Have you ever wondered why we flirt? Well, according to the Social Issues Research Centre (SIRC), anthropological research actually shows that flirting is a universal and essential aspect of human interaction. But if it is instinctive to all of us on some level, then why do we sometimes get it wrong?
If you clicked on this link looking for a guide to help you flirt better, don’t worry. You’re not alone. Because like many other social norms, much of the do’s and don’ts of flirting are dictated by unwritten laws of etiquette that we generally obey without even realising it, says the SIRC.
With that said, here are 6 common, psychology-backed flirting mistakes that may be keeping you single:
Playing too hard to get
According to Dr. Aaron Ben-Zeév, psychology professor and researcher, although playing hard to get is a common flirting tactic a lot of people swear by, it can actually hurt more than help your romantic chances. Because by pretending we’re not interested in someone, it creates insecurity and uncertainty early on in the relationship, which can lead to more deception and emotional manipulation. “Playing such superficial games may also attract the wrong kind of person,” says Dr. Ben-Zeév.
Never making the first move
Another common flirting mistake, especially among women, is never making the first move. You may think that all the subtle signs you’re giving — like making prolonged eye contact, smiling and casually touching them, or liking their posts online — is enough for them to pick up on your romantic interest, but it also leaves a lot of room for miscommunication. If you want to date someone, says dating expert and self-help author Jon Birger, it’s better to make the first move instead of just waiting around for them because it’s a way of taking control of your relationships and being more intentional about the partners you choose.
Not letting go of the day’s frustrations
According to Dr. James Wadley, psychologist, author, and Chair of the Counseling and Human Services department at Lincoln University, bringing your pent-up frustrations with you on a date or while flirting with someone is a big no-no. Why? Because although it might seem like a natural and easy conversation-starter, showing too much of a disagreeable attitude this early on in a (potential) relationship is a turn-off for a lot of people. So when you’re flirting, Dr. Wadley suggests, it’s best to keep things light-hearted and positive for now.
Seeing singlehood as a problem
Similar to our earlier point, don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s okay to talk too much about why you’re single — or worse, how much you hate it! Seeing singlehood as a problem, says psychologist Dr. Karin Anderson, can paint us in a bad light, both to ourselves and to others. We may start to see and present ourselves as being too picky, too needy, and so on; that there is something undesirable about us as a partner and that we can’t see our own self-worth without one.
Over-romanticizing your perfect “type”
According to relationship and well-being psychologist Dr. Amie M. Gordon, we need to be careful in high expectations of potential partners. Because while having high expectations can be good sometimes — like when it increases commitment and helps us behave more positively towards one another — it can easily turn bad if we over-romanticize our perfect “type.” Having unrealistically high standards can make us miss out on someone great because it only sets them up for failute. Over-romanticizing crushes can quickly lead to relationship dissatisfaction the moment they inevitably make a mistake or fail to live up to the perfect version we have of them in our heads.
Hiding how you feel
Last but certainly not the least, hiding how you really feel is perhaps the biggest flirting mistake that’s keeping you single. Why? Because although it might seem terrifying to confess your true feelings to someone, never letting them in or showing them your true feelings will only discourage them from pursuing you and getting to know the real you. According to an article from Healthline, written by self-help journalist Crystal Raypole and reviewed by therapist Dr. Jennifer Litner, “By hiding your emotions, you prevent clear communication with the people in your life.” And that’s not something you wanna make a habit of when starting a relationship with someone!
So, do you relate to any of the things we’ve mentioned here? Did this list make you realize some of the flirting mistakes you were making that were keeping you single?
Even if the answer is yes, don’t worry. Flirting doesn’t come easily to everyone and it’s not a skill that’s ever explicitly taught to us, so it’s understandable for us to make mistakes sometimes. What matters most is that you become aware of your missteps and slall the other ways you may be unconsciously holding yourself back from finding love.
What are some other common flirting mistakes we missed? Let us know in the comments down below. ‘Till next time, Psych2Goers!
- Ben-Zeév, A. (2022). “The Problem With Playing Hard to Get.” Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/in-the-name-love/202208/the-problem-playing-hard-get
- Fox, K. (2023). “SIRC Guide to Flirting: What Social Science can tell you about flirting and how to do it.” Social Issues Research Centre. Retrieved from http://www.sirc.org/publik/flirt.html
- Gordon, A. M. (2021). “Are Your Relationship Expectations Too High?” Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/between-you-and-me/202103/are-your-relationship-expectations-too-high?amp=#amp_ct=1681378262228&_tf=From%20%251%24s&aoh=16813782599590&referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com
- Ishak, R. (2021). “Why Dating Is Better For Everyone When Women Make the First Move.” Hello Giggles. Retrieved from https://hellogiggles.com/women-making-the-first-move/
- Nelson, J. (2019). “7 Common Mistakes That Are Keeping You Single.” Thought Catalog. Retrieved from https://thoughtcatalog.com/january-nelson/2019/10/7-common-mistakes-that-are-keeping-you-single/
- Raypole, C., & Litner, J. (2020). “It’s Tempting to Mask Your Emotions, but It Won’t Do You (or Anyone Else) Any Favors.” Healthline. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/hiding-feelings
- Shapouri, B. (2010). “10 Little Dating Mistakes That Could Be Keeping You Single.” Glamour. Retrieved from https://www.glamour.com/gallery/10-little-dating-mistakes-that-could-be-keeping-you-single
- Social Issues Research Centre. (2023). “SIRC Guide to Flirting.” Retrieved from http://www.sirc.org/publik/flirt.html