For many of us, flirting is fun and effortless--as natural as breathing. For others, they'd rather stick toothpicks in their eyes. But hang on, terrible flitters--maybe it's not that you can't flirt--but just that you haven't found the right flirting style yet.
Dr. Jeffery Hall, assistant professor of communication studies at the University of Kansas and his colleagues conducted a survey to determine the different types of flirts. The survey was published in Communication Quarterly.
"People often find themselves frustrated or unhappy with their ability to get others to notice them," he says. "If we know more about what we do, and the likely outcomes of each style [of flirting], then it may give us insight into why we end up where we do."
So what are the five styles of flirting? Dr. Hall breaks them down.
Physical flirting involves the expression of sexual interest in a potential partner. People who scored high in this form of flirting often develop relationships quickly, have more sexual chemistry and have a greater emotional connection to their partners.
Traditional flirts believe men should make the first move and women should not pursue men. Due to adopting a more passive role in dating, women with this style are likely to report trouble getting men’s attention and are less likely to flirt or be flattered by flirting. Traditional men often know a potential partner for a longer time before approaching them. Both genders tend to be introverted and prefer a more intimate dating scene.
The polite style of flirting focuses on proper manners and non-sexual communication. While they are less likely to approach a potential partner and do not find flirting flattering, they do tend to have meaningful relationships.
Sincere flirting is based on creating emotional connections and communicating sincere interest. While women tend to score higher in this style, it is highly advocated by both genders. Relationships involve strong emotional connections and sexual chemistry and are typically meaningful.
People with playful flirting styles often flirt with little interest in a long-term romance. However, they find flirting fun and enhancing to their self-esteem. They are less likely to have an important and meaningful relationship.
So is one particular style more effective than another? Dr. Hall says that depends on what you want to achieve in the long run. "Depending on whether you want to develop a short or long term relationship, whether you prefer slow paced or fast paced, whether you want to connect with someone physically or emotionally," he says. "The styles perspective isn’t that one is best, or one is more effective, but different people have different goals and motivations for flirting, and different styles are useful for different people."
And watch out your flirting style doesn't backfire on you.
"For example when comparing men and women, my expectation is that if women were more physical they would be able to get men to notice and approach them faster," Hall says. "But this may not be what they want to achieve or the kind of men they want to get to know."
And, in the end, remember, this is not a one-size-fits-all type of approach.
"Depending on a person's style and their relationship goals, a terrible flirt in one situation is great in another," Hall insists. "Learning about yourself and what you want to achieve will help that along."
What style are you? Have you tried to mix it up at all? What tricks work best for you?