Now that the world has gone into lockdown, you might find yourself online more than usual. This is the perfect time for online dating. However, do not waste time and energy messaging people. My advice is to meet for a video date as soon as possible.
So you’ve matched with someone, had the initial back-and-forth and swapped Skype or FaceTime details for a video call – what next?
- Make an effort
Perhaps you have a ‘video dating’ shirt. This is the shirt that you can put on in a matter of seconds and know you’ll look presentable. Once you’ve made sure that you are looking good, now take a look at the scenery behind. If balled up socks and empty pizza boxes enter the screen, now would be the time to move them; perhaps you could even straighten a cushion while you’re at it. Also, think angles – do we like the double chin look? If not, make sure the camera is higher than your line of sight. Even though you are not meeting in person, you are still making a first impression. First impressions count.
- Don’t do a monologue
When we are in face to face interactions – it’s much easier to jump in and add something to the conversation – less so digitally. Therefore, don’t turn your conversation into a monologue. This is about two people getting to know each other, not one person giving a state of the union address. As a general rule, one person asks three questions and then the tables turn. If one person keeps firing out questions to you simply say, ‘And what about you?’. If the other person keeps going on then say, ‘Well, in my experience’ or ‘ I find that too…’
- Practice active listening
In a world where attention is a commodity, we are not used to giving anything our 100% attention. Resist the urge to check messages, peruse social media on the sly, or anything else that brings you out of that moment. The highest quality connections are only possible when both people are in the same moment and best gift you could give someone is your full attention.
- Keep it positive
Do you think going on ad nauseum about a global pandemic is very flirty? I don’t either. It’s natural to want to address it, but then quickly move on. Again, this video date is about two people getting to know each other a bit better, just like a real date. The objective is to decide if this is someone with whom you’d like to spend another hour.
- Decide on a theme
Why not make it interesting? Perhaps you can ‘meet’ for a coffee, a glass of wine, 80’s night? Have some fun with it; cook a meal together, bake some cookies, play your favourite songs. Can I just suggest staying away from a Covid19 theme?
Follow these tips for video dating and you will find that efficiency you were always looking for…along with some potentially great matches.
Flirting might not be the first thing on your mind in the midst of obsessive handwashing, avoiding anyone sneezing (even if pepper related) and a general mistrust of everyone. However, the show must go on! Humans are social beings. Isolating from each other indefinitely is not going to work very well. So I thought I would share with you a few simple pointers on flirting in the age of the coronavirus (COVID19).
Touch is one way of showing interest in someone if you are out and about; but we know that touch is not advisable for the time being. No more hand-shaking or deep passionate kissing with that attractive stranger on public transport.
Fortunately, there are other ways to flirt. In my research into flirting behaviour, I found there were 6 signs of flirting. I teach these with the acronym. H.O.T. A.P.E. in my Tedx talk. This is the perfect time to call on the most powerful of all the six signs of flirting: eye contact. No touching required. Put the phones away. Not only are they a cesspool of bacteria – the last thing we need when trying to avoid any virus – but they force our eyes to be cast downward. Our demanding digital divas have stolen our attention for far too long. As a bonus, you can even use eye contact while wearing a face mask. But there is downside to that: it hides your smile. And some health authorities advise against mask wearing for COVID19 reasons. Although health authorities usually don’t opine on smile hiding issues with respect to face masks. I can’t believe it either…
There are three keys to eye contact:
- The amount of time that you hold it for
To show interest, hold eye contact for at least three seconds before looking away. Any less, and they might miss it, or just think you have something in your eye. Yes, they might initially look away; but maybe they are shy, you caught them off guard, or they don’t know what to do. So, try again, just to be sure. This leads us to the next point.
- Try to make eye contact up to three times
If they look away every time, or don’t hold your gaze at all, you know there isn’t reciprocal interest. In this case, please stop. If you don’t the situation can go from sexy to stalker in a very short time. They might think you are giving them the COVID19 evil eye and the chances are they do not have virus But, no worries, just try with someone else.
- The intent behind the eyes
Is it flirty? Is it friendly? Maybe it’s too soon to tell what the intention is. It’s safe to say the look you give someone you find attractive in the queue to buy hand sanitizer will have a different feel than the look you give the old man as you try and fight him for his loo roll. People can feel the intent behind your eye contact.
A nice thing to do if they do return your eye contact is to smile. If they smile back you can either leave it and remember it as a nice human connection during a strange time or, better yet, you can change your proximity. Go and stand close enough to them, while still keeping the recommended 6 feet (2M) away, so that it will seem natural when you ask the question: “Would you like to duo-isolate with me sometime?”.
As for smiles, I would continue doing that with everyone you meet (those other 4 brave souls) as part of your daily routine. It’s a nice reminder that we are all in this together, rather than a ‘me vs. the rest of the world’ type mentality. I’m loving Singapore’s “Together We Overcome stories”.
If you must work from home or ‘self-isolate’ (should this be selflessly isolate?), it is not unreasonable that you may find yourself drawn to online dating or using apps. My advice is to not get caught up in the hugely energy draining situation of texting and swiping. Move it to a digital video date asap. Not only will it give you a chance to make a human connection with someone, at a time when human connections are vital if only virtual, but you can be super-efficient about weeding out people with whom you won’t match – all from the comfort of your sofa. You can even wear your track suit bottoms which makes this an exemplary second option to meeting in person. And if you do insist on using dating apps please remember to use them on your personal device, don’t use them via your employer’s Citrix server. Employers really don’t like dating apps on their networks (another fine reason not to use them).
Don’t let a pandemic stop you from spreading the flirting love. At some point in the future how you deal with COVID19 might make a wonderful “So how did you meet?” story.
 Face masks for the general public are not recommended to protect from infection, as there is no evidence of benefit from their use outside healthcare environments (Source: Public Health England COVID 19 Advice to Employers)
 0.006% of the Chinese Population have been identified as having tested positive for COVID 19 (Source Center for Systemns Science and Engineering at John Hopkins University)
Flirting. At first reading it might seem something frivolous. However, I have learnt over my 20 years of research, coaching, leading flirting tours and giving talks on the subject, that it is so much more. The word flirting is one of those in the English language that carries a multitude of different meanings for different people.
We might think flirting is about how others respond: if they convey like or rejection; but flirting is more often the gateway to learn about ourselves. It arises feelings of our self-worth, attractiveness and sexuality. Am I good enough? It reveals the feeling of rejection. Is it soul-destroying? Is it par for the course? Does it matter?
This is the mystery of flirting; it might appear light and fluffy on the surface, but provokes so much more beneath. Let’s not underrate this seemingly insignificant behaviour.
On Valentines’ day I had the privilege of working in collaboration with the Guardian, leading 18 singletons on a Fearless Flirting Tour. I was reminded of two things, which are the secret to unlocking your flirting freedom:
- Learn how to be comfortable in yourself
- Be happy to show people who you are
This issues are not easy to overcome master. If you need some help learning how to do this, I can help you in a couple ways:
Let me help you learn how to be comfortable in yourself and then show people who you are. You won’t have trouble flirting anymore, trust me.
Moving from friendly to flirting: 3 things you should know…
- ‘I am fine talking to people in everyday interactions, it’s the flirting that I have a problem with’. Sound familiar? Unless you are Joey from Friends, ‘How you doooin’?’, every flirting interaction first begins as a social interaction. It’s only once you have asked the person a question, and a mutual vibe is flowing, does the interaction move into flirting territory. But, in both cases, it starts with a simple question.
- There are three main ways to move a regular social interaction into a flirty one:
- Give compliments/stroke egos (it has to be genuine, obvs)
- Be playful and keep the conversation light
- Touch their arm, hand, put a gentle hand on their back
You will not do this with everyone, only if you are feeling a connection with this person. Otherwise, it will seem artificial.
- If you are feeling something potentially spark-like, but are unsure if the other person feels the same, use the Test and Assess Method. First, test, by using any of the above flirting moves and then, assess, by watching their reaction. Do they pull away? Cross their arms across their body? Stop smiling? It means they don’t like it. You should go back to friendly. However, if they smile, move closer, or even lean in, it means they like it. You are free to flirt!
If you want to practice this in the real world, with me and a small group of like-minded others, why not come along to a fearless flirting tour? As I always say, ‘Get out of your head and onto the streets’. Stop letting your mind chatter control your actions and find out what really happens when you approach, talk to and even flirt with strangers…
When people imagine doing things like flirting, approaching, or asking someone out, they think of these things as huge tasks. Therefore, they get overwhelmed, and then don’t end up doing anything; the key is to take it one step at a time. If you break it down, bit by bit, it all becomes manageable.
The key to managing all of the above scenarios is to Test and Assess. In the example of approaching, first you test the situation by giving them some eye contact or a smile. Then you assess their response. Do they smile back, do they return the eye contact or, do they look away quickly, or even leave the area? It’s in this space of seeing how they react to you, that you know whether you should proceed to the next level.
Today I am going to focus on how to ask someone out. Asking someone out is such a nice thing to do and it could lead to something really special. People do not do it because they are afraid of rejection. But, you don’t have to do a full on: ‘Excuse me, would you care to join me for dinner next Saturday? I could pick you up at 8pm.’ Don’t get me wrong, there are advantages to being so clear in your intention. Many people like it! If you regard rejection as an effective weeding out mechanism, separating those who you are a good match with from those who don’t, this clear way has many benefits. However, let’s say the situation is less clear cut. For instance, it’s someone at work. You don’t want to make things awkward if they do not reciprocate your interest. In this case, you Test and Assess.
Test:‘Hey Jon, I was just going out to get a coffee. Do you need some fresh air? Care to join?’
Test:(after work situation) ‘Ah, I’ve had the longest day. I definitely need a drink. What about you, Deb? Are you heading home now or do you have time for a quick one?’
Test:‘I am going to go grab something for lunch. Do you want me to bring you back anything? Or, perhaps you don’t trust me and would like to come with me to make sure I get your order right!’
The next part, the assess, comes when you observe their reaction. Do they join you? Do they make up an obvious excuse why they can’t? Do they decline, but seem like they would have wanted to join you? If so, you just ask them again at a later date and see how they respond. Doing little tests like this and picking up cues in the assess period is how you can gauge if someone is interested, without you feeling like you are putting it all out there.
The other day as I was riding my bicycle, a man was trying to cross the street to avoid being hit by me. I flashed him a smile and said, ‘Don’t worry, I wouldn’t hit you!’’. His response? He giggled. We both went away happy.
I play softball on Wednesday nights. My favourite position is 1stbase. A young woman has joined our team and I am teaching her the ropes of 1st base. As I explained to her, it doesn’t matter if you don’t catch the ball. What is more important is that you make everyone feel welcome when they get on base. Compliment them on their hit or tell them how fast they run. You are their first point of contact on base and it’s important to be a good host.
What both of these illustrations have in common is that they are both examples of what flirting is about; it’s about making others feel good. What I have noticed in my decades of teaching flirting is that it only feels hard when we are worried about what others think of us. When we are trying to get them, to make us, feel good. Flirting is easy when our goal is making others feel good/special/noticed. When we change our focus from us to them, the pressure is lifted, the self-consciousness evaporates, and we are left with what flirting really is: a chance to appreciate others in a playful way. So, where will you start with this new attitude? Who is the first lucky person to be the recipient of your charms?
I love working with you all. I am constantly learning. For example, one of my clients explained that he had taken the information I had given him and had ‘gamified’ it. Turning the process of approaching and talking to women into a game served two purposes.
- It took the pressure off of him as an individual and turned this interaction into something fun.
- By thinking of this as game, in terms of levels, it served as a reminder for what to do – and how to proceed – should things be going well.
As a general rule when playing ‘The Approaching Game’ you carry out a level and then you assess the reaction. It’s only upon assessing the response, that you will know whether or not you should proceed to the next level. By the way, giving space to see the other person’s reaction is also what stops you from being creepy. At any stage, if you start getting a bad reaction: they stop smiling, take a step back from you, their body language becomes closed, it means you make your departure. In that moment, with that person, you have lost the game. No worries, you can always start another game with someone else! Also, these same rules apply for women approaching men, which should be happening just as often. No, there is nothing ‘hard-wired’ about men being the ones who approach. I have actually carried out anthropological research on this. But, that’s for another day. Today, we go through the levels of the approaching game.
Level 1 – Smile and/or make eye contact with someone
Do they: ignore you, look away, or frown at you? Game over with this one – move on
Do they: give you a smile or even a hint of a smile? Return your look, even for a millisecond? Do you find they are all of a sudden in your vicinity, whereas they weren’t before? All good signs. Proceed to level 2
Level 2 – Go over and ask them a question: Are you having fun? Have you been here before? What is that you’re drinking? (The cleverness or originality of the question is *not* the important part here. The point is just to start the interaction).
Do they: Look annoyed? Say something that then turn away? Leave? Game over.
Do they: Smile or answer you? Proceed to the next level
Level 3 – Engage in conversation with them. Ask them more questions; listen to what they say.
Do they: look annoyed, say something back and then turn away, leave? Game over. You should congratulate yourself. You got to level 3!
Do they: Seem like they are enjoying themselves? Ask you questions back? Proceed to level 4
Level 4 – Say something nice about them.This is where the actual book ‘The Game’ revealed its egotistical, out of touch side. You don’t get people to like you by being mean to them. Or, if it does work, it will only work on people with self-esteem issues. If you want people to like you, make them feel good. This could be anything nice that you are thinking about the other person, ‘I am having fun talking with you’. ‘You are funny’. ‘I love your dress, it’s very stylish’ ‘Why can’t everyone be like you?’ We have been taught to keep our cards close to our chest and not let the other person know we like them. This is wrong.
Do they: frown, look away, leave? (Chances are very slim this will happen at level 4) Game over
Do they: Smile, say thank you, blush, return the compliment? Hurrah! It’s level 5 for you, champ.
Level 5 – Touch them lightly on the arm or back. It’s very important to assess their reaction here. This could tell you everything about how they are feeling about you now.
Do they: move away from your touch, look awkward, stop talking – Go back to level 4 and try again. If they still react negatively, game over. Move on to someone else
Do they: reciprocate, smile, say something flirty, show any sign at all that they like you?
Hurrah! You have completed game ‘how to approach’… and won!
What to do next? Well, have you checked out my book: Flirtology: Stop Swiping, Start Talking and Find Love. It’s full of useful and practical tips. (It’s also rated 5 stars on Amazon…yipeeeee).
Let’s say that you are fully on board with the Flirtology way of life: you believe that making connections with people is a good thing, strangers aren’t that scary, and you are ready, willing and (want to be) able when a good flirting opportunity arises.
But, maybe you are finding that people’s responses aren’t what you would like them to be; perhaps when you try asking a question, you get a strained smile or a quick exit. No, it’s not you. It’s most likely you are not asking the right kind of question in your opener.
Starting with a good foundation is essential. What does this mean?
On my last Fearless Flirting Tour, the group was in the supermarket, practicing asking questions to shoppers. I saw a guy looking at the plants.
I said to him: ‘Do you like plants?” <—- Good opening question
He said that he did.
I then asked him if he knew how to keep my succulent alive, because I didn’t.We went on to have a lovely discussion about plants. He showed himself to be a very caring and nurturing person in the way we spoke about plants and in the way he helped me learn about plants. It was a nice interaction.
One of the women on my tour saw him later and tried to recreate our discussion. I am sure she could have, but her line of questioning didn’t allow for the same type of conversation that we had.
She asked him: ‘Where did you get the plant?’
He pointed to the plants.
She then asked him: ‘Do they have any aloe vera plants?’
He said that he didn’t know, and then left.
Do you see how the type of question that I asked, around his preferences and his knowledge, allowed for a conversation to potentially blossom (ahem), where as her questions were mostly of an informational nature, i.e. yes/no, directional?
This is the difference between an interaction question, one which leaves room to build rapport and learn a bit more about the other person (should they wish) and an information question, which usually consists of closed answers, that don’t reveal much about the other person.
Do yourself a favour, make sure that you start with a good foundation and use an interaction question. Anatomy of an interaction question:
-Asks them their opinion or their knowledge about something
-Makes them feel special (you get this one for free. The act of asking someone their opinion on something, already makes them feel special)
-Allows you to learn a bit about the other person
Here is your challenge for the week:
Ask five people interaction questions this week. Here are some examples of general interaction questions.
Do you know anything about xxx?
Can you recommend this?
Have you tried this before?
What do you think about xxx?
What is flirting? This is the question that I asked 250 women and men across four different cultures. I conducted an anthropological study on the heterosexual flirting behaviour of people in the cities of NY, London, Paris, and Stockholm. As a side note, Stockholm might not seem like a natural fit with these other cities. But, at the time, the U.N. ranked Swedish women as having the least amount of inequality amongst all the countries in the world. I wanted to see if this affected flirting behaviour. Hint: It certainly did. In a nutshell, in societies where there is greater gender equality, women tend to display the same behaviour around sex, approaching, and assertiveness that has traditionally only been done by men. I used this research to write my dissertation, as well as my first book, The Flirt Interpreter.
But, what I would like to focus on is your personal attitude to flirting. This will greatly affect your ability to flirt or not, and to enjoy it or not. Perhaps you are similar to the New Yorkers, who see flirting as a fun way to pass the time. This means you will probably be more apt to flirt in your day to day life, and see it as harmless fun. In contrast, if you see flirting as a more serious endeavour, as told to me by a Swedish interviewee, ‘you had better choose carefully because you only get one choice’ you might be more reluctant to begin.
Over the years, I have created my own definition of flirting. I see it as playful fun. My mental model towards the world is, ‘Who wants to play?’. The power here, is that if my attitude is around having fun, I only care about those who want to have fun with me. This means that I don’t take it personally, on the rare occasion, when I run across someone who doesn’t want to engage. I don’t feel rejected: it just means that this person, at this moment, doesn’t want to play. It takes the onus off of me.
Let me ask you again, ‘what is your attitude around flirting?’. If it is currently any of the following:
Good girls don’t flirt
Flirting is a commitment
I don’t like the person enough to flirt
Flirting is hard
Or anything else that is causing you pain or difficulty, then now is the time to change this.
I am offering you three solutions
As always, I also have loads of free articles and blog posts that I have written for you as well. Let’s make sure 2019 is different from previous years. You got this!
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