Jeffrey Hall from the University of Kansas researches the flirts. He’s written a book on flirting styles. He’s been on tv discussing the topic.
Hall argues that there are five flirting styles: the physical, traditional, sincere, polite, and playful flirt.
In his latest research,1 Hall and his co-researcher, Chong Xing, examine the cues that pop-up when each type of flirt is attracted to a conversation partner.
Interested in the results? Of course!
Note, I will report only the most consistent cues when a flirt is physically attracted to a conversation partner. Otherwise the results becomes too much of a laundry list. The results are for a general first-meeting conversation that lasts 10-12 minutes.
The Physical Flirt
The physical flirts – as you might guess – use body language to send signals to the people they’re interested in. They fall fast and hard and have a lot of sexual chemistry with their partner.
When physical flirts are attracted to their conversation partner, they have easy conversation flow and give few compliments throughout the conversation. This is true for both male and female physical flirts.
The Traditional Flirt
Traditional flirts believe in archaic male-female roles. For example, they think that men should do the pursuing in the courtship date (women should never, ever pursue). The traditional male flirt needs time to get to know a woman before approaching her, and the traditional female flirt is indirect and often reports trouble obtaining a man’s attention.
Now how does a conversation with a traditional flirt work?
When a female traditional flirt is attracted to her partner, she opens her hands and moves them toward her partner. She is also teases her partner at the beginning of a conversation.
When the male traditional flirt is interested, he leans in toward his partner throughout the conversation and has a high voice pitch during the first half of the conversation.
The Sincere Flirt
The sincere flirts believe in having a meaningful relationship with an emotional connection. Sexual chemistry is of secondary importance.
Both male and female sincere flirts who are physically attracted to their conversation partner are less likely to self-touch during the conversation. In other words, they kept their hands AWAY from THEMSELVES!
Females who are physically attracted to their conversation partner are more likely to flirtatiously gaze throughout the duration of the interaction.
Male sincere flirts who are physically attracted to their conversation partner have a higher pitched voice for the duration of the interaction.
The Polite Flirt
The polite flirt has a rule-governed approach to romantic interactions. They focus on manners, non-sexual communication, and non-forward behaviours. Unsurprisingly, they are sometimes slow to approach people.
During a conversation, when they are attracted to their conversation partner, they have a lower voice pitch and do not engage in self-touch – hands off (themselves)!
The Playful Flirt
The playful flirt does not flirt for romance or as a means to a relationship; rather, they flirt to boost their self-esteem and as a means to attain personal non-relationship goals.
These flirts do not have a tell that is consistent throughout a short conversation.
However, both male and female flirts like to compliment their partners in the first three minutes of the conversation and during the middle protrude their chests.
Do you fall into one of these categories? Have you seen any of these tell-tale conversation cues when you were interested in someone?
I want to stress that just because a researcher argues for a certain viewpoint, publishes a book, and appears on tv doesn’t mean that the viewpoint is accurate. These flirting styles could be accurate, inaccurate, or partially accurate representations of the flirting scene. Time will tell with more research on the topic.
1 Hall, J. A., & Xing, C. (2015). The verbal and nonverbal correlates of the five flirting styles. Journal of NonVerbal Behavior, 39, 41-68.