Of the five types of flirts, which one are you?
TV host and comedian Steve Harvey wanted it. Playboy radio wanted it. So did the New York Post and Cosmopolitan magazine.
So University of Kansas professor Jeffrey Hall gave it to them: the lowdown on flirting.
Hall, who’s been studying the topic for seven years, recently put his research into a book, The Five Flirting Styles: Use The Science Of Flirting To Attract The Love You Really Want.
Scientifically dissecting the heterosexual flirting habits of more than 10,000 people – including 5,000 users of eHarmony online dating service – Hall has identified five flirting archetypes: physical, playful, polite, sincere and traditional.
Everyone is typically a mix of the five styles, he says, but one style is usually dominant.
Of course, we asked Hall, married 10 years to his grad-school sweetheart, to identify his own romantic modus operandi. But he preferred that the research, not the researcher, be the story. What a tease.
Hall makes clear that there is no right or wrong way to flirt and that his book is not a pickup artist’s guidebook. (Though one reviewer did call it “a GPS for singles looking for the most direct route to finding love”.)
Knowing how you express your romantic interest in someone is invaluable because it gives clues to why you end up in the relationships you do, he says. That playful flirt, for instance, is so not interested in a long-term relationship.
Knowing your flirtatious tendencies also can help you steer clear of behaviour that could be making others run away. And wouldn’t you rather that they stay?
Of the five flirting archetypes, some are more effective than others, depending on the results you desire. Which one are you?
> Physical flirt: This person relies on body language to communicate sexual interest.
“One of the unique things about the physical flirt is they like to go to clubs to dance with strangers,” Hall says. “That’s something they find enjoyable.”
He describes this person as being “switched on”, always looking for signs of flirting and sexual interest from other people. They can interpret even the most innocuous gesture as flirting.
This category includes the obnoxious flirts who see themselves as heaven’s gift to the opposite sex. “They think of themselves as being more physically attractive than the people around them,” Hall says. “Their problem is they’re more likely to assume the person they’re flirting with is interested when they’re not. They can end up stepping on toes and making people feel uncomfortable.”
Bottom line: People who scored high in this category often develop relationships quickly and have more sexual chemistry with their partners.
> Polite flirt: Where the physical flirt is switched on all the time, the polite flirt doesn’t even know where the switch is.
They might have to be hit over the head, figuratively speaking, to realise that someone is flirting with them.
“They’re never getting the picture,” Hall says. “You basically have to tell a polite flirt that you want to take them out to make them understand that you are coming on to them.”
Cautious is another word for this person. They think that touching another person or complimenting them is bad manners – although, as Hall points out, science tells us that both those behaviours are useful in showing romantic interest.
In Hall’s research, people over the age of 40 were most likely to prefer using this style.
Bottom line: Polite flirts tend to have longer, more meaningful romantic relationships.
Playful flirt: This person thinks the bar is the best place to start a relationship. They enjoy the sport of flirting, playing the game. This is that casual fling, the friend with “benefits”.
The problem? All that game-playing can make them seem dismissive and belittling and – surprise! – it’s hard for them to go beyond short-term dating in a relationship.
Bottom line: The playful flirts have little interest in romance. They flirt for flirting’s sake, no strings attached.
Sincere flirt: According to Hall’s research, this is the most common flirting style, probably because it has been proven to be the most effective.
You might meet this person at the bar, but they’re probably there with a group of friends and not there to troll. In fact, out of the five styles of flirting, this person is the one who’s going to complain that the music is too loud in the bar to talk.
The sincere flirt wants to make an emotional connection with a romantic partner and enjoys the getting-to-know-you phase. They ask a lot of questions and pay attention to the answers.
Bottom line: The sincere flirt has meaningful relationships where emotional connection comes first, sexual chemistry second.
Traditional: This flirt believes that women shouldn’t be too forward, and men should take the lead – make the first move, open doors, pick up the tab.
Guess what? This style was the least popular among the men that Hall surveyed.
Guess what? Women are much more likely than men to be traditional flirts.
Guess what? Women might want to rethink that.
Bottom line: By taking a more passive role in dating, women with this style are more likely to have trouble getting a guy’s attention. – The Kansas City Star/McClatchy-Tribune Information Services