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You look across the crowded bar to the target of your interest on the other side of the room. He's dashingly handsome in a leather jacket, leaning up against the wall watching the videos on the TV screen as he sips at his beer. He senses your presence and shifts his eyes in your direction to meet your gaze. He holds the eye contact briefly before looking away. Moments later, he looks back and connects with your eyes again, this time holding the gaze a little bit longer. You slightly raise your eyebrows and shoot him a quick smile. Your heart pounds with anticipation as he nods his head once and cracks a return smile. Green light--he's interested! You take a deep breath as you plunge into the crowd, making your way toward the hottie across the room to make your introduction.
Flirting is an art form in which you use both verbal and nonverbal communication to express your interest in someone. My confession is that during my single days, I was horrible at it! My best friend and I would parade all over the gay district in Chicago and he always seemed to be able to charm everyone we encountered while I didn't have a clue as to what I was doing. How does a man with flirt with another man? I'd either be too self-conscious to risk approaching someone or I wouldn't know how to respond to the other guys' advances, sabotaging the moment by being too nervous, looking away, or just not even recognizing the signs of being "hit on." I chock a lot of that up to being a function of having just "come out", not being fully secure with myself yet, and still trying to learn the ropes of gay dating. But one thing became very clear and that was that flirting is a skill. Some people are more adept at it with their extroverted personalities and creativity, while others have to work at it more and cultivate it to their own personal style.
Anyone can learn how to flirt. The key to effective flirting is to be yourself and not be something you're not as a way to impress someone. That's a form of deception and you can come across as phony or contrived. If used the right way, flirting can open doors to getting to know lots of new people and can be a great way to start conversations with men you might be interested in. This article explores the world of flirting and offers tips on how to integrate this skill into your dating quests so that you'll pique the curiosities of possible love interests who will then want to get to know you better--and perhaps compel them to give you their phone numbers!
Flirting Is Not Cruising
Before going any further, a distinction needs to be made between flirting and cruising. Cruising is a behavior in which one's main purpose in "cozying up" to someone is to have sex with him. Here, we are discussing flirting, which is a behavior or an ice-breaker toward meeting and getting to know someone for possible dating and companionship. Both are very different and easily confused.
As gay men in particular, our gay culture tends to be very sexualized and you must be mindful of the difference between flirting and cruising as you mingle with other men so you don't send the wrong signals and sabotage your efforts. One client of mine once said, "There are so many game-players out there that whenever I'm approached by a guy who shows interest in me, I'm immediately suspicious that all he's after is sex and to get down my pants; especially if I'm in a bar setting." So be cognizant of your approach to ensure you're projecting the right message and image you want to convey.
Profile Of A Masterful Flirt
Remember that flirting is a skill that can be learned. The following are characteristics of an individual who is a master at flirting that can enhance one's success in causing men you're interested in meeting to be more responsive to your advances. A great flirt is someone who:
·has a solid self-esteem and exudes confidence and appears self-assured and relaxed
·has a good sense of humor, is down-to-earth, and is able to laugh
·has good communication and social skills, including being a great listener and having the ability to be flexible and weave in and out of a variety of social situations with relative ease
·is good at reading social cues and body language to know when someone is interested or not
·is assertive, has good boundaries, and is able to cope with rejection without personalizing it and letting it get him down
·is honest, authentic, doesn't try to impress by being a show-off, and shows interest in the other person by asking him questions rather than monopolizing the "floor time" by solely talking about himself
Shyness, insecurity, anxiety, internalized homophobia, and weak communication skills are just a few factors that can tend to block one's comfort level and impede the ability to flirt with savvy.
How Do I Know If He Likes Me?
Unless the guy you're flirting with blatantly tells you to "buzz off" or directly verbalizes a desire to keep the conversation going, you'll have to keep your eyes peeled for the signals he communicates in his body language. Things to look for might include:
·Eye contact: Does he look you in the eyes with warmth and coyly raise his eyebrows or does he look away and shift his eyes about? He could be interested but is just shy or nervous; on the other hand, he could also be looking for an escape hatch, so assess carefully.
·Facial expressions: Is he animated? Smile back at you? Laugh?
·Posturing: Does he lean forward toward you with an open stance or appear stiff with arms crossed and back away from you slightly?
How does he position himself spatially with you? Does he mirror your body language?
Does he touch you occasionally, especially during a laugh? Give you compliments? Reciprocate dialogue? These are all good signs that he's interested. Just be aware that there are cultural differences with body language that can mean different things depending on the guy you're talking with. Too much touch could also convey sexual aggressiveness and poor boundaries, so be cautious and limited with this.
The Infamous Pick-Up Line
"Like, hey dude. What's your sign?" "Haven't I seen you somewhere before? You look so familiar!" Barf! Keep these lame, outdated pick-up lines out of your dating toolbag, and get creative! A lot of stock tends to be given to the "opening line" on the singles' scene, but your introduction statement to someone isn't as important as the ability to maintain the conversation. That's not to say that it can't make an impact, however. Sometimes a great lead-in comment can break through someone's barriers about whom he identifies as his "type" and can make him take notice when he ordinarily may not have. Witty and creative opening lines can be real attention-grabbers and can heighten someone's interest.
For example, many years ago I was at a bar with some friends a few days after Christmas and a man grabbed me as I was walking by, pulled me onto his lap, and said, "Hi, I'm Santa, and I'm going to give you what you didn't get for Christmas this year." Granted, that was a cruising pick-up line, but sexual innuendo aside, it was a funny and creative opening statement that has stuck in my mind all these years and still makes me smile in amusement.
So make your opening line unique and tie it in to the environment or setting that you're in. Offer a genuine compliment or comment on a compatible interest you may share. The key is to be yourself and be respectful. If this doesn't suit your personality, then nothing beats the old stand-by..."Hi, my name is Brian. What's yours?" with a warm smile and extended handshake.
Action Challenges & Conclusion
In conclusion, the essence of effective flirting comes from having positive self-esteem and sophisticated social/communication skills. Make a realistic appraisal of your flirting potential and use the Profile Of A Masterful Flirt above to assess your own strengths and weaknesses. Read plenty of books on social psychology, mingling, body language, and communication to educate yourself further on how to become more socially graceful. Learn about relaxation techniques to help calm anxiety you may have and practice cognitive restructuring methods for combating negative self-talk that interferes with your confidence and ability to take risks. Take some classes on assertiveness training, join a public speaking group to practice communication skills, and enlist the help of some friends to do some role-plays to further hone your flirting skills.
Again, be yourself, have fun with flirting, and be proactive with your desires. Take the initiative and approach that guy on the other side of the room so you can take charge of your life and make things happen! Happy Flirting!
?2006 Brian L. Rzepczynski
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Brian Rzepczynski, Certified Personal Life Coach, is The Gay Love Coach: ?I work with gay men who are ready to create a road map that will lead them to find and build a lasting partnership with Mr. Right.? To sign up for the FREE Gay Love Coach Newsletter filled with dating and relationship tips and skills for gay singles and couples, as well as to check out current coaching groups, programs, and teleclasses, please visit http://www.TheGayLoveCoach.com
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