by Anna Nash
One of the most common things we hear from our customers is that they don’t know how to flirt. Especially for women coming out of long-term relationships, it can be a struggle to remember how, or even if, they ever did it! Am I being too serious? Not serious enough? Should I be asking questions, or revealing more about myself? Should I touch them, or will that seem overly sexual? Different people flirt in different ways, and understanding and controlling our own style can help us improve the quality of our communication, have more fun and light-hearted dates, and even strengthen our long-term relationships.
Flirting is an important style of communication. Just like speaking kindly to your dog and professionally to your boss, flirting is generally the best way to speak to somebody that you’re on a date with. It shows your interest and makes them feel nice. One study has even found that women who wooed with confidence were consistently rated as more physically attractive than those that didn’t, even if they weren’t wearing make-up. Flirting also makes the flirter feel great, with studies showing it increases self-esteem and acts as an excellent stress reliever.
Studies have also shown that flirting is not only important to initial romantic communication, but to maintaining relationships over time. Happy couples in long-term relationships will continue to flirt with one another long past their initial courtship.
What are the flirting styles?
Everybody flirts differently, and knowing how you and others do it can help make romantic communication clearer and more effective. The University of Kansas has isolated five styles of flirting that are common, and one in particular that generally leads to the most long-lasting and meaningful relationships.
In the style of 50s guides to deportment, traditional flirters tend to believe that men should be the active participant in a relationship, while women are more passive. Men should pay, and women should not make the first move. Traditional men tend to hold to ideas of ‘chivalry’, and will often wait a longer time before asking somebody out. Traditional women can find it harder to attract attention, as they are waiting to be approached. Traditional flirters also tend to prefer smaller, quieter settings to large social events.
Playful flirters are often as interested in flirting as an action in and of itself as they are in wooing longer-term relationships. Playful flirters use it to have fun and build self-esteem, and find it flattering to be flirted with.
Physical flirters tend to express their interest more through body language than verbal compliments. This can quickly develop into relationships with high sexual chemistry and emotional connection, but it can also sometimes make the more reserved uncomfortable.
Polite flirters share much of their style with Traditional flirters, however their interactions are less influenced by gender. Polite flirters tend to be quieter and more introverted, and will express their interest verbally and non-sexually, rather than via touch.
Sincere flirters express genuine interest in their partner’s life, and what they might have to say. They prioritise emotional connection over sexual chemistry (although this does often follow), and are quick to find common ground with their partners. Although both men and women tended to believe this was the best style of flirting, women were more likely to actually use it.
Which flirting style is the most effective?
Depending on what you’re looking for, all of these styles can be effective. If you just want to have fun and make somebody else feel nice, Playful Flirting is great! If you’re looking for something more instantly sensual, Physical Flirting could be the answer.
However, Sincere Flirting tends to lead to the most long-term and meaningful relationships, with strong emotional and sexual connections.
Improving your flirting
Like all skills, flirting requires thought and practice. Just by reading this article, you have become more aware and have hence improved your flirting! For more practical experience, the easiest thing is to just go out, meet people and try it out (for example, at one of our group dinners).
However, if this still makes you nervous, one way to build confidence in non-sexual, verbal flirting could be to head to a bar and give a polite compliment to the person who serves you a drink, practice small talk and try to joke around a little. People that work at bars tend to be friendly and open, and because you are interacting with a professional, you don’t need to feel nervous about rejection or to start spiralling into visions of your future together. You can just get used to being friendly and comfortable with somebody new!