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The unwritten rules of flirting

 Is there a set of unwritten flirting rules that I don't know about? [Courtesy]

Hi Chris,

I have realised over the years that I am not good at flirting. I watch my friends getting up to all sorts of mischief, and both they and the guys seem to be having a lot of fun. But whenever I try to flirt with someone, somehow it does not work out. It is as if there is a whole set of unwritten rules that I do not know about! So help! What do I need to know?

Unwritten Rules


Hi, Unwritten Rules!

Flirting is full of unwritten rules. So for example, you will instinctively realise that some places are definitely off-limits, while at parties you are expected to try your luck! That is also true when people drink alcohol in public.

But there are more restrictions than at social events, so it is easier to make mistakes. For example, it is always okay to approach a stranger at a bar, but someone sitting at a table is less available.

The more food-oriented the table, or the further from the bar, the less welcome you will be.

Schools and colleges are great for flirting, because of the shared lifestyle and informal atmosphere. But at work, flirting is usually only acceptable in certain areas, with certain people, or at certain times and occasions.

Every workplace also has its own special rules. Like the coffee machine’s an ‘anything goes’ zone in some places, while others have a tradition of flirty morning greetings. Watching your colleagues will help you to figure things out.

Sports and hobby clubs are great places to practice, but concentrate on the happy-go-lucky under-achievers! Incompetent squash players, unfit runners and useless musicians. The more serious players generally are not interested.

Who to flirt with? Well, in principle, more or less anyone. An admiring glance or a bit of banter brightens everyone’s day.

But clearly, it makes sense to be careful with people who are married or attached. So be sensitive. Especially as men tend to see friendly behaviour as something more sexual. 

That is not a criticism, it is just that they are built to see the world in more sexual terms than women. So avoid sending ambiguous signals to unavailable men. 

What about when you are flirting with intent? Well, you need to be more selective. There is a simple rule which will greatly increase your chances of success. Only approach people who are likely to return your interest. Like someone who thinks you will be a good match.

Especially concentrate on people who are about as attractive as you. Because things will go better if you are of roughly equal good looks. But confidence and skill can outweigh almost every disadvantage, so there is hope for everyone. Just get out there and practice!

All the best,



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