The 5 Ways We Flirt — And Which Style Works Best

The 5 Ways We Flirt — And Which Style Works Best ©iStock/Rohappy

When it comes to flirting, or even approaching someone you’re interested in, everyone has their own style that they feel comfortable with. But did you know there are actually five different ways to flirt? According to the study “Individual Differences in the Communication of Romantic Interest: Development of the Flirting Styles Inventory” in Communication Quarterly, research supports the existence of five styles of communicating romantic interest in someone: traditional, physical, sincere, playful, and polite.

Of course. physical attraction plays a huge role in any flirtation or hook up, but a person’s “courtship behavior” is usually decided by a their personality, culture, and the context. So for example, if you’re flirting with a co-worker in the office, you probably won’t be as physical as if say, you’re at the bar after a few drinks. CONTEXT is everything! When you think about it, all of these styles might be something you keep in your flirting-arsenal for the right time and place. But which of these works best for a courting-woman? Let’s explore each style a bit:

Traditional Flirting

“Traditional” refers to those that subscribe to traditional gender roles when it comes to flirting and likely feel strongly when it comes to romance, chivalry and courtship. Those who feel the man should make the first move and women should not are typically traditional flirters. If you’re the one at the bar shooting glances but waiting for that guy to come up to you, you might be comfortable with this one.

Physical Flirting

“Physical” flirting is an important part of the nonverbal communication of any courtship. These flirters are usually very comfortable expressing themselves physically in all situations, not just when it comes to dating. This style is also more overt, and makes the person’s intentions clearer than those who aren’t physical. Physical flirters are also comfortable expressing their sexuality, and their actions are more likely to be taken as sexual than other flirting styles.

Sincere Flirting

“Sincere” flirting involves a person who’s looking to create an emotional bond with the person they’re flirting with. If you’re seeking a connection with your intimacy goals in mind, you might be flirting by sharing information about yourself, or seeking that from the person you’re flirting with. Asking a lot of questions and focusing on conversation and mutual interests is your flirting.

Playful flirting

“Playful” flirting has one goal in mind: fun! This style promotes the lighthearted nature of flirting and knows that it doesn’t necessarily have a romantic purpose; the idea that flirting can just be an enjoyable activity with another person.

Polite Flirting

“Polite” flirting has a more cautious approach to express interest in someone. Somewhat similar to traditional flirting style, Polite flirting strictly adheres to courtship rules, and not expressing overtly sexual behavior or seeming too forward. Those who employ this style might be generally more conservative in their interests and personality.

So which would you say is your flirting go-to? Taking all styles into account, and if you’re definitely looking to hook up, the research from this study and others like it shows that physical flirtation is the style most likely to get you somewhere in that regard. Physical flirtation is often the easiest indicator of a person’s interest and willingness, and therefore probably the most direct.

However, try out the other styles you wouldn’t normally use and see if flirting differently is more suitable to what you’re looking for in a partner – you might meet someone you otherwise wouldn’t click with!