Back in the 1920s, a group of young women formed an Anti-Flirt Club.
They were tired of getting ogled and catcalled by men on street corners.
They were tired of being offered “a lift” by motorists.
They held the first (and only) Anti-Flirt week on March 4, 1923.
Members followed a list of rules that included:
Don’t flirt: those who flirt in haste often repent in leisure.
Don’t smile at flirtatious strangers—save them for people you know.
Don’t accept rides from flirting motorists—they don’t all invite you in to save you a walk.
Don’t let elderly men with an eye to a flirtation pat you on the shoulder and take a fatherly interest in you. Those are usually the kind who want to forget they are fathers.”
Did they succeed in their initiative to help women wise up and stop men from harassing them?
They did not.
The Anti-Flirt Club never became the national movement its adherents hoped for.
One hundred years later, in the wake of #MeToo, it’s clear that cat-calling and street harassment require a stronger solution than women’s refusal to flirt back.
Blaming flirting for men’s bad behavior throws the baby out with the bathwater.
Flirting is a time-honored way of letting the RIGHT man know you like him. (Even if that “right man” is your boyfriend or husband!)
So how do you do it?
The Eyes Say It All
Young people always think they were the ones to invent flirting.
The “Triangle Method” that swept TikTok—a flirting technique that involves looking at your target’s eye, then their mouth, then their other eye—is old wine in a new bottle.
Women have been using eye contact to signal interest since the dawn of time.
In my day, it was “Sticky Eyes,” a technique pioneered by communication expert Leil Lowndes.
Sticky Eyes involved imagining your eyes were glued to your partner’s with sticky warm toffee. After he finished speaking, you pulled away your gaze ever so slowly.
Anthropologists have studied flirting behavior in cultures across the world, and what they find is remarkably consistent.
When a young woman wants to flirt, she gazes at her target with wide eyes and a smile. When he notices her looking, she drops her gaze and giggles, covering her face with her hands.
All You Need Is Courage
Eye contact is by far the easiest and best way to flirt.
If you’re brave enough to gaze boldly at a man you’re interested in, enjoy the view, and then hold that gaze a fraction of a second after he catches your eye, then you’re on your way to flirting mastery.
Think that’s too subtle? Think again.
Men are highly motivated to interpret a woman’s body language as a sign of interest.
Even if a man catches you accidentally looking at him—perhaps because you were wondering what the lettering on his t-shirt says—he’ll assume that you were expressing interest in him.
If you want to give him an even stronger green light, smile warmly after catching his eye. Then look away.
Looking away makes it clear that the ball is in his court. If he wants to approach you, he can. You’ve made your interest known.
Who Made The First Move?
Catching a man’s gaze and quickly smiling at him before looking away serves another purpose.
It allows you to make the first move without him ever realizing it.
Researchers have spent hundreds of hours in singles bars and other locations watching singles flirt.
What they’ve found is that the woman initiates the encounter two-thirds of the time.
Yet because the man is the one who chooses to walk up to the woman and approach her, the men are often clueless that they’ve been summoned. They believe they were the ones to make the first move.
Eye Contact is a Deep Primal Trigger
In everyday life, we rarely gaze at anyone for any sustained length of time.
So when someone gazes at us with warmth and interest, it reminds us of our earliest, most powerful memory of love…
When we were just infants, bathed in the loving warmth of our parents’ gaze.
Eye contact is essential for healthy development.
The baby knows herself as good and lovable through her reflection in her parents’ eyes.
As that baby grows into a child, she still needs to feel seen by her parents. She wants them to look at her. She wants to see the approval and affection in their eyes.
As she grows into a young woman, she still craves that unconditional positive regard. Only now, she hopes to receive it from a lover.
Letting your eyes approve of him sends a powerful signal that taps straight into that primal wiring.
So don’t fuss with The Triangle Method or Sticky Eyes or any of those fancy techniques. They’re not necessary.
Just enjoy looking at him… and don’t be afraid to get caught. 🙂