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How to flirt, according to science - The Week

Stashed in: Smile!, @bakadesuyo, Body Language, Pickup Lines

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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.

The available evidence suggests that men and women around the world use many of the same nonverbal behaviors to communicate romantic interest.... Smiling and eye contact do appear to be universal methods used by men and women to convey romantic interest. [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?


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.

The behavior that participants rated as reflecting the most flirtation and the most romantic attraction was the soft face touch, followed by the touch around the shoulder or waist, and then the soft touch on the forearm. The least flirtatious and romantic touches were the shoulder push, shoulder tap, and handshake. Thus, touching that is gentle and informal, and that occurs face-to-face or involves "hugging" behavior, appears to convey the most relational intent. [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.

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