From the Publisher
"Hall tells us there is no such thing as one-size-fits-all flirting, and he has the academic chops to prove it! This book is like a GPS for singles looking for the most direct route to finding love."
-Jodie Gould, coauthor of Date Like A Man: To Find The Man You Want
"Socrates famously, and wisely, told each of his students: "Know thyself." Dr. Hall tells us each of us to "know your style." If you are interesting in learning more about romantic relationships, how they are formed and why some fail to launch, then you need to read this book. If you want to understand your own successes and challenges when meeting others, then you need to read this book. Don't waste time looking for a few magical "pick-up lines." Making impressions on others is more strongly linked to who you are, your own confidence, and your style of communicating."
-Michael Cody, former Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Communication; Communication Theory.
"This book is a stunning wealth of information when it comes to men, women, love and how we express ourselves through this dance called flirting! The biggest gift Jeffrey Hall gives us is to help us all understand each other and ourselves on a much deeper level."
-Jeannie Assimos, Director of Content, eHarmony Advice
Read an Excerpt
THE FIVE FLIRTING STYLES
The book you're reading began with an incredibly lucky meeting of minds in Los Angeles, which evolved into an academic research article and then sparked a viral media explosion. The five flirting styles have received incredible media coverage on TV, in print and online. Cosmo, Glamour, USA TODAY and Time magazine, among many others, featured my five flirting styles. In this chapter, I'll explain the research and exclusive data behind the five flirting styles. I'll also give you a crash course in the true definition of flirting (which is much more than "batting eyes") and how we go about communicating attraction, setting the stage for how the flirting styles came to be and how this approach is fundamentally different than what came before.
HOW IT ALL GOT STARTED
For years, school, work, and through friends and family were the most common places to meet a new spouse. Internet dating is now second only to meeting through friends.
The story of the five flirting styles starts with a seismic shift in dating as we know it, as online dating became more and more popular. After years of slow, steady growth in the 1990s, online dating services experienced exponential growth between 2000 and 2005. This posed a special challenge for matchmaking services that pair members with other members based on key data they collect. This was the challenge that the senior director for research and product development at eHarmony, Steve Carter, was charged with addressing.
In order to better serve eHarmony users and ensure a higher success ratea better match, if you willSteve wanted research on the science of romantic chemistry. When two people were matched by eHarmony, courted through email and were confident enough to meet face-to-face, what happened? Did they experience that electric spark of chemistry or was it dullsville? Steve wanted data about eHarmony users that would help sort out the matches who felt a strong connection as opposed to those who felt nothing.
At that time I was an eager new graduate student at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California. My advisor, Dr. Michael Cody (Cody to his friends), had a friend and former student named Julie Albright who knew Steve Carter, who was a USC psychology grad. At that time, Cody and I were writing a book chapter on pickup lines, and Julie passed along this info to Steve. At the Daily Grill in downtown Los Angeles, and later at eHarmony headquarters in Pasadena, I found myself at this fortuitous meeting of the minds.
"How a person flirts honestly reveals some important qualities about the individual."
Dr. Steven Gangestad, evolutionary psychologist at the University of New Mexico
The one thing we all had in common was an interest in flirting. Cody had studied people's perception of whether someone is flirting with them or not. I was interested in learning whether pickup lines were ever effective (sometimes) and whether particularly good-looking guys can get away with saying obnoxious lines to women (yes, they can). Julie had her ear to the ground, researchwise, learning firsthand about dating from people on the singles scene. To help answer his questions, Steve offered us access to eHarmony members who wanted to participate in an online study on flirting. This was an amazing opportunityeHarmony rarely opened up its doors to outside researchers. Yet, here I was, armed with access to thousands of active daters and a crack team with vast research experience. But what questions were we going to ask our volunteers? What did we want to know? Like a good graduate student, I did some research.
The Survey Says
Most women claim to hate pickup lines, but nearly 70 percent of women agreed that a "cheesy line" delivered by the "right person" is inviting.
WHAT IS FLIRTING?
People think that there is just one way to flirt: through body language. But I came to the conclusion that pinning down flirting is a lot harder than you might think. I set off to try to answer these three questions.
1. Do you always know when someone is flirting with you?
2. Does everyone flirt for the same reason or with the same goal in mind?
3. Is the body language of a flirtatious person different than that of a friendly person?
After looking at the evidence, I had to come to these conclusions: No!, no and sort of (in that order). One of the big discoveriess of the flirting styles project is this: Everyone simply does not flirt in the same way or for the same reasons.
Show it, know it?
What is flirting? It resembles the Supreme Court's famous definition of pornography"I don't know, but I know it when I see it." Oddly enough, a lot of people don't fit this definition, eitherthey don't even know it when they see it. In addition to the well-known fact that men are happily overoptimistic (and wrong) in thinking a woman is flirting with them, nearly everyone in our survey said that they had been in a situation where someone was flirting with them and they didn't even know it.
The opposite problem also happens all the time. A woman, say, uses every move she knows to try to give someone the hint that she is interested, but without success. It seems that most people would not know if a behavior constituted flirting, even if they saw it (or sometimes even if it hit them over the head). One study concluded that flirting is harder to read than friendliness, anger and rejection! It seems that people flirt so differently, it is hard to know it if you see it.
The Survey Says
Almost all of us (90 percent) have been in the situation where someone else thought we were flirting, but we weren't meaning to.
What's your MO?
Another challenge in figuring out what is flirting and what isn't is that people have very different goals when they're flirting. I am often asked the same question in many different forms:
"How do you know if someone is really flirting with you or is just being nice/trying to get a free drink/trying to make someone else jealous?" The problem is, you really can't tell. People will often do things that look like flirting for reasons that have nothing to do with love, romance or attraction. Because of the utterly contradictory and confusing goals that people can have and the unfortunate possibility of outright deception when flirting, it is hard to know whether or why someone is flirting at all.
The Survey Says
Almost all of us (91 percent) have been in the situation where we thought someone was flirting with us, but we were wrong.
Look for the Signs
Another popular way of thinking about flirting is to look for the nonverbal signs: a sweet smile; a light touch on the hand; deep eye contact; quickly touching or fixing hair; a shy, covert look; and a confident strut across a crowded room. The problem with this approach isn't that it isn't accurateall of those behaviors are flirting. The problem is that there are lots of things going on when two people are trying to make a connection. We want to make a good impression, so we are really focused on ourselves and planning what to say. It is hard to decipher what the actions of other people mean when we are so worried about making a good impression.
What is Flirting?
We decided that flirting occurs when one person expresses sexual or romantic interest in another person, is the target of such an expression or is engaged with another person in just trying to figure out if the feeling is mutual. If you are trying to flirtno matter how successful you arethen you are flirting. If a man is flirting with youwhether you pick up on it or notthen he is flirting. If you are just talking to someone new and in the process realize that you like him and think he likes you backthen you are flirting. Flirting is the communication and discovery of romantic or sexual interest. And, as the research shows, there are different ways to do so.
One Size Does Not Fit All
Think about it. If everyone behaved the same, then flirting would be easy: just bat eyes twice, smile sweetly three times, laugh coyly, then ta-da: flirting. The one-size-fitsall approach to flirting says there is just one way to do it and you are either good or bad at it. But people have different approaches and different goals when flirting and dating. Flirting is challenging enough as it is, because all of us flirt in our own way and for our own reasons. The flirting styles approach helps to clarify why you flirt the way you do by taking into account all the richness and complication in the dating world and reducing it to five intuitive styles of flirting. I believe there are many paths to the same goal, and this book will let you know justhow well your style fits your particular path.
DIFFERENT PATHS TO THE SAME GOAL
Have you ever met someone and felt love at first sight? This is the wonderful feeling that washes over you when you meet someone for the first time and you just know that this person is for you. If you haven't felt that way before, you might be somewhat disappointed or envious of people who have experienced it. Let's consider something different: Have you ever fallen in love with a friend? Maybe for you, going through the experience of getting to know someone, seeing him first as a confidante, a friend or a coworker made you see him in a new light. By knowing him for a while, you saw that he was a wonderful and special person. You couldn't help but desperately want to become closer to him, and you enjoyed each step on this path of discovery. If you never had this experience, you might sigh, and say, "How romantic!" Then, there is one last possibility: Have you ever gone out on a date with someone, really getting to know him for the first time, and it was perfect? You barely knew him before, but you didn't want the night to end?
The truth is, all three of these paths exist. The first seems pretty well-suited to flirting, but the second, not so much. If flirting happened o=nly at a club, a bar or a partyplaces where chemistry and attraction are in bloomthen love at first sight would be the only way to find love. But love doesn't always happen at first sight. In fact, there are three distinct paths to romance. Each is a legitimate and meaningful way to go about falling for someone. And each is better suited to a different style of flirting.
"How people initiate relationships is important. It could be linked to the ultimate quality of relationships."
Paul Eastwick, assistant professor, Univeristy of Austin, Department of Human Development and Family Sciences
Of the three pathways to romance, the hookup is the one that people probably think about most often when they picture flirting. This is a path of passion and chemistry, rather than discovery and slow romance. "I want to get to know you" is less important than "I want you." You have been on this path if you have ever hooked up with someone at a bar or at a party, if you ever joined the party in Cancun on spring break, or if you ever started a serious relationship after what you thought was a one-night stand or a quick fling. Hooking up could just be a kiss or a little making out, but it is also the pathway the booty call and the one-night stand. It is love at first sight and head over heels types of romance. The one thing that ties all these things together is the tight bond among physical attraction, romantic attraction and sexual attraction.
WHO DOES THIS?
Although there are no studies that look at the rates of hooking up for all Americans, there is good evidence that young adults and college students hook up a lot. Elizabeth Paul and her colleagues found that about 80 percent of college students hook up at some point in college. On average, they do it about once a month. Another way of looking at it is to find out what sort of action people are getting, then find out where they are getting it. In one study of young adults, the majority were sexually involved with a steady boyfriend or girlfriend. For that group, sex always took place in the context of a committed relationship. However, the second most common type of sexual activity was found among young adults who played the field regularly. Both of these studies found that hooking up was a pretty common pathway to sexual activity.
LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT
Another way to think about the hookup as a pathway to a romantic relationship is to think about whether or not people know are they romantically interested right away. Dick Barelds and Pieternel Barelds-Dijkstra, a pair of Dutch researchers, got a representative sample of people involved in relationships, and asked them how they got there. About 40 percent of them reported that their relationship grew from love at first sight. These lovers seek out passionate love affairs and quickly move into relationships.
THE FIRST DATE
The second pathway to romance is the first date. We all know what a first date is. In a nutshell, two people go out together to get to know each other better. The first date pathway includes every relationship that got started by people who barely knew each other at first, and went out on a date to get to know each other better. This would be like asking someone who works out at your gym to go out with you. This would certainly include anyone who goes out on a date after being matched up or initiating contact through an online dating site. This absolutely includes the blind date. It also includes the classic and formal, "I would like to take you out sometime" date where you go to dinner and a movie with the barista from the local coffee shop.