Flirting can be a delicate, thrilling mystery. It can also require subtlety and lightheartedness because coming on too strong can prematurely shut down a vibe. Maybe you've felt like the heart-eye emoji about this person for a while, or perhaps you don't even know what they look like IRL. Either way, it can be useful to brush up on your flirting technique. To get the scoop on the basics of being a good flirt, I asked relationship experts how to flirt on a first date.
"Flirting is an invitation to connect and an expression of interest," Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D., licensed psychotherapist and author of Love Styles: How to Celebrate Your Differences, tells Elite Daily. "A sense of humor, wittiness, and clever conversation are the essence of flirting. It's a way to connect and let someone know you're interested without saying it out loud."
Dr. Joshua Klapow, clinical psychologist and host of the Kurre and Klapow Show, agrees. "You shouldn't have to over-flirt to grab the attention of someone you like," he says. "If you flirt in small amounts and in an authentic manner, it is much more effective." He adds that it's best to treat flirting like the start of a bonfire. You want to spark the kindling, foster a flame, and blow on it a little bit without putting it out.
For some guidance on how to get your flirting skills in tip-top shape, consider the following tips.
It's All In The Eyes
Eye contact can be a great tool for flirting because it's super intimate and makes a nonverbal statement. Think for a second about how much prolonged eye contact you usually hold with people. It's somewhat rare, right? Holding your date's eye contact for a beat longer than you would a friend's can be a sweet and sexy way to say, "I like you."
Dr. Tessina recommends locking eyes momentarily, then transferring your gaze to their face or around the table, to avoid staring them down.
Match Their Energy
Try matching your crush's flirtation incrementally. A little bit of laughing, smirking, complimenting, and subtle touching can go a long way. "Use your tennis game approach," says Dr. Tessina. "If they brush your knee with their knee, try returning the action or touching your foot to their foot. If it happens again, try leaving your knee touching theirs and see if they pull away. If they do, then follow their lead and pull back slightly."
Of course, it is never OK to touch someone without their consent. When taking this approach, it is essential to receive active consent throughout every stage. That means asking, "Is this OK?" and respecting your crush's boundaries. Remember, flirting is never an excuse to make someone uncomfortable.
Consider The Context
"Flirt with your words of kindness [or humor]," says Dr. Klapow. "Flirting doesn't have to be sexual in nature. Being kind, being polite, being engaged in conversation — these are all ways of flirting. As soon as you cross over to overt physical compliments, and stronger words, you run the risk of coming on too strong." Draw from the conversation in order to transition smoothly from point to point. You can wait for a lag in the discussion, then insert a sly compliment into the dialogue.
Listening Is Hot
Last year, I went out on a bad date with an incredible woman. She talked for most of the evening, and within an hour, my plate was empty and her food was mostly untouched. I found myself wishing she had taken a step back and asked a few questions, then actively listened to what I had to say.
"Listen carefully to what your date says and respond by contributing something from your own experience or awareness," says Dr. Tessina. "You can toss the conversational ball back to your date with a question like, 'What do you think?' or, 'Have you ever had that happen?'" She also explains that being a good listener and an equal opportunity conversationalist is incredible fuel for the flirtation you're attempting to foster.
Like any skill, flirting takes time to hone and perfect. Additionally, flirting can look different to everyone, because attraction is subjective. What works for one person might not work with another. So, take it one step at a time and remember to be yourself because there's nothing sexier than self-confidence.