How to be a better flirt

Aug 24, 2012 at 6:00 p.m. ET

There's an art to being a great flirt. Not blessed with this skill? Read on for tips on how to become a better charmer.

Woman flirting at a bar

For some people, flirting just comes naturally. They know how to strike the right body language to catch someone's eye, get (and keep) a conversation going and what type of eye contact works best. But for others, the idea of flirting makes them freeze up. If you're one of this latter group of people, don't stress. All of us can develop the talent for flirting in a way that works with our personality, so you don't have to feel as though it's forced. Here are some ways you can learn to flirt with confidence.

Don't put so much pressure on yourself

Think of flirting as casual chit-chat with someone new. Essentially you are both deciding whether you want to talk to each other a little more. Yes, there is a chance he may not be interested, and this may bruise your ego a bit, but think of the men you've met and had no interest in. It happens to everyone, and it's not a big deal. Let it roll off your back, and think of it as his loss rather than build it up into a huge blow.

Practice with everyone you meet

"If flirting does not come naturally, practicing is always a good idea," says Stacie Ikka, a dating coach who runs Happy Dates, a dating school in Toronto. You'll want to turn down the come-on factor, but the more you chat with whoever you meet, the more you'll develop the knack for chatting up someone new.

"It can be done anywhere with anyone," says Ikka. "And it's about not taking yourself of the other person too seriously, exuding a lightheartedness while remaining authentic," she adds. For example, she says if funny is not your forte, don't try to be funny as it'll come across forced. Grab the opportunity to exchange pleasantries with your barista, the waiter and a bank teller, for example. The more you interact with people you don't know, the easier it'll become, so when it comes time to get your flirt on, you'll be all set.

For example, if you're nervous, you may find yourself racking your brain for what to say next — so much so that you miss out on what he's actually talking to you about. When you become more of a natural at chatting people up, you'll be more skilled at keeping a conversation going and will be more relaxed when you do meet someone you actually want to flirt with.

Use your body language

"Body language plays an important role in flirting," says Ikka. So pay attention to yours. Uncross those arms, as this stance can make you seem closed off. Turn your body toward him when chatting. Maintain eye contact, and don't forget to smile. "You want any touching to be brief yet deliberate," she says. "For example, when you're talking you could briefly touch the other person's arm, gently wipe some lint of their shirt, or put a hand on their leg by their knee," she says. That said, she warns you have to be careful, too. "Some people are uncomfortable with small, physical gesturesand could feel you're intruding on their personal space. Know your audience and follow their lead," she says. And, of course, smile. "How many people do you know who look much more attractive when they smile than when they are straight-faced or pouty?" points out Ikka.

Create an aura of mystery

"Leave the person wondering about you," advises Ikka. "Some people when they get nervous, they overtalk, and while that may be engaging in the moment and alleviate awkward silences, it could leave the person thinking there's nothing left to discover about you." Be sure to edit yourself and don't blurt out every little detail of your life story.

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