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Despite what a few television shows (*cough* The Bachelor *cough*) and sappy romance movies would have you believe, flirting doesn't mean you need to bat your eyelashes and laugh at every joke the other person says.
In fact, flirting is much less complicated, according to Tara Fields, PhD and author of The Love Fix. "It does not have to mean some kind of cheesy or goofy technique," she explains. Unless you're just looking for a hookup—in that case, a few strategically-placed hair flips might do just the trick, she adds.
But if you're flirting to get to know someone and potentially date them, your intention should be to let them know that you're into them, rather than trying to get them to like you. Before your next encounter or text convo, tell yourself, "I just want to let this person know that I'm interested," recommends Fields. Focusing on that intention will help take the pressure off the situation, she explains. And hopefully make it easier for you to be yourself.
If the concept of flirting still seems a little scary, that's okay. So many things can go through your head when talking to someone from, "Am I laughing too much?" to "Did they see the food in my teeth?" But according to Fields, you can afford to ditch those worries when you focus on these twelve expert-approved flirting tips.
How to Flirt Via Text
Congratulations! You officially got your crush’s number—let the flirting commence. Here are just a few tips to keep in mind as you shoot your shot over text:
1. Lead with confidence.
“Honestly, flirting itself is a sign of confidence—so the fact that you’re doing it is confident in and of itself,” says Matt Lundquist, LCSW, MSEd, and clinical director of TriBeCa Therapy in New York City.
Still, putting yourself out there can be scary, so do your best not to overthink your responses and feel secure in what you’re saying, suggests Lundquist. After all, even though you may be dying a little inside, you’re still here to have a good time! And ultimately, you want to see if the person you’re flirting with is a good fit for you. So, the more authentic, the better.
2. Share little details about your day.
“When you’re flirting via text, it can be a bit harder because the person isn’t there experiencing the same things you are at the same time,” says Lundquist. That’s why it’s imperative to make sure that, aside from asking questions, you’re also allowing that person into a snapshot of your life, whether that’s the dinner you’re eating or the book you’re reading. This also has the additional benefit of making you look even more attractive—you have your own life, and aren’t just sitting around waiting for a reply.
3. Use photos, memes, and emojis as needed for levity.
The cool thing about flirting via text versus in person is that you can rely on some external help, such as memes, emojis, and pictures, adds Lundquist. For instance, you could send a particularly cute photo of your dog, find a meme related to a shared interest, or add a cute emoji to keep things light and fun.
“Memes and emojis are great because you can kind of rely on other jokes that you don’t necessarily have to make,” says Lundquist. And beyond that, they can still help you figure out whether the person you’re texting has the same sense of humor as you do.
4. Match their texting speed and frequency.
One thing to keep in mind, though, is just like IRL, you want to make sure you’re keeping the conversation going at a natural pace when you’re communicating. So, if they text only a few times a day, it’s smart to match their pace and cadence. To be clear, this isn’t about faking disinterest—but generally, emulating someone’s texting style can make the conversation seem more natural, says Lundquist.
5. Show off your sense of humor.
Once you've been talking to someone for a while, you'll have more room to bring levity into your interactions. Fields suggests leaning into this as much as possible: It's a fool-proof way to gauge the other person's sense of humor and demonstrate how comfortable you've both become with each other.
So, go ahead and lightly roast them, or poke fun at yourself for preparing the same tired bowl of pasta every evening when they text. "If you're looking for a relationship, what you want is somebody who's gonna love you for your authentic self," Fields says.
6. Don’t forget to have fun.
“At the end of the day, flirting is supposed to be playful,” says Lundquist. If you’re overthinking it or not allowing yourself to enjoy the process, you won’t come across as confident anyway, which will defeat the purpose. Don’t forget to play.”
How to Flirt in Person
Okay, breathe: You made it this far, and now you and your crush are (hopefully) spending some one-on-one time together. But even if it’s in a group setting, there are still some subtle (yet direct!) ways to show you’re interested—and no, none of them involve batting your eyelashes.
1. Ditch the canned responses.
"Stay away from any of the cheesy advice that some so-called self-proclaimed dating experts says you should do," Fields explains. Think: Throwing your head back and giggling whenever they say something funny or the bend and snap (sorry, Elle Woods!). Instead, just try to be as authentically you as possible and talk the way you naturally would with a friend. It's the best way for them to get to know the real you. And if you two don't click, that's okay. That person just wasn't your match, Fields says.
Watch this to learn how to get—and keep—someone's attention through flirting:
2. Make eye contact.
This is a simple technique, but one of the most important, Fields explains. Looking someone in the eye is a great way to let them know you're not only interested in them, but the conversation they bring to the table. Not sure how to do it? "Just look at the person—not in some artificial goofy 'come hither' way—but in a way that feels natural and organic," Fields explains. Again, don't overthink it.
If you're more of a numbers person, you can follow the 50/70 rule, which suggests that during a conversation, you should make eye contact for 50 percent of the time while speaking and 70 percent while listening, according to research conducted by the University of Michigan in 2012. In between those times, you can take a sip from your drink or take in the rest of the room for a bit. This balance will display both interest and confidence.
3. Go with the flow.
If something embarrassing happens, try your best not to get flustered, Fields suggests.
If you spill a bit of wine on your shirt during a date, for instance, once you've cleaned up, try to make light of the situation by saying something like, "That's what I get for trying to get dressed up for you." And know that you don't have to worry about this person judging, because real talk: "You don't really know who this other person is at this point, so why get anxious about it?" Fields says. Plus, there's a good chance they're also occasionally clumsy.
4. Compliment them.
This can be a tough one to do because giving someone a genuine compliment calls for vulnerability, Fields explains, because it means getting real about how you feel about their look, personality, outfit, etc. But chances are, even if you feel a little nervous about telling them you love when they scrunch up their nose when they're deep in thought, they'll appreciate the kind words and your authenticity, says Fields.
5. Ask questions.
Make sure to take note of certain things about the person and ask questions, Fields emphasizes. If you've chatted with them a few times and notice they always wear the same necklace, ask why it's special to them. Or maybe a unique painting on their wall's caught your eye; ask them for the story behind it. This will show them you're interested in taking the relationship deeper than just surface level.
Smiling exhibits warmth, Fields explains. And it's crazy what a difference turning up the corners of your mouth can make when talking to someone. Seeing a smiling face can activate the region in your brain that processes sensory rewards, found a 2003 Neuropsychologia study. Translation: When you see someone smiling or when you smile at someone, they actually feel special, like they're doing something right—which can go a long way during an awkward first date (amirite?!).
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