TIPS SHARED AT THE FLIRTING PANEL WE HOSTED AT THE UW IN 1997
Some tips which attendees offered on flirting (aka "casual
conversation with a romantic spark") were:
The topic of rejection came up. The key thing to understand about
rejection seemed to be that "everybody gets rejected once in a
while." A related idea was that if you never risk rejection it's
likely your social life will end up being very dull. It was also
mentioned that the range of tastes in body type and personality type is
enormous; something that you think is a liability is for some people
almost certainly a turn-on.
- Ask specific, open-ended questions of the person you're flirting with;
these demonstrate that you're interested specifically in THEM as a
person, and also provide an opportunity for the discussion to take a
- Look for humor in what the person you're flirting with is saying.
- Try to look your best, and use good posture and eye contact.
- Don't follow people around or act needy.
- Don't be insincere.
The question came up of how to tell if someone is interested in you.
The following were mentioned as clues, especially when observed
There's a lot of crossover between good listening skills and good
- If he or she is acting more flirtatious toward you than toward other
people at the same event.
- If his or her friends are paying attention to you when he or she isn't
around (often a clue that this person talked to his or her friends about
- If he or she is smiling while listening to you, and seems to be
listening especially "actively."
One attendee shared some interesting ideas on the importance of
"validating what the other person wants to be." This means
looking for specific ways in which how someone thinks of themself as
unique and valuable is consistent with their actual behavior and
Asking questions that are "almost too personal" was also
brought up. The idea is that humans progress to greater levels of
intimacy by sharing vulnerabilities, and that if someone is interested
in you they are unlikely to turn down the chance to make the
conversation more personal (unless you REALLY push the envelope,
The importance of giving sincere complements was mentioned more than
Social networks usually expand by cultivating friendships which are
serious enough for your new friends to introduce you to their friends.
For this reason, activities that allow prolonged contact with other
people are valuable.
ADVICE FROM THE
FINE ART OF FLIRTING BY JOYCE JILLSON
By way of comparison, the following is a sampling of the ideas presented
in a typical mainstream book about flirting.
Here are Ms. Jillson's three biggest tips on flirting:
Here are Ms. Jillson's tips for "being popular":
- Be friendly.
- Don't let past rejections cloud your judgement or make you paranoid
about an interaction going on right now (that's fair to neither of
- Be prepared, both physically and emotionally. This means looking your
best as often as you can (people do meet in the oddest places...), and
not dragging past or present personal troubles into a new interaction.
Other ideas she mentioned included "being playful yet
persistent," showing vulnerabilities, flirting with no expectation
of reward (i.e. just for fun, without a win/lose mentality), learning to
dance, and contributing and/or appreciating good humor.
- "Be the bearer of good news"
- Be a good listener
- Go out of your way to meet new people
- Pick up the telephone
Ms. Jillson's "Ways to be a Great Flirt":
Ms. Jillson's "5 Don'ts of Flirting":
- Use flattery
- Say "Hello" with energy
- Shake hands (depending on circumstances)
- Make immediate, direct eye contact
- Repeat the person's name
- Ask "no one ever asked me that before!" questions
- Ask for your new friend's life story
- "Help someone get out of an old routine, and into a new one" (i.e.
introduce them to some new activity or form of art or whatever)
Appropriate use of touch was discussed at length (psychological studies
show that casual touching during a friendly conversation causes people
to remember the conversation more fondly after the fact). Ms. Jillson
mentioned brushing lint off someone's jacket, touching someone's hand as
punctuation to making a point in the conversation, etc. "Accidental
touch" (i.e. reaching for the saltshaker at the same time) was also
- Don't depend on others to make things happen
- Don't tease (i.e. offering more than you intend to give)
- Don't cling
- Don't dwell on your performance
- Don't fidget
Here's what Ms. Jillson has to say about eye contact: "While
staring or holding a gaze a second longer than usual will succeed in
attracting notice, so will other subtle and more tasteful eye contact;
try this: Throw a glance to a person, and then, as soon as your flirting
partner turns to meet your gaze, immediately lower your eyes. This is
very effective for both men and women."
At cocktail parties and such, often one of the hosts will introduce new
people to other people at the party. When being introduced, Ms.
Jillson's advice is to "always put out your hand and always say the
person's name and always ask a question." The conversation needs to
get started somehow, and unless something more substantial appears than
the handshake the introduction is just going to sit there. If you
forget someone's name, take this as an opportunity to talk to them again
just before you leave.
Ms. Jillson strongly discourages the use of "pick up lines" or
other pet phrases to start conversations; they almost never seem to come
off well. Also, questions which have "yes/no" answers tend not
to be the best conversation openers; questions which begin with "I
feel," "I think," "I wonder," etc. are
Ms. Jillson's tips for flirting at parties are:
Ms. Jillson's tips for creating a flirtatious and cozy environment at
- When you first get there, grab some food or a drink and notice what
seems to be going on socially, what the dynamic seems to be, etc.
The people who seem lost will be the easiest folk to successfully
- Assume that everyone is socially nervous; cut them some slack if
things initially seem awkward, and look for ways you can make people
- Have a cozy place to sit (those L-shaped couches are best).
- Keep the temperature on the warm side.
- Be able to adjust the lighting (dimmer switches are nice, and candles
are probably the most romantic way to illuminate the room).
- Clear out your medicine cabinet: keeping old bottles of prescription
medications for maladies you no longer have invites idle (and often
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