On Flirting

Flirting. I've been told that I'm an incurable fucking flirt on more than one occasion. That's true. I'm generally being playful. I'm trying to relate to someone and make them feel comfortable within the context of a shared moment. I think, though, many people have a misconception about what flirting is. Some think that flirting is equal to fucking. That's wrong. I'm going to breakdown flirting as it is and as I see it with the hope that you understand it better and actually become a better flirt yourself.

What Wikipedia has to say about flirting…

behave as though attracted to or trying to attract someone, but for amusement rather than with serious intentions.
“it amused him to flirt with her”
synonyms: trifle with, toy with, tease, lead on

“it amused him to flirt with her”

There was a point when I was painfully awkward and shy. I didn't talk to new people all that often. That changed when I started working in retail and had to deal with people ALL the time! That job changed my life. No kidding! I began to open myself up. I had to learn how to engage people. As I did so I became more comfortable and, in the process, more relatable, too.

Becoming more comfortable and relatable allowed me to be who I was. Who was I? I am an awkward guy who has fun doing whatever I do and joking the whole time. So I would joke around with all my customers. No one was off-limits to my shitty jokes and often witless banter. Men, women, babies, the elderly. I flirted with everybody!

During those years working customer service, I was told multiple times I should be asking out some of these women I was helping. Why? Because they laughed at my jokes. They were happy to see me when they came. We chatted, shared tidbits about life and so on… But I never did ask them out. It was never my point to ask these women out. I was just doing my job, I was just helping them and talking to them and being myself. And so what if some of these women found my joking humorous. It doesn't necessarily mean anything. Not really.

My experience working in customer service serves as the basis for how I think about flirting and how I actually go about it. I think it can help you out. So read on, dear reader!

The Bloody Guts of Flirting

I don't know what it is about flirting that fascinates me so. I enjoy flirting, but I'm far from being an expert at it. However, my curiosity surrounding flirting has gotten me to do some research and to also start really paying attention to my exchanges with random people I meet, whether it's in the men's room or at Trader Joe's on a Sunday.

Art or Science?

Is flirting an art? Is flirting a science? Surely I don't fucking know. I'd have a better shot of identifying the rash that just cropped up over the weekend than giving you an answer about flirting (mental note, schedule appointment with GP this week to check on said rash. The doc is going to be mucho pissed).

My favorite Doctor is Dr. Antonio Damasio. Actually, that's not true. I don't know the guy but he has likened flirting to brain damage. That really explains so much about me. I could end here: Flirting because brain damage. Damasio supposes that flirting is handled within the limbic system. Now, I know what you're all thinking: “I remember life science classes from high school. Isn't the limbic system responsible for fight or flight responses?” Yep, Billy-Jim, you're right! Have a delicious piece of Nori, you pirate, you!!

Fight or flight responses deal more with instinctive behavior than rational thought. Rational thinking would be that voice that says, “don't be slutty” or “don't be that guy.” Flirting, at its core, is not about rational thinking. Flirting is about quick thinking, using your wit and most importantly your intelligence. Intelligence is typically one of the most important values a woman places in a mate. Humor and intelligence tend to float to the top there. And it's not surprising. Personally, I find it a challenge to be funny if you're not smart. I find it challenging to be funny. I see you judging me. Fuck off. Anyway… women value intelligence. Flirting is one of the best ways to showcase one's intelligence. You have to think quickly; you have to be ready to improvise; be engaging and also make the person you're flirting with feel at ease.

If you believe that, at our very core, we're just creatures looking to find a suitable mate to procreate, then it should come as no surprise that mental and physical attributes determine a suitable mate. What those traits are will vary from person to person. What should you do? Be the best you that you can be. That's what!

How do women go about flirting?

If flirting is instinctive, then where does it come from and what about it evokes such a strong response? Good flirting skills, more than good looks, is a powerful skill to wield indeed. Women flirt, and often don't realize, they do so to qualify their mate.

What I have found in my own experience is that few of the women I have dated initiate flirting and even fewer will initiate going on a date. Those few who have initiated a date and have initiated flirting, with me, have ended up in a first-date hookup. Why? Well, a woman who knows what she's after and is willing to go for it is already open to suggestion and is likely comfortable with you and you've demonstrated that you're not a creepy fuck and can get her to smile and laugh.

I have noticed with women who take an interest in me on a date share a few common cues. They tend to make meaningful eye contact with me; they engage more often and ask me questions to get to know me better. After all, I've piqued their interest and by flirting with me these women are taking control of their desire, or the other way around. It depends on the date. A woman may be more inclined to touch you, if she does, that's a really good sign. Maybe she paws at you, gives you a light tap on the arm, or tugs your arm so she can wrap her arms around it. All good flirtatious signals.

Before she gets to that point she's likely been turned on by your own flirtatious nature, humor, and quick wit! While many women will find a man physically irresistible and go after him it's more likely she's going to be seduced by the mental exchange. That's good news for me and all the other average looking fuckers out there. We have a shot! Hooray! You know you've judged the man and woman who seem to be a complete mismatch. He looks like a fuddy-duddy who could only get off on porn. She looks like a model. What the fuck, right? Fuck the notion that there is a league and that people are in your league or not. That's dumb.

The short of it, as I see it, is pretty simple: If you're open and you're fun and you can engage a woman mentally, you're going to be just fine, even if you're rocking socks and Birkenstocks.

How men go about flirting?

Men have a bit more to consider before engaging in flirtatious behavior. Again, all this shit depends on a lot of things. Women don't tend to like overtly sexual or aggressive advances. Women appreciate confidence and intelligence. Think about that. More importantly, think about how confidence and intelligence can manifest themselves within the context of talking to someone?

Being confident is a biggie. No woman wants to feel like she's dating a loser; a woman wants a man that other people want to be around. A woman wants someone who values themselves and has that annoying sense of self-worth and/or self-love. Conversely, if you're always “negging” yourself around the women you want to date, you'll most likely find that they're more ready to be a friend than a lover. No, that's not called the friend zone. Remember, kids, that shit is imaginary. Who doesn't need more friends? I see no hands being raised here.

Flirting isn't a thing of absolutes. That is, there's a lot of things that will depend on how the evening plays out. What I can tell you is that there are good practices to follow.

Flirting 101

You can be a shy person and attract a mate. Initially, looks may reel someone in eventually but a person will need to open up, engage, and put themselves out there… Also known as making oneself vulnerable.

Let's talk about some basics

Eye contact matters. Not the intense I'm gonna watch you in your sleep kind of way. Eye contact is engaging. It shows that you are in the moment with the other person. Knowing that someone is paying attention to you and cares about what you're saying just feels good. If this is an area you have an issue with start working on it. Be aware of it when talking to friends and family in-person. Be aware of this when you talk to someone on the phone. Many of us tend to multi-task. Make sure you are paying attention and really be in the moment. 

Being touchy and feely. This is one of those it depends situations. It can be tricky and it's hard to know if touching someone is appropriate or not. If you are a man out with a woman, from my experience, a woman will generally initiate that sort of contact. I would say it's not something you should initiate unless you feel comfortable and you guys are having a good time already. Again, it depends on your situation.

One thing I've done a lot on dates, and this is lame, but it has worked is this: I will playfully say I'm a palm-reader. I will ask for my date's hand. Typically the response is filled with laughter, followed by “really?” I hold their gaze, hold out my hand waiting for there's. I'll run a finger up and down their palm and mumble “ooooh, oh, hmmmm. This is interesting. Tsk, tsk.” With a skeptical look in their eyes, I meet their eye contact—notice a theme here?—with my own. And I'll start listing off some things I made up. All bullshit, of course, but I'm just having fun with it. While it's not part of this article, there's a lot you can tell from a person's hand. Flexible fingers—that aren't stiff—tend to be a sign that the person has played an instrument, perhaps a string instrument, at some point. Calloused fingers indicate that the person works with their hands a lot. You'll see this on men who are general contractors, like my Grandfather. One my ex-girlfriends had rough, hard hands, from years spent as a lineman and from hitting the gym… Soft and smooth hands may belong to an artist… Again, most of this is just me making assumptions. It's something you can have fun with.

Mental engagement. For me, this is the meat of flirting. When two people are engaged and exchanging that is where the magic happens. I am so turned on by a woman who can make me laugh and challenges me. A woman who can do those two things and then tell me what she wants? Get out of here! I'm done, let's blow this joint.

If you can make each other laugh and relate with your humor then that's all two people really need for an excuse to keep the good times rollin'.

Engaging in this manner requires confidence and intelligence however you define that. Some women are taken by a man who takes action; sometimes they are blown away by a man who can fix stuff with his hands; sometimes they are melted by a compassionate or sentimental man. There's really no defined formula. Don't be shitty and have something to say. Boom!

How we talk. Stephen King, in his book On Writing, wrote:

The timid fellow writes The meeting will be held at seven o'clock because that somehow says to him, “Put it this way and people will believe you really know.” Purge this quisling thought! Don't be a muggle! Throw back your shoulders, stick out your chin, and put that meeting in charge! Write The meeting's at seven. There, by God! Don't you feel better?

This doesn't just apply to writing, folks. This applies to life! Do the thing, don't just talk about the thing you want to do. If you're attracted to someone let them know! Go after what you want! Don't fucking half-ass it, you cunty shit head! Don't be fucking passive. Just. Do.

It feels great to let someone know how you feel and know that you've been heard.

Flirting, not fucking

With flirting, it's not about forcing yourself on someone else, nor is it about imposing your desires on someone either. Flirting is about engaging and showing through eye contact, engagement, speech, thought, and deed that you are in a shared moment with someone else and they with you. That said, it's not always about flirting with someone so that you can fuck one another. Sometimes you just want to share a moment with someone. And that's okay, too. In fact, flirting with anyone and everyone is a good way to practice this art form. Let me tell you, flirting is a God damned art!!

I'm not sure how many of you know Craig Ferguson. He used to host the Late, Late Show. He's a Scotsman known for his wit and charisma. I always liked how he interviewed. It was pretty clear Craig gave no fucks and was always himself.

The benefit here was that the dude flirted openly, with men and women… Especially the women. Here's one interview he did with Kate Mara. I have watched this interview a few times and, to me, it's pretty clear that there is chemistry there. The exchange between them is pretty amazing. They are both quick-witted and creative on their feet. Let's have a look!

Watching two people flirt can also be a huge turn-on, too. I'm a voyeur, what did you expect? Anyway, my point is that flirting isn't always about the end-game. While I'm sure the two of them “inspired” one another, they didn't just go bang it out at the end of the show.

What did you notice? I'll tell you what I noticed here. Ferguson has a cocksure way about himself. He's not really that arrogant, he's just cozy in his own skin like someone spending all Sunday in their jammy-jams. He doesn't have an agenda. I mean, he has a job to conduct an interview. But he's having fun with it. He's open. He's asking questions and engaging. Kate Mara is open as well.

I know the exchange isn't natural because, really, who does interviews all day long? No one. Still, I think there's something to all of this and to Craig Ferguson's attitude toward how he interviews. He doesn't really give a shit. Did you seem him drink out of the snake cup after Mara spit back into it? Ew, a little bit but he went on with it. Perhaps Kate is just a good actress, but didn't she seem to be really into their exchange? I thought so!

I was at an event the other day and the women-to-men-ratio definitely favored the straight male. I wasn't there to pick up on women. I know that. But approaching women, talking to them, asking questions and being playful allowed me to flirt and connect all the same time. I believe that flirting is easier when you put an agenda out of mind. If you focus on being in the moment of the exchange and focus on the other person you're with then the rest takes care of itself.

I think it's a good idea to practice being playful and engaging where ever you go. Whether it's the store, or the gas station. Talk to people, joke with them, open yourself up. Not everyone will be open to you, but there's no harm in opening yourself up. And who knows? By being open, you are more available to chance interactions with people who you might want to get to know better.

Packing it up

I think the art of flirting starts within us. We have to be okay with who we are. We have to work on being in that moment with someone else to create a shared experience where engagement can really happen. If we are confident, open, and engaging those are the basic tools one needs to attract someone else. That is it.

What are your thoughts on flirting? Is it hard or easy for you? Share in the comments below.

Photo Credit: Ana Vander

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Alex is the founder and managing editor at the Urban Dater. Alex also runs: DigiSavvy, for which he is the co-founder and Principal. Alex has a lot on his mind. Will he ever get it right? If he does, he'll be sure to write.

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