The cute guy or girl in your chem class, at the coffee shop or at work is glancing coyly at you or playfully joking around. While you think you're seeing flirty behavior, you aren't entirely sure. Understanding the different types of flirting signals can help you to assess the situation and get a better grip on who likes who and who likes you.
A signal of romantic attraction, physical flirting involves a sense of touch. While not every person who is attracted to you will physically flirt, those who do may look for excuses to get close to you or connect with you in a one-to-one way. Using physical touch is a primary way to build attraction with the object of your affection, according to psychologist Jeremy Nicholson in his "Psychology Today" article "How to Flirt and Seduce With Touch." For example, he may repeatedly touch your arm during a conversation, tuck your hair behind your ear as you're talking or hug you as a flirty greeting.
Playful flirting has little to do with romance, according to University of Kansas Associate Professor of Communication Studies, Jeffrey Hall, writing on his Flirting Styles website. This type of flirting is usually done to boost the flirter's self-esteem or just to have fun, rather than to start a relationship. For example, if the cute girl from your chem class jokes around with you, giggling as she sweetly makes fun of you, she is flirting, but may not want to start anything serious.
One of the keys of flirting is getting the other person's attention, says clinical psychologist Jennifer Kromberg in her article "How and Why You Unconsciously Play the Flirting Game" on the PsychCentral website. For example, you walk into the room and he immediately starts talking loudly to attract your ear and consequently, your eyes. Every time someone else approaches, especially other guys, he does everything he can to turn your focus back on him. Someone who is always trying to grab your attention is likely flirting with you.
Although there are plenty of flirts out there who will act out to attract the object of their affection, some people engage in a more polite style of flirting. Signs that someone is politely flirting with you are often more challenging to read. For example, the subtle signals of polite flirting may include a sweet smile, coyly looking away during a conversation or extended eye contact. Learning how to read other people's body language and facial expressions can help you to spot these signals. For example, the girl behind the counter at the local coffee house leans in to hand you your drink, shyly glances down and then back up at you, all while still smiling.
- BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images