Most people suck at flirting. There are some cultures where the majority of individuals do not suck at flirting, but most people don’t come from those cultures.
If it were just you, it’d be your fault — but it’s not. It’s the fault of a culture that gives a detailed education on how to look sexy or even act in specific sexy ways (talk like this, say that), but fails to teach us how to be a sexual person. This leads to a disconnect between a person’s “sexual side” and the person they are around others most of the time.
“I didn’t feel comfortable flirting because my/their friends were there.”
“I didn’t feel comfortable flirting because it was at work and I need to act professionally.”
These statements, which I hear all the time, reveal a warped understanding of what flirting actually entails. Due to the sexual shame we carry, sexual feelings are often muddled with what I’ll call confusing feelings. Because these confusing feelings are so often partnered with our attempts to flirt, before we can even talk about what sexual communication is, we have to first untangle the mess of what it isn’t.
The first confusing feeling people associate with flirting is anxiety. When our bodies begin to feel more turned on by our environment this often triggers anxiety (again, due to sexual shame) and we often compensate by thinking more. We’ll run through thoughts of how we should act or what the other person is thinking — but all this is really doing is distracting us from our feelings. Instead of communicating appreciation for our sexual feelings, we’re only communicating anxiety. This naturally makes others feel less comfortable around us and sends us the signal, “my sexual feelings make others uncomfortable”.
The second confusing feeling people associate with flirting is insecurity. As I’ll discuss in greater detail in an upcoming article, most of us aren’t enjoying enough sexual intimacy — whether emotional or physical. When human beings don’t get our basic needs met, we don’t feel secure… it’s not surprising that people who are looking for sexual intimacy from a place of insecurity — or perceived scarcity — are described as “thirsty.” When we’re communicating our own feelings of lacking more than our sexual feelings, the words “slut” and “creep” are tossed out most often.
The final confusing feeling commonly associated with flirting is expectation. Like anxiety, this feeling that’s often confused with sexuality stems from your tendency to jump into your head to avoid your feelings. Instead of our thoughts being self-conscious, thoughts stemming from expectation become a personal fantasy revolving around what you’re going to do with this person. Your “flirting” isn’t representative of the feelings of the moment, but rather of your fantasy. This can make the other person feel overwhelmed by your feelings, since they’re disproportionate to the moment. When both individuals do this to each other it typically leads to relationships that start hot and end disastrously.
Now that we’re clear on what flirting isn’t, we can finally talk about what it is. When we’re around certain people our bodies involuntarily create sexual feelings. When we’re not repressing or muddling those feelings in the ways described above, these feelings are some of the most pleasureable feelings on the planet. I’ve exchanged nothing more than eye contact that was more pleasurable than a lot of the sex I’ve had. When a guy asks me why I didn’t get her number, he’s missing the point.
The first step toward becoming an amazing flirt is to simply enjoy the beautiful feelings others inspire in your body for their own sake without anxiety, insecurity, or expectation. You must become more aware of the confusing feelings that try to derail this natural process, and practice brushing the thoughts they create away. Then, simply return to enjoying the pleasure buffet that God/nature has spent billions of years preparing for you.
Sexual turn-on isn’t the only feeling to be in touch with and enjoy though. When we truly turn our attention toward the feelings inspired by others, there’s an inherent sense of awe present as well.
There’s the basic awe of another human being — who’s filled up with all the same feelings, thoughts, and demons — climbing up their own mountain in life. There’s beauty in someone’s comfort with themselves, in their kindness, in their adventurous spirit, in the light of their eyes, in the dazzle of a genuine smile, in the way someone’s outfit highlights them, in the sound of a voice, in vulnerable dorkiness… and a million different things that are particular to every person.
“This is the life, and the world we were all meant to enjoy.”
The best flirts recognize that there is inherent beauty in every single human being. They don’t start by evaluating whether another person is up to their standards before determining whether or not they’re worthy of taking pleasure from, but rather they find beauty everywhere. When you put “objective hotness” on a pedestal because it kind of feels good to say that other people aren’t in your league, all you’re doing is denying yourself an ocean of available pleasure and ensuring that you’ll suck at flirting.
While the first step to being sexy is to simply enjoy the amazing feelings inspired by the endless beauty around you, the second step is to share those appreciative feelings.
This can be scary, especially after a lifetime of cultural programming and past flirting experiences being loaded with the common pitfalls we discussed above. All you’re doing though, however, is saying “thank you.”
“Thank you for the feeling of awe. Thank you for the feelings inspired by your beauty. Thank you for having the courage to put yourself out there and share that beauty when we’ve all been hurt/shamed for doing so. Thank you.”
A smile is the most basic way to share this appreciation. As I discuss at length in As You Are, communication starts and ends with your feelings. A forced smile will always be awkward. You can’t be thinking about the best way to share something. You must be connected to your sexual feelings and the gratitude you have for those feelings. When you do that, your appreciation comes beaming through every part of your face.
As people become more intimate the feelings shared often mutually evolve from, “I really appreciate the way you’re making me feel,” to “I want you,” “I want to be on you” etc. At its most basic level though, flirting is just saying “thank you”.
All of this knowledge won’t make it any easier to actually start flirting with people when you’re not used to doing it. That will always be hard/scary. But just try it for one day.
Take the time to really pay attention to what you find beautiful around you. Be almost like a treasure hunter looking for it. Be aware of thoughts that try to distract you from your feelings and refocus your attention on enjoying them. Give yourself permission to check out another person — not with any anxiety, insecurity, or expectation, but rather just with appreciation. If they “catch you,” simply say “thank you” with a smile and your genuine gratitude behind it.
If the majority of people are still replying to your appreciation with discomfort or awkwardness, then it’s most likely still laced with too much anxiety, insecurity, or expectation. In this case hold off on sharing your appreciation for now and simply practice enjoying the feelings inspired by others for their own sake while quieting the thoughts in your brain. While it might be difficult at first, this practice will rewire the neural pathways in your brain and become easier until your sexual system is running as it was meant to.
Once you can share your feelings without your thoughts twisting them you’ll become so accustomed to positive responses from people that the rare times your appreciation is met with discomfort, you’ll know that it’s because of their stuff and not yours (nothing wrong with that, we’ve all got stuff).
It’s difficult to describe how the world changes when you see the way that most people react to your unadulterated sexuality (aka, your expressed appreciation for them). However, I think a recent past client sums it up nicely:
“There was a pretty Mexican architect named Veronica at the airport, then serious sexual tension with Jennifer, our flight attendant, on the way home. Then Shaelee at the gym, and Mason at the store tonight when I got back home. I literally can’t believe it. I’m chatting up and flirting with women everywhere, and loving every damned minute of it. I felt more engaged while talking to a male friend of mine at the gym tonight, too. I feel like the best way to describe it is that a door has opened that has allowed me to exchange more love with other people, and how can that do anything but make a person feel happy?”
This is the life, and the world we were all meant to enjoy. We can, and should all do our part to make it a reality by simply beginning our interactions with a thank you.