance to really engage and get involved in the conversation.
#6. Look for unspoken cues
Not sure when you should be talking? Look for natural breaks in the conversation. When people are speaking, they will pause now and then. These are the moments when you’re safe to jump in and have your say. At all costs, you need to avoid speaking over the other person or trying to hijack the conversation by changing the subject. Be polite.
#7. Use the ‘compliment formula’
Compliments will get you everywhere—or will they? Some can backfire quickly especially if they are over-the-top or too personal. How can you tell someone that you appreciate them without it sounding inappropriate or creepy? Luckily, there’s a winning ‘compliment formula’ that you can use.
An analysis of 600 verbatim compliments, highlighted by the SIRC, found that effective compliments often share similar traits. The results found that the word ‘you’ appeared around 25% of the time in these phrases, while the word ‘nice’ appeared 75% of the time.
The takeaway is that, in combining these two words, you can create a safe—yet effective—compliment. For example, you could say “You look nice today” or “You are always smiling… It’s so nice to see!” These phrases are not too suggestive but show that you like the other person.
Make no mistakes—there is a right way to flirt. Don’t worry if it doesn’t come naturally to you or if you weren’t blessed with the gift of the gab. This skill is one that you can absolutely learn. So long as you respect boundaries, look for social signs, and keep things casual, you should have no problem. Follow these golden rules and go get ‘em.
Weekly Inspiration on How to Become a Better Man
Get our latest posts delivered right to your inbox.