Few things are as convoluted and confusing as trying to figure out male behavior. There, I said it. I don't care how many of my guy friends insist that "men and women aren't so different after all" and that women should just "stop reading so much into things." I mean, how can we not? At one point or another, we've all had to pause and ask ourselves — wait, is he flirting with me?
Sometimes, I'm totally like WTF is my life after I was so sure a guy was into me, only to have him completely blindside me with a proclamation that he is uninterested. If he decided to go the cowardly route, he may have even vanished without a trace, leaving earnest me convinced something terrible must have happened. In my darkest hour, I may have even sent the venomous "Are you alive?" text and probably spent the rest of the day running over every detail of every interaction, trying to prove he was a complete tool from the start.
But what if I told you that there were some easy ways to figure out what type of guy he is and what he's looking for based mostly on his flirting style? Well, Christmas has come early this year, ladies, because dating expert and relationship writer Demetrius Figueroa spoke with Elite Daily to address some male flirting techniques and the deeper insight that can be gleaned from them.
1. Just Coming Right Out And Saying It
Anyone who's ever had a guy spring their feelings on them out of nowhere knows how flustering this can be. Whether it's a flirty compliment from a cute barista or a guy who approaches you in the club, according to Figueroa, men who are explicit about what they want are being direct as a way to disarm you. This isn't a bad move, considering some of the more subtle seduction tactics can feel a bit contrived — putting many women on the defense.
"When a guy tells you exactly what he wants, or how he feels, he's trying to prove that in some way, he's a bit more mature and well-rounded than his peers," says Figueroa. Having a guy tell it to you straight can certainly be impressive and a surefire way to gauge their confidence level.
Figueroa also notes that when it comes to sussing out what they are looking for, it is worth taking what these guys say at face value. "If he's upfront and tells you he only wants to hook up, believe him," says Figueroa.
2. Using Small Talk To Feel It Out
Personally, I find small talk to be one of the most anxiety-producing flirting tactics out there. Sometimes I get so lost in a brain loop that I totally check out, only to come to five minutes later to hear them rambling about how great of a dog dad they are. (Ben Z. from Bachelor in Paradise Season 4 isn't the only one obsessed with his pooch.)
Figueroa suggests guys who try to feel out the sitch by small-talking you may be a bit more guarded. That being said, you shouldn't necessarily assume his take-it-slow approach means he's not interested, but rather that he may be trying to protect himself from being embarrassed or rejected, says Figueroa.
It's important to remember that openly flirting doesn't come naturally to everyone. "He may have some discomfort with flirting or just a general tentativeness to put himself out there. Besides the tentativeness, though, you can assume he's interested if the small talk tends toward questions about your romantic status," notes Figueroa.
Let's be real: If it was my duty as a man to approach every woman I had interest in, I'd be stressed to the max.
3. Trying To Establish A Connection Using An Inside Joke
This is by far my favorite way of being seduced. There's just something so satisfying about a guy who can use his humor and wit as a way of showing interest. It's fun, it's relaxed, and it's free of the aloofness and overt cockiness men love to dish out by the truckload. Most importantly, it builds a bond, Figueroa points out.
"Bonding builds connections, and connecting with them can help build attraction and show that you're attracted to them," suggests Figueroa.
In my opinion, it also seems fair to assume this type of guy is smart because he's using a tactic with a built-in feedback mechanism. If there's chemistry, it's gonna become apparent to both of you pretty quickly. If you're not diggin' it, then on to the next one.
Figueroa also says unless the inside joke feels forced, there's a high chance that this guy has good intentions.
4. Starting A Basic, Not-So-Flirty Conversation
This is another approach that never fails to throw me for a loop. With this type of come on, it's hard to not obsess over if he's actually interested in you at all. According to Figueroa, this is kind of the point: "This is the behavior of a guy who is comfortable flirting, but doesn't feel the need to rely on typical flirty behavior to engage. It takes a certain amount of confidence to engage with someone, rather than flirt with them, to show your interest."
So, basically this means guys using this tactic are not only super confident, but they are also making it clear to you that this isn't their first rodeo. Unfortunately, this not-so-obvious flirting style also makes it hard to pin down their true intentions. Figueroa agrees that this approach is "hard to read as genuine interest or just general skill at conversation."
It's also safe to assume this type of guy means what he says, adds Figueroa, so if he ends up telling you he's interested, then chances are he probably is.
5. Doing Something Wild To Get Your Attention
If you've ever found yourself hanging out in a dive bar, minding your own business, when out of nowhere you see a guy tap dancing on the bar, he's probably trying to impress someone. It's pretty easy to spot these dudes a mile away. And while not taking your self too seriously can definitely be a turn on, more often than not, these men take it a bit far.
Guys who rely on doing something over the top to get your attention are probably not short on confidence. However, Figueroa suggests "[taking] this sort of flirting with a grain of salt," mostly because it's hard to differentiate between genuine interest on their part or a deep-seeded need to be the center of attention.
6. Using Physical Contact
It should be said that anyone who's touching you without your consent should definitely be avoided. However, if you're into him and not put off by non-invasive physical gestures, it's definitely a sign that he's attracted to you. "Not every guy who flirts by getting more physical only wants to hook up, but you can be certain that the guys who are looking to hook up will flirt this way," says Figueroa.
When guys rely solely on physical contact, it is likely he's just looking for a hit-it-and-quit-it situation. That being said, when combined with another, more sincere flirting tactic, I've found touch can be a great way to gauge if the physical chemistry is there.
7. Offering To Buy You Drink (The Timeless Classic)
Last but not least, this oldie but goodie. Who doesn't love a free drink? In my opinion, the only major downside to this move is once you've got your free drink, you could very well wind up stuck talking to a guy whom you realize after 30 seconds isn't a good fit.
According to Figueroa, because this is such a common way for men to show interest, it can be a bit tricky to decipher if he's looking for a relationship or simply a hookup. But don't worry, Figueroa says there is some hope: "Fear of rejection is a big thing for guys, so putting yourself in a position to be publicly rejected takes a lot of confidence, and can be taken as a sign of genuine interest."
Remember, flirting can only get you so far, so it's also important to consider his actions and not just his words and compliments. If you're still not sure, it can also be really helpful to get your girls to weigh in. It's so much easier to pick up on shadiness from the outside looking in.
This post was originally published on Sept. 15, 2017. It was updated on Aug. 9, 2019 by Elite Daily Staff.