7 ways to send the right signals for dating confidence (or just to make your day more fun)
She was out of – no, infinitely beyond – my league. In fact, my team should scrap thoughts of ever being in any league again. She radiated gorgeousness, a knowing blend of Marilyn Monroe and Grace Kelly (both of whom would have been dimmed by her radiance). Alabaster skin, curves like the Amazon, and a smile that lit the bar like a prison flashlight. But could it be true? She was smiling at me!
I turned around in my chair expecting to see George Clooney (or maybe Bill Gates). I pinched my arm expecting pillows and alarm clock. But no, it was to me she was bestowing her charms. She laughed; I smirked and fell under her spell the way a novice surfer disappears beneath Hawaiian waves.
Boy, could this woman flirt: encouraging smiles, direct eye contact alternating with shy downcast eyes, exposed wrist, flick of the hair, lick of the lips. I ticked off the flirting signals like a geeky psychology major. "What kind of a man did she take me for?! Who cares?" I thought.
To flirt or not to flirt
Okay, God – or an extremely able surgeon – had given this woman looks to die for and she sure knew how to use them. But anyone can flirt and flirting isn't just about sex.
Flirting is sexy because it communicates four things which are attractive:
- Interest (in the person being flirted with)
Even in our right-on times where the genders have been meshed together somewhat into a sexless mass, flirting is still key to attraction.
Flirting is a kind of super-focused attention given to another person. It can make people feel wonderful and, if exercised wisely, can spread happiness, fun, and energy. Once you can flirt really well, it doesn't matter so much what you look like. People who just shouldn't be sexy 'on paper' become so when they know and practice the following flirting techniques.
So if you want to wield more influence (and I trust you to be ethical with it), read on:
1) Look into my eyes and smile.
Psychologists (1) have shown that you are more likely to find a happy-looking face that looks directly at you more sexually attractive than the equally smiling face of someone who is averting their eyes. We like people who seem to like us. If someone smiles but doesn't look you in the eye, you may conclude they are a nice person, but it doesn't feel like they are interested specifically in you.
We gaze into the eyes of the person we feel intimate with (2), but it can work the other way in that we can forge intimacy by direct eye gazing.
2) Mirror the person you're interested in
Men tend to stand up straighter when they are interested in someone (to look taller and possibly to align a sagging tummy). And women may preen themselves by flicking their hair, revealing more neck or wrist, and giggling. (Note to ladies – too much giggling and the man may get paranoid.)
Thankfully there is a universal law of attraction, and this is mirroring. When two people are getting on well, feeling connected and 'on the same wavelength,' then their body language quite naturally aligns. They may stand in the same position as if reflected in a mirror, for example. If one lifts a drink, the other may follow. This is usually an unconscious process, but watch people getting on well and you'll see it.
So, to get someone feeling more connected to you, mirror their expressions, body language, and even words and phrases to some extent. Do this subtly and it will have a positive effect. Don't mimic too closely; anyone who's been with a button-pushing child knows how irritating it is to have your every word parroted back.
3) So, tell me about yourself….
Flirtatious chat is generous. By that, I mean when you are flirting with someone you talk about them, and people love that. When you do talk about yourself, you link it to the person you are talking to.
People who just wax lyrical about their own interests make the listener feel as if they could be just any pair of ears – remember flirting has to make someone feel special.
Not a military interrogation – just throw in a few polite open-ended questions. It sends the captivating signal: "I'm really interested."
Rather than just asking factual questions that could be written on a government census form like: "What do you do for a living?", ask questions that show an interest in them as a person, such as: "What do you enjoy doing?"
Being interested makes you interesting.
4) Ha ha hee hee
Women universally like men who can make them laugh, whereas for men, a woman has a 'great sense of humour' if she laughs when he's (trying to be) funny. The more a woman laughs at a man's immensely clever witticisms, the more he deems her to be attracted to him (and therefore attractive…sorry!). However, men don't tend to like women who are funnier than they are. (3) So ladies, save your best lines for later (if you actually want there to be a later).
So, women like men who can produce humour and men like women who can appreciate it. If a man feels a woman finds him immensely funny then he'll feel attractive. Laughing together also builds intimacy.
5) Flirting warm-up
Trying to flirt if you feel too desperate, anxious, or homicidal (kidding) is not a great idea. To flirt effectively, you need to feel calm and relaxed and be enjoying yourself – this lets you exude the kind of confidence that all great flirters have. Perhaps before you go out, close your eyes, get super-relaxed, and imagine observing yourself on TV looking interested, friendly, and approachable. Learn self-hypnosis to maximize this effect. Or let me do it for you by listening to the free audio below.
6) Use gentle – but in no way sexual – touch (sorry, Marvin Gaye)
I can hear the moral guardian brigade (if they are still reading) howling at this one. But the truth remains: touch is powerful.
The Touch Research Institute (yes really) at the University of Miami School of Medicine has conducted over 100 studies into touch and found evidence of significant effects, including faster growth in premature babies, reduced pain, decreased auto-immune disease symptoms, lowered glucose levels in children with diabetes, and improved immune systems in people with cancer.
A caring touch or even an accidental brush can lift our spirits. In one study, people who had spent no longer than fifteen minutes in a library were asked by researchers how they rated their enjoyment of their time amidst the books. People who had brushed hands 'accidentally' with the planted librarian reported a more enjoyable time. (Presumably the touch would have been subliminal.)
So, a light touch or brush on the arm of the person you are flirting with can have a powerful subliminal impact.
7) Use 'warm words'
Flirting chat depends a lot on how things are said as well as on what is said. Negative language is a turn-off. Amazingly, studies have found that people primed with 'warmth words' like 'sunshine', 'heat', 'hot', 'toasty', and so on deem the user of these words more attractive and 'warmer' than someone who scatters words like 'froze', 'cold', or 'icy' into conversation.
In one study at Stanford University in California, students who were given a hot cup of coffee to hold for a few seconds (not knowing this was part of the experiment) rated people as warmer than those who were primed by holding a cold drink. By peppering your language with upbeat warm words, people will feel warmer toward you (although I'm not sure if "you look hot tonight" fits this advice…).
The real key to flirting is honesty. If you are pretending to flirt with someone to make someone else jealous or to manipulate them, then you are not communicating truthfully and this can be misleading for all involved.
But if you are genuinely interested in someone, it's far more honest and rewarding to let them know your feelings than to hide them needlessly. And by flirting, you're offering them a real gift by letting them know that they are attractive to you.
Anyway, back to my barroom experience. There I was. There she was. There he was. He returned from the restroom like some strutting bag of muscle bloated testosterone and sat down beside her, muscled arm wrapped around the heavenly shoulder like a giant child reclaiming its lost teddy bear. I looked away, he looked at me, she looked terrific.