Flirting is a powerful tool. It is one of the first steps to getting to know someone and to let them know that you are attracted to them. It is a playful exchange that creates a foundation for a greater connection. Flirting increases the chances of intimacy, and it's fun! Believe it or not, there is a right way to flirt. According to Apostolou & Eleftheriou (2022) one of the main reasons a person might stay single is if they do not know how to flirt. Flirting is another form of communication that if done correctly, can be extremely rewarding. I am going to invite you to participate in an imagery exercise.
How would you feel if someone came up to you and they smelled bad, touched you without permission, used vulgar language, and kept eyeing another person while trying to get your number? What are you noticing? I imagine there may be some emotions coming up that fall into the realm of disgust. Now, I would like you to imagine a scenario where someone comes up to you who is kind, mature, makes direct eye contact with you, and makes you laugh. What do you notice now? I imagine more positive sensations or emotions.
In the first scenario, we saw what researchers found to be some of the worst ways to flirt. These include a “slimy approach,” poor hygiene, and not communicating exclusivity. In the second scenario, we saw what researchers found to be the most effective ways to flirt. These include good nonverbal skills (using direct eye contact, calm tone of voice, and confident body language), intelligence/humor, and a gentle approach. Flirting is not only about what you say but how you say it. You can easily practice good nonverbal communication by noticing your own body language. Are you slouching, and arms folded? Or are you sitting straight up, and arms relaxed? How comfortable do you feel making eye contact? You can practice in the mirror or ask a friend!
If you are someone who considers yourself to be shy, then flirting can feel extra intimidating. Shyness is related to feeling nervous, insecure, or anxious. It is important to note that there is helpful anxiety and unhelpful anxiety. Helpful anxiety propels you complete a task or to accomplish a goal; it provides you with just enough energy to get what you need to do done. Unhelpful anxiety happens when you let fear make your decisions for you, which most of the time, leads to avoidance. Putting yourself out there can be scary, but avoidance makes anxiety worse long term. To combat unhelpful anxiety, practice relaxation techniques to reduce stress or focus on your strengths to boost your confidence. Remember, there is no rush, and it is completely okay if you need to take more time to calm nerves before you feel ready to flirt. The hardest part is taking that first step!
Apostolou, M & Christoforou, C (2020). The art of flirting: What are the traits that make it effective?, Personality and Individual Differences, 158. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2020.109866.
Apostolou, M & Eleftheriou, C (2022). What constitutes bad flirting: An explorative study of dealbreakers. Personality and Individual Differences, 194. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2022.111665