Flirting Signs


Look no furthur, the answers are here…

Through my scientific research as a cultural anthropologist, I’ve observed the flirting behaviour of inhabitants across London, NY, Paris, and Stockholm, I have determined there are six universal signs of attraction. Have a look at these, so next time you won’t be misreading any singles, err, signals. The more of the signals that the person is displaying, the more likely it is that they are flirting with you. Or, better yet, use the signals yourself, so the other person knows you like them. We like people who like us!

If you would like to learn how you can use these signs to decipher when someone is flirting with you, AND learn how to use the signs appropriately and effectively to convey interest to someone, the Fearless Flirting Tours are your answer! Psst – Have a look at my Tedx talk on this as well.

The 6 signs of attraction:

Just think HOT APE.

H – Humour

Let’s face it – people like to laugh. (All except the Parisians, they were much more interested in having intellectual, thought-provoking discussions). Humour is a one of the six signs of attraction and, just as much as we love to laugh, we love to hear people laugh at our jokes.

While researching the flirting behaviour of 250 single people in the cities of London, N.Y.C, Paris and Stockholm, I found that in the majority of cases, being funny was a male domain.

As one guy said, “I like it when she laughs at my bad jokes.” There was one exception and that was New York. Here, humour was an equal opportunity sport. As one guy said, “she will say something funny and then I will say something funny,” and another, “I can tell we are flirting because we will make each other laugh.”

Regardless of who is telling the jokes, almost everyone said that humour had a big part in flirting and attraction. Like touch, laughter also stimulates the reward centre in our brains. It produces oxytocin, a liking enhancer. As a bonus, when we are in this state, we include those around us in our happy, good humoured euphoria.

Read: Be around people who are laughing and in good moods and you will reap the benefits.

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O – Open Body Language

Flirting behaviour, like language, differs according to culture and country, but there is one language that exists the world over. Oh yeah, I’m talking about Body Language.

The science of body language is fascinating. It can be a very useful tool in communication. What is not said in an interaction is often of the greatest importance. No matter how hard we try to hide our true feelings and thoughts, our bodies constantly give us away, ‘leaking’ non-verbal information to those around us.

Being able to read body language can help you understand what someone is really thinking, as well as also helping you become more aware of the signals you’re sending others.

So, how do learn to understand body language?

1) It goes back to the one of my favourite mantras: It’s not all about you! Shift the emphasis from you to the other person. You can’t read subtle and informative cues – a slight frown, a nervous rocking, or a clenched fist – if you are focused on yourself.

2) Just look at their feet. Even the most seasoned politicians can only control their body language so much. You can’t control your tone, words, facial expression, shoulders, hands and feet all at once, so somethings gotta’ give! The further away our body parts are from the brain, the harder it is to control them. By the time we get to the feet, the control is lost. Do you want to know if someone is happy to stay to continue talking to you? Look at where their feet are pointing! If they’re pointing directly at you, that is a very good sign. If one or both feet are pointed away, you had better do some fast talking, or let them go.

3) If you are dealing with someone who has crossed arms, do something to make them uncross them. Drop a pencil and ask them to pick it up, change locations, give them a hug, anything! Closed body means closed mind. You will never get someone on side if their arms are crossed. When I point this out, many people reply, “but, it’s comfortable,” or, “I’m cold.” If you are trying to make a good impression, it’s not about you. It’s about appearing open and on side with the other person and that barrier you are putting between you and them will not help.

4) Finally, be aware of your own body language. It’s useful deciphering what other people are thinking, but are you aware of the signals that you are subconsciously sending out? Do you realise that your right hand is always clenched into a fist? Or that you constantly fold your arms? Next time you start chatting to someone, be conscious of how you’re standing, where your arms are and which way your feet are pointing. It also might be worth asking your friends if they’ve noticed any disconcerting postural habits.

If you’d like to learn more about identifying and identifying body language, come along to our next event.

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T – Touch

We see it in the movies all the time; that moment when the guy touches the girl on the shoulder and we can almost see the butterflies in her stomach. Well, it’s true even in real life. As well as being a good sign that someone is interested, Touch is also the perfect way to increase attraction.

Touch is essential to life: newborn babies die without it! The act of touching and being touched stimulates the reward centre in our brains. It creates more of the ‘feel good’ chemical, oxytocin. Oh yes, when done right, touch makes us feel good!

As a general rule, the top part of the arm and shoulder are ‘safe’ places to touch. They are personal without invading someone’s space. As we stroll down the length of the arm towards the hand, touch becomes more intimate. A slight tap of the hand, combined with a compliment and smile can go a long way towards charming your flirting companion. Numerous studies have been done on the power of touch. Library goers rated the entire library more highly when the librarian slightly touched their hands as they returned their library cards. Waitresses got 15% higher tips when they lightly touched their customers arms whilst handing them the bill. Oh yes, this stuff works. And, according to my research into flirting behaviour, it is also a very good indicator to people that you are flirting with them. As long as you are aware of the impact you are having, i.e. you touch them and they shrivel away from you, touch is a great thing.

Have you heard of ‘The Phone Booth test’? Researchers at the University of Minnesota placed a coin on the ledge of a telephone booth, hid, and waited for an unsuspecting subject to walk in and find it. When this happened, a researcher would approach the subject and say, “did you happen to see my coin in that phone booth? I need it to make another call.” Only 23% of the subjects admitted they had found it and gave it back.

In the second part of the study, the coin was again placed in the phone booth but when the researchers approached the people who took it, they touched them lightly on the elbow for not longer than three seconds and then inquired about the coin. This time, 68% admitted to having the coin, looked embarrassed and said things like, “I was looking around to try to see who owned it…”

Why is touching someone’s elbow such a big deal? Well, there are three reasons this technique works:

  • Firstly, the elbow is considered a safe zone because it is far away from intimate parts of the body
  • Secondly, touching a stranger is not considered acceptable in most countries so it creates an impression
  • Thirdly, a light, three-second elbow touch creates a momentary bond between two people.
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A – Attention

Even though we might not like being the centre of attention, we all enjoy being in one person’s spotlight. When someone is flirting with you, they pay you Attention, and similarly, when we are interested in someone, we pay them attention. This is a sign of attraction that truly crosses borders. It’s dead simple and yet it speaks volumes.

In my research, people said they could gauge the level of someone’s interest by how much attention they were being paid. This was especially helpful when flirting was done in groups, like it often was in London. They said they could tell they were being flirted with if they ‘were the ones being told the story’ in the context of a group.

Oh yes, London is the land of un-obvious flirting, so any little extra bit of information helps. People also said that they could tell that someone was flirting when they ignored their friends and focused all their attention on them – put them in the spotlight, if you will. Similarly, if that person kept going back and forth between the object of their attention and the group they originally came with, their interest was generally pretty clear.

This might seem like an obvious one, but when it comes to matters of the heart, it is really hard to be objective. Think about it, why would you give more attention to any one person in a group? Because you’re interested! Why would it be any different the other way around?

Next time you go out, it might be useful to engage the help of a switched on – and objective – friend.

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P – Proximity

“It isn’t your sweet conversation,
That brings this sensation, oh no,
It’s just the nearness of you.”

Just as Norah Jones puts it, humans continually fixate on closeness. Needless to say, Proximity is one of the six universal signs of attraction.

It’s pretty simple, when we’re interested in someone, we don’t want to run in the opposite direction. To the contrary, we find a way to get closer. How else do we expect to ask for their number? (or get them to ask for yours!)

In my research of flirting behaviours, the respondents said they used proximity to gauge if someone was flirting with them in two ways:

1) The person whom they’d been exchanging looks with across the room, was now standing very near to them. (Making eyes from across the room can only get you so far).

2) And, once engaged in conversation, the other person was standing nearer to you than necessary. As one London female said, “they invade your personal space; you either mind or you don’t.”

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E – Eye Contact

Whilst researching the flirting behaviour of 250 single people in the cities of London, N.Y.C, Paris and Stockholm, I discovered there were 6 signs indicating when someone was attracted to another. If you feel like someone is always watching you, perhaps it’s because they are displaying the number one sign of attraction: Eye Contact.

This was the most prevalent way that people could tell if someone was interested in them. Not only could people gauge someone’s interest by the way they looked at them, they also used it as an indicator between when someone was being friendly and flirting. There are four specific ways to tell when someone has flirting on their mind, rather than looking for a new friend to join their book club.


Frequency – The eye contact happens more often
Length of time – They look at you for a longer period of time, rather than a quick glance
Intensity – The emotion behind the eyes is stronger. They’re not thinking, ‘I wonder what I’ll have for dinner’. (Unless, of course, they want their main dish to be you!)
Gesture – The eye contact is accompanied with another gesture, perhaps a flick of the hair, a smile, straightening of clothing, or touching their face (a self-comforting gesture).

The ways in which people used eye contact differed according to culture. In Stockholm, blink and you’ll miss it. Or maybe a single flutter of the eyelashes, in your vicinity, is considered sufficient eye contact?

In Paris, a woman won’t make eye contact with a man she likes, lest she’d be considered ‘easy’. One Parisian woman said you wouldn’t dare make eye contact with a man, as he would inevitably ‘lock you down with his eyes’.

In New York, the land of being obvious, no one was shy with the eye contact. In such a fast paced environment, you can’t waste time trying to figure out if someone’s interested. You let them know in the most obvious way and, if they’re not looking right back, you move onto the next person. A few women even admitted to looking men ‘up and down’ with their eyes. Assertiveness pays off, right?

As for the Londoners, well, they hold their cards very close to their chest. No one ever wants to be the first admit they like someone – believe me, after a decade of working on them, I still need more time with them! Needless to say, flirting by eye contact is not at all obvious. You can stare at a person repeatedly and they’d still wonder if you were looking at the picture frame behind them.

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