How to Flirt Effectively


It's impossible to cover flirting in every possible dimension, but I thought I'd give a few pointers to those who aren't completely comfortable with it. The focus here is on flirting in real life, not online and does not include flirting with your significant other.

1. Know why you are flirting

How to Flirt Effectively

You have a specific reason for doing this, so keep that reason in mind when you're flirting because it may affect the approach you take and how hard you flirt. If you trying to break the ice and get someone to notice you, you'll approach it differently than if you're trying to convey to a friend or acquaintance that you have romantic interest in them. Breaking the ice may not mean a gentle touch on the arm or hand and may rely more on compliments and body language than the more overt approach you may take on someone you already know.

2. Flirting isn't always necessary or even appropriate

How to Flirt Effectively

In a business environment in particular this will often be the case, but also many social settings. If you know it isn't appropriate or too difficult to pull off correctly, just carry on an appropriate convo for the environment and get that person's number. You can always find easier opportunities for flirting when you are one-on-one with them.

3. You can sometimes flirt with just body language

How to Flirt Effectively

You may find that you can't flirt verbally with someone (see #2), but still want to send some message that you're interested. In these cases a big smile or wave may have to do, but you shouldn't rely on that alone unless there is no opportunity to talk to them. Follow it up at some point with a convo.

4. The flirtee may be completely oblivious to your flirting

How to Flirt Effectively

It's so easy in many cases to confuse flirting for friendliness or even someone playing a prank. You may need to crank it up a notch to achieve your objective, but keep in mind #4. Also, some people are so uncomfortable with being flirted with that you may need to use an ordinary convo or some contrived one to get and hold their attention.

When I was 18, a 42 year old co-worker hit on me, including touching me several times on my arms and back. I had never had an adult woman hit on me before and thought my co-workers were playing a joke on me, that's how oblivious I was. One later told me she had been genuinely interested.

5. The flirtee may realize exactly what you doing and deliberately pretend to be obtuse

How to Flirt Effectively

If you aren't getting the feedback, i.e., attention and responses from the flirtee that you were expecting, it may not mean that there is something wrong with your approach or that you need to flirt more aggressively. A personal anecdote illustrates this.

I once had an interview for an internship right before a college class and didn't have time to change out of the business suit I wore, so I had to sit in a different spot for the lecture than I normally would. It happened to be next to an attractive young woman who checked me out and flirted with me when we received our exams back, congratulating me on my grade, It was blatantly obvious that she was flirting because she had never paid me the slightest attention before and it was 2/3 of the way through the semester. Because I had a girlfriend, I just smiled and thanked her rather than bantering with her as I would have done had I been interested. She got the message, didn't flirt more aggressively, and that was that.

6. If the flirtee finds you attractive, it usually makes it easier to hold their attention

How to Flirt Effectively

Don't let this make you lazy though- you still should leave a good verbal and body language (meaning your confidence) impression and there are lots of other attractive people out there. It does help if they're obviously charmed, but don't assume everything based on your appearance or theirs- there is such a thing as someone not taking you seriously because they don't think someone as attractive as you could really be interested in them. You also shouldn't assume that the flirtee hasn't been flirted with numerous times before.

7. You don't have to be perfect, and sometimes the mere effort is what's important

How to Flirt Effectively

Don't try to plan your flirting step by step in advance- let it flow as naturally as you can once you've decided to flirt. Don't let fears of rejection or possibly embarrassing yourself sabotage you- even clumsy attempts at flirting can be endearing if they don't involve some faux pas like inappropriate touching or saying something really inappropriate (e.g., don't tell them they're beautiful/handsome or say something of a sexual nature). You can do this- everyone has a first time or a first time in a different or challenging environment.

8. Enjoy flirting

How to Flirt Effectively

Never put pressure on yourself to succeed in flirting- that will take the fun away.

I know it's easy to get excited about someone who seems especially attractive, approachable or friendly, but there will always be other opportunities to flirt.

How to Flirt Effectively
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Most Helpful Guys

  • SteveSmith1985
    I agree with almost everything you wrote. Great myTake.

    Personally, I've never made a conscious decision to flirt with someone in my life. For me, it's just what ends up happening when I'm talking to a woman I'm attracted to. I certainly do flirt. I flirt my ass-off. You had number 7 and 8: letting it flow naturally and enjoying it. I think I actually do both of these things so much that it's never even conscious.

    BUT I don't have to work hard to switch off 'automatic-flirt-mode' when I'm in a relationship (I'm not THAT guy... not at all). The rest of the time though... it just happens.

    I've never really thought about it before, but hen you break flirting down. I see truth in each element you discuss.
    Now I am NOT the type to approach a RANDOM woman and blatantly start flirting. I'm not about it. Just not my style. I'm not the Fresh Prince. If I'm sitting next to a girl like in a lecture hall who I don't know... that's no problem, then it's just body language (smiling is key). And just striking up a conversation comes easily for me... so now I'm flirting.

    Now FEEDBACK is THE key to flirting. I'll say it again FEEDBACK. FEEDBACK. This relates to several of your points: most specifically appropriateness of flirting. But also is relevant to many of your other ones.

    Flirting is a language everyone (most) people can identify and recognize... it's like a conversation.

    Think of flirting as a conversation.

    Just like in a conversation, there's a give and take. You say something based on, or in reaction to something THEY said. Otherwise, that's not a conversation... you're just talking at someone. Just like a conversation, you can tell by the FEEDBACK you get (whatever they say, in the conversation).

    So when you talk to someone (anyone) how do you know what the next "right" thing to say? It depends ENTIRELY on what THEY just said back to you last.
    Think about it. If you can talk to a person this is true (except the very first speaker).

    Same thing with flirting. FEEDBACK

    So if you smile at the girl and she smiles back vs. looks embarrassed and shy vs. pretends she didn't actually see you. Those are three different things that woman has "said back" --FEEDBACK.

    SO if she smiles back, say "Hi, how are you' That smile she gave you back said "yea I would love to talk to you" If she looks away and seems shy. She probably is shy, but she's at least flattered, if not interested. You can definitely say "hi" to this girl too... or do your own next move... but she's quite possibly interested. Worth following up anyway.

    If you clearly shoot someone a beaming smile and try to look them in the eye... and they either pretend to not see you by looking AWAY rather than DOWN (funny I just realized that as I'm typing I've always just known this somehow) or if you get a "just enough to not be rude" smile back... FEEDBACK she's not interested. She could be in a relationship, think you're ugly or be a lesbian. It doesn't matter. Either way she has told you "I'm not interested" FEEDBACK

    It works the same with body language. If you put yourself "in someone's personal space in an intimate way" you're starting flirting feedback conversation.
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    • So lets say I sit next to the girl in the lecture, I smile she smiles back, but I can't say 'hi' because there's a lecture going on. It could be anything... putting your leg a little too close to hers to be "normal" but just a little bit closer than normal. Does she readjust herself to be more "comfortable" (in other words: did she feel you were too close, so she moved away by changing position) Same for the position of your actual body to hers, your arm to hers; whatever.

      Does she mind you being 'slightly' too close to her? No... Great, that's a positive feedback signal. You can kick flirting up a little bit. It's like a signal "to continue proceeding with your flirtation" That's what FEEDBACK you're looking for.

      So, of course, all of the verbal and non-verbal flirting feedback conversations happen simultaneously in most situations. ANd they happen lightning-fast.

      But it's ALL ABOUT FEEDBACK. If you just LISTEN to the feedback to your last 'flirtatious advance' it's like following a path. An easy path... either she's waving you on to proceed; or telling you "no thanks. If you follow the feedback flirting will never go "badly"... It can't.

      p. s. I thought to myself: "I don't have anything to say about flirting" when I was invited to this question.

  • SomeGuyCalledTom
    Good list. I like how you focus a lot on the preparation and mindset and not just the execution.

    To add my two cents about the execution side of things... I often find effective flirting for me tends to fall into a few umbrella categories-- these are like directions you can steer an interaction, or recurring motifs, or 'scenes' you can act out, rather than word for word scripts (all should be conveyed in a playful, slightly exaggerated voice tone to signal flirtatious, non-serious intent):

    1) Playful misinterpretation of innocuous gestures; reframing the girl as the sexual aggressor.

    Eg: if it's her turn to get in a round of drinks, and she asks what drink you want, you might say "are you trying to get me drunk? I'm not that kind of guy!" Or if she bumps into you by accident you might say "woah, buy a guy dinner first." The meme here, of course, is that girls are used to guys being the sexual aggressor, and now you're playfully turning that expectation on its head. It also shows social intelligence in that you're conveying an awareness of typical male pushiness, while also distancing yourself from it (without any insecure "white knight" behaviour as compensation)

    2) Playfully make her out to be "bad" in some way (or the opposite, make out like she's "too nice" so she qualifies herself as being a bad girl)

    Eg: if everyone else orders meat out at restaurant, and she orders vegetarian dish, you might say "omg you're such a rebel", or if she says she likes bungee jumping, you can say "oh so you're an adrenaline junkie, you know my mum told me to stay away from dangerous girls like you".

    3) Sprinkle in the odd genuine compliment in between all the playful banter.

    Some guys can take playful flirting to the extreme and become almost like a dancing monkey. To avoid this, you can occasionally "break character" and let slip a sincere compliment with full eye contact, lowered voice tonality, and then go silent and let her respond.

    Eg: [after flirting in one of ways shown above] "okay, but all joking around aside, I like how you're [insert positive quality].


    Her: How do i look?

    You: You look like you're ready to party haha"

    Her: *laughs*

    You: "No but in all seriousness, you really look gorgeous in that dress."

    These should be used as the cherry on top of the cake. Too many compliments will make her value them less since they're too freely given. But if timed right, they can be quite disarming and raise the sexual tension in a way that playful teasing and bantering can't do on its own.
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    • Avicenna

      That sort playfulness is great and should be part of the flirting where possible

    • Wow I’m so impressed. I needa get to your level.

    • @Sarahsriracha Well, it's "do as I say, not as I do" lol, I often forget to use this stuff. But when I actually remember to do it-- and don't feel so awkward as to ruin the effect-- then the results can often be pleasantly surprising ^_^

      Problem is I'm quite hermit-like introvert, so doing these things takes a concerted effort on my part. If I "forget" or "fail" to get in that headspace around a cute girl, then the interactions usually fizzle out and die like an all-female movie reboot xD

      so you could say I have a good incentive to remember this stuff lol

Most Helpful Girls

  • Alice2398
    I've naturally very good at flirting, sometimes I do it without realising and give off the wrong vibe to men I'm not interested in. I'd say be witty and have fun when flirting, if your a guy conference is key, if the girl is playing hard to get be a bit persistent but not border line creepy stalker, just try make her laugh and be cheeky and spontaneous she's think your fun and exciting to be around.

    If your a girl it's usually so much more easier for us to flirt naturally with body language and the way we act and which guys we pick to flirt with we don't even have to act confident most guys find shy girls cute especially if they do a little bit red in the face when flirting with guys and try to hide their smile makes guys know you like them.
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  • Cynicaldreamer
    I'm terrible about number 4: being oblivious to flirting! That's why I tell people: if you like me, just tell me!!! Otherwise I'll mistake your "friendliness" for being nice or courteous.

    Good take!
    I'd also love if there was a take on proper flirting- or better still, how to tell when a man is flirting versus just being friendly to females.
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    • Avicenna

      OK, I will do one on that

    • Oh yes! Please do a take on that. "how to tell when a man is flirting versus just being friendly to females.' as suggested.

    • @Avicenna I think several females would benefit from that... thank you so much!!!

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What Girls & Guys Said

  • moviedude714
    It's unfortunate that many guys don't figure this out until late in life or never do
    Like 1 Person
  • Gedaria
    I like this. Like you say know who you are flirting with. Normally I do it as tease see if she bites. One office I went in regularly, this women and I had just been teasing each other I went to the printer to get my sheets , next thing I know she has her hands on my waist, are going to be there all day, I said this is harassment, tell me you don't like it. I don't like telling lies. I turned round I thought she was going to kiss me. I said do you get this close and personal with everyone who come here , no only the ones I like..
    Good fun makes the day goes quickly...
    Like 1 Person
  • DiegoO
    Very good. Guffus has a point, don't flirt for fun, flirt on someone you are really attracted to and if you feel comfortable with it.

    In my very first year of college I liked a girl, I was madly attracted to her and since I had 0.0 experience with flirting I became awkward, at the same time I realized:

    "I don't have a job, part-time jobs don't exist where I live... What if an unwanted pregnancy come up? We would be screwed! And my dad is a shame (long story)"

    Let's say any motivation I should have for flirting is not as strong as the motivation I had for ending college (I made it trough!), and strong as other things that for me are a top priority.
    Like 1 Person
  • Manuel2
    Keep your eyes on her eyes. Laugh at her jokes and do not smell or bad teeth
  • Physics-Man
    Essential information! Thank you for sharing!
    Like 1 Person
    • Avicenna

      In #4, that should be keep in mind #5, not #4.

  • spartan55
    Comprehensive and great MyTake!
    Like 1 Person
  • coolbreeze
    Great points
    Like 1 Person
  • WhiteShoulder
    These are all really good point
    Like 1 Person
  • Jjpayne
    That's good stuff!! Thanks for posting!!!
    Like 1 Person
  • Massageman
    Good points. Thanks for posting.
    Like 2 People
  • foriWish
    As an introverted person I appreciate this!
  • pizzalovershouse
    What works for some doesn't work for all
    Like 2 People
  • Clyde_123
    Nice take
    Like 1 Person
  • Joker_
    Thanks for teaching me how to flirt effectively
    Like 1 Person
  • IHateBeingaMan
    my mindshet changed on this a lot
    Like 1 Person
  • SecretGardenBlood65
    Interesting take
    Like 1 Person
  • UncleJessieRabbit
    I loved this.
  • DonCachondo
    I hate flirting! Such a cock tease >.<
  • skye69
    Hey message me