Dear Anne, Certainly,
What are your flirting methods? Teach me your ways.
Wow. This is definitely an interesting question to have addressed to me. Let's get a little bit of background:
I have always been a moderately talkative person, and when I'm comfortable in a situation, it's fairly easy for me to talk, laugh, and joke around. Additionally, I had a rather eye-opening summer last year that kind of resulted in me having a decreased level of concern regarding whether other people find me awkward or don't like me. With these things being the case, I dated rather a lot over the past academic school year. Here are some Basic Dating Tips from Anne, Certainly. Keep in mind that flirting is very dependent on personal style; and your mileage may vary.
Anne, Certainly's Basic Dating Tips
0. Be places: This must happen before you can even flirt. It can be hard to get out of the house and go to events, particularly for the introverted flirter. However, in most cases we really do need to get out to expand our flirting opportunities. Pick places where you'll be comfortable and have possible "targets." For example, I'm unlikely to flirt with total strangers and I'm not a huge fan of very large parties. So, I'm much more likely to be found flirting in a medium-group situation that includes people or a setting I'm comfortable or familiar with.
1. Basic friendliness: This is one of my biggest tips. Honestly, just start talking to people you think you might be interested in. Would I be comfortable flirting with someone I'd never met? Highly unlikely. In fact, when I think about it, some people might not even qualify what I do in some situations (particularly pre-first date) as "flirting." At the beginning it is much more about:
2. Showing interest: Remember getting conversation lessons where they told you to turn conversations around? This can be useful. Help other people open up by actively engaging in conversation. Ask questions, make positive comments about things you find interesting, and affirm what they're saying. Be willing to be animated; if you sound bored, they're not going to pick up on your interest level (and we tend to like people who like us)! Showing interest is easier if you can be positive and happy about it. Smile at the person (whether you're in a conversation or just waving hello as you pass), laugh at their jokes, etc.
2-B. Show interest over time: Make it clear that the time you approach them isn't just a one-off conversation. Talk to them at a few activities. Don't monopolize them or you risk coming on too strong. It's fine to vary it up - a 10 minute one-on-one conversation at midweek mingle one week, a brief hello with a smile at church, a few minutes in a conversation with a few other people at another time, etc. Do make sure you get some one-on-one time, but don't feel like you need to (or should) devote all of your time to one person.
3. Dropping hints: Some people are more comfortable with this than others, but dropping hints can be useful. They don't have to be bricks ("GEE, I SURE WISH I HAD PLANS THIS WEEKEND"), but a comment like "Oh, I've totally wanted to do that hike too!" or "Do you do that often? That sounds really fun!" can plant an idea.
Moving forward. By this point, you've made friends with the guy. He may have already asked you out, or maybe not yet. Anyway, at some point you will need to:
4. Break the touch barrier: Let the record show that for some people this can be hard, but as I've said before, breaking the touch barrier doesn't mean that you instantly have to start throwing yourself at them. A playful shove during a jokey argument (I tend to have a lot of jokey arguments), a hug before leaving an event when you've spent a few minutes one-on-one chatting, etc.
5. Be confident and be yourself. Wow, that is actually the most cliche thing ever. Let me 'splain. Being confident doesn't mean that you suddenly have to transform yourself from an introvert into an extrovert, from a relatively quiet person to a chatterbox, or anything else. It means that you accept yourself and your own desirability. This has been a huge discovery for me over the last year: once you accept that you are desirable, the fear that one particular person (e.g. your potential flirtee) will reject you becomes less important. Still scary, yes - but not insurmountable. Second, being yourself. I, for example, am somewhat of a nerd. I find that allowing that through actually helps narrow down potential flirt targets; it allows me to find like-minded guys.
6. Have fun. Flirting can be work, yes. Occasionally I decide that I want to go out with a particular guy, and flirting can definitely start to be very goal oriented then. I've come home after being asked out and been like "Yeah. I worked hard to get that date." That being said, enjoy yourself. If you don't enjoy flirting with a guy, that's not really a great sign for him. Don't overstress it or spend all your time and energy worrying that he's judging you or whatever. Remember that flirting really focuses on being friendly enough to show interest in a particular person and to indicate that you're interested in going on a date (or another date). Even if you don't go out with them in the end, you will have gotten to know them better and hopefully made a new friend.
I realize that this is pretty general advice, but flirting situations vary widely. All the best in your flirting endeavors!