You want to catch someone’s eye but you’re not sure what to do. After all, we live in a highly digital age and there’s not as much emphasis on face-to-face interaction. It can be difficult, therefore, to know how to act when you meet someone intriguing. Adding to this is the fact that most people spend a lot of time communicating by text message, which can create its own set of challenges.
If you find yourself in that situation, take comfort in the fact that from the beginning of time, people have struggled to master the fine art of flirting. What’s too much? What’s not enough? As I’ve explained to my psychology students and clients, it truly varies from person to person. Still, there are some common flirting fails that everyone should try to avoid at all costs.
Getting ahead of yourself
When we meet someone exciting, it’s tempting to just sit and daydream about the future. The problem, though, is that if you focus too much on what lies ahead, you may put too much pressure on the here and now. As I’ve explained to my clients in counseling, your goal should be to test the waters and get to know the other person in the present moment without being too concerned about whether your efforts will lead to a marriage proposal!
Pro tip: Keep it light and fun. Don’t let the conversation get too serious and, please, wait a while before you ask if they want to have kids!
Too much teasing
In middle school, you can pretty much tell who is crushing on someone because there’s a lot of teasing going on. It can be confusing, though, since kids that age can overdo it, making it seem like they actually hate the object of their affection! That trend tends to continue throughout our lives but, with maturity, we usually learn where to draw the line. While we might have good intentions, it’s important to remember that people’s feelings can genuinely be hurt by teasing and, really, that’s the opposite of what you want to do when you’re trying to flirt!
Pro tip: Avoid poking fun at someone until you know them well enough to identify their limits and potential triggers. Stay away from joking about personal beliefs at all costs!
Ignoring their responses
While you are just getting to know someone, it’s more important than ever that you pay attention to their cues. Are your jokes falling flat? Do they seem indifferent during conversations on certain topics? Are they less enthusiastic about certain types of restaurants? During those earliest interactions, we may put aside our own preferences in order to make a good impression. As a result, your crush may be less willing to object to suggestions or situations, which is why you should monitor their responses (but don’t overdo it – you will look like a creep!).
Pro tip: If you feel like something is off, ask if you’ve offended them in some way. When it comes to picking a spot for coffee or lunch, offer a variety of options.
Let’s be honest – flirting is intimidating! There’s a real fear of being rejected, which can make us a little hesitant to get out there and get noticed. Unfortunately, nothing is less sexy than someone who seems to be struggling with confidence. How can you be alluring and enticing if you don’t believe in yourself? If you are in a bad place and have been struggling with self-worth, take some time to work on yourself and heal before throwing your hat into the ring. Remember all of the reasons why you’re such a great catch and strut your stuff!
Pro tip: If you know you are going to see someone you’ve been crushing on, take some time to get cleaned up and put on an outfit that makes you feel good. If you feel like a slob, your confidence will likely suffer!
Being too “tech”nical
If there’s one thing my counseling clients have complained about over the years, it’s that they can’t stand when someone is distracted by devices. Sure, we all can get lost in our phones, tablets, and televisions but you don’t want to do this when you’re trying to flirt with someone! The phenomenon is so frustrating, in fact, that Baylor University marketing professor, James A. Roberts, combined the words “phone” and “snubbing” to create the term “phubbing.” Are you guilty of this offense? Take his test to find out!
When trying to make a good impression, let your crush know that you are interested by putting your phone away and actually making eye contact. They will feel like the center of attention which is exactly how you want them to feel!
Pro tip: Put your phone on silent or leave it in your pocket to avoid temptation. Consider doing this any time you spend time with your friends and family!
We all want to be engaging and interesting, which sometimes can leave us wondering if who we are is really enough. The truth of the matter is that the right person will be captivated by your charms without any gimmicks. Avoid the temptation to pretend to be someone you are not. I’ve seen it happen so many times among my students. One girl was so interested in a guy who was really into cars that she spent hours watching YouTube videos just to impress him. Rather than seeing her as a potential girlfriend, she ended up relegated to the “friend zone” since he was looking for something different.
I warn everyone — if you fake it, the truth will, eventually, catch up with you and it will all blow up in your face. Always be true to yourself because, really, you want to attract someone who will be compatible in the long run.
Pro tip: Instead of pretending to be interested in certain things, go out and actually try a new hobby. Take a cooking or art class. You might meet new people to flirt with!
Along with lacking confidence, seeming desperate is the ultimate turn-off. No one wants to think that you’re just flirting with them because you’re lonely or can’t find anyone else. You want your life to be full and inviting so that anyone you spend time with is an addition to your world – not the center of it. Also, as the eHarmony staff warns, desperate daters tend to drop their standards and you deserve better than that!
Pro tip: Don’t be clingy and be sure to have plans of your own. If your crush wants to spend time with you, don’t make it seem like you have nothing else going on in your life!
Waiting too long to follow-up
There are so many dumb theories about how long we should wait to let someone know we enjoyed spending time with them. While you don’t want to come on too strong (like sending 20 messages in the five minutes since they dropped you off!), there’s nothing wrong with sending a short note saying something like “I really had a good time with you today” soon after parting ways (or, at least, within two to three days!). Then, patiently wait to see if they respond!
Pro tip: Don’t send them a text asking if they had a good time. Don’t ask when you are going to see each other again. Let them know you are interested and then give them space to figure out how they feel!
Flirting fails happen to all of us
Almost everyone can look through this list and remember moments when they failed at flirting. I’ve definitely heard my share of stories through my clients and students over the years! It’s a fine art and, sometimes, our efforts can fall flat. Besides, not everyone is going to like us and that’s okay!
When things go wrong, don’t be too hard on yourself. Try your best to laugh it off and get right back into the game. After all, even with flirting, practice makes perfect!