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5 Flirting Styles: What Type of Flirt Are You?

How You Flirt Says a Lot About You and Your Chances at Love, Researchers Say

By Katrina Woznicki
WebMD Health News

Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Nov. 1, 2010 -- Ever wondered what kind of flirt you might be? Researchers have identified five styles of flirting and they say understanding how you communicate romantic interest may help you improve your chances in love.

Jeffery Hall, an assistant professor of communication studies at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, and colleagues found five main styles of flirting: physical, traditional, polite, sincere, and playful. Although they did not find any major gender differences in flirting styles, women scored higher on all styles except for playful.

Physical, sincere, and playful styles were associated with greater dating success. The physical and sincere styles were more likely to lead to deeper relationships with stronger emotional connection and physical chemistry.

"In some ways," Hall says in a prepared statement, "the very early part of developing relationships is important to the success of long-term relationships, including marriages."

The 5 Ways of Flirting

Hall recently completed research about the flirting styles of dating adults. He surveyed more than 5,100 men and women about their techniques. Survey participants were asked questions such as "I am good at using body language to flirt" and "In today's society, people have to be careful about flirting." Based on the responses, Hall grouped flirting styles into five categories:

  • Physical flirting involves communicating sexual interest to a potential partner. This form of flirting typically led to the development of relationships more quickly and had greater chemistry and emotional connection.
  • Traditional flirting involved allowing men to take the lead while women maintained a more passive role. People who flirted in the traditional way were typically more introverted. Men who flirted in a traditional way often knew their potential partner for some time.
  • Polite flirting was based on the use of proper manners and a more cautious way of communicating interest.
  • Sincere flirting involved communicating sincere interest and a desire to establish strong emotional connections. Women scored higher in this style, although men used this style, too.
  • Playful flirting was the style least likely to result in meaningful relationships. People who engaged in playful flirting often enjoyed it as a way to boost their own self-esteem.

"Knowing something about the way you communicate attraction says something about challenges you might have had in your past dating life," Hall continued. "Hopefully, this awareness can help people avoid those mistakes and succeed in courtship."

SOURCES: News release, University of Kansas.Hall, J. Communication Quarterly, October-December 2010; vol 58: pp 1-29.

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