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Flirting is more than just fun – it’s fundamental. We are made for love: our entire survival as a species depends on it. If we stopped flirting, connecting and reproducing with each other we’d soon disappear. So, while nature has endowed us with all the necessary parts we need to save ourselves from extinction not everyone knows how to use them to their best advantage. This is particularly true when it comes to flirting.
Three types of flirting
We can break flirting down into three main types: public, social, and private. Public flirting is usually a spontaneous, amusing, and harmless way to brighten someone’s day, to add a little play into life or an otherwise routine relationship, and generally to spread a little happiness around. Social flirting adds a sexual element to the mix, signaling interest. Private flirting is one-on-one, radiates sex appeal, and enhances your ability to make someone fall in love with you in 90 minutes or less.
Naturally your attitude, clothing, self-confidence, and personality all contribute to your ability to flirt but, whether you are a man or a woman, generating and sending out sexual messages through grown-up sexual energy is an integral part of making yourself more irresistible to a partner.
We all flirt in one way or another from time to time: cooing and playing peek-a-boo with a baby, teasing friends or loved ones, surprising them with small gifts or doing something thoughtful and unexpected, playing hard-to-please, acting coy, or feigning astonishment at a risqué tale. These are all playful, flirtatious behaviors designed to heighten excitement and curiosity and entice a favorable response. There are many situations where you probably don’t even realize you’re flirting. You banter with the woman at the pharmacy or joke with the man at the dry cleaner. The guy at the deli counter smiles and addresses you by name every time he sees you. These are the kinds of interactions humans are designed to enjoy and respond to. Public flirtation is innocent, makes us feel good (it is, after all, a form of flattery), and keeps us in touch with other people. Don’t underestimate the importance of flirtation in your daily life.
Fortunately, you can take advantage of opportunities to flirt almost everywhere, anytime. You can flirt for seconds or minutes, and it can happen at work, when you travel, when you shop, at church, at the ball game, at a music club, at a funeral or a wedding, or at an AA meeting. But sooner or later you’ll decide that someone with whom you’ve flirted deserves additional attention, and that you’re interested in finding out more about him or her. That’s when it’s time to try some social flirting.
Social flirting is a friendly and playful way to let someone know that you’ve noticed them and are interested, and it can signal anything from “Hi, I like your style; let’s get to know each other better,” to “Catch me if you can and see what might happen.”
When we envision a typical social flirtation, we tend to picture two people chatting at a party or a bar or club. Both are beautifully dressed, they sip their wine elegantly, the camera cuts to a close-up of their eyes, sending unmistakable signals to each other as they make witty remarks loaded with sexual tension. That’s great, but there are many simpler and less cinematic forms of social flirtation. It’s all about making a personal connection and getting the chemistry flowing. You can use a hello or goodbye to emphasize how great things are when you’re together. You can lend her your jacket if she looks cold. You can “accidentally” brush up against him, or bump shoulders casually when walking down the street. Throw a quick glance. Compliment her. Cast him a sidelong gaze. Tell her how good she’d look in that sexy dress you see in the store window.
A woman can send sexual signals by licking her lips slightly, nonchalantly tracing the outline of her collar with her fingers, playing with her hair or jewelry, or running her hand down her thigh. A man can do the same by straightening his tie, running a hand through his hair, or gently tossing his head.
There’s obviously a fine line between too much sexual innuendo and not enough. As a general rule you should take care that your behavior isn’t sending mixed signals or promising more than you’re prepared to deliver. Flaunt your sexuality too much in your social flirting and you’ll probably come across as a tease and/or cute or silly. Too little flaunting and you run the risk of becoming just a “friend.”
Now that we’ve looked at the principles behind the ancient and respected art of flirting, it’s time to put those principles to work for you through private flirting. Unlike public and social flirting, private flirting is strictly about sex appeal—not the sort that’s for public consumption, but the one-on-one sort. It’s about two people detecting and responding to each other’s energy.
When you’re with someone who may be your matched opposite and the clock is ticking, you’d better know how to flirt one-on-one and show off your sex appeal; if not, your burgeoning relationship can slip very easily into “just friends” mode.
Flirting Is for Everyone
If you feel flirt-challenged or feel like you’re not attractive or clever enough to get away with it, don’t worry: Flirting in general has more to do with playfulness and vitality than with broad shoulders or a pretty face. Dr. Monica Moore, a psychologist at Webster University in St. Louis, has conducted research on the flirting techniques used in singles bars, shopping malls, and places young people go to meet each other. She concluded that it’s not the most physically appealing people whom get approached, but the ones who signal their availability through basic flirting techniques like eye contact and smiles. Just signaling your interest in someone gets you halfway there, whether you’re a man or a woman.