How to Flirt

Flirting is, in my experience, something of a lost art, especially amongst nerds. They simply don’t understand how to flirt. Too many young nerds have hit some sort of mystical, magical combination of bad influences that seems to have convinced them to make all the wrong moves. It seems to be split into the camp that believes that to get the girl you have to either be intensely sincere to the point of being creepy  and the camp that is so nice and obliging that they may as well tattoo “WELCOME” on their backs and resign themselves to a career of women wiping their shoes on them.

Personally, I blame John Hughes.

But hey. You want to learn how to flirt and clearly many people have gotten the wrong impressions so let’s start off with what it’s not: 

Flirting isn’t complicated.
Flirting isn’t a wide variety of subtle signals you have to keep an eagle-eye out for.
Flirting isn’t intense.
Flirting isn’t making fun of people, “negging” or generally being an asshole.

All well and good, yes?

So let’s move on to what it is and how to flirt.

Flirting is, at it’s core, a way to engage, size up and generate attraction in a perspective mate. It’s light and it’s friendly. It’s a combination of banter, body language and teasing.

Let’s start by watching this clip of Matt Damon and Emily Blunt from The Adjustment Bureau:

So, clearly, flirting is like acting like a couple of six year olds who snipe at each other and screw around with the other’s personal possessions.

Or, y’know, not. But this is one of the best and most realistic flirting scenes you can find in modern cinema (and, critically, that I could find on YouTube). As you watch the two of them, you can tell that they’re starting to like each other, even as they insult each other’s fashion sense and she destroys his Blackberry. But why does this work?

Let’s break it down. Flirting really comes down to a three key points:


Teasing, put simply, is the art of saying something mean that really means “I like you”. Flirting is essentially teasing with intent. It’s banter;  a playful back-and-forth between two people. It’s fun and inclusive and a little silly, and when done right, it’s incredibly attractive.

There’s a certain structure to teasing as flirting; in another context it could look like a couple verbally jousting for social dominance. The keys are tone of voice and to be careful not to make the teasing too harsh. An easy short-hand to teasing is to imagine the other person as your bratty little sister; you’re needling at them for a reaction rather tan trying to actually insult them. As you’re teasing, you can incorporate a number of ideas. You can start a role-play, establishing some sort of ridiculous fantasy situation; if she talks about a love of cooking or food, you can say “Hey, you can totally be my personal chef. I’m going to have you make all these insanely elaborate meals for me.” If she’s clumsy or drops something, “Wow, you’re officially the worst personal assistant I’ve ever had. It’s bad enough you wear these inappropriate outfits around the office, but this is the final straw.” “That’s it. We’re totally breaking up. Give me back my CDs and I’m keeping the dog.” Think of it like an improv exercise, especially if she teases you in this manner; the response is should be”Yes, and…”, extending the scenario.

Challenging is also an important part of teasing and flirting. Too many nerds have Chronic Nice Guy syndrome, and won’t stand up for themselves when a woman gives them shit; a teasing challenge is a playful indicator of some spine as well as bait into being more aggressive. Challenges work on the same part of the contrarian part of human psychology; by telling someone they can’t have, be or do something, the first impuse is “Yeah, I totally can”. You can challenge in any number of ways; you can call her a name: “Dork”, “Princess”, “Brat”, “Crazy”. Challenges can be a miniature cold-read, giving them an opening to open up about themselves: “I bet you must drive your parents crazy.” “You can’t be from around here; you must be a West Coast girl. I can always tell.” It can be physical: “OK, obviously we’re going to need to settle this in the manner of our ancestors: thumb-wrestling. And I should warn you, I’m totally the thumb-wrestling champion of the Eastern seaboard.” It can have a certain sexual edge to it to raise the heat:”Your last boyfriend just didn’t spank you enough, huh?” “Don’t make me come down there little girl, I’d eat you for breakfast”.

A rule of thumb is that if she’s not laughing, agreeing with you, playing along or playfully disagreeing, then you’re doing something wrong. Dial it back a notch until you figure out what you did wrong, then calibrate accordingly.

Pushing And Pulling

The human psyche is perverse; we wan’t what we can’t have. We instinctively chase what runs from us. When things come too easily, we question it or take it for granted, but we value the things we had to work for. And we find unpredictability attractive. It gets boring and we don’t want it around. The idea of pushing and pulling is to deliberately send mixed signals… “Go away a little closer”, in essence. They keep people on their toes, because they don’t know what comes next.

Pushing and pulling in a flirting context is a matter of balance; giving something and taking it away at the same time. It’s a teasing insult followed by a compliment, or a compliment followed by a disqualifier. The effect is a little like a kitten with a string; you dangle the complement within reach, then pull it back. End result: the kitten becomes more determined to catch the string. So it goes with flirting.

“You’re the coolest person I’ve met… at this bar, anyway.” “Holy crap, you really are such a nerd, it’s adorable!” “It’s a shame you seem like a nice person, you’re giving me the most inappropriate ideas.” “You’re awesome, I never meet people like you; get away from me, I just can’t talk to you.” “We’re never going to get along, we’re too similar.”

This isn’t “negging” or backhanded compliments. You don’t want to say things like “You’ve got a great smile… even with those teeth,” “Your nails are great… are they real?”  Much like with teasing, it’s something that’s supposed to be playful and friendly. A balance needs to be maintained… too complimentary and you become boring. Too much in the other direction and you’re being an asshole. A number of people may need to practice their calibration before they get the balance just right. If you’ve found that you’ve inadvertently offended someone, apologize and offer a sincere compliment, and dial the disqualifications back in intensity.

Body Language

I’ve talked about body language and it’s importance, and it’s especially relevant here. Part of the way you keep the name-calling and playful insults from being interpreted as real insults is via body language. Large, friendly smiles, a light tone of voice and open body positioning (uncrossed, arms, facing them full-on) and a relaxed posture all give the feeling of friendliness even when you’re calling her a brat. Your eyes are an important part of flirting as well. Your eyes can send any number of signals. If you meet eyes with a woman, who returns your look, looks away then looks back, she’s interested in talking to you. A well-timed roll of the eyes can work as well as a teasing disqualifier when pushing and pulling. Holding eye contact for longer than a glance, then deliberately breaking it before making the other person uncomfortable is an incredibly powerful move that builds a certain sense of excitement.

Body language is also important in teasing and pushing and pulling.  Touch on the arm or the shoulder during a high emotional point in a story or a role-play for emphasis. You can give a playful (and gentle!) literal push on the shoulder with a disqualifier. “Oh god, you’re awesome, get away from me <push>”

In general, you want to use less movement and get rid of nervous twitches and shifting. However, you can use a sort of body rock to emphasize the disqualification.  As an example, using a push-pull, you say something along the lines of”Oh man, what am I going to do with you?” with a smile and a touch on the shoulder. Followed up with  “Don’t make me think things like this, they’re inappropriate right now,”  as you pivot slightly on one foot and step back with the other, as though you are getting ready to walk away. Then you step back to your initial stance and continue the conversation.

Now that we’ve broken things down, watch that clip again and see how these concepts apply to Damon and Blunt’s bantering on the bus. Flirting is a skill and it takes calibration and  practice, but once you understand the underlying concepts, it’s remarkably simple and effective.

  • Ed

    I always dunk girls' iphones into a beverage when I first meet them. This is the most money move. Never fails. Their clothes just fall off after that.

  • Cat

    Do you then bite the iPhone like it's a cookie?

    • DrNavi

      my friend bit her iPhone when drunk and angry with her boyfriend, also my friend. The phone still works but has a huge crack on the screen

  • louise

    usually i just go to dunk their iphone and then just run away with, iphones cost like $400 a hooker costs $50

  • Chris

    Ah, iPhone cookies… They have that really good silicon-y taste.

  • Scott

    I do really like the advice here, it's really descriptive and it does give a bit of insight with flirting. I would however ask though, with The Adjustment Bureau as the example, when does the flirting or teasing go too far? Because the spilling the coffee and sly asking of the number was good, but dunking the phone in the coffee to ruin it might be where it goes too far.

    Or maybe it's just that, the situation comes off as being annoying if you are in proximity of the flirting/bickering, especially on THAT level.

    • Dr. NerdLove

      Spilling the coffee is more of an accident that Damon plays off of rather than something he did deliberately. Now, Blunt's dunking the phone in his coffee… you more or less have to play that off as "Hollywood", especially since in the real world that would be a decided step too far and likely lead to a lot more angry yelling than number exchanging.

    • Remember, that SHE is the one who dumped the phone in the coffee, only AFTER he spilled that same coffee on her lap. It would have been totally different if he had initially just dumped her phone in some coffee. She would have called the police. (Phones generally still work after being dumped in coffee.) But when she does it, in response to his spilling of the coffee, she is upping the ante. She is telling him that his move worked big-time.

      P.S. If you don't know how to clean a phone that has been dumped in coffee then you loose major nerd points. If you can't look it up on the internet then you loose all of your nerd points.

  • Arty

    then after that, pull an "opinion opener"

  • M

    Hrm… if anyone ever said to me, 'your last boyfriend didn't spank you enough,' I'd probably have a very strong urge to kick him in the shins and then never speak to him again.

    Stuff like ”Don’t make me think things like this, they’re inappropriate right now,” and unwelcome touching from someone I barely know would make me feel, best case, as though the person was a douchebag who just wants sex, or worse, that I was in danger of sexual assault. I'd advise folks to hold off on that sort of thing until you're already involved. If you've known her a little while and you're pretty sure she's interested, try a touch on the shoulder or something to test the waters. If she doesn't respond well, don't do it again.

    • Maggie

      I'm with you on that one. Comments like that would make me already start mentally planning evasive maneuvers. It's really creepy and inappropriate. During the summer where I worked at the fruit market and went through regular sexual harassment from pretty much everything male that went through the place, I started compiling a few truths about creepers. One of them was that anyone who comments on my sex life without knowing me well is automatically a creeper. Jokes like that are fine when you know the girl and how she'll take it. Inadvisable if you don't.

    • Rule of thumb from a woman who's been there before: don't make any references to sex (joking or otherwise) until you've made her laugh at least once. Not just a polite little social laugh, either, but an actual laugh. Same with the touching. It works well as a guideline because women who are having a good time will laugh at your jokes – and women who are creeped out won't. If she won't laugh, you're doing it wrong.

    • sk

      Agree. Touching and sexual references are *only* acceptable flirting moves with a girl that you know pretty well, and have a pretty damn good idea that she likes you back. I would accept this kind of flirting from a guy I had had my eye on for a while, but it would be totally creepy from a guy I just met in a bar.

  • S

    No. Just no.

    A lot of the stuff you've written shows a fair amount of insight and respect for yourself and the women around you which is commendable, highly attractive, and a really good basis on which to build a great relationship, and then you have to wreck it all with these really awful examples.

    Let me unpack this a little.

    In your role play examples, you've cast your partner in the role of a servant. Twice. Are you looking for someone to do your housework or type your letters? D'ya reckon that sounds like fun for her? It sounds like work to me. Underpaid, low status work at that.

    Nicknames. "Princess" and "Brat" are labels applied to children. Abusive people call their partners "Crazy". I'll leave "Dork" as an exercise for the reader. By applying an appallingly cutsey or downright insulting name to a woman you are interacting with, you are depersonalising her, diminishing her and illegitimately asserting that you have the right to define who and what she is. That last is an example of that male privilege thing you might have heard of.

    This is even before we get on to "…didn't spank you enough" and "… little girl, I'd eat you for breakfast…" Dood, before you do this, you'd better be pretty certain which end of the riding crop your potential partner prefers to be on, and that doesn't happen in the first ten minutes outside of certain clubs.

    This stuff won't get you friendlisted. It will get you creeplisted.

    • capitalR

      YES. Yes to all of this.
      And also? Mentioning previous relationships, whether they're hers or yours, is an instant kill. There is a little less than a 0% chance that something like that won't work.

    • Paul Gottfried

      Found the feminist

      • Gentleman Johnny

        Congratulations. That's almost as hard as finding hay in a haystack.

  • Dr. NerdLove

    M, Maggie and S, since you make good points and I hope you'll forgive me for replying to all three of you at once, since you cover similar ground.

    All of the examples I list, from the role-plays and banter lines are ones I've used in real life and quite successfully. I'll be the first to say that there is a certain level of social intuition and locational relevance to some of the lines; I might not go to the level of "Your last boyfriend didn't spank you enough" for a woman I was talking to in the grocery store (but then again, I live in Austin; social standards, they do vary), but I would and have with women I've met at concerts, parties, bars, art shows and sporting events.

    Similarly, the line "You're making me think very inappropriate things right now, and you need to stop it," or ones like it are not ones that I would *lead* with, but they *are* useful for gauging the level of interest, escalating the interaction as the chemistry builds. Someone who is uninterested would agree – and not in a playful, flirty way – that yes, it *is* inappropriate. Someone who *is* interested on the other hand, might push to know what it was I was thinking or otherwise play with the idea.

    There is, again, a need for a certain level of social intuition and calibration… but proper calibration means trying something, failing and realizing *why* you failed in the first place. Did you say it too soon, or did you deliver it in a way that sounded threatening rather than playful, etc. etc. With proper calibration and understanding, you can learn when you can say things that would otherwise be outrageous. As an example: one relationship I've had started by talking to a woman in a coffee shop who was wearing a cowboy hat. We were chatting for maybe five minutes before I made a "reverse-cowgirl" joke that had her almost falling over laughing. We started dating a couple weeks afterwards.

    For nicknames: As I said before: part of flirting is teasing and the banter back and forth. Teasing is the art of saying something mean that actually says "I like you", and it's intended to be a little playfully combative and argumentative. Again, I refer you to the video I linked to above; both Matt Damon's character and Emily Blunt's are almost out-and-out *insulting* towards one another, yet by tone of voice and body language it's pretty clear that they're strongly attracted to one another.

    (I tried to find some other famous scenes but sadly either they had been yanked from YouTube or my Google-Fu had failed me.)

    Thus it is with teasing nicknames; yes, the nicknames are diminutive… that implied-insult-but-not-really factor once again. A man who's teasing a woman might just as easily call her "Your Majesty" or "Your worshipfulness" instead. Again: tone, situational relevance and body language make all of the difference between word and intent. To pull another example from my personal life: one relationship I had with a woman about six years younger than myself involved us out-and-out insulting one another for our ages; my calling her a brat and her calling me an decrepit dirty old man was about as gentle and polite as it got. For the record: she and I are still good friends.

    As for the role-plays: yes, the examples I chose are ones of men in charge for one reason or another. Power and status – to misquote Henry Kissinger – are powerful aphrodisiacs. While obviously there are individual differences, on the whole, most women are not attracted to men who supplicate themselves to them. A man initiating a role play by telling a woman that he would be her personal shopper always at her beck and call – for example – isn't going to make for a successful role-play; it's going to make him sound at best like an oribter or a puppy who hopes that if he pleases his mistress then maybe he'll get a belly rub later. Not something that people are going to find attractive outside of certain clubs or lifestyles.

    • sarah

      I know this is an old-ish post, but may I ask how your relationships tend to progress? Specifically, do you tend to begin with casual sex then possibly proceed to a relationship, rather than the other way round? (Sorry, that's a bit personal I know.)

      I ask because I think these are great flirting tips… IF you wish to gauge immediate sexual attraction. I agree with M that if a guy flirted with me this way, I'd think he was just trying to get me into bed and plonk him straight in the reject pile (possibly also kicking him in the shins, depending on exactly what he said). But then, I do it the other way round – relationship first, so I wondered if the problem is that your approach works best on people who are fairly willing to begin with sex, since it's been successful in your experience?

      Also, I think you're making a false dichotomy between casting oneself as a superior and a subordinate, surely there's role-play options that allow you to be equals? I wouldn't be attracted by a man calling me diminutive nicknames and casting me in a subordinate role, I'd feel belittled and insulted and think he didn't take me seriously. I've been told before that I don't have a sense of humour/take things too seriously, so that might be the problem, but I'd be interested in some more information anyway.

      • Dr. NerdLove

        I've had relationships start and proceed in just about every way possible. The ones that started as slow courtships as friends that turned into relationships were almost all ones that went disastrously bad. On the other hand, the ones that started off as either friends-with-benefits situations, non-exclusive dating or casual hook-ups all went incredibly well; I'm still friends with my exes who started that way.

      • Zorku

        Can you give some examples Sarah? You're dealing with the socially impaired here so it's (probably?) much more productive to give us something to analyze instead of just saying "you're doing it wrong. Stop that."

        • sarah

          I don't mean to say you're doing it wrong, just that it's better to be aware that this style of flirting won't work for everyone. Lots of other commenters have been saying 'know your audience' and I think that's about right. Some of us just don't respond well to being teased.

          Personally, I like it if a guy just starts a normal conversation. That way I can get an idea what he's like as a person, what his interests are etc. If he tried this flirting method, my impression of his personality would be 'disrespectful, belittling, likes to wind people up, unkind'.

          I'm quite happy for people to approach me the way they'd approach someone they'd like to be friends with. They can make it clear they want a date by saying so.

          • Mel

            I agree about preferring normal conversation to teasing or insults when I don't know a guy that well.

            I just had the teasing thing happen to me a day ago. I heard through the grapevine that he's interested in me, so I didn't take it to heart. Even though lots of these insults were mixed with comments about being "sweet" and "cute", it was still too much, and my already nervous self became more uncomfortable.

            Social calibration is really important.

      • Boxer

        '…do you tend to begin with casual sex then possibly proceed to a relationship…'

        He might not admit it, but he's a 'pick-up artist' who's obviously read the Mystery Method.

  • UM

    Some of the other commenters have already pointed things out that I didn't particularly agree with, so I won't venture there. I think a little touching is necessary to highlight your intentions, but let me ask what touching is appropriate. I asked a teasing question to a guy shortly after our first "date". His response was not only creepy (and not a banterish response at all, to boot), he also punched my arm. A little too hard, too. I would have been fine with a touch, or a push, or him putting his hand on my shoulder, but a punch? I've thought about it since then, and I still can't figure out why he chose a punch.

    • Dr. NerdLove

      Without having been there, I couldn't tell you but I'm willing to bet it was meant to be a playful punch and he misjudged his strength rather than, say, trying to play dead arm. The light punch in the arm is a fairly common guy gesture between friends. Sometimes it can work with women too, depending on the person.

      From the sounds of it – and again, not there and would need more detail – your date wasn't socially well calibrated.

      • UM

        Yeah, that does sound likely. Poor guy had some issues, and I'm sorry to say that things ended badly, which probably didn't help improve his social skills. I still feel guilty about it, and if I had more of a spine I would've sat down with him and explained why he made me so uncomfortable, but done is done and we don't talk to each other anymore.

        Still, arm punching is a very weird thing to come from a guy who'd up to that point acted like a gentleman, who even pulled my chair out for me. I actually prefer when people treat me as "one of the guys", but the arm punching in connection with the creepy thing and the gentleman thing is a bit weird, right?

    • Simstar

      He was simply so into you, he was nervous. I used to do it back when I went to an all girls school and wasn't familiar with boys. I write this stuff now. LOL

  • SJM

    Well I just had an encounter today with a guy that sounds like one of these situations. We were going over some data we gathered and chatting. I don't know how it happened but he said to me "You're going to get a spanking!" I just giggled. Now I have known him for years and we've just become close in the last year or so and yes it's become increasingly flirtatious between us. Now if someone I just met said this to me I would probably be creeped out but as this is a guy I actually like I don't mind one bit if he threatens to spank me!

  • Vantage

    At M, Maggie, and S. I tend to be quite a bit of a flirt and yeah I have used the "teasing put down" without negging myself successfully in the past. I will say it also is a requirement to "know your audience" when doing so to say teh "right" put down that will get you a smile instead of a frown. Your typical woman wants the male to come from a position of authority. I have never gotten past, and I mean never, gotten past "Hi my name is" if I came from a position of weakness. If you want men to treat you as if you have control or to not come off as a strong person who by definition must be feeling a bit superior to everyone around them, then you need to come up with a plan to change 100,000 years or behavioral training. And answer yourself, "Would I find myself attracted to someone I think is beneath me?" Strong does not mean equal. And women are attracted to strong. If you are NOT attracted to strong, then you better be doing the pursuing because you need to show dominance in the relationship.

    • Maggie

      Old post, but I just came across it again and since part of this was directed at me…

      A truly strong man doesn't need to put someone down to prove that he feels superior to most people. I'll admit, a certain degree of arrogance and confidence is very attractive, but I could never stay with someone who put me down. I have self respect. Your point about knowing your audience is a good one, though. It's true that in different situations, different jokes or teasing remarks can either tank or be hilarious. However I disagree that "strong does not mean equal". I'm a big believer in mutual respect. I admire a man who doesn't feel threatened by a woman's success or intelligence. Of course I say that as someone who learned real fast to lie about my grades, awards and accomplishments and felt like shit about it. Luckily I met a guy who not only doesn't feel threatened by this, but is happy to have met a woman who is able to keep up with him and who he can be proud of. As I am very proud of what he has accomplished. He feels secure, not superior. Of course he does tease me and it's fine, but he doesn't feel the need to put me down.

      Also, my original point was that there are some things that are just inappropriate to say to someone you just met. It's better to wait until you know how that particular girl will take it, before threatening to spank her or telling her that you're having nasty thoughts about her. You never know what a girl's history is. Personally, I'm someone who has very little personal space and who reacts very well to touch and proximity, but I'm not someone who enjoys comments like ‘your last boyfriend didn’t spank you enough'. A guy who starts making comments or speculations about my sex life if he is not a part of said sex life, even in jest will probably never hear from me again. But I do have friends who are very, very leery about being touched, but think such comments and jokes and teasing is hilarious. So like I originally said, "Jokes [and physical touch, for that matter] like that are fine when you know the girl and how she’ll take it. Inadvisable if you don’t." Like M said, test the water first.

      • Maggie

        Also, because this kinda bugs me, strong may not mean equal, but it also doesn't mean unequal. Or superior. Strength isn't a purely masculine trait. And a lot of people, both men and women, like to have partners who are their equals, at least in some respect. I'm a strong woman. I can't stand dating weak men who let me walk all over them. It doesn't mean that I'm looking for a neanderthal who thinks he's superior to me. It just means that I want a strong man who can handle the fact that I'm a strong woman.

      • Zorku

        I don't think any culture has ever seen it as "you shouldn't respect women" no matter how dominant the males. Outright disrespect usually gets swept under the mental rug until it can't be hidden any longer, and the family members end up mad at each other for choosing different sides- that it's intolerable vs I don't see why you should make such a big deal about this.

        Now when you expect to be on the same level as a man I can see why subordination would be disrespectful in a subtle enough way that you're going to have a lot of people insisting it isn't a respect issue. In this case I think that's where the combative bit comes in, and honestly even for girls that are fine with being subordinate I think the reaction is still going to be along the lines of "Hey! I'm not your maid/secretary/etc" That's why it's teasing instead of bossing them around. It's a little bit absurd, and if the guy is doing it right you come up with a way to do it back to him- it's your turn to balance the scales, or more likely tip them in your favor so the exchange can keep going back and forth.

        I saw two people flirting at work recently and the guy was using "I keep thinking about you" lines, though with them the tease is that he's fake-disgusted by her. Said after she's ruined his day he can't get songs out of his head and set up a lot of negative punchlines off of sweet sounding admissions. She rolled with the punches and had her own witty comebacks, when she didn't outright laugh at a line.

        -I didn't manage to convey this detail in that line of thought, but it came up that she's physically stronger than him, and most/all of our coworkers. He acts like he's a little bit above her and it comes off as funny/playful instead of oppressive.

        Of course I didn't see the original flirting but I'd imagine that he didn't start out with most of those things. They'd have established a baseline and built up from there so that there's no question that a lot of what he's saying is supposed to be ridiculous.

  • After reading this well written article and all of these very well reasoned comments, I'd like to take a crack at a summary and tie this in with other things I have learned from other sources:

    To begin with, most of the women I have talked to about this subject confess that they have usually decided if they are attracted to a man before he even opens his mouth. (Usually they put this in terms of whether they would sleep with him.) So, flirting is really nothing more than testing the waters. If a woman IS attracted, then the man can get away with a lot more. If she is attracted, then you can even put your foot in your mouth a bit and she will forgive you … if you retract and try a less obnoxious approach.

    The key to flirting is that you are showing that you are brave enough to try. That you have at least some confidence that she will reciprocate. So often we read that we should show confidence but without ANY instruction on how to do that. Flirting in this way is one major way to show this confidence. By being just a little obnoxious, we are showing two things: We are showing that we actually have at least some confidence that she is already attracted to us. And we are showing that if she does reject us it is no big deal and we are confident we can meet other women who will reciprocate.

  • Chris

    I don't know how to tease people. Yikes, I'm in trouble.

  • Jules

    I was wondering, could these same tactics be applied for girls too? I’m a girl and I have found myself reading this article over and over again. I’m not good with flirting at all. I know more about physics than I know about flirting, which isn’t much. All these points are fantastic and I just wanted to know if I could use them as a girl to a boy, since this article was directed to guys more so. Thanks

    • JTL

      It's been a while since your post – but I'll try to reply anyway. I'll have to preface my reply that I'm male, and I rarely do flirting with other males (and when I do, it's probably a whole different experience).

      I'd say that the general guidelines work for women as well. There's a lot to be said for teasing, body language, etc. You may find that many guys are put off by very direct or forward women. This is pretty similar to some of the statements above about knowing who you're talking to, watching their responses, and adjusting your responses accordingly.

      That's a lot to keep track of all at once. One thing that's not mentioned explicitly here — you need to practice! You're not going to be good at it the first time. Try saying a few different things to different people. Try writing down some cute/teasing sentences. Try looking at yourself in a mirror like you're looking at a cute boy — see what it looks like. Then go out and talk to some people! It becomes a lot less scary — and, after a while, even fun :).

  • DocAcid


    I've never thought of teasing as someone being mean in a way that says I like you. It always just seems like someone either openly insulting or putting you down…or someone trying to mess with your stuff. "Ooohhh let me rearrange everything in your wallet so you can't find anything." "Wow. Is this the crap you have on your phone. That sucks."

    I've never been comfortable receiving it or giving that sort of thing back. it always seems…well, mean and annoying.

    I'll have to try and read more into it.

  • adamhunter1223

    …Yes, because treating someone 'like your bratty little sister' is totally attractive and won't come off as patronizing or infuriating at all…

    Seriously, the stuff described here sounds to me like you're just being an ass.

  • Haruko


    White women, white women. White American women. There is nothing at all wrong with the flirt moves and comments Dr. Nerd Love is suggesting here! I'm an Asian nerdette and I LOVE this stuff from guys! Come on: it's not like he's physically assaulting you when he says these things! I've been sexually assaulted. It's nothing like your PETA rape fantasies. It's awful. And once it's happened to you, you know what it is… and what it ISN'T.

    You're paralyzing white American men with all this fake outrage and pearl clutching. Advice: pull that plug outta yer —.

    Unless you want Asian chicks like me to keep snatching up your men while you save the whales and kittens and howl with outrage at everything adorable and male a guy does.


    • eselle28


  • Zalis

    If you’re looking for that mystical combination of bad influences, don’t overlook the feminist sexual harassment propaganda that was drilled into our heads in school from the mid-90s onwards. Too many guys, nerds or otherwise, bought into the “flirting is a two-way street, sexual harassment is a one-way street” line and resolved to avoid ever being or being mistaken for a sexual harasser. The problem is, the propaganda leads you to believe that taking any risks or doing anything that might be “wrong” without the woman’s explicit enthusiastic consent constitutes sexual harassment. The finer points of how to read body language and signals to see if she might be receptive were never covered.

    It’s like showing them a map of a downtown area displaying nothing but one-way streets, then saying “Some of these streets are secretly two-way, but we won’t tell you how to tell the difference, so good luck trying to drive down them without hitting oncoming traffic and/or getting fined and arrested.” Meanwhile, the guys who ignored the propaganda manage to actually learn how to deal and flirt with women.

  • Could someone define being "intensely sincere to the point of being creepy"? Isn't being sincere always, you know, good?

    • brianpansky

      No, it's not always good. An extreme example is going up to some random person you've seen a few times but never spoken to before and suddenly telling them all about your sexual fantasies that involve them. That is sincere, but it's also creepy. You should wait until you have navigated towards that level of sharing with someone before you tell them such things.

      I'm trying to think of a less extreme example….I dunno. Less extreme examples in my head seem to be more about the manner in which you say something, not necessarily the thing itself that is said…

  • iliketowalk

    actually… until very recently, i had no idea about what flirting really meant. Not just that, but i believed that people just talked on and on until magically, nobody knows how, they ended up making out/having sex/marrying/whatever.

    I had no idea about *escalation*. I had no idea that you have to show sexual interest to make things happen. I thought they just happened *somehow*. Of course, i also had no idea that flirting is, well, showing sexual interest in a subtle and playful way.

    Reading stuff like this is pretty helpful, actually.

  • brianpansky

    Hmm, this article included fewer activities as "flirting" than the article I read over here the other day:

    Also, this Dr. Nerdlove article's examples were like nails on chalkboard to me. I'd suggest not using those right away, until you've got a feel for how strong of teasing the person is (currently) into. I note that he did basically give this advice, saying to "dial it back" if it seems that you need to. But I'd start off a bit more dialed back than "Wow, you’re officially the worst personal assistant I’ve ever had" etc.