10 Tips for Flirting

The Art of FlirtingThe Art of Flirting

The biological basis for flirting is quite real, and understanding instinctual clues is necessary in order to flirt effectively. Flirting is a natural and instinctual response to human attraction. But many humans are not aware of, or cannot master, their instincts. Following a few tips can maximize flirting potential.

Notice Body Language

You may think of flirting as verbal suggestions or wordplay; but studies show the most effective flirting through non-verbal communication. A 2009 study by the Social Institute Research Center says that during an initial conversation with a potential mate, "their initial impression of you will be based 55 percent on your appearance and body-language, 38 percent on your style of speaking and only 7 percent on what you actually say." Our tone, posture, mannerisms and facial expressions attached to those words reveal the person's true intentions.

Make Eye Contact

There is an old expression that our eyes are the windows to our souls--and fundamental to social engagement. Making direct eye contact with another person can communicate intense feelings, which is why most direct eye contact is very brief. However, when flirting, or attempting to communicate desire, prolonged eye contact is highly effective in communicating intentions. Just imagine the power of a gaze when from across a crowded room, a person is able to capture and hold your attention just by locking eyes with you. If your target returns your glance, holds the glance for a few seconds, or even looks away briefly but returns to your gaze again, you can assume she is interested. On the other hand, if a person avoids making eye contact or deliberately looks away, his evasive signal could not be more clear.

Respect Interpersonal Space

Personal distance while flirting is very important as it will guide the person's impression and opinion of you. As noted by the Social Institute Research Center, the borderline between the "social zone" (4 to 12 feet) and the "personal zone" (18 inches to 4 feet) needs to be observed when communicating. Breaking these social boundaries could make a person uneasy, overwhelmed or send entirely wrong messages about your intentions. If a man invades a woman's personal, or intimate space, this can be misinterpreted as aggression or threatening behavior.


A brief touch of an arm to communicate attraction or to emphasize a point is often received very positively. Feelings of warmth and familiarity are communicated through this brief exchange. However, avoid prolonged contact or contact with other areas of the body as it may suggest sexual intentions or aggression. Women are much more sensitive to touching from the opposite sex, so men should be conservative in their approach when flirting--women too easily perceive a man's touch as aggressive or threatening. So touch, but touch sparingly, briefly and with caution.


The easiest way to express joy and attraction is to smile and laugh--naturally. Smiles communicate agreement, approval and interest. A fake smile or a forced, overdone laugh will be obviously insincere. But flashing a subtle smile can make the other person feel at ease and make you appear open and welcoming to conversation.

Be Positive

Be positive when talking--a person who is negative, self-deprecating or sarcastic can be a turnoff. As outlined by the Social Institute Research Center, other flirtation mistakes include self-preoccupation, banality, tediousness, passivity, lack of enthusiasm, over-seriousness and over-excitement. Complaining about one's day, work or family will only bore or dissuade a potential mate. If you are complaining in the first 10 minutes of meeting someone, that doesn't hold well for the rest of the relationship to come.


Complimenting requires no witty opening line or humorous originality--all that is required to compliment a person is sincerity. Complimenting is the most commonly accepted form of flirting; according to the Social Institute Research Center, "in an analysis of 600 verbatim compliments, linguists found that they tend to follow a tried-and-tested formula, with the word 'nice' occurring in nearly 25 percent of the compliments studied, and the word 'you' in almost 75 percent." What this means is that simple compliments ("You look really nice in that color") can go a long way in making a person feel at ease or confident.


Listen to the other person--don't simply wait your turn to talk. Listening is just as important as talking. People drop clues about interests, hobbies, perspectives and desires through what they choose to tell you in initial conversations. Missing one of these signals or failing to respond to one could seriously hurt your chances at having a second conversation. Nobody wants to be in a one-sided conversation. Signal your listening during a conversation with non-verbal cues such as nodding, smiling, open posture or leaning toward the speaker. Even a few nods can greatly increase the person's positive response to you.

Reciprocate Disclosure

To reciprocate disclosure simply means to exchange personal information. A conversation can hardly be called flirting if no personal or intimate details are shared. These intimate details do not need to be sexual or revealing in order to be considered intimate--anything about your personal likes or dislikes will help to reveal your inner self to the other person. For example, if a person reveals their idea of a perfect date, it is expected that you reciprocate by also sharing your ideas. Reciprocating is a less aggressive and more comfortable way to converse than asking direct and pointed questions.

Use Humor

Humor is a sure-fire way to reduce stress, anxiety and increase comfort while having an initial conversation with someone. But humor must be used appropriately to have this effect. Judicious use of humor makes people more open to relationship advances as it naturally increases trust and attraction, according to the Social Institute Research Center. Too much seriousness in the initial stages of conversation can be off-putting, so humor and flirtation make a good pair as flirting, by definition, is lighthearted and playful.

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About the Author

Kelly Kaufmann teaches English literature and composition in Pittsburgh, Pa. She has a B.A. from Michigan State University, as well as an M.A.T. in secondary English education from the University of Pittsburgh. Kaufmann is a contributing writer for eHow, where she has published numerous articles in the fields of education, nutrition, and cultural studies.

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