Flirting has to be one of the hardest skills sets to master. The skills needed are diverse, and it reveals so much about you as a person. If you are at all skillful at the art, it’s all you will need to show disguised interest. Or alternatively recognise they’re interested in you.
Flirting showcases your creative side. By way of being able to manipulate language, both verbal and non verbal in such a way, as to create a playful energy that is both recognised and camouflaged. You need an element of vagueness that you “are”/”are not” really interested in the flirtee.
People are often in public social situations when they first meet. An office party, an evening out with friends. a nightclub, a house party or at a college or university event. The levels of subtlety are designed to be confusing, as the act itself needs to hinge on plausible deniability.
Not only do you need a strong emotional IQ to read the social context, the face of your flirtee, but you have to walk a tightrope of communicating interest without it being overt. Similar to how people are machiavellian in their passive aggressive behaviour in every day situations when they feel threatened or vulnerable.
Where did it come from, and why do we bother with it ? From an evolutionary point of view, it may have been a way to avoid an awkward situation in a social context. From not wanting to be the office pest, to not wanting a bruised ego that a direct turn down would bring. If there is someone you like in the work place, then the post awkwardness could be a major factor in being subtle about your intentions.
For some there is also an element of a primal trigger being mentally switched on. The flirting starts because there is a strong pull from someone you are really attracted to. The minds limbic system is often thought to kick in during these situations, which involve emotion, instincts and memories. It’s why often flirting feels impulsive, and often instinctive for many people.
Flirting also has its cultural nuances. Going back historically the Victorians were notorious flirts, and used the art of fan waving to indicate their indirect interest in a suitor. Each era has it’s own fashionable way to flirt, and a set of popular modern media references, like the scene from “Harrry Met Sally” or the “The Thomas Crown Affair” with the famous scenes between Pierce Brosnan exercising his flirting skills with Rene Russo are good examples.
Apart from the verbal cues there are a list of non verbal cues that both men and women give out. Both of you will be more facially expressive from your norm. Which is often the giveaway to friends/colleagues or other observers.
The guys will tend to either become more boisterous depending on social situation or generally be more exaggerated, and animated. You are trying to raise the energy level, so laughing more, or laughing loudly is another tell tale sign, and also a way of changing the atmosphere.
Playing with hair or clothing is another flirtatious sign often displayed by both sexes. From men adjusting ties, buttons, lapels or socks, to the women playing with their hair.
Accidental, almost imperceptible touches are another highly effective means of telegraphing interest, and easily done at busy clubs or bars.
One of the most recent art forms when it comes to flirting has to be online communication. Whether that be via longer thought out emails, or via instant messaging and texting. A well crafted series of text messages can be all you need to change tone, pace and create tension.