When it comes to the combat sport known as modern dating, one of the heaviest guns in the arsenal is the art of flirting. One casual flip of the hair, a well-timed burst of laughter or the flash of a smile and the quarry is usually in the bag before it even realizes it was being pursued. That's the theory behind effective flirting, anyway. Many people receive these non-verbal cues of interest on a subconscious level, but still need some convincing that all of this sudden attention is truly focused on them for a reason. Assuming flirting not in evidence, however, can also lead to a very long and painful trip back to your table. Therefore, it's important to recognize the signs of true flirting, and how to let the pursuer know you have indeed received the message.
No matter how hard we may try to present ourselves with the confidence of a James Bond or Angelina Jolie, deep down many of us are geeks hoping to meet people who speak our language. The stereotypical "art of the pick-up" is simply not part of our dating technique at all. Therefore, many people in the dating scene must rely on more subtle flirting techniques to let others know of our interest.
One of the oldest flirting techniques is extended eye contact. When someone across a crowded room scans your group for signs of life, he or she will often hold their gaze until you notice them, then quickly look away. Once you've been informed by others that someone is showing interest, then it's your cue to return that eye contact. The moment both of your eyes meet is the beginning of the courting ritual. If that person flashes a brief smile or breaks off the gaze slowly, then a connection has been established. This is your opportunity to turn innocent flirting into a real conversation starter. If you don't act quickly, however, the window of opportunity may close.
Another coquetting gesture is a quick flip of the hair or touching of the face. Many women will tousle their hair or give it one good flip as a subtle way of flashing their best facial features without looking too obvious. Some people will run their fingers through their hair or twist a lock repeatedly while actively flirting. Some people will make a point of displaying what they consider to be their most attractive physical feature while flirting. A man may prominently display his masculine hands, for example, while a woman may frame her hands around her exceptionally attractive eyes. The best thing you could do is compliment your new friend on a feature he or she obviously feels is a strong asset.
Many times a person will consciously or subconsciously touch the other person while having a conversation. An affectionate pat on the knee or a lingering stroke of your arm should be received as a sign of romantic interest. Posture during the first minutes of an encounter can be a tell-tale sign of flirting as well. If someone leans in closely to hold a private conversation, or turns their body away from the crowd and towards you, then you should know he or she is most likely interested in you. As long as the touching remains comfortable and not manipulative, you should just go with the flow and enjoy the intimacy of the moment.
Flirting can also involve showing more than a little interest in getting to know you better. If someone you've just met laughs at your jokes or asks more about your life or career or personal interests, then you should seize the opportunity to share a bit of your life with him or her. People who are actively flirting often toss words of encouragement into the conversational mix, such as "That's really great!" or "I wish I could do something that exciting!" Other people may show some polite interest, but a person who is truly interested in getting to know you better will ask questions or find other ways to keep the conversation going.
In short, be open to all the subtle signs an interested person sends out at the beginning of the dating ritual. Flirting is meant to be a subtle art, so allow things to flow naturally and on their own time. Still, the dance may only get the fish on the line, so to speak, so it's up to you to decide how to get it in the boat.