Do you know how to flirt? Do you know when someone is flirting with you?
It isn't always easy to let someone know that you are interested. But are there subtle signs and signals that you are sending out that could be giving a message that you're not happy with?
Need some help? That's exactly what the people needed who took part in the BBC programme called "Would Love to Meet". Some were shy, others were overconfident – and then there were those whose dress sense would be enough to put anyone off at fifty paces. Above all, they didn't know how to flirt.
In this series a team of experts (Jeremy Milnes – confidence and communication; Tracey Cox - body language and flirting and Jay Hunt - style) took on these datees and show them how to dress, how to flirt – and how to get a date in the first place.
Learn how to use your body
Learning how to use your body when flirting is essential. Tracey Cox reminds us in the series that 55 percent of the impression we make on other people depends on our body language, 38 percent from the tone, speed and inflection of our voice and only 7 percent from what we are actually saying.
Confidence is an attractive thing and is often conveyed by large body gestures, such as putting your hands behind your head, standing with your feet apart and using your hands when you talk. Shy people tend to look down, and to do everything in order not to be noticed.
In the series on BBC and also in her books, Superflirt and in her book on body language, Tracey Cox gives some very useful advice. Take a look at the following at what she and other experts have said, take notes and prepare to wave your single status good bye.
Avoid cheesy pick-up lines. It falls flat if the person has heard it before – and above all, what on earth do you say after you've said something like, "I think you're a magician, because every time I see you, everyone else disappears"? It doesn't leave the way open to any further conversation, as would an opening line like "I wonder if you could give me any advice on which red wine goes with pasta?" Obviously you have to choose your venues, but supermarkets and art galleries are easy places in which to initiate conversations.
Remember the flirting triangle. When we look at people we're not familiar with, our eyes make a zigzag motion: we look from eye to eye and across the bridge of the nose. With friends, the look drops below eye level and moves into a triangle shape: we look from eye to eye, but also look down to include the nose and the mouth. When we flirt, the triangle gets a lot bigger – it widens at the bottom to include their good bits (like the body). The more intense the flirting, the more intensely we'll look from eye to eye – and the more time we spend looking at the other person's mouth.
Mirroring someone's behaviour. This is always a sign that someone is flirting with you. If they take a sip of their drink, you do the same; if they lean forward, you do the same. This instinctively makes the person feel that you are on the same level and in the same mood. But remember to mirror positive body language only. But when you are mirroring someone's body language, don't do it immediately – allow about 50 seconds to pass before doing so. Otherwise they will think you are mimicking them.
Pay compliments. Say something plausible, which doesn't sound as if you're just trying to score points. "I like your new haircut", "I can't get over how good you're looking", or "That colour really suits you" all sound sincere and will get you a positive response. Don't go over the top and say something like "You look like an angel that's just descended from heaven". This will only serve to make the person feel uncomfortable and make them look for an escape route.
Making eye contact. When you walk past someone in the street and you catch their eye, don't turn round as you walk past each other. It makes you look a little desperate. Make eye contact, look down, and then turn around. Chances are the other person will be doing the same. Try this – it really works. When in a pub or a club or a dinner party, meet the person's eye, look down and look up again. This signals interest, especially if you're a woman. If you want to send a more seductive message, run your eyes along their body on the way up to their eyes. And blink a lot!
Listening. Flirting is a two-way thing. If you're talking so much that the other person doesn't get to say anything, you're not being a good flirt. The message you're sending is that you are not interested in what the other person has to say. And remember, you want to preserve some mystique, which is difficult to do if you're being Miss or Mr Blabbermouth. Also, if you remember what someone has said to you before, you are giving the message that they are important to you. If you're talking too much, the other person will be leaning away from you, will be yawning, looking at their watch and will be looking around the room in desperation.
Remember the eyebrow flash. When we first see someone we like, our eyebrows rise and fall. So do theirs, if they like what they're seeing. If someone is flirting with you, they will prolong their eyebrow flash. This is that electric moment of contact you sometimes experience with strangers on the street. Make it work for you. If someone likes what they're seeing, their pupil size will also increase.
Never cross your arms. Crossing your arms sends a message of defensiveness, or stand-offishness. If you find yourself crossing your arms in the middle of a date, your body is telling the other person that it's actually all over. If you want to tell someone you're interested, use open gestures – and don't cross your legs! If your date is doing these things, something has gone wrong.
Check your looks. First impressions count and if you wear very formal, very non-descript or very dark clothes, you could be sending out a message that you're not a lot of fun. Remember that people prefer others who have a light take on things. Charm and humour are difficult to convey if you're in a three-piece business suit. Lighten up and wear clothes that say "I can play too." And next time you go the hairdresser, be adventurous and ask what they think will suit you – regardless of the fact that you've had the same hairstyle for ten years. And work on that body image. People who like themselves are irresistible.
Watch those hands. Your body tells others what you're really feeling. If you want to see if someone likes you, check whether they are pointing their hands and feet in your direction. But if you keep covering your mouth with your hands, or if you keep fiddling with your hair, you are showing them that you are nervous and that you lack self-confidence. Fidgeting is a sex killer.
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(Picture: Young couple flirting on Shutterstock)
(Susan Erasmus, Health24, updated June 2011)