You know, that thing you did when you were interested in or attracted to someone? You walked up to them, said hi, made small talk, shared a laugh, felt a vibe?
Yeah, those days are gone.
COVID might’ve been the last nail in the flirting coffin. It might’ve officially killed it off, but I think flirting was already on life-support and COVID just pulled the plug.
Flirting has been dying for a while, and it’s not the pandemic responsible for its demise. It's online dating.
A Wall Street Journal article a few months ago "Science Provides Tips for Post-Covid Flirting" suggests flirting has been in temporary hibernation: "Now that many of us are emerging from our Covid shells, blinking at the spring sun, it’s time to refresh some pre-pandemic pastimes. Like flirting, for example. A dating app can call up several romantic prospects within a five-mile radius of where you stand, but can it hold your gaze, or lightly brush your bare arm while passing by?”
Let’s be honest. When was the last time you held someone’s gaze or lightly brushed a bare arm while passing by? When was the last time you even smiled at someone, made eye contact, or approached them?
Online dating is making flirting a relic of the past, something we no longer have to do. As a dating coach, I worry about this. I worry people are forgetting how to bat their eyes or chat someone up, because they don’t have to anymore. That’s what their phones are for! They hide behind their screens, and let technology do the heavy lifting.
And before you say: “But I flirt by text!” Sorry, that doesn’t count. Smiley faces and heart emojis are no substitute for real, in-person, chemistry-establishing, face-to-face interaction with someone.
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I get why flirting has fallen out of favor these days. Opportunities to meet organically are fewer, dating apps are everywhere, we’re in the age of #MeToo, getting “hit on” gets a bad rap, people can’t deal with rejection, and yes, flirting has been in hibernation. It's been quarantined, locked-down and masked-up along with the rest of us.
People, it's going to be a heavy lift, but it's time to bring back flirting.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a man or woman, both sexes can send signals and initiate. No more standing on ceremony, no more excuses. Both sexes have the power, and gender roles are much more flexible. Plus, flirting is primal and hardwired into us. We did it as cavemen/cavewomen, and the evolutionary tradition must go on.
WSJ: “Primal signals are at work when it comes to flirting; triggers have persisted over time, across continents and cultural divides. The question now is whether in-person flirting is the same as before the pandemic, the same as before women’s educational and occupational gains and nearly the same as eons ago. And the answer seems to be yes, yes and yes.”
Yes, yes, and yes is what I say too!
If it’s been a while since you’ve flirted, let me refresh your memory; if you don’t know how, let me clue you in with the following tips, all test-driven by me.
P.S. These aren’t secrets from some creepy PUA (Pick Up Artist) Reddit thread, this is common sense, respectful advice from a woman who was single for 50 years and knows a thing or two about flirting.
- Make small talk. Asking questions, chatting, or commiserating with someone establishes connection and chemistry.
- Strike up a friendly conversation at a grocery store, coffee place, say hello in an elevator.
- Give someone a compliment.
- Say “good morning” or wish someone a good day.
- Make eye contact and smile. It signals openness and approachability.
- A friendly touch on the arm establishes intimacy and warmth.
- If you’re on the receiving end of a flirtation and not interested, be gracious and kind anyway. Don’t roll your eyes and be dismissive.
Flirting is an art and a skill we must keep alive. So put your phone down, look around, and if there’s someone cute you want to meet, go do it. Use it before you lose it.