Study: How to Flirt Best

Men and women looking to form a relationship have to start somewhere. For many, they’ll attempt to break the ice with some form of flirting to let their potential mate know they are interested.

Undoubtedly, several people might have what they consider a reliable technique, but what forms of flirting actually work best?

New research published in Interpersona: An International Journal on Personal Relationships from Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pa., suggests the answer is quite different for men and women.

“Each sex has different initial interests when starting a relationship,” said T. Joel Wade, professor of psychology at Bucknell and lead author of How to Flirt Best: The Perceived Effectiveness of Flirtation Techniques“Knowing that, each gender can adapt their approach to better appeal to their potential mate and increase their chances of being successful.”

For men, the most effective actions performed by potential female suitors were all physical actions that suggested a possibility of sexual access. Among the most effective were “she kisses you on the cheek,” “she rubs against you,” “she moves closer to you,” “she touches you, in general,” and “she touches your arm.”

Conversely, the most effective actions that females noted performed by potential male suitors included those which all suggested commitment and exclusivity. The most effective actions according to women included “he holds hands with you,” “he spends time with you,” “he asks you out,” “he makes you laugh,” “he kisses you,” “he acts interested in you,” and “he has dinner with you.”

“Men and women have different investments in relationships and that drives their preferences for the qualities of their mates,” said Wade. “A bad decision can be much more devastating for a woman than for a man. If pregnancy occurs, it’s women that have the heavy investment of raising that child, or alternatively, it’s the woman who has to make the decision to keep the child and care for it or not keep the child, which also comes with inherent difficulties. In so many ways, it’s much more costly for women if a mistake is made, so they must also be much more discriminating in making a choice when responding to a flirtatious action from a man.”

In total, men identified 26 flirtatious acts that they have done, or would do to flirt with a woman for a long-term relationship. While women only identified 14 separate acts. Wade attributes this also to women thinking more critically about the process.

“In so many ways, women are just better at flirting,” Wade said. “The fact that women had fewer responses is a product of women being more guarded and careful. Women are more in touch with things that actually work, while men are more likely to try a wider variety of techniques in the hope that something will work.” 

Source Contact Information

Institution:
Bucknell University
Title:
Professor of Psychology
Email:
JWade@bucknell.edu
Phone:
570-577-1693 (cell)