When it comes to communicating attraction and romantic interest, people generally think that you are either good at flirting or bad at it. The stereotypical “good flirt” is a man who easily picks up women, usually at a bar or club, or maybe a woman who can score free drinks from guys all night long. When women ask me whether they should go out with guys who are great flirts, I often respond with, “If he seems like he is really good at flirting, then he probably has a lot of practice doing it.” This bit of advice applies to good female flirts as well.
Whether or not you think of yourself as a “good” or a “bad” flirt actually depends on what you want to get out of flirting. Are you looking for a relationship or something more casual? One of the most surprising conclusions that came out of my research is that how you flirt doesn’t just affect how many digits or free drinks you get at the end of the night, but it influences the kind of person you attract, how successful your relationships are, and how long your relationships typically last.
Depending on whether you want a short or long-term relationship, whether you prefer a slow or fast-paced courtship, one flirting style may be better for you than another. The best example of this is the playful flirting style.
People with a playful flirting style flirt with little interest in romance. They flirt to have fun and for an ego boost, often with no romantic strings attached. These are the people who flirt to make someone jealous or to get out of a speeding ticket. Playful flirts tend to adopt a devil-may-care attitude about most everything. They like to get their way, even if that means they might hurt another person’s feelings to do so. The playful flirting style is the only style where men score higher than women – meaning more men are playful flirts than women—but there are still plenty of female playful flirts out there, too.
Are All Playful Flirts “Players”?
Well, not exactly. Everyone is a mix of five flirting styles: Playful, Physical, Polite, Sincere, and Traditional. Typically, we have one style that is more dominant than the others, but this doesn’t mean that all playful flirts only communicate attraction in a playful way. Curious about your flirting style? You can find out what yours is by taking the quiz here. You’ll also find out how your own style compared with others your same age and gender.
That said, this style has a lot of characteristics of the typical player. Playful flirts like to play games, tease, and give someone a hard time when they meet new people. They believe flirting with other people is really enjoyable and that people flirt with them everywhere they go. So they aren’t reserved or careful about who they flirt with and how strong they are coming on to someone. Interestingly, a playful flirt feels successful and confident when flirting, but when he or she flirts it has nothing to do with exploring the possibility of a relationship. Playful flirts don’t really want a relationship; they love being single.
This leads to one of the other big messages in my book, The Five Flirting Styles: the way a person flirts can tell you a lot about what they are going to be like in a relationship.
Playful flirts don’t really mean what they seem to be saying when they flirt. When they actually do get into a relationship with someone, they tend not to feel a strong sense of commitment, emotional attraction, or closeness. They would describe their last relationship as a casual fling. Relationship and romance are all dictated by one major rule: the playful flirt does what they do because it makes them feel good, whether in the very first stages of romance or in a more long-term relationship.
Maybe I’ve convinced you that the playful flirt isn’t exactly a “good” flirt. But, I want to emphasize that the playful flirt isn’t necessarily a “bad” flirt either. There is a time and place for
playful flirting. There is probably even a time of life that is best suited to it (hello, mid-twenties).
Armed with a little self-reflection and tailored advice on how to be a more effective flirt, you can learn how to attract the type of relationship you really want. Learning about your particular flirting style will enable you to convey your attraction and intentions more effectively. And learning about all five styles will help you spot the kind of flirt you really want to be with, and spot a player from a mile away.
Dr. Hall is an internationally recognized expert on flirting and dating and an Associate Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Kansas.
Excerpted from THE FIVE FLIRTING STYLES by Jeffrey A. Hall Ph.D., Copyright © 2013, Jeffrey A. Hall. Published by Harlequin Enterprises Limited