A wink, a smile, a deep stare, a compliment, and a funny one-liner are all ways people flirt with each other. The practice of flirting is as old as humankind. It’s a key component in dating—and mating. It’s how people get to know each other and begin to explore if they might be interested in pairing up.
Flirting can also be just for fun without any agenda at all besides just the enjoyment or thrill of chatting up a new person or sharing a good vibe with someone you already know. In fact, you can flirt with just about anyone, from your waiter, bartender, bank teller, or barista to your yoga instructor or the girl you just met on a dating app.
People flirt with friends, dates, boyfriends, girlfriends, partners, colleagues, neighbors, acquaintances, and strangers. But how exactly does one flirt effectively? Sometimes, flirting is easy and you might start doing it without any planning or thought. Other times, the prospect of flirting can leave you uncertain—or even paralyzed—about where to start.
The good news is that flirting is a skill like any other. And practice makes it so much easier. If flirting is a bit of a struggle (or a huge stressor) for you, it doesn’t have to stay that way. You can learn to improve your flirting technique, comfort level, and rapport-building skills. And our comprehensive guide to flirting with girls is here to help. Read on to learn how to successfully flirt with a girl—and impress her without being creepy.
For some people, flirty exchanges feel natural, but for others, pick-up lines and compliments don’t roll off the tongue quite so easily. But while some people will find it a bit more challenging, anyone can learn to flirt. And the more you do it, the easier it’s likely to become.
What Exactly Is Flirting?
According to the authors of a 2022 study in the Journal of Evolutionary Psychology, “To attract potential mates, men and women exhibit flirtatious behavior to get the attention of, and potentially elicit sexual or romantic interest from, a desired partner.” In other words, flirting is a way of communicating that allows two people to show interest in each other or “feel each other out,” so to speak, to determine if they might be a potential dating or romantic partner.
Fittingly, the word flirt also means, according to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, “to move erratically,” as in the way birds or butterflies might zip and zing through the air. Flirting is also described as behaving “amorously without serious intent.”
But while innocuous flirting, like what might happen in the grocery line or while waiting for the bathroom at a restaurant, is certainly common, flirting with the hopes of potential romance is the typical intention. Additionally, it’s important to note that flirting is typically a combination of spoken and unspoken communication. So, it’s the things you say to a girl, but also how you look at her, your facial expressions, the gestures you use, and other body language cues that all come together as flirting.
Why Is It So Hard to Flirt With Girls?
The truth is that flirting comes naturally for some. And for others, it can feel downright uncomfortable, intimidating, or awkward. There is a great range among people and it’s not always entirely clear why one person is a natural-born casanova while others may struggle to just say hi. Or why you may flirt effortlessly in some situations, while other times flee instead of flirting.
Consider if you’re outgoing and gregarious or more serious and internal. Your personality type, interests, and the amount of practice you put into flirting all play a big role in how comfortable someone is at flirting. Traits like confidence, openness, risk-taking, sense of humor, stress tolerance, and outgoingness all make flirting easier. Shyness, lower self-worth, doubting yourself, risk-avoidance, depression, and social anxiety all can make it harder to flirt. But there are tons of other variables as well.
Where and when
Location, timing, and other factors can all play a big part in your comfort level. Some people are at home flirting on their home turf (such as at their school, place of business, home, or favorite hangout), but find it difficult to flirt when they feel out of their element.
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The experience of being rejected or laughed at and a fear of embarrassment can also make it challenging to be flirtatious. Some people, such as those with autism spectrum disorder, can have a harder time reading other people, which can make flirting harder to pull off as well.
Taking to risk
It’s also important to note that just because someone appears to flirt effortlessly, that doesn’t mean that doing it is any less jittery or uncomfortable for them. They might just be hiding their worries and just “going for it.” In fact, that bit of stress, awkwardness, and wondering about what might happen (for good or bad) can even be a part of the thrill—as long as you don’t let it keep you from flirting in the first place.
Feeling at ease
Many people find it hard to flirt unless they’re feeling at ease. Being at ease may mean feeling relaxed and unhurried, being surrounded by friends, or being in a social setting. Some people feel they “can’t” talk to girls when they’re sober. They may rely on “liquid courage,” as in having a drink or two to help them feel more comfortable approaching and chatting up potential flirting partners. But while a beer, cocktail, or glass of wine might grease the wheels a bit, you shouldn’t need to be drunk in order to talk to a cute girl. Instead, learn and practice some strategies to help improve your flirting game.
How Do You Start Flirting?
Just like there is no one right or wrong way to flirt, there is no one perfect way to begin. However, generally, just being willing to make the first move is key. Even just a smile or saying hi can be enough to start flirting. Some people like to go in with a big opener, like a joke or pickup line, while others are more comfortable easing in.
Either tactic can be effective, and what works best for you may depend largely on your personality type and communication style. Some people can just sidle up and start jabbing, while others feel more comfortable with a set opening line, such as asking a question or offering a compliment.
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It’s important to tailor your approach to the setting and circumstances. For example, if you’re at a work event, you may want to dial back grand gestures or outrageous conversation starters. But if you’re at a happy hour event on ladies night, you might want to try a more bold approach.
Tuning in to the vibe you are getting from the other person (if any) can also help. If the woman is making eyes at you or is returning your smile and continuing the conversation, then you can likely read that as a potential invitation to continue flirting.
On the other hand, if the person seems to be giving you the cold shoulder, it may be best to move on to someone else. Note that you might misread someone’s signals as well. So, if someone says to back off, do so, even if you thought they were reciprocating your interest. If you don’t, that’s where your attention can quickly fall into the creepy and unwanted kind.
What Should I Say to Flirt With a Girl?
There’s no one perfect thing to say to flirt with a girl. There are millions of things you could say. The point really is just to get the conversation flowing. So, generally, worry less about what exact words you’ll say and put more focus on just saying something.
A good strategy is to ask questions that are open-ended. Then, listen to what she has to say. Notice how the conversation flows. And actually listen to her responses. A few pauses are okay but aim to fill in dead space by asking follow-up questions.
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Ultimately, it’s very situationally dependent and depends on you and the person you’re interested in. If you’re shy, you might try to get someone else to introduce the two of you or otherwise feel out if the person is single and/or potentially interested in you. If you’re more brazen, you might just walk up and say, “hey.”
Beyond the first hello, you can begin with just about anything, such as a compliment, joke, question, observation, suggestion, or an invitation. For example, you might walk up and say you noticed their smile and wanted to say how beautiful it is. Or you might ask what kind of drink they’re having or offer to buy them one or ask if they’d like to chat. If you know some jokes, you can lead with that, and/or ask them if they have any jokes. Or you might say you really like their jacket and wonder where they got it. Or you might say their dress is pretty and would look even better tomorrow on your bedroom floor. Or you could say “do you want to make out?”
The key is to tailor what you say to the girl you’re talking to and the situation you’re in. For instance, if you’re at a wedding, ask them how they know the newlyweds or ask her to dance. If you’re at a work event, ask about their job. If you’re at a farmers market, ask which apples they like best or which type of lettuce to buy.
How Can I Impress a Girl by Flirting?
The best way to impress while flirting is to make it genuine. So, if you give a compliment make sure it’s true and heartfelt. Don’t tell her you love her outfit if there isn’t anything special about it (or especially, if you don’t actually like it). If you say you love her hair, handbag, or jeans, be ready to back that up with why.
It’s also important to be respectful and responsive to the girl you’re flirting with. If she responds tentatively to your approach, you may want to dial back your one-liners. If she’s flirty right back, you might try amping up your sexy talk. Again, if she asks you to back off or simply says she’s not interested, then respect her wishes.
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Also, if she isn’t giving you strong signals of interest, don’t get too close to her or touch her without asking. On the other hand, if she is leaning in and/or touches you in some way, then you can consider responding in kind.
Just be aware the physical touch (or even entering someone else’s space bubble) needs to be consensual. If you make a misstep or get your signals crossed, just apologize and then walk away. That’s the key to not being creepy—creeps don’t listen when someone says to stop.
How Do You Flirt Smoothly?
Again, flirting is very situational and it pays off to go with your strong suit. If you love comedy, always try to start with a joke. You can ask if they want to trade jokes, too.
If you have a bunch of hobbies or strong interests, try to use those to start a conversation. And put yourself in a location of like-minded people. So, if you love gaming, go to a game night. If you nerd out on gardening, hang out at a nursery or go to a lecture on gardening. If you love trivia, sign up for trivia night. The caveat here is that pick some way to connect with people that you genuinely like as well. This will give you common ground and make finding something to talk about much easier.
Additionally, don’t be afraid to say something stupid, in a funny way. Self-deprecating humor can really pay off. Especially if you are confident in the way you articulate it. Laughing at yourself—or even about your fear of flirting or your bumbling efforts—can be a great opener. Many women like self-deprecating jokes. If you’re willing to make fun of yourself, it means that you don’t think you’re better than the other person.
Tiny bits of dead space are fine, but if theyt last minutes, you may not have found a good connection. Typically, you know when someone doesn’t want to talk to you anymore. And if you get that sense, it’s probably best to move on.
If possible, ask a mutual friend to introduce you, especially because they can tell you a bit about the person ahead of time—and you’ll already have a sense of their potential interest. A cold meeting is harder, but the key is that the more you try flirting, the easier it will become the next time.
Know your intentions
One important thing to consider is what your intention is. Are you looking to hook up? Do you want a date, a girlfriend, a thrill, or just a laugh? When flirting is done for its own sake or with lighthearted stakes it tends to be better received than when its purpose is more predatory or ingenuine. The predator/prey dynamic can feel creepy or harassing—and tends to get sniffed out right away.
Once you take away expectations and just focus on having fun and getting to know someone, flirtatious interactions tend to go so much better.
Keep it light
You don’t need to get serious right away. Instead, aim to keep the conversation light and topical. Ask questions to help you to get to know each other. Try to find a common ground. If you can find one, such as an interest in cooking, dogs, biking, or tropical locations, that’s a great avenue for conversation. Typically it’s a good idea to avoid talking about politics or more serious or controversial subjects.
Games are a really great way to connect, too. They give you something to do that you can talk over it.
Try to be spontaneous with your flirting when you can. So, just try to say something on the fly to start the conversation. Thinking about what you’re going to say first doesn’t always go well. Ideally, flirting is always about fun. Music is a great starter or really anything you have an interest in.
If your exchange is floundering, maybe they’re just not someone you’ll click with. Going with the flow lets you find out more about them real quick. Are they fun to talk to? If not, then it’s time to find someone else to flirt with.
Sometimes, someone just wants to have a drink by themselves. Or they just aren’t interested in flirting with you. If that’s the vibe you get—or if they explicitly tell you they’re not interested—then it’s time to walk away.
Pay attention to the person you are talking to. Focus in and keep the conversation going that way. Like in improv, read the other person and respond to their cues.
Don’t just talk about yourself or brag. Instead, show your interest in her by asking her about her interests and life. Few people want to talk to someone who seems narcissistic.
Be straightforward and honest with your intentions. And don’t pretend to be something you’re not. As in, don’t lie about your social status, financial status, job, or relationship status. The genuine you is more than good enough!
The art of flirting can take a while to master. But with practice, humor, and positive intention, anyone can learn to flirt. The key is to keep it light and fun and show a genuine interest in the girl you’re flirting with. Tune into her body language as well as to what she says. And, just as importantly, even in the midst of sexy talk and one-liners, always be respectful. Follow these guidelines, and soon you’ll find your flirting game flows much more naturally.
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