What is Flirting?

Is it an exchange of flirting eye contact with that attractive stranger on the tube? Is it a bit of banter with your butcher? Is it what happens on a really good first date?  I interviewed 250 people in the cities of New York. London, Stockholm and Paris and the first question that I asked them was, ‘What is flirting?’.

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To make generalisations, the New Yorkers thought it was a fun way to pass the time, mostly ‘harmless’. The Parisians also said it was ‘a way of life’ but spoke more about seducing someone, rather than flirting. Ahem, it must have been the language barrier. In Stockholm, women were as likely to approach men, ask them out and do all things traditionally considered in the ‘male domain’. This was refreshing to see and I hope more women, around the world, will start doing this. (I know there are many men who would agree with me!). However, the Swedes didn’t take flirting lightly. One woman told me, ‘If you’re going to flirt with someone, you had better choose wisely because you will be stuck with them the whole night’. In the London flirting scene, the men used it as a ‘means to an end’ and were very wary of flirting as something that was disingenuous. While the London females said they didn’t necessarily flirt, but certainly enjoyed being charming.

What is Flirtology?

Alas, there were as many different interpretations as this little ol’ word flirting, as there were people. And this is the problem. If you see flirting as something ‘light, like a sip of champagne’ and someone else views it with suspicion, it might be hard to find a common ground. This is one of the reasons why I invented the word Flirtology. At least I could create my own definition. And, so I did. Flirtology is the science of flirting. I am a social and cultural anthropologist, so using social science, I uncover our flirting habits and flirting behaviour to create a guide to flirting, to help you understand the flirting signs.

You will find some helpful resources here and you can also check out my new book: Flirtology- Stop Swiping, Start Talking and Find Love.