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Tags: approachable | romantic | signal

How They Flirt Can Give Short-Term Daters Away

How They Flirt Can Give Short-Term Daters Away
(Stokkete/Dreamstime.com)

Wendy L. Patrick By Saturday, 30 July 2022 09:09 AM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

Flirting or Friendly? How Initial Approach Behavior Reveals Intentions

Women and men flirt differently.

In many cases, women accentuate their appearance; men tout their accomplishments.

There are also gender differences with respect to grooming behavior, touching, and mannerisms. But there are also commonalities.

Eye contact, attention, flattery, and open body posture are often indications of interest in a conversation partner.

But — what kind of interest?

Laughter, for example, is often cited as an approachable quality.

But it does not necessarily signal romantic interest.

Other behaviors are similarly ambiguous.

When researchers look at flirting behavior, some have gone beyond identifying signs of interest, of which there are many.

Some recognize that context counts; different people are interested in pursuing different types of relationships. Pursuing a fling instead of a serious union is sometimes conveyed through flirting strategy.

Short and Sweet or Serious?

Justin White et al. (2018) in "Creative Casanovas," examined how mating strategy impacts the way people flirt. They begin by noting that although flirting behaviors are subtle indications of romantic interest, most people can both use and interpret the signals.

Their research investigated whether mating strategy would lead to a preference for typical or atypical flirting behaviors.

Consistent with their predictions, they found that pursuing a short-term mating strategy, as opposed to a long term mating strategy, was linked with flirting behaviors that were more atypical.

One of the first questions as a practical matter, is when it comes to flirting behavior, what is "typical?"

We can think of a myriad of cultural, gender-based, and situational factors that might impact the way people flirt.

The research of White et al. (ibid.) asked participants to rate behavior typicality for themselves: the degree to which the listed behavior would be expected in the situation, but they also recognized that flirting behaviors are often typical because they are successful.

Safe Is Successful

In their first study, White et al. (supra) found that when it comes to flirting, ordinary behaviors were generally rated as more effective than atypical behaviors.

White et al. (supra) asked participants to rank flirting behavior in several different public areas, including the gym, a park, the classroom, the workplace, and bars and restaurants.

Specific behaviors listed included telling the recipient he or she looked like a movie star or demonstrating familiarity with the recipient’s choice of subject matter, to more overt behavior such as talking in a sexy voice, talking quietly to initiate a partner having to move closer to hear, or asking the recipient to hold hands.

Other behaviors included writing the recipient a poem, texting the recipient immediately after getting his or her phone number, or asking if the recipient found them attractive or liked their perfume.

White et al. (supra) found that almost all of their participants preferred the initiator to use flirting behavior that was typical.

Individuals interested in a short term mating strategy, however, were more likely to prefer atypical flirting behaviors when they were the initiator, but not the recipient.

The authors explain this double standard apparently demonstrates a preference to flirt using "subtle or atypical cues to maintain plausible deniability or to engage the interest of their targets with creative, but difficult to decipher, approaches."

When on the receiving end, however, people tend to prefer cues that are typical and overt.

The Advantage of Average

Healthy relationship development involves more than interpreting initial signs of interest.

But apparently, signal selection might signify more than flirtatious creativity; it might also reveal the pursuit of short-term dating.

So if you are looking for a durable relationship, responding to overtures that are ordinary, as opposed to off-the-wall, appears to be a safer social strategy.

This article was originally published in Psychology Today

Wendy L. Patrick, JD, MDiv, Ph.D., is an award-winning career trial attorney and media commentator. She is host of "Live with Dr. Wendy" on KCBQ, and a daily guest on other media outlets, delivering a lively mix of flash, substance, and style. Read Dr. Wendy L. Patrick's Reports — More Here.

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WendyLPatrick
If you are looking for a durable relationship, responding to overtures that are ordinary, as opposed to off-the-wall, appears to be a safer social strategy.
approachable, romantic, signal
669
2022-09-30
Saturday, 30 July 2022 09:09 AM
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