Entries in flirting (12)


Flirting: The Science of Giving and Receiving

Why People Flirt

Flirting comes in many forms: a casual gaze that lingers a half second longer than normal, a light touch, a “flirty face”, an overenthusiastic laugh during conversation, or even some overtly sexual or playful banter. Regardless of the technique employed, flirting aims to fulfill one purpose: stimulate sexual interest.  To be clear, flirting’s pursuit of sexual interest may not have the explicit goal of having sex or even physical intimacy of any kind. Rather, a person may flirt simply to pass the time, to feel close, to see if they still “have it” or because it is fun.1 Flirting motivations differ by gender with men’s flirting more motivated by sex, while women’s flirting more motivated by having fun or to become closer to another person.

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Let’s Talk about Tech and Teen Relationships  

American teens spend a lot of time with their smartphones, and their interest in their phones may only be superseded by their interest in forming romantic relationships. Anytime you have two really important aspects of life intersecting, there is the potential for some really interesting data. Researchers at the Pew Research Center wanted to learn how teens use technology in their romantic relationships to meet, flirt and communicate.1 To get some answers, in late 2014 and early 2015 researchers conducted a national survey as well as several online and in-person focus groups of 1,060 American teens (aged 13-17).

Although the common assumption is that this technology has changed how teens deal with their romantic relationships. Let’s see what the data say…

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Self-Esteem and Relationship Initiation: Relationship Matters Podcast 43

Just in time for Valentines Day, SAGE has released a new edition of the Relationship Matters podcast (hosted by Dr. Bjarne Holmes of Champlain College). In this installment, Dr. Danu Stinson (University of Victoria) discusses her research on why people with high vs. low self-esteem behave differently when initiating relationships.

The research team (also comprised of Jessica Cameron from the University of Manitoba and Kelley Robinson from the University of Winnipeg) conducted two experiments in which they primed individuals to focus on either (a) social rewards (i.e., the potential for feeling liked) or (b) costs (i.e., the potential for rejection). Afterwards, participants reported on their desire to initiate a relationship as well as the behaviors they’d engage in to do so. 

What did they find? When primed with the potential rewards of a new relationship, low self-esteem individuals were more interested in initiating a relationship compared to those with high self-esteem. In contrast, when the potential social costs of a new relationship were primed, high self-esteem individuals were more interested in relationship initiation compared to those with low self-esteem. 

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A Flirter’s Dilemma: Subtlety vs. Success

Flirting comes in many forms: a casual gaze that lingers a half second longer than necessary, a light touch, an amorous expression, an overenthusiastic laugh during conversation, or even some playful or overtly sexual banter.

Regardless of the technique employed, flirting aims to fulfill one purpose: stimulate sexual interest. To be clear, though, flirting may not have the explicit goal of having sex or even physical intimacy of any kind. A person may flirt simply to pass the time, to feel close, to see if they’ve still got it or because it’s fun. Flirting motivations differ by gender. Big surprise: men’s flirting is more motivated by sex, while women’s flirting is more motivated by having fun or becoming closer to another person.

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Click here to read our articles about pick-up lines.


How You Doin’? Self-Esteem Affects How People Flirt

Popular wisdom or results from a cursory Google search suggest that people with lower self-esteem have poor social skills. However, recent research finds that this is not true: In fact, people with lower self-esteem have the same social skills as people with higher self-esteem, but they often don’t feel safe enough to use them.1 This ‘safety’ concern comes into play in situations when one tries to start a relationship with another person, or what researchers call relationship initiation; such situations are risky because one often doesn’t know if the other person is going to be accepting or rejecting,1 and thus the outcome of the attempted initiation is often uncertain. So what do people do when they want to start a relationship but don’t know how the other person will respond?

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The Case of the Disappearing Date: Playing Hard to Get

My friend Hope came over the other day seeking relationship advice. Hope’s mother set her up with a man from her work (so Hope was skeptical), but he called and they spoke on the phone for well over two hours. Not a bad start, so Hope agreed to meet him for drinks. When he walked into the bar, her jaw dropped. He was Gorgeous (yes, with a capital G). Not just the run of the mill, attractive-enough kind of man, but George Clooney caliber. Way to go, Mom!

They spoke for several hours and had a few too many cocktails. Both said that they had a great time and wanted to get together again. After giving the server his credit card, Hope used the restroom. When she returned, her date then left to do the same. She waited at the table for him to return. The server brought back his credit card for his signature. She continued to wait. And wait. And wait. After about 15 minutes, Hope called his cell phone to see if he was ok. No answer.

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If You’re In A Relationship, Is It OK To Browse Hookup Sites For “Innocent Flirting” And “Harmless” Fun?

BC submitted the following question:

Have you written much on gay hookup apps (Grindr, Scruff, etc)? I just had a lengthy discussion with my cousin on Facebook after posting my criticism of Dan Savage's latest Savage Love. In it, Savage wrote that a gay man can have a hookup app on his phone while in an exclusive relationship and just use it for chatting with friends and innocent flirting. Why would someone be active on a hookup app and, if confronted with a hot guy to hookup with, not actually hook up with them?

Dear BC;

This is a great question! Although I am not aware of any studies specifically examining how use of hookup applications impacts people’s relationships, there is plenty of research to suggest that bringing these applications into a monogamous relationship could potentially lead to trouble down the road. Thus, I don’t fully agree with Savage’s take that engaging in such behavior is completely innocent.

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Flirtatious Facebook Game: Special Invite for Science of Relationships Readers

From time to time people approach us with special deals and offers to promote their products. To this point we've deleted the majority of these requests, but we recently learned about a new Facebook "flirting game" called Flirtatious. It's currently in beta, but the developers were kind enough to make a limited number of invites available exclusively for Science of Relationships readers.

Check it out by going here: https://apps.facebook.com/flirtati/

...and use the invite code "scienceofrelationships" to get started.

Have fun!


Hey Ladies!: The Benefits of Being a Mover (and Shaker)

Ladies, consider the following setting: It’s a Friday night. The place is buzzing. Across the room, a handsome stranger has caught your eye. You want to attract his attention, but how? If one were to follow traditional protocol, you would bat your eyelashes, flash a well-toned calf, sit and wait, hoping he will somehow get the message and make the journey across the room. However, it is 2011. Surely, sitting and waiting is not the only way for a woman to make contact with a man.

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What Constitutes Cheating Anyway?

A reader submitted the following question: How have researchers operationalized infidelity in the past? What outcomes/predictors are associated with different "types" of infidelity?

Dear Reader,

Researchers have defined infidelity (known scientifically as “extradyadic behavior”) in many different ways. Some have defined it in very narrow terms (e.g., having sexual intercourse with someone other than your partner), while others have defined it much more broadly (e.g., having any type of physical or emotional intimacy outside of your relationship). To date, the vast majority of studies have focused on sexual (i.e., physical) cheating, with relatively fewer giving consideration to things like flirting, “sexting,” keeping secrets, and/or developing feelings for someone else (things that many people might feel are just as bad, if not worse, in some cases).

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How Can I Tell if Someone is Interested in Me?

A reader recently asked: How can I tell if someone is interested in me?

Deciphering romantic interest is a difficult endeavor. On the one hand, if you fail to notice someone’s interest in you, you miss out on the high of realizing someone thinks you’re all that, not to mention the missed opportunity to form a relationship with that person. On the other hand, if you incorrectly think someone is interested in you (what researchers refer to as a ‘false positive’), you risk wasting valuable time and effort flashing your proverbial peacock feathers. You also open yourself up to the sting of rejection and embarrassment you might feel upon getting shot down after making your approach. Ouch. Worse, misperceiving romantic or sexual interest plays a role in sexual harassmentand sexual assault.2 That’s a definite – and potentially illegal – ouch.

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