Signs of Flirting

signs of flirting

Little signs of flirting often show up in conversation but slip right over our heads. If we're not looking for them, they're easy to miss!

When you're alert to flirting signs, you can gauge whether someone returns your interest or not. You can also be more aware of the signals you send to others.

Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference between signs of flirting and signs of mere friendliness. Guys especially have difficulty figuring out which is which (Henningsen, 2004; Koeppel, Montagne-Miller, O’Hair, & Cody, 1993; Saal, Johnson, & Weber, 1989; Shotland & Craig, 1988).

One good idea is to look for signal clusters. An occasional giggle may be just a giggle. But the more signs of flirting you notice, the more likely it is an attraction is brewing!

There are also specific signs of flirting that appear only when two people are attracted to each other...and signs of friendliness that appear only when they're not.

In addition, you should pay attention to signs of disinterest. Although no one wants to see these, watching out for them can help you avoid the embarrassment of pursuing the wrong person.

Nice Girls Nice Guys is here to clear up the confusion between signs of flirting and friendliness, interest and disinterest.

We'll start with a list of signals you can observe in anyone who's being friendly. These signs indicate that someone likes you but may or may not want to be more than friends.

Then we'll move on to specific signs of flirting. These are signals that usually imply someone is interested in you romantically.

Next, we'll tackle those dreaded signs of rejection--and hopefully you won't see too many of them!

Finally, we'll wrap up with some neutral signs, those little hints you may be reading too much into.

Friendly Signs

1. Engaging in Real Conversation
This is common to both signs of friendliness and signs of flirting. It includes asking personal questions, revealing personal information, sharing opinions, and generally trying to keep the conversation going through questions and answers that invite a response.

2. Talking Freely
When someone likes you, the conversation will flow. He or she will talk freely and energetically with few pauses.

3. Showing Warmth
Someone who's trying to be nice will speak in a warm voice and empathize with you.

4. Showing Interest
A friendly person will show interest by paying attention to what you say and encouraging you with replies like "mm-hm" and "uh-huh."

5. Laughing
A friendly person may laugh more than usual.

Flirting Signs

1. Advertising Availability
This is one of the signs of flirting that's easiest to spot. When a man goes out of his way to mention that he's single or a woman says she has no plans for Friday night, that's your cue to flirt back.

2. Comparing Interests
In Relationship Compatibility, we saw how important it is for couples to be similar. So when someone is attracted to you, he or she may try to find out which interests you have in common and emphasize how much you're alike.

3. Joking
Interestingly, this isn't just a sign of general friendliness. It's one of the specific signs of flirting. People tend to show off their wit most when they want to impress.

4. Complimenting
This is another of those signs of flirting that clearly separates friends from admirers. Only the latter will dish out lots of praise.

5. Offering or Asking for Help
Men tend to offer, women tend to ask. An attentive man who keeps opening doors and holding chairs for a girl probably isn't just being friendly. The same goes for a woman who asks a guy to get her a drink or help her with her coat.

6. Using "We"
Someone who likes you as more than a friend may use a lot of "we" statements about the two of you. This is one of those subtle signs of flirting, so listen closely for it. An interested person might say, "We should go outside," "We need to get drinks," "We're on the same page," and so on.

7. Talking Intimately
A low, confidential tone of voice that's meant for your ears only is one of the signs of flirting. In contrast, someone who is just being friendly may actually pitch the voice higher.

8. Requesting Contact Info
This has to be one of the most blatant signs of flirting yet. By the time someone asks for your number, you usually don't have to be told that he or she is into you. But just so we're clear--if someone wants to contact you again, it's safe to assume he or she isn't just looking for a new friend.

Rejection Signs

1. Advertising Unavailability
If someone mentions his or her mate, no one should have to tell you it's game over.

2. Disagreeing
Disagreement is a useful tool for gauging signs of flirting. While someone who's interested will try to find similarities between you, someone who isn't will freely express differences.

3. Keeping It Brief
In contrast to signs of flirting, signs of rejection include efforts to keep the conversation short. People who aren't into it may give brief, monosyllabic answers that don't invite further discussion. They probably won't ask you questions in return or make an effort to hold up their end of the conversation.

4. Giving the Silent Treatment
Likewise, somoene who's not interested may lapse into silence or even ignore what you say.

5. Refusing to Help
Offering to help is one of the top signs of flirting. So you can probably guess that refusing to help is one of the top signs of rejection! Someone who blatantly doesn't do the things that common courtesy demands is sending a message that he or she doesn't care. Be cautious when interpreting this signal, though, especially if you're a woman. Standards of etiquette vary from person to person, and men in particular may be wary of offending a woman by offering help.

6. Rejecting an Invitation
There's no denying that someone who refuses to see you again or at least give out contact information just isn't into you. Don't believe excuses about why he or she "can't" give you a number or is "swamped at work right now." Someone who's interested will find a way to make it happen even if it means getting in touch through friends or grabbing a few minutes to meet up on a lunch break.

Neutral Signs

1. Making Small Talk
Talking about light, superficial topics is sometimes seen as a sign of boredom or detachment. Actually, it doesn't mean much at all. It's awesome when two people hit it off well enough to delve right into their deepest secrets, but that's not the norm. If someone chats with you about general topics, that doesn't mean he or she isn't interested. It's something you shouldn't read into either way.

2. Following the Conversation
When someone sums up what you said or asks you to repeat yourself, it can seem like he or she is following the discussion closely. Maybe that's why this is sometimes interpreted as one of the signs of flirting. In reality, it doesn't necessarily mean that your chatting partner has more than a passing interest.

3. Taking a Raincheck
If a person says yes to a date but can't meet up right away, don't assume he or she is making excuses. Sometimes people have legitimate obstacles in the way. What's important is that someone says yes to your invitation! Give him or her a chance to follow through before writing off the one who could be your soul mate.

Moving On

Now that you know the signs of flirting, you'll have a big advantage when chatting with that cute stranger who's caught your eye!

But landing a date takes more than just keeping your eyes peeled for signs of flirting. You have to know how to flirt back in a way that's natural and comfortable for you. Check out these flirting tips to learn how!

Return to Meeting Singles from Signs of Flirting

Return to Nice Girls Nice Guys Relationship Advice and Dating Tips from Signs of Flirting


The following references were used to develop the lists above:

Andersen, P.A. (1985). Nonverbal immediacy in interpersonal communication. In A.W. Siegman and S. Feldstein (Eds.), Multichannel integrations of nonverbal behavior (pp. 1-36). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Clark, C.L., Shaver, P.R., & Abrahams, M.F. (1999). Strategic behaviors in romantic relationship initiation. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 25, 709-722.

Clark, R.A., Dockum, M., Hazeu, H., Huang, M., Luo, N., Ramsey, J., & Spyrou, A. (2004). Initial encounters of young men and women: Impressions and disclosure estimates. Sex Roles, 50, 699-710.

Coker, D.A. & Burgoon, J. (1987). The nature of conversational involvement and nonverbal encoding patterns. Human Communication Research, 13, 463-494.

Fichten, C.S., Tagalakis, V., Judd, D., Wright, J., & Amsel, R. (2001). Verbal and nonverbal communication cues in daily conversations and dating. The Journal of Social Psychology, 132(6), 751-769.

Fox, K. (n.d.). SIRC guide to flirting: What social science can tell you about flirting and how to do it. Retrieved from Social Issues Research Centre website:

Hall, J.A., Carter, S., & Cody, M.J. (May 2008a). Individual differences in the communication of romantic interest: Development of the flirting styles questionnaire. Paper presented at the International Communication Association Conference in Montreal, Canada.

Hall, J.A., Cody, M.J., Jackson, G., & Flesh, J.O. (May 2008b). Beauty and the flirt: Attractiveness and opening lines in date initiation. Paper presented at the International Communication Association Conference in Montreal, Canada.

Henningsen, D.D. (2004). Flirting with meaning: An examination of miscommunication in flirting interactions. Sex Roles, 50, 481-489.

Koeppel, L.B., Montagne-Miller, Y., O’Hair, D., & Cody, M.J. (1993). Friendly? Flirting? Wrong? In P.J. Kalbfleisch (Ed.), Interpersonal communication: Evolving interpersonal relationships (pp. 13-32). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Muehlenhard, C., Koralewski, M., Andrews, S., & Burdick, C. (1986). Verbal and nonverbal cues that convey interest in dating: Two studies. Behavior Therapy, 17, 404-419.

Perper, T. & Weis, D.L. (1987). Projective and rejective strategies of U.S. and Canadian college women. Journal of Sex Research, 23, 455-480.

Saal, F.E., Johnson, C.B., & Weber, N. (1989). Friendly or sexy? It may depend on who you ask. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 13, 263-276.

Sanderson, C.A., Keiter, E.J., Miles, M.G., & Yopyk, D.J.A. (2007). The association between intimacy goals and plans for initiating dating relationships. Personal Relationships, 14, 225-243.

Shotland, R.L. & Craig, J.M. (1988). Can men and women differentiate between friendly and sexually interested behavior? Social Psychology Quarterly, 51, 66-73.

Sigal, J., Gibbs, M., Adams, B., & Derfler, R. (1988). The effect of romantic and nonromantic films on perceptions of female friendly and seductive behavior. Sex Rolls, 19, 545-554.

Trost, M.R. & Alberts, J.K. (1998). An evolutionary view on understanding sex effects in communicating attraction. In K. Dindia & D.J. Canary (Eds.), Sex differences and similarities in communication (1st ed.) (pp. 233-256). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.