Why is flirting such a big deal? That's because knowing how to flirt is a much more effective dating strategy than just being good looking. One 2010 study even found that people who signal their availability and confidence through basic flirting techniques are more likely to get approached by potential mates.

While there are lots of subtle flirting techniques to show someone you’re interested in them, not all will necessarily work in your favor. With this quick guide on the science of flirting, even the most socially inept person can learn to be confident at flirting the right way.

Know Your Signals

A book titled 'The Mating Game: A Primer on Love, Sex, and Marriage' explains the reason why smiling and eye contact are still the universal signs of flirting:
…the available evidence suggests that men and women around the world use many of the same nonverbal behaviors to communicate romantic interest… smiling and eye contact do appear to be universal methods used by men and women to convey romantic interest.
And eye contact isn't just for signaling a person's attention; it can also make someone more attracted to you.

The Right Touch

Even a light touch on the arm makes a man more successful in getting a girl’s number. One study found that a soft face touch followed by the touch around the shoulder or waist, and finally a soft touch on the forearm works best. The experts then divided different types of touching to help indicate a person's romantic intentions:
  • Friendly: Shoulder push, shoulder tap, handshake.
  • Plausible Deniability: Touch around the shoulder or waist, touch on the forearm.
  • Nuclear: Face touch.
Do note that while touching is almost always acceptable for women, guys need to be extra careful to avoid getting into trouble.

Be Confident

When it comes to flirting, it pays for guys to display social dominance. One study fond that men who successfully initiated romantic contact with women exhibited a greater number of particular kinds of nonverbal flirting behavior than men who did not establish romantic contact:
Specifically, successful men directed more brief glances at their intended, engaged in a greater number of “space maximization” movements (positioning the body so that it takes up more space; e.g., extending one arm across an adjacent chair, stretching so that both arms extend straight up in the air), changed their location in the bar more frequently, and displayed greater amounts of non-reciprocated touching to surrounding men (e.g., playfully shoving, touching, or elbowing the ribs of other men).

In discussing their findings, the researchers concluded that men who provide signals of their positive intentions (e.g., through glancing behaviors) and their status (e.g., through space maximization and non-reciprocated touch of male peers) receive preferential attention from women.

Pick The Right Place

Behavior is perceived differently in different locations. The more formal the setting, the more obvious you need to be to get the signal across. If possible, try doing so in a “flirt-friendly” setting of a restaurant bar in order to increase your chances of getting their number.

So how will you know if all your flirting is working? MIT research says that if the person you're talking to starts "speaking smoothly and quickly”, then it's a pretty good sign that she's interested.