If you're interested in getting someone's attention, striking up a fun conversation, and possibly even scoring a date, then you may want to try out a few science-backed flirting techniques. These have been shown to be effective, and can help you make a true connection. But even more importantly, they can come in handy when you're not sure what to say.
After all, flirting isn't always the easy. When you put yourself out there, awkward things can happen, conversations can fall flat, and you may even have to deal with rejection. Because hey, not everyone has to flirt back.
It is, however, something you can get better at. "While flirting can be a bit of an art, it’s also something you can learn and practice like any other skill," Jonathan Bennett, relationship and dating expert at Double Trust Dating, tells Bustle. "It might be awkward at first, but by following certain tips, backed by science, you can become a master at flirting. And, it will become so natural you won’t even have to think about it."
Before long, you'll be marching up to folks you're interested in, and having great conversations. With the goal of having fun in mind, here are a few effective ways to flirt, as backed by science, that you might want to try.
1. Make Plenty Of Eye Contact
While you won't want to stare them down, making plenty of eye contact as you talk can show someone you're interested in them. And it even enhances bonding.
In fact, one study showed that when strangers were asked to make prolonged eye contact with each other, they reported a greater feeling of passion for the other person, Bennett says.
Making eye contact can be tricky, especially if you're feeling nervous, or are trying to think about what to say next. But give yourself the challenge of making eye contact, then looking away, then looking back. With time, it will become more natural.
2. Touch Their Arm
"Physical touch has been associated with feelings of attraction, desire, and even increased heart rate," Bennett says, as long as you keep it appropriate and don't cross any lines.
If you and your potential love interest are on the same page, you may want to reach out and touch their arm while you make a joke, or graze their hand as you reach for something. And see how it goes.
"If you are attracted to another person, finding ways to add touch can increase their feelings of attractiveness towards you," Bennett says.
3. Give Them A Compliment
If you're digging someone's company, and want to see where things might go, complimenting them may be your next best move.
"Giving a compliment is a great way to flirt with another person," Bennett says, pointing to one study that showed compliments were more likely to be received as an attempt at flirtation, compared to other conversation starters.
"If you want to be perceived as flirting," he says, "you can’t go wrong with offering a sincere compliment." Are you interested in their career? Do like their style? Go ahead and say so.
4. Be Interested
One of the best things you can do, in order to have a meaningful conversation, is to show genuine interest in what the other person is saying.
"This should be your first pointer when it comes to dating 101," clinical psychologist Daniel Sher, tells Bustle. "Express genuine interest and curiosity. Ask questions. Contemplate their responses. Ask more questions. Share when appropriate; but make sure that what you say is in some way related to what they have said."
It's so easy, when you're in the heat of the moment, to not actually hear what a person says. But this trick will ensure that you do. And they will appreciate it.
5. Remain Honest & Authentic
Even if you're trying to win someone over, that doesn't mean you should inflate the truth, or hide the realest parts of yourself. Because if someone is going to like you, you want them to like you.
"If you’re keeping secrets on your first date, you’re creating either a) an atmosphere of inauthenticity and awkwardness, or b) problems later down the line," Sher says. "Early days in a relationship require a healthy degree of authenticity and honesty, so try not to hold back."
Being honest will also pave the way for an easy conversation, where stories naturally unfold. That doesn't mean you have to tell a stranger at the bar your every secret. But you should try to be your authentic self.
6. Own Your Mistakes
Life, as Sher says, is not a movie. You will say the wrong thing, tell a joke that lands flat, and have to endure moments of silence. But if you roll with it, laugh it off, and keep things fun, it doesn't have to ruin the moment. And, the fact you were able to recover so smoothly will be all sorts of attractive.
7. Ask For A Favor
One way to flirt, without being too obvious, is to ask for a favor, such as having someone pass you a drink menu, or save your seat while you go to the bathroom.
"When they do it, their brain will assume that they must like you somehow (because, why would you do a person you don't like a favor?)," Celia Schweyer, dating expert at Dating Scout, tells Bustle. "This even has a name: The Ben Franklin effect."
In other words, when we get to help someone, we naturally start to like them without even realizing why. If a moment arises where you can ask for a quick favor, it may be a great way to break the ice.
8. Tell A Few Jokes
Corny jokes and tired one-liners aside, telling funny stories and making an effort to have a good sense of humor can be a great way to take your flirtation up a few levels.
"Humor helps other people be more relaxed," Schweyer says. "Research suggests that [...] jokes can lessen people's anxiety, which allows relationships to go [at] a faster pace. So, cracking a small joke can increase intimacy when flirting with someone."
By trying out these hacks, you may notice that your flirting attempts seem more successful, in that they result in more meaningful conversations — and possibly even a few dates. Of course, not every attempt at flirting will go smoothly. But the more you do it, the easier it'll become.