Study: Neither men or women can spot flirting, species destined to die out

Flirting. We know what it is, but we have no clue on how to do it, or how to spot it. Fortunately, a ‘professional’ calling herself a ‘flirtologist’ has the answers. Sort of.




As the old maxim goes, if you can make someone laugh, you can make them do many questionable things. Which isn’t funny, and neither am I. It’s why I’ll live alone before I die alone, locking eye contact with butchers, and parking attendants and whoever, before I fade into dust, just because.


But, as a concept, humour absolutely works as a flirting technique. According to Jean Smith, an expert in “flirtology”, laughter indicates attraction. As the act itself produces sweet sweet oxytocin, the brain’s favour enhancer. Oxytocin is a fun cranial chemical, released during coitus, and present in childbirth. Which makes sense, first you make the jokes, then you make the whoopee, then you make the baby.

However, the rule of thumb (as it is elsewhere), is don’t be shit. According to a study in the journal Sex Roles, both men and women found pick-up lines to be the least desirable way to hook someone.

But despite the fact that both sexes agreed pick-up lines are lame, they didn’t agree on the best way to begin a conversation. On average, men preferred the direct approach, while women preferred the indirect approach.

Of which I call bullshit.

The obvious point to make is that we need to be better at recognising what is flirting, and what isn’t. For what it’s worth, science believes that we don’t have a clue, as it seems that neither men nor women can recognise flirting, but both are exceptionally good at recognising when people aren’t feeling it. What a weird, nervous species we be.

So, how do we spot it?

Well, one study found that “…men are more likely to use dominance signals through body orientation, such as taking up space or leaning in. Meanwhile, women tend to engage in body presentation, by accentuating physical features through posture, twirling their hair, or caressing their lips or neck.”

Usually, this is especially more obvious when booze is added to the cocktail. However, you have to be not drunk to spot it. But don’t just get them drunk. Don’t be a creep. Be ok.

There’s a lot to take in, I agree. I mean, failing all that – just relax. Have a bit of fun, it’s only the continuation of the species at hand.

No pressure.

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