Some research has been conducted on how we flirt, leading to some truly fascinating findings. The psychology of flirting is undeniably intriguing.
In a 1971 study, the flirting behaviors of four couples were observed. Some behaviors were found to be common among all four groups. These typically included the so-called ‘eyebrow flare,’ a momentary raising of the eyebrows, smiling, nodding, and making gestures in close proximity to the other person. One of the significant findings among these behaviors was the eyebrow flare, which was identified as one of the most prevalent flirting behaviors. They found that the eyebrow flare may serve as a social signal, indicating a desire for recognition and an initiation of social interaction. It’s an involuntary gesture commonly used in both platonic and romantic contexts.
In a 2018 meta-analysis, similar results were found in previous studies on behavior and attractiveness. It was concluded that accompanying the other person’s smile, laughing while making eye contact, and gradually increasing physical proximity are the most commonly used behaviors in flirting.
However, these behaviors are not limited to romantic attraction; they occur when participants have positive feelings about the other person, whether in a romantic or platonic context. This helps answer why we tend to exhibit these behaviors when we are interested in someone, as they are typically spontaneous actions aimed at building trust and strengthening the relationship.
In 2010, over 5,000 couples who had concluded their dating periods were asked to evaluate their dating experiences and how they characterized this phase. The study concluded that there are five different dating styles: traditional, physical, intimate, fun, and polite.
- The traditional style adheres to conventional gender roles and is the most widely recognized dating style in our country. In this flirting style, it is expected that men initiate contact with women rather than the other way around.
- Individuals inclined towards physical flirting express their interest explicitly to the other person. This style of flirting is also associated with extroversion and sociability. People with this style often describe themselves as highly sociable and uninhibited individuals.
- Those predisposed to the intimate dating style are primarily interested in forming an emotional connection. They tend to exhibit friendly behavior and have a genuine interest in getting to know the other person.
- Individuals who employ a fun flirting style find flirting enjoyable. They often engage in flirting for pleasure rather than seeking a committed relationship. In all other styles, women were in the majority, but in the fun flirting style, men were in the majority. This means a significant proportion of men choose to flirt in a playful manner.
- Those who adopt the polite flirting style exhibit behaviors that diligently adhere to social norms. They are notably cautious and make an effort to avoid actions that could be deemed inappropriate.
Among these styles, women perceived themselves as more closely aligned with all styles except the playful one. The validity of these styles was associated with their mannerisms, initiation behaviors in relationships, and past relationship experiences. Physical, intimate, and playful styles were more likely to yield a happy outcome and lead to the commencement of a relationship. Flirting with physical and intimate styles resulted in stronger emotional connections and more physical intimacy, often culminating in the swift onset of a relationship.
In another study on non-verbal flirting, where individuals flirted solely through their behavior, 70 couples were observed ‘naturally’ (yes, voyeuristically). It was observed that women played a subtle yet significant role in initiating and sustaining courtship. Compared to men, women were found to engage more in behaviors such as gazing at their partners, displaying positive facial expressions, and brief touches, using gestures, and demonstrating closed body postures. Men, on the other hand, exhibited more intimate behaviors and physical interactions.
Gender-related differences also evolved over time as the courtship progressed. Women tended to shorten or terminate the courtship, whether positively or negatively, after the initiation of physical interaction. Men responded according to the decisions made by women. In other words, it was concluded that women typically hold the reins when it comes to defining the pace of courtship.
Furthermore, as courtship extends, couples tend to shift their focus towards intimate, physical, and emotional interactions, placing more importance on these aspects than verbal flirting, in contrast to the earlier stages of dating. By examining these studies, you can get a fairly good idea of the type of dating style you may possess.
Guest Post: by Bilger Arca
Bilger Arca is the blog site owner of lovepsycho.com who writes essays and articles in the fields of love and psychology. His goal is to enhance couples’ awareness to facilitate a conscious and healthy journey in their relationships.
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