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One of the biggest reasons why people have a hard time flirting successfully is that they don’t understand how flirting is supposed to work. But when you understand the overall philosophy of flirting, you’re in a much better position to fine tune your flirting style to one that works for you and lets you adapt to whomever you’re trying to flirt with.
These three unusual tips will teach you how to flirt like a master.
- What guys get wrong about how to flirt with someone they like
- Why social calibration is THE most important part of flirting
- How to read someone so you can flirt with them the RIGHT way
- Why understanding how to set the pace makes you more attractive
- Why you should think like a cat to flirt more effectively
…and so much more
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Hey everyone, Harris O’Malley from doctornerdlove.com. This week, I’m going to help you take your flirting to the next level, by showing you how to fix a common mistake folks make with flirting and teach you how to flirt more effectively…
Now I’m gonna tell you up front: it’s gonna sound a little weird when we get to it, so just stick with me because it’s going to make sense when it’s all done.
One of the biggest reasons why people have a hard time flirting successfully is that, frankly, they don’t understand how flirting is supposed to work. Flirting isn’t a way of making people magically like you if they don’t; it’s a way of having fun with someone you’re attracted to and letting them know you like them.
The fun is the most important part of flirting. Making somebody feel good triggers an effect that’s known as the Reward Theory of Attraction: we prioritize our relationships with people who make us feel good and want to spend more time with them. So the more someone makes us feel good in their presence, the more time we’re going to want to SPEND in their presence.
The problem a lot of people have is that they tend to treat flirting as… something that’s kind of one-sided. They’re flirting AT someone, not WITH them and it ends up being something they’re doing and the other person is supposed to accept and respond to… less like you’re building something together and more that you’re putting on a performance and trying to get a specific reaction out of the person you’re flirting with.
So, it’s a little understandable that when they don’t respond the way you’d hope, you get frustrated. And when people get frustrated, they tend to go in one of two directions: either they give up — which is its own problem — or they try to do the same thing even HARDER, which only makes things worse.
The key to flirting is that it’s responsive. In fact, there’s a lot of similarities between flirting and improv; when you’re flirting with someone, you want to work with the other person, rather than try to get them to react the way you want them to. Flirting effectively means getting a good sense of who you’re flirting with and what they respond to.
That sort of social calibration is important because it tells you a lot about the person you’re flirting with; are they compatible with you, are they someone whose personality meshes well with yours.
Just as importantly though, is that in learning how to read them and respond and adjust your approach, you’re able to flirt in ways that are more effective and efficient; you’re better able to flirt the way that they enjoy and do so without making them uncomfortable by pushing too hard, too far and too fast.
So, y’know. A little like The Price is Right; you want to get as close as possible without going over.
Trust me: that ain’t gonna be the most tortured metaphor of this episode.
Now one of the reasons why it can be hard to teach specific flirting techniques is because flirting is very personal; every person is different and and every person they’re going to flirt with is different. What works for me isn’t necessarily going to work for you. However, when you understand the overall philosophy of flirting, you’re in a much better position to fine tune your flirting style to one that works for you and lets you adapt to whomever you’re trying to flirt with.
And the key to that… is to think about cats.
No, not like that.
So this is something I’ve touched on a little before, both in previous episodes and on Twitter, but part of what makes someone an effective flirt is to treat people like cats. It’s not about comparing them literally to cats, but understanding how the dynamics of flirting compare to learning how to win over a cat.
And trust me: this is true about guys, gals, non-binary pals, everybody.
It’s something of an obvious truism that cats and dogs have different temperaments. Dogs tend to have a stronger “need” to be liked by people. They have more outgoing and aggressive forms of behavior and the way we’ve bred them has created behaviors that we see as being “friendlier”, because they respond well to the way we tend to want to give them attention. Cats have different social needs and different social behaviors, which can seem like they’re being stand-offish or snobby. Behavior that would win over a dog tends to annoy a cat.
So if you want to make friends with a cat, you have to woo it… and you have to do it in a way that it understands, in a way that lets it feel safe, and in a way that isn’t going to make it feel overwhelmed.
And the same is true of people.
This is why the first thing you want to do when you’re flirting is let the other person set the pace that they’re most comfortable with.
Much like people, cats don’t appreciate folks who are aggressive with their attention; they like affection, but on their terms. They especially don’t appreciate folks who don’t seem to respect their interest or LACK of interest. And if you’re expressing interest in a way that they don’t like receiving it… they’re not going to like you.
One of the cliches about cats is that they’ll ignore the people who try to get their attention, but they’ll immediately gravitate to someone who’s ignoring them or leaving them alone. This is because to cats, ignoring them and giving them space is a sign of affection. Staring at them, moving towards them, reaching for them are all aggressive behaviors. Crowding it and petting it when it’s not ready or interested makes it uncomfortable and overstimulated and it’ll try to get away from the person causing it discomfort.
Meanwhile, looking away tends to be polite: you’re showing the cat that you’re willing to give it space to decide whether it’s ready to make friends… and if it feels safe doing so.
So it is with flirting. A lot of guys tend to feel that in order to be attractive and demonstrate confidence, they have to be aggressive, even dominant. They have to set the frame, as it were, and lead the interaction. The problem is that this need to lead almost always ends up being more aggressive than women like; it’s very one-sided behavior — I have decided that I like you, so now we’re flirting and I’m going to make everything about sex and how attracted you are to me.
The problem is that this tends to annoy people, especially women who haven’t necessarily decided that they WANT to flirt with someone yet. They may think a guy’s good looking or attractive… but most of the time, they want to size him up a little, get to know him and then decide if they’re interested in taking things in a flirty direction.
That decision — we are now flirting, let us proceed to make with the sexy banter — is the opposite of the interactive, responsive style of flirting that people relate best to. Laying out that you’re INTERESTED in flirting — making a flirty joke, a little tease, even something like “so what makes you interesting?” — and letting people decide the pace that they want to take, has two benefits. First, it lets them know that you’re into them, but it gives THEM the room to decide whether or not they want to take it in a flirty direction — in which case they’ll flirt back — or they aren’t interested, and they’ll just let it slide.
This helps them feel more comfortable with talking with you; they’re in a position to decide just how do they want to do this. Some people will be interested in flirting right away. Others will decide that they DO want to flirt, but prefer to warm up first until they feel more comfortable. Letting them set the pace means that you’re not as likely to, say, take things in a more aggressive or sexual direction than they’re ready for, which makes them feel more at ease with you.
The second benefit is that this approach shows far more confidence than trying to force the issue. By showing interest, then letting her set the pace, you’re demonstrating that you have confidence in yourself and your attractiveness; you don’t feel the need to push and push or chase after them in an obnoxious way and instead give them the space to decide for themselves. You know that you’re awesome and they’d be fools NOT to like you; giving them that space lets them come to YOU.
That’s a lot hotter than the pushy guy who ignores people’s lack of interest because he’s trying to set a stronger frame and get through her bitch shield and ultimately just wear her down.
It also means you have the confidence to step back and pick things up later instead of trying to make it all happen at once. A lot of guys treat flirting as something that once started, must be taken to the very end where either they reject you or you get their number. And it really doesn’t. Being willing to step away shows that you’ve got more confidence in yourself and in their interest in you, because you know you can return to it later.
Think about George Clooney. He’s not going to worry about taking step back and going off to talk to someone else if he feels like the person he’s been flirting with needs a break. He’s going to go do his own thing and then every once in a while look back, lock eyes and give that smile, because he knows they’re gonna want to talk to him again.
This ties into the next key concept of flirting effectively: understanding how important being able to read people — especially their personality and their comfort level — is when it comes to flirting.
Let’s go back to how you make friends with a cat for a moment.
Understanding how to win a cat over means understanding that particular cat’s personality. Some cats are very stand-offish and for them, affection will mean “I sit on the same couch as you”. Some will be aggressive and demand your attention because what good is having opposable thumbs if you aren’t using them to scratch a kitty’s ears? Some will want to be affectionate, but they’re incredibly timid and will take the slightest gesture as a sign of danger or that you’re upset.
Recognizing those different personalities are key, because they’re all going to affect how you interact with them. With the friendly but shy cat, you’re going to want to proceed slowly and carefully, with gentle and smooth movements so that they don’t think that you’re angry or threatening them.
With the more stand-offish cat, you want to let it do it’s own thing; just being in the room with it without bugging it is going to help it feel more comfortable and decide whether it wants to take a chance with you.
But here’s the thing: with cats with people, even the most aggressively affectionate,can be easily overwhelmed by attention and freak out.
With cats, it’s usually a case of overstimulation. Too much petting, too much noise, what-have-you and they go from friendly to bitting or kicking your hands away.
With people, too much attention — or the wrong kind of attention — can leave them feeling overwhelmed or weirded out. There’re people who love flirting… but sexually charged flirting may make them feel a little ooged out because that’s just not how they roll. Others may feel like a guy showing SO much attention — y’know, the Pepe Le Pew approach — is off-putting because dude, they barely KNOW you and here you are going over the top to try to get them to give you their number or get into their pants.
This happens in online dating as well; the guy who floods his Tinder match with messages or wants to know if she wants to meet up that day.
Even someone who likes you is going to get uncomfortable and decide they’re NOT that interested in you after all if you’re pushing too hard or too fast. They’re going to worry what your agenda is or if there’s something going on that they’re not aware of that they should be.
And if you aren’t responding to that discomfort and adjusting the way you’re flirting, then you’re sending a signal. That signal is either you don’t RECOGNIZE other people’s discomfort, which is not a great sign, or you don’t CARE. Which is worse.
Remember what I said about how letting other people set the pace is an important sign of confidence and a vital flirting technique. That applies here. When I say that flirting is responsive, this is part of what you’re responding to; you’re being mindful of not just the other person’s interest, but also their comfort.
After all, attraction can’t EXIST without comfort and safety.
But that’s why the most effective flirting works with an ebb and flow. You ease up on things when it seems like the other person isn’t responding the way you’d hope. Maybe they’re a little less invested in the moment. Maybe they seem like they’re having less fun, they’re not joking around to the same level you are or their smiles are a little tighter and the laughs are a little more forced. Recognizing this and adjusting your approach shows that you pay attention to their comfort. It lets them know that you’re considerate and emotionally intelligent.
Plus, being willing to dial things back is valuable from a pacing perspective. Like I said earlier: one of the mistakes people make is that they treat flirting as though it were a one-and-done scenario, where they have to get it ALL IN or else it’s a failure.
Flirting shouldn’t be a one-time situation, where success or failure is going to be determined by your getting her number, planning a date or whether she goes home with you right then and there. Flirting is a process, an ongoing game, something you should be putting down and then picking back up when you see each other again.
Which brings us to the last aspect of flirting more effectively: understanding the push and pull dynamic of flirting.
Guys tend to look at flirting — especially sexual flirting — and think that the key to success is to MAX IT OUT. You want to raise her attraction levels so high and so quickly that she’s practically pulling your pants off and suggesting that if it’s too far to get to your car, the bathroom is right over there.
This is a mistake, and one that people tend to make a little too often. It’s very easy to overwhelm people with attention, even when it’s attention that they want. Even if you’re some master of persuasion who can flirt SO well that people end up being almost uncontrollably horny — you can’t — people are going to feel weird about being that aroused, especially with someone they only just met. It’s not like porn where now people are going to HAVE to fuck you, it’s “OK, this makes me incredibly uncomfortable and I’m gonna go somewhere else and try to process what the fuck just happened.”
Flirting is very much about the building and RELEASE of tension. It works best when you think of it like a game: you flirt with someone and give them your attention, then pull it back.
So you’re teasing them, you’re laughing and having fun… and then you change gears. You break rapport and turn the flirting off.
Not only does this act like a pressure release valve — bleeding off the build up of pressure so things don’t explode in ways you DON’T want — but it has the effect of making them want that attention back.
We like the good feelings that come with flirting with someone we like. When that feeling is gone, we feel it’s absence the most and we want it back. And we’re going to work harder to get it back.
Think of playing with a cat by dangling a feather on a string. You let it bat the feather around a little, then you pull it just out of the cat’s reach. Whereas before it was having fun playing with the feather, now it’s going to go APESHIT trying to get at it.
The same applies to flirting. Humans have an almost instinctual desire for things that we can’t have or aren’t supposed to have. But you can’t just wave something around and say “Ha ha, can’t have this” and then expect them to be overwhelmed by desire for it. You have to create the desire for it first by giving them a taste, then putting up obstacles to achieving that desire.
In flirting, those obstacles could be anything. It could be a tease about how you two would never work. It could be shifting gears and choosing to break rapport and being serious rather than flirting with them. It could be about almost anything that puts your interest and attention — and thus, those good feelings — just out of reach.
And keeping that distance is important. When the cat can just have the feather, it’ll stop playing. That’s why part of flirting tends to be a little antagonistic or a little challenging. Just agreeing with people and focusing on nothing but commonalities and trying to be on the same page about EVERYTHING is dull. There’s no spark, no mystery, no challenge. They don’t have to work for the attention and so it’s not as desirable.
That’s why you need to be willing to break that rapport, turn off the charm and let them have a moment or two without it; it keeps the mystery and the allure going. You’re dangling the feather just out of the reach of the cat’s paws.
But by that same token, not only does it have to be just out of reach — you don’t want to drive them off or make them think you don’t like them — you also have to let them have it again. If the cat CAN’T catch the feather, eventually it’s going to get bored and frustrated and go away.
This is another mistake a lot of people make. Folks who buy into the idea that playing hard to get is the ultimate power move or that he who cares less has the power don’t get that part of flirting is that you want to be caught, you WANT them to know that you like them. People who play hard to get… tend to end up not getting got as people will give up and go find someone who can be gotten.
Flirting is ultimately a game, a way of connecting with people. Understanding what makes that game fun to play is important, and people have to WANT to play it with you. Keeping that balance in mind and understanding how to make it work for you is how you become a flirting master and turning those encounters into opportunities to inspire someone to want to get to know you a little better.
So when you want to step up your flirting game… think like a cat.