Flirting 101: Bust a Move

Flirting--a smile, a joke, a quick touch that is so much more than what it appears to be. It can instantly forge a connection between two strangers, or escalate a friendship. For some, their mad skillz in attraction gives them the pick of the room, while others break out in hives at the thought of having a conversation with someone of the opposite sex. And let's not forget the person who leans in a little too fast, and touches a little too much. Instead of reeling in a potential mate, the person they flirt with ends up bolting for the door, worried the next move might involve chloroform.

Fact: flirting is individual. It's unique. There is no one method that ensures success, and as writers, we need to know our characters well to find a flirting style that comes across as authentic to the reader, and achieves the results we need for our story to work.

How a character flirts will depends on these things:


Setting--where the character is plays into how they flirt. People naturally adapt to the environment and will act differently at a church picnic than at a football game. Think about the setting, and how it can define boundaries, affect mood and dictate appropriate behavior.

Confidence level--a girl or guy who is socially active and used to interaction with the opposite sex will be much more confident than someone who is inexperienced. Too, the way a character sees themselves will come into play. Someone aware of their strengths and assets will have stronger self confidence than a person who doubts their self worth. Always factor in your character's background, personality and self confidence level before choosing how far to go when flirting.

Audience--if people are watching the interchange, then the awareness of possible watchers will either ramp up the flirting or tone it down, depending on those involved. Is your character showy, or not? Do they have something to prove? Does having an audience provide the energy they need to get what they want or throw them off their game completely?

Goals--If your character is trying to determine if there is a mutual attraction, the flirting will be less direct and more tentative than if the attraction is obvious. When the goal of flirting is to heighten emotions to the crackling point, then the moves become much more intense and aggressive. Consider what the goal is behind the flirting to ensure the level of playfulness matches up.

Receptiveness--The interest level or emotional connection may not be the same for both parties. If the body language of one character suggests they are not as engaged (moving back, looking away, fidgeting) as the other hopes, then flirting style and intensity level will need to change in order to keep a connection.

Flirting is all about body language and knowing how to read it. Here are some flirty moves to get you started!

For Him

Smiles (is there anything more attractive than a smile?)
Eye contact (not constant or it's creepy, more like a magnet pull of repeat contact)
Moves closer
Light and brief touches
A light squeeze of her hand
Runs a knuckle down a forearm
Drapes an arm around her shoulders
Places a hand on the small of her back
Steers/guides with light touches, arm pulls, playful nudging
Touches an item she's holding (tugging, tapping his pencil against her notebook, etc)
Notices and verbalizes approval in what she wears or how her hair is styled
Offers flattery, compliments
Suggests to do something benign together (get a drink, walk the same direction, find a place to sit, study together some time, get some fresh air, etc)
Shows sincerity
Jokes, teases, engages in small talk, banter
Is attentive
Agrees with her opinions
Downplays her compliments to him (showing modesty)
Does a double take of her in order to be 'caught looking' (but doesn't stare like she's meat)
Asks questions
Holds eye contact slightly longer than he normally would
"Accidental touches" (bumps her leg with his, brushes her hand, shoulder, etc while reaching for something)
Mentions something he's noticed/remembers about her (something in their mutual past, something he saw her doing before approaching, etc. This is to show she is memorable)
Watches her lips
Says things that have a double meaning/suggestiveness

For Her

Walks past more than once
Turns head to look back at him
Moves closer to him in the room/area
Shakes back hair
Laughter
Uses the eyes and lashes to express and communicate
Asks questions about his interests
Gossips to friends, but eyes are on him
Touches lips (Lips are sensual) IE: biting down while smiling, wetting lips, applying gloss, bringing a drink cup/glass to lips with eye contact
Leave friends to either stand alone and offer an opportunity to be approached, or will directly approach him
Playful touches (fiddle with zipper, turn his wrist to pretend to be interested in the time, etc)
Shows interest or handles something of his (asks to see his play list, asks about his phone, slides a book out of his grip to look it over, etc)
Plays with her hair during conversation, drawing his attention to it
Lets him know that something he says is new/interesting/unusual/or positive in some way
Agrees with his opinions, thoughts, observations
Varies the timbre of her voice to keep him listening (whispers, suggestive tone)
Uses hands to accentuate features (a narrow waist, pulling long hair over one shoulder, fiddling with necklace to draw attention to neckline, etc)
Leans or steps closer
Places a hand on arm
Giggles
Asks about his friends, job, talents (if she knows a bit about him)
Asks for his opinion or for help with something
Fluid movements/gestures
Exudes high energy, fun
Acts coy, shy or playful by tilting the head, side-long looks, and using different types of smiles
Accepts compliments gracefully
Listens closely, and acts on clues in conversation to his likes, dislikes, interests, beliefs, etc
Touches his knee or arm to emphasize a point or while laughing
If in a skirt, places a hand on knee or slowly crosses her legs to draw attention to them
Compliments his scent by leaning in with a smile and asking what cologne he's wearing
Gets 'caught' looking him over and enjoying the view
Mirroring his movements (if he leans in, she does the same, etc)
Points her body toward him (sitting or standing)

So...what are your character's favorite moves? 

Click here for FLIRTING BODY LANGUAGE #FAILS! 

31 comments:

Laura Pauling said...

Awesome! You've done it again!

Renae said...

What a great post, flirting is one of those hard things to "show" in a story and your lists are fantastic!

KM said...

Wow. This is a crazy list of ways to show flirting! I'm really impressed. I'll definitely be back if I need ideas on how to show something!!!

Matthew Rush said...

How is it possible that your knowledge can be just as encyclopedic for simple flirting as it is for a zombie apocalypse?

You, Angela my dear, are a genius.

Vicki Rocho said...

What a fabulous list! Sometimes flirting is so hard to define. There are some people who swear they're just being friendly but they're doing everything on the list! So glad to be married and not trying to decipher all those mixed up signals.

Tessa Quin said...

Those are great tips. Thanks :)

Jessica Subject said...

Great post! Thanks Angela, you rock!

Erica Chapman said...

Wow, great list! I can't think of anything to add to that.

My characters like to throw insults back and forth, then of course, I get them in confined spaces. Right now they're in a closet. LOL

Great job ;o)

Susanne Dietze said...

These are so helpful. I've often struggled with these sorts of scenes in my writing, moving past a few pat indicators of interest. Thanks!

ralfast said...

Embarrassing admission time:

If anyone needed a post like this, tis me!

:(

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Wow, this is great, Angela! :D

Kelly said...

Fabulous and flirty!

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

Oh I love this list so much. Watch out flirting scenes, I've got a secret wepon that doesn't just invole lingering looks. :)

Brittany said...

Angela-

I've given your blog the Versatile Blogger Award and the One Lovely Blog Award. Sorry for bothering you if you already have them, but I'm not sure. :P Here's my blog post with the awards: http://www.hillsandcorkscrews.com/2010/09/blog-awards-eeep.html

Lindsay said...

Angela, this is wonderful! Seriously, my characters always seem to be awkard (probably cause I always was) and your list is so comprehensive I think I can find something even for them:-)

Deb Salisbury said...

Wonderful lists! I've bookmarked this post - I'll need it again soon.

Karen Lange said...

Good info as always! :)

Shannon said...

I really like this one:

'Touches an item she's holding (tugging, tapping his pencil against her notebook, etc).'

Shannon said...

I really like this one:

'Touches an item she's holding (tugging, tapping his pencil against her notebook, etc).'

Shannon said...

I really like this one:

'Touches an item she's holding (tugging, tapping his pencil against her notebook, etc).'

Claire Dawn said...

Great guide for flirting. I'm going to go try some of these on the cute guy I work with :)

Beth said...

What a terrific post. Thanks for the idea starters!

Angela Ackerman said...

Thanks, all of you! I think this is such a massive part of YA and Romance, and it isn't something I see talked about much. I hope other posts come of this one on other blogs, because it's such a facinating and important topic, with many facets to explore.

Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

Kay said...

This is very helpful - I particularly love the little physical cues - although the gendered headings made me wince a little. They seem unnecessary.

ZionsRodeVos said...

Thank you for a list I believe will be very handy as I develop my writing skills.

Julie Musil said...

So accurate! A couple of these gave me butterflies, as I remember them so well!

eeleenlee said...

My last character was a sociopath but when I am ready to write that YA romance book, I'll keep this great list next to the PC.

Lynn said...

Can I use this list for my life too? Great list. Thanks!

Jaleh D said...

Very nice list. Funny how so many of the gestures are so commonplace and yet be given multiple meanings depending on setting, mood, and recipient.

Marian Perera said...

This list made me think that perhaps it's time to write about characters flirting, because it seems like so much fun now. :)

Flirt Body Language said...

It is something that will always come handy, for flirting is a lifelong process. When you think about flirting and the techniques there in, you might realize there are many things and dimensions to it.

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