Just like there’s a fine line between friendship and romance, there’s also a fine line between casual chitchat and flirting. Knowing whether or not someone is flirting with you can be difficult, and so is upgrading a friendly convo to letting someone know you’re interested by flirting. The difficulty lies in the fact that everyone considers different interactions flirtatious, so being a good reader of people is vital. Plus, there’s the additional factor of being vulnerable with someone when you’re unsure if they feel an attraction to you, too. To make flirting just a little bit easier, read the tips below to help overcome any insecurity you feel and improve your comfort with flirting.
Flirt With Yourself First
Gaining confidence is the first step to better flirting. So, flirt with yourself a bit before trying it with a stranger. Remember which physical attributes you like the best about yourself as well as the personality traits that have historically drawn your partners to you. Allow yourself to embrace your sexual desire fully; don’t deaden it or feel shame about it. The more you understand and can verbalize your sexual longing, the easier it will be for you to flirt with others.
Start the Conversation
Making the first move is intimidating, but the more you attempt it, the more confidence you’ll gain. If you don’t know what to say, consider asking that attractive stranger a question. Or, you could talk about whatever is happening at the moment, whether you’re stuck in a long grocery store line together, or waiting for a cocktail at a concert.
Be a Detective
People use both verbal and non-verbal cues to flirt. You can use mindfulness techniques to become better at noticing these hints. Tune into all five of your senses, and you’ll be able to fully observe the object of your flirtation. Listen to what they say to you. Are they intensifying the sensuality of the conversation, or are they changing the topic? Are they facing you or checking their phone? Watch their body language, and use your best judgment to deduct just how into you they are.
Keep Consent in Mind
Flirting isn’t fun if it’s a one-way street. As much as you tune in to your desire to help escalate conversations to the level of flirting, you’ll need to tune in to whomever you’re talking with and provide them an easy exit from the conversation if you feel that they might be uncomfortable. Confident people don’t corner the person with whom they’re flirting, and they also don’t take rejection too harshly. If a particular flirtation doesn’t work out, the interaction still counts as practice—and you’ll be that much better when the right person comes along.
If you’re unsure whether or not someone is into the flirtatious vibe you’re creating, just ask. There’s nothing more confident than saying it out loud! Phrase it in a non-accusatory way, like: “Am I making you uncomfortable? That’s the last thing I want to do.” If they say they do feel uncomfortable, apologize, back off, and return to a friendly conversation. Whatever you do, don’t storm out or become agitated. This reaction gives the impression that you were only interested in talking to the person if they were interested in a sexual relationship with you. It’s far more tasteful to tell them you enjoyed the conversation and are glad to have met them.
Don’t Confuse a “Not Yet” for a “No”
If someone is interested in you, but they back off if you touch their hand, it may be that they want to take it more slowly. Or, they may just not like public displays of affection. When you respect their boundary, it can increase their feeling of safety. In the end, making sure the person you’re flirting with feels safe will help them relax and connect with you sensually. Agree to let them set the pace, and do your best to maintain connection with them rather than retreating into the headspace of rejection.
Anyone can improve their flirting skills, but it starts with confidence and a healthy relationship with your sexuality. Partnering with a therapist who specializes in relationships can help you reach your goals, so consider reaching out to one today.
Bio: Dr. Nazanin Moali is a clinical psychologist and sex therapist in the Los Angeles area. She works with various individuals to understand and improve their sexuality. Dr. Moali conducts personal consultation sessions in her Torrance and Hermosa Beach offices, or via a secure, online video-counseling platform. Click here to download the 101 Ways to Keep Your Relationship Hot checklist. Download her new ebook, How to Increase Your Libido – For Women, here.