What Is The Psychology Behind Flirting?

Psychology Behind Flirting

Are you tired of being the poster child at the club whenever Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” song comes on? Or, maybe you’re out of email addresses because you’ve signed up for so many dating sites with no luck with anyone.

You probably just need a good ol’ polishing on your flirting ammo.

Today, we’re going to dig deeper and put on our expert glasses as we explore the age-old question, “What is the psychology behind flirting?”

Yes, we’re getting right into the nitty-gritty of it all.

Getting Down To The Basics

To understand the psychology of flirting, we need to scale it back and tackle the basics at first. You see, flirting isn’t your run-of-the-mill 4-5 step process. You don’t go down a list of processes in your brain and achieve one to triumph over the other. It doesn’t work that way.

For explanation’s sake, we’ll call the one flirting the “flirter”, and the one being flirted with “flirtee”.

But to make it easier for you, we’ve broken down into a range of behaviors. Take a look at them below.

1. Verbal Cues

This is the first and most primary action of flirting: verbal expressions. These can range from preliminary compliments and playful teasing to more advanced romantic conversations and major hint-dropping about one’s feelings.

If you couldn’t guess it already, verbal cues will be the most important tool at your disposal when it comes to upping your game at flirting.

2. Non-Verbal Cues

In our opinion, this is the grand slam for scoring some major points when flirting. Where words fail, your body language, expressions, and other behavioral cues will scream. Nonverbal cues usually include eye contact, body language, and touch, and boy, do they work their socks off!

There is a lot to be said about these subtle cues that verbal expressions may not match up to. Playful touches on the arm and shoulder, eye contact when talking, and subconscious demeanor can help you go quite a long way in your flirting adventure.

But, just like how you go up gradually in your verbal cues, non-verbal cues also have their progressions; you’ll figure it out when you’re in the situation.

3. Digital Flirting

This is definitely the most popular and effective way of flirting, at least in today’s age. Especially these days, where 39% of relationships bloom online, the power of digital flirting cannot be understated.

From prompt responses to texts to reacting or “liking” each other’s posts on social media, dropping subtle or obvious hints in the comment section, or possibly the most potent technique, sending memes to each other, you can’t beat the gradual progress of a flirtationship on social media.

Where It All Began: The Evolutionary Perspective

Since the beginning of time, men and women have had their own ways and approaches to flirting or striking up a conversation of romantic interest.

While studies or findings have not revealed anything specific, it’s safe to assume that our cavemen and cavewomen ancestors probably had their own smooth rizz lines to sweep each other off their ape-like feet.

When it comes to flirting between men and women, individual factors about each gender contribute to how successful the flirting is and how well it’s landing. We’ll elaborate.

  • Men: When it comes to men flirting, they’ll display their physical strength and confidence. Women love a good muscle show, whether the guy is ripping apart the carcass of a wooly mammoth with his bare hands or, in today’s age, random flexing of the muscle when picking up something from the floor.
  • Women: Harkening back to the cavepeople’s days, it’d be chalked up to the most young and fertile. That’s all that was necessary. But of course, times have changed now, and we don’t hunt for mammoths anymore (they’re extinct), and society requires us to be dressed at all times.

Psychological Mechanisms

We’ve scoured the basics and evolutionary perspectives behind flirting. Now, let’s get down to business and delve into the psychological mechanisms that underpin it.

  1. Reciprocity (The Give and Take): Flirting should be give-and-take and not just one-sided; that would be creepy. When one person’s flirtatious moves or comments trigger an equally flirtatious response from the other, the rizzing is going swimmingly.
  2. Rewards: Flirting invigorates the same feelings as pleasure, activating the brain’s reward center. You’re both rewarded with equally pleasing and satisfying exchanges, which feels good!
  3. Social Proof: Nothing happens without proof these days, and when it comes to flirting, it can really amp up your confidence. So when you and a person of interest’s flirting is being well-received by your friends or acquaintances, it helps boost your self-esteem and reassures the fact that you’re doing good.
  4. Mirror Neurons: This is a low-key aspect of flirting that few may or may not notice, but psychologically, it’s a win. When you and your flirting partner begin to mirror each other’s behaviors, whether it’s using the same common phrases or something as simple as having their hand under their chin like you, it tells how well the flirting is being received and reciprocated.

Confidence In A Leading Role

There’s no doubt that confidence plays a heck of a role in flirting, and it’s not just for men, as we previously mentioned in the cavemen example. But also for women.

A confident man or woman is considered attractive from the moment somebody encounters them. It imprints on others that the person is secure within their personality and values, and that’s quite the quality to possess.

From an evolutionary perspective, confidence signals competence, stability, and good genes. From a modern standpoint, a confident man or woman has their business together and knows their self-worth. So when that translates to flirting, the flirtee perceives the flirter as outgoing and receptive, with high self-esteem.

As opposed to somebody with self-esteem, who’s not going to flirt as confidently and will exhibit reserved attitudes and defensive manners, which is not a good look when flirting.

Contrasts in Flirting

We’ve already talked about how cavepeople might have flirted back in the day, and it hasn’t changed much, except we don’t feast on mammoth carcasses, and our women are not held by standards of youthfulness and her preparedness of birthing, for the most part.

Men and women flirt differently of course, but these behaviors aren’t specific. Men may be more direct and use humor as their primary tool like Chandler Bing. Women may lean more toward non-verbal cues or digital flirting.

However, as we’ve mentioned, these behaviors aren’t exclusive to any gender but rather the most apparent in each.

Women can be just as direct as men and lean more toward verbal cues and using humor as a way to approach, while men can take on the subdued approach and be more comfortable with digital flirting and exhibit more non-verbal cues.

Modern Flirting, The Digital Age

We couldn’t close the curtains on our flirting piece if we didn’t talk about the sheer impact the digital age has had on how people approach and talk to each other. With the advent of technology, flirting has taken on new meanings and forms.

Social media, lightning-fast texting, and online dating sites have created and fostered groundbreaking platforms and avenues for people to get their flirt on. Flirting in the digital age has made the practice easier, more effortless, and successful.

Gone are the days when you had to send a pigeon carrier to your beloved; now, you’re rizzing up your crush via emojis. Who would’ve thought?

Things To Keep In Mind When Flirting

While the modern age has made flirting more accessible and easier, some age-old concepts should not be lost on us when it comes to talking to another person, whether in hopes of sparking a romantic relationship or just harmless flirting to fire up the dopamine neurons.

Here are a few things you must keep in mind when flirting.

  • Be respectful; this will never go out of style. Communicating respectfully via texts and maintaining a respectful repertoire when flirting in person is always a win.
  • Don’t overdo it. Yes, your crush might find the memes funny but don’t send them 20 Instagram reels at once.
  • Maintain your standards. Whether the flirting is going well or not, remember to keep your self-worth and value in mind. Nobody will be good enough for you to sully your dignity.
  • Have fun! Whether the flirting works out or not, there’s no harm in having fun. Let yourself off the hook and keep refining your flirt game as you go.


We hope you grasped the psychology behind flirting. Understanding the cues and nuances is important so you can navigate the dating world scot-free. With that being said, don’t read too much into the situations, and be yourself at all times. That ought to get someone’s heart racing!

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