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How to Flirt to Get What You Want

Have you ever thought about how you initiate relationships? Ask yourself- what are you looking to achieve when flirting? A serious relationship or a quick hook up? The verbal and non-verbal cues you communicate while flirting, and whether your flirting signals are appreciated, will likely determine the quality of your relationships.

Research published in the Communication Quarterly Journal* identified five types of flirting behavior, based on responses from more than 5,020 heterosexual individuals. Participants completed questionnaires about their flirting and partners. Five flirting styles and the end-game types of relationships associated with them were identified:

  1. Playful: This type often flirts with little interest in a long-term romance and therefore; may end up achieving a short-term hook up if so desired. This type of flirter likely finds it very fun, and has an added benefit of enhancing self-esteem. Those who are the playful types of flirts are usually not worried about how others interpret his or her behavior. Because of the potentially addictive benefits of this flirting style, it may be difficult to tone it down if looking for a long-lasting relationship in the future
  2. Polite: This type embraces politeness, refuses to engage in inappropriate or overtly sexual behaviors, has a strong adherence to courtship rules, and adopts a cautious approach to courtship initiation. If this is your flirting style, you likely find communicating sexual interest to a potential partner very difficult, resulting in potential romantic partners assuming you are not interested in them. Because of the conservative attitude of the polite-type, it is more likely you will get long-term serious relationships using this style. The caveat is you may have difficulty overall in establishing a romantic relationship, whether it is long-term or just a hook-up.
  3. Traditional: This type is gender-specific in heterosexual relationships, as the male is the aggressor in initiating contact. Studies have suggested that despite progress in gender equality, men are still expected to make the first verbal move, to approach women, lead the interaction and make a request for future engagements. This type of flirting style may equally achieve either a long-term relationship or a hook-up. The factors are dependent upon whether the man can relinquish the aggressor role, allowing the woman to initiate conversation. If so, you may be more likely to achieve much more than just a hook-up.
  4. Physical: This type uses physical touch (touching your potential mate’s arm, face, leg, etc.) intermittently throughout the course of flirting. This type also uses sexual communication during the first encounter. This flirting style tends to develop relationships quickly, have more sexual chemistry, and have a greater emotional connection to potential partners. This flirting style appears to be associated with hook-ups, as their behavior is likely to be interpreted by others as sexual.
  5. Sincere: This type is marked by a desire to create an emotional bond with a potential romantic partner. This type was rated the most agreeable, desirable and honest of all the 5 flirting styles. This flirting style uses methods of developing intimacy by using self-disclosure and showing personal interest. Engaging in type of flirting style will likely result in strong emotional connections and sexual chemistry and land you a long-term relationship.

*Hall, J., Carter, S., Cody, M., & Albright, J. (2010). Individual Differences in the Communication of Romantic Interest: Development of the Flirting Styles Inventory. Communication Quarterly, (58) 4, 365-393.