The Do's & Don'ts Of Flirting in 2019

“Ju wanna grab a bite to eat sometime?'“

“Ju wanna grab a bite to eat sometime?'“

We are living in more informed, empowered and sexually enlightened times, which means the way we behave towards people we find desirable is under more scrutiny than ever before. Times have changed (for the better) but that doesn't mean the art of flirting is dead. Chances are, if you were good at flirting before, you won't have to change a thing. Once you know the difference between flirtatiousness and creepiness then all you really need to do is adapt.

 

So what's changed? Well for starters, the wingman. Back before smartphones and 4G your wingman was an actual living breathing man (or woman) whose goal was to connect you with people to flirt with. Today, the third-party connecting you with potential partners is an app, which increases your reach but eliminates social cues like body language and facial expressions – things that traditionally let you know that someone is interested. Making your intentions clear, without overdoing it is now a complex proposition for some. Post ‘MeToo', some guys feel too intimidated to make a move at all. Conversely, the immediacy of social media coupled with the availability of porn in your palm breed frustration and a dulling of our abilities to connect and communicate in real-life encounters with people we find attractive.

 

Flirting Online

“Hey”

“Hey”

 

Social media was made for flirting. The vast majority of social media apps have a way for you to show your interest in someone: likes, hearts, retweets, nudges, pokes... Trouble is a like can only get you so far, and eventually, you'll have to actually talk to the person. First of all, use your own photo. No pets, no movie characters, no soccer club crests and for the love of God, not someone else's photo. Using your real name also helps – or at the very least a username that doesn't contain the numbers 69 or the letters XXX. When approaching someone online - via their DMs and not on their timeline or in their comments – make sure they're already aware of your existence. Either they follow you, have liked your photos, have matched on a dating app or have interacted with you in the real world. "Hey" out of the blue says you made a hasty judgment based on aesthetics. Actually, don't say ‘hey' at all. A 2018 survey on dating apps revealed that ‘hey' is the most common opening line on apps – but also gets the least number of responses. First, a first message, personalise it towards something the person's bio. Ask a question about their taste in music/movies/sports, that invites a response. You get out what you put in so if you're a one-word-wonder, or worse, a fan of the wave emoji, it's not going to cut it.

 

Social media with video, for example, Snapchat and Instagram stories, can build a rapport if you tailor your content to the person you're interested in. If they reply a lot or react to your stories then do more of it – and remember you can pick and choose who views your stories. Just have some chill. We're all guilty of a little thirst trapping (google it) from time to time but don't get x-rated. The person could interpret it as you casting your thirsty net far and wide and not react. Also, apply chill when reacting to their stories. Be subtle, compliments are a natural in but speak from the heart and not the trousers unless you want to immediately identify yourself as a creep. "You have a beautiful smile/accent or a comment relating to their personality is a lot less invasive and sleazy than a comment about their chest/legs/bum. Keep contact casual and focused on things you have in common – ‘I love this song, I never knew you were into this music!'. If they respond, drive on. If they don't or they're flattered but not interested then take the loss. Bow out with grace and don't bombard their social channels in the hope of getting the response you desired.

 

If you're after a webcam buddy or a no-strings hookup, fine, but be upfront about it and don't manipulate anyone into thinking you want something more meaningful. Don't be a d*ck and don't send unsolicited photos or videos of yours either. All the experts agree that nude photoshoots are best confined to the boundaries of a relationship where both parties are mutually interested and comfortable receiving images and videos of that nature. Know your audience and ask yourself if that's really the kind of message they'd like to get. And don't get mad if they block you – you rolled the d*ck-dice and lost. Learn from it.

 

Be patient but do take your flirting offline if you feel the other person is interested. In-person flirting might feel like the Nokia 3210 of the dating world but it's the only real way to know if someone likes you. Your online persona is a shield and some are reluctant to let their guard down. Let the online conversation flow until you know each a little better and show that you're interested in them. If you're worried that they would only see you as a friend, be open and ask if they're seeing anyone. It's natural for people to be cautious about meeting a stranger from the Internet in 2019. Respect that

 

Flirting In Person

 

First of all, be mindful of where you are. The gym is one that massively divides opinion. While you think you're at your best when you're wearing a stringer vest and have a good pump going but there's a reason a lot of people tend to work out alone in the corner. Far from the video for ‘Call On Me' by Eric Prydz, the gym is really a rather unsexy venue. You're sweating, grunting and trying to walk properly after hitting legs; to be appraised like a prized bullock at the mart doesn't really help matters. Also, it stinks and the music is usually so loud that you have to shout to be heard.

 

Work is also a dodgy one. Many a romance novel and sitcom has been built on the premise of falling madly in love in the breakroom but in reality, things get awkward and confusing when your professional life and your personal life intertwine. Especially if you get rejected! Save it for the Christmas party where you can blame it in alcohol and mistletoe.

 

So let's assume you're in a bar and you can both hear each other. Eye contact and smiling seem obvious, but they'll get you noticed before you ever make an approach. Start a conversation (the bar is the best place for this). You don't need a hilarious chat-up line and unlike a DM, ‘hey' will do fine here. Unless you're riddled with cold sores or missing teeth, maintain your smile throughout. It draws attention to your mouth in the right way. It's ok to break eye contact a few times – it gives the other person a chance to check you out while you look away – but limit it so that it doesn't seem like you're scanning the room for something better.

 

Touching is good but look for reciprocation. Touch is a conversation between two people and should never be one person repeatedly touching the other in an effort to turn them on. Start with a light, brief touch to someone's arm. See how they react before trying it again. If they touch back it's a good sign. Remember; keep it light, consensual and non-sexual. We're not talking about groping here.

 

Having good chat is important but you must also remember to listen. Endless replies of "yeah" and "oh yeah?" will be noticed. Listen to what the other person is saying; refer back to it, ask questions. It's not that hard. Throw in a few lighthearted funny comments and jokes here and there. Go easy on the filthy stuff until you can read their reaction – and even then don't overdo it. Don't try to top their stories or be funnier than them, or make them the butt of a joke. Compliments are good but don't overdo it or it will come off insincere. Tell them they look nice but don't ask where they bought the outfit.

 

Finally, take a leap of faith and ask the person if they'd like to do something sometime. If you've been listening you should have picked up on something they like, if not propose a coffee, or a bite to eat, or a drink. If they say no, then take it on the chin. The best thing to do in this situation is to leave them with a good impression so they can see what they're missing out on. Do not berate, harass or insult them. Wish them a great evening and walk away keeping that smile intact. Rejection is all about learning to prioritize and invest your time in people who want to reciprocate. 

Patrick McLoughney