By Eric Barker
April 14, 2014

Does Flirting Actually Work?

Very much so. In fact, research says it’s more effective than looking good.

Signaling availability and interest trumps attractiveness.

Via How to Make Someone Fall in Love With You in 90 Minutes or Less:

What Type of Flirting Works Best?

Two types of flirting are universal: smiling and eye contact are indicators pretty much everywhere and work for both sexes.

Via The Mating Game: A Primer on Love, Sex, and Marriage:

In fact, eye contact is not only a signal – it can actually make someone more attracted to you.

But what works better than anything else?

Touching.

And research has isolated which types of touching are regarded as “merely friendly”, in the zone of “plausible deniability”, or “going nuclear.”

  • Friendly: Shoulder push, shoulder tap, handshake.
  • Plausible Deniability: Touch around the shoulder or waist, touch on the forearm.
  • Nuclear: Face touch.

Via Close Relationships:

Research has shown that even a light touch on the arm makes a man more successful in getting a girl’s number.

But don’t ignore context.

Behavior is perceived differently in different locations. The more formal the setting, the more obvious you need to be to get the signal across.

Via The Mating Game: A Primer on Love, Sex, and Marriage:

And, ladies, after you’ve caught his attention with flirting, keep in mind that studies confirm that “playing hard to get” works.

(Here’s the trick to doing it the right way.)

What About For Men?

Touching is almost always acceptable for women, but can get men in hot water real fast. And hair flips and lip licking are pretty sex specific to women.

So, early on, how can a guy flirt without getting in trouble?

Research has shown that flirting which emphasizes physical attractiveness has little effect when males do it.

The flirting that is most effective for men involves displays of social dominance.

Via Close Relationships:

How do you know if it’s working? When you start talking to her, ask yourself: “Is she speaking smoothly and quickly?”

Because MIT research says that’s a very good sign.

Overall, ask yourself, “What would James Bond do?” And here’s a guide to what makes Bond so irresistible.

Why Aren’t They Getting My Signals!?!

Here’s something you probably don’t hear a lot: it’s most likely your fault.

Researchers have documented a bias where people think they’re being clear about their intentions but, in reality, nobody but them thinks they’re flirting.

Via The Mating Game: A Primer on Love, Sex, and Marriage:

You may need to amp it up, even if that makes you a bit uncomfortable.

Research shows that women are more successful in their flirting when they’re more direct.

What’s Next?

Here are research-based guides on related topics:

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This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

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