5 Stages of Flirting – How Men and Women Flirt

These stages of flirting in love relationships show that women usually make the first move, and men make the final move. Here’s what research says about how and why people flirt.

Flirting sends signals of romantic interest between men and women who are attracted to one another. Flirtatious behavior is evident in the animal kingdom as well as the human jungle. Flirting isn’t just about attracting potential romantic partners; in fact, people often flirt with waiters and waitresses in restaurants or gas station attendants.

However, the primary function of flirting is to bring potential partners into a dating relationship – and psychologists have identified five consistent stages of flirting. Sometimes flirting is cheating, and other times it’s just innocent communication.

The Difference Between Male and Female Flirting

How do men flirt? When they flirt, men want to send a message of strength, trustworthiness, and good genes. Men puff out their chests, lean back in their chairs, and strut when they walk. They use grandiose gestures to light cigarettes or order drinks.

How do women flirt? Women flirt to communicate that they’re interested, and that they offer something a little better than other women. Women flirt by gazing at the men they’re interested in, swaying their hips, smiling, and exposing their neck.

When men and women flirt, they’re actually following a predictable pattern of behavior that’s similar to all humans in dating relationships. The following describes how flirting works – and how potential partners attract one another to start dating.

The 5 Stages of Flirting

1. The Approach. Women initiate contact by making eye contact. When he meets her gaze, she’ll look down or maintain eye contact. He’ll make his way over to her – across a crowded room if they’re at a bar or party – but will take care not to appear eager or aggressive.

2. The Conversation. Who talks first? Researchers found that the man does, usually. He’ll generally ask a question or offer the clichéd pickup line. Women prefer simple, straightforward questions and introductions in this stage of the flirting game.

stages of flirting

“Stages of Flirting” image via Wikimedia Commons Andrea Silva

3. The Swivel and Turn. Reading body language is helpful in the third stage of flirting. The potential partners usually begin standing or sitting side by side, but eventually swivel and turn towards one another. They will actually take turns swiveling and turning towards one another until they are face to face – and a dating relationship may develop!

4. The Touch. The woman initiates the touch in this stage of flirting, with a subtle, “accidental” touch of his arm or shoulder. The man generally reciprocates with a return touch or a smile. If he recoils or startles, he may send a signal of rejection (reading this body language isn’t difficult!).

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5. The Synchronization. The final stage of flirting involves synchronization of movement, which means the potential partners actually turn their heads at the same time, pick up and put down their drinks together, or even breathe in the same rhythm. This synchronization happens naturally, and is a strong indication of how potential partners attract one another and start dating relationships.

If a couple has consumed alcohol or drugs, these five stages of flirting probably won’t progress as neatly as outlined here. If you’re wondering if any of these stages of flirting are ways of cheating, read Cheating Versus Flirting.

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