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The 7 Worst Ways to Flirt (& What to Do Instead)


You’ve had a crush on that cutie across your dorm hallway or your study buddy for your psychology class for months now, but so far, it feels like he doesn’t know you exist. You try to put yourself out there and flirt every now and then, but he just doesn’t seem to be getting the hint. What gives?

Even though you may feel like you’re sending him some majorly strong flirtation vibes, your passive approach could be what’s getting in the way of you and your happily ever after. He may not be getting the message because he genuinely doesn’t know you’re interested! Find out the seven worst ways to flirt, plus seven ways to step up your game.

1. Waiting hours to respond to his text

We get it; it can be super stressful trying to figure out what to say over text (and what he means in his messages). You can’t help but worry about how your words will come off, and let’s face it: a two-sentence-long text is definitely not enough to make him see how witty you truly are. All things considered, it’s natural to want to wait not only so you can think about your reply, but also so you can avoid looking too eager. But if you’re delaying the inevitable by not replying right away or you’re purposely making him wait to seem blasé, you probably won’t leave the best impression.

“Most guys can see right through it when you're waiting to text as a way of playing games,” says Arden Leigh, seduction coach and author of The New Rules of Attraction: How to Get Him, Keep Him, and Make Him Beg for More. “What a guy will get a sense of over time is what your flow is with your phone habits.” So if you’re usually easy to reach on weekend afternoons but suddenly start delaying your responses, he might see that you’re jerking him around — or think you’re no longer interested.

“I tried to get with a girl who wouldn’t give me the time of day,” says Eric*, a senior at Boston University. “She never texted me back, but when she did, it was hours later. I don’t know if she was playing a game or trying to avoid me completely, but I didn’t stick around to find out.” If you actually want to show him you’re interested, it’s better to look eager and interested than aloof and inaccessible!

Instead, if you have something to say, just say it. Guys like it! “It’s not an end-all, be-all or off-putting if she doesn’t reply right away—unless she never responds or waits until the next day—because it could just be that she’s busy in class. But having a quick response makes it seem more likely that she’s interested,” says Harrison, a sophomore at Skidmore College.

Of course, you shouldn’t jump on his every text immediately. Give him time to breathe; he might be nervous, too! But don’t wait too long, or your conversation will lose steam.

2. Not texting twice in a row to avoid seeming desperate

Just like you shouldn’t worry about how much time has passed between texts, you shouldn’t worry about double-texting (unless you’re actually hounding him, in which case, step away from the phone!).

“If you have something to say, just say it,” Leigh advises. “Recognize that not all texts warrant a response. If you sent him something cute that reminded you of him, he might have enjoyed receiving it but not felt that it needed a reply.” In that case, it’s totally fine to be the one to text next.

Harrison agrees. “I don’t think double-texting is a bad thing,” he says. “That could be showing that she’s interested in me and wants me to respond even more. If there’s a bunch and it’s starting to seem desperate like, ‘Come on, you need to talk to me! Please talk to me,’ though, that would be creepy.”

Keep your cool — no seven texts in a row, please! Know that it makes sense to double-text after you’ve sent him something funny or ended a conversation but then want to strike up a new one or ask him to hang out. If, however, your last text or two had to do with asking him to hang out (and he never replied), you should probably pump the brakes. Still, provided you’re not exhibiting stage-5 clinger behavior, don’t be afraid to reach out to him, even after a bit of radio silence! He’ll probably be thrilled when he realizes you’re actually into him enough to try.

3. Giving him “come-hither” eyes and hoping he’ll approach you

This flirting technique is definitely a passive, easy way out. You avoid the anxiety brought on by actually approaching him yourself, but by waiting for him to make the first move, you might miss your chance completely!

“I like to make eyes at guys from across the room; it’s less nerve-wracking,” says Anna*, a senior at Tufts University. “They probably can’t tell if I’m doing it on purpose half the time, but it’s better than putting myself out there and looking like an idiot if he isn’t interested.”

While Anna’s approach is great for self-preservation, Leigh warns that it isn’t enough to actually get a guy’s attention. “Eye contact is actually a great way to signal approach, but it's not your only option,” she says. “If you've made eye contact with a guy and he's noticed you but hasn't approached you, he might just be shy. Walk up to him, smile and say, ‘Well you can't just look at me like that and then not say anything at all!’”

Don’t just leave him guessing—make it clear that you’re flirting, and let the fun begin!

4. Paying attention to his friend and hoping he’ll notice you

It’s the oldest trick in the book, but does it really work? Flirting with your crush’s friend is less intimidating than working up to courage to flirt with your crush himself, and it might just make your real crush see you in a romantic way (all that hair-flipping and sultry smiling right in front of him? It seems foolproof, right?). Unfortunately, it definitely won’t make your intentions clear.

“I spent months hoping a friend of mine would notice me in a romantic way, and in the meantime, I flirted with most of our mutual friends,” says Kelly*, a senior at the University of San Diego. “I’m guessing he just assumed I was into everyone but him.”

According to Carole Lieberman, M.D., psychiatrist and author of Bad Girls: Why Men Love Them & How Good Girls Can Learn Their Secrets, this passive flirting technique can totally backfire. “The old bait and switch is hard to pull off, especially if his friend is into you and starts asking you out,” she says. “What do you say then? ‘Oh, I'm sorry. I was really interested in your friend’?”

Obviously, this isn’t the best approach. “You could, however, give attention to the both of them,” Lieberman suggests. “This doesn't put the guy you like on the spot, and it may even make him feel competitive with his friend and get him to make a move.” You have to show him at least a little direct attention to let him know you’ve got your eye on him.

5. Asking him for advice about other guys

If a guy asked you for help getting another girl, would you really think he wanted you all along? This isn’t the sixth grade, so we shouldn’t be acting like 12-year-olds!

“It would seem that she wants to be with another guy, not me,” Harrison says of this flawed flirting technique. “That can sometimes be confusing because if you like somebody, you should just go for them instead of beating around the bush.”

Lieberman agrees that this tactic is a no-no. “It's kind of an insult to the guy you like to ask advice about getting other guys,” she says. “He may think, ‘What am I, chopped liver?’

“On the other hand, you could ask him more general questions like, ‘What are guys looking for these days?’ Or even, ‘How would you describe the perfect girl?’” she suggests. By asking him questions like these, you’ll not only let him know that you’re looking, but you’ll also hear what he wants. That way, depending on his answer, you can stick around and flirt some more or move on!

6. Poking him and/or liking his Facebook statuses

Unfortunately, social networking isn’t the same as being social, and cryptic Internet interactions won’t get you anywhere—as much as we wish they would. Instead of “poking” him online or liking his statuses, try to use your real-world body language and even light touches here and there to let him know you’re interested!

“Social networking can be a good tool, but most guys won't pick up on your interest just because you liked a few of [their] updates,” Leigh says. “Use social media to message him and invite him out, get his number and move the conversation to texting, which is much more personal. And of course, use all of this to get him in person, where you can actually have a meaningful connection.”

It may be tempting to hide behind your computer or even your iPhone when reaching out to him, but flirting face-to-face is always best.

7. Making him work hard to hang out with you

If he signals that he’s interested or asks you to hang out, don’t be afraid to say yes! It may seem like a good idea to play aloof and make it seem like he’s only one of many options—which he may be—but playing hard to get can cost you the guy.

“If a girl plays hard to get, she isn’t worth my time,” says Ryan*, a senior at Colby College. “I don’t want to have to try to figure out what kind of games she’s playing. I’d rather know up front.”

Plus, Leigh says, it can send the wrong message about what it takes to be with you. “[Playing hard to get] sends a message that any guy who wants you has to persist in pursuing you, possibly to the point of harassment, so it adds to a culture of women being encroached upon by guys who don't believe that her ‘no’ really means ‘no,’” she says.

So what should you do? “If you want to be flirtatious and challenging without sending an immature, contradictory message, instead of saying ‘no’ when you mean ‘yes,’ try saying, ‘Not just yet, handsome... but the night is young!’” Leigh suggests. Sure, it can seem daunting to make a bold statement like that one, but hey, if he’s already shown that he’s interested, you should be brimming with confidence anyway!


Forget your days of passive flirting; put these flawed flirting techniques back on the shelves and dust off your confidence. If you’re direct and show you’re interested, you’ll find the one you’re looking for infinitely faster!

*Names have been changed.

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