How Do We Know If Someone Is Flirting?

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How can we determine if someone views us as attractive and a potential match? How do we let others know whether we consider them attractive or just friends? 

how do we know if someone is flirting

According to a study published in The Journal of Sex Research’s September 2020 issue, flirtatious facial expressions can be recognized. Researchers explain that flirtatious expressions are different from neutral or happy facial expressions. When we find someone especially attractive, our facial cues can give us away and if we want to know someone else’s intention, we can look for those same cues. The most effective and typically recognized cues associated with relationships and sex include a head slightly tilted down and to one side, eyes turned toward the other’s face, and an ever-so-slight smile.

Women often see certain behaviors as being sexual in the game. However, men may view some behaviors as sexual. Flirting, for example, is one such behavior. Researchers found that flirtatious facial cues are more effective for women than men.

A previous study found that men view flirting as sexual, while women see it as a fun or normal way to relate to someone. Researchers also discovered that flirting is viewed equally by both genders as a way for them to express themselves, gain esteem or obtain something from another person. Someone may flirt to simply get or maintain someone else’s attention. According to a 2018 study published in Evolutionary Psychological Science, people looking for short-term relationships are more inclined to engage in atypical flirting behavior. However, most people prefer that the initiator display a more traditional style. 

Considering all these different motivations, it’s not hard to see how flirting can easily turn out to be a confusing or disappointing form of miscommunication. In her book, Love and Electronic Affection: A Design Primer (2020, CRC Press), Lindsay D. Grace defines flirting as “a signal for something more, without explicitly indicating the more.” It’s subtle, she points out, except when it’s not.

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