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The Science of Flirting

Things you never knew

Flirting is the most natural and baffling process of human interaction. It may seem like an art, but it's a real science. Research on flirting shows that long lasting couples can actually have an astounding number of similarities that could never be chosen from an online dating profile - similar lung volumes, metabolic rates, wrist circumference and get this… ear lobe length!

So how can a pick-up line turn into matching earlobes, you ask? It turns out the process of flirting is a complicated dance of biological checkpoints to help you find a mate with the DNA that you feel most at home with. Even though flirting feels like it may only be a self-esteem boost in the vegetable aisle or attention at a party, it's actually an evolutionary process of mate selection.

There is no playing fair in survival of the fittest. Everyone's experienced the baffling feeling of meeting someone who is "good on paper" but the zing just isn't there. That's Mother Nature insuring that we continue on! So, here's a scientific look at the more serious side of flirting.

Scan it!
Men enter a social situation and scan the area looking for potential mates. They generally give the same amount of eye contact to each woman, enough time to assess physical beauty and to see if their searching look returns any glances. For woman, scanning is out! Women are pickier, glancing around for fractions of a second looking to see who's available without committing to one suitor.

But once a woman makes a choice, her stare, even for just ten seconds, tells the male to "come hither." Though men cast a wide net, they want to think that the person who is staring at them is selective. So if a woman looks everywhere, meeting many glances, the male's interest declines. Yup, it's pretty lopsided, but proliferation of the species is about securing the mate, not political correctness.

Subliminal messages
Body language is the key, the lock and the door to flirting. It's more than half the reason that people make that love connection. Women express their interest by revealing their neck and underside of their wrist. By tilting the head or flipping back their hair they are showing a man that he can come closer. When they do move in exchanging pheromones is crucial. Our immune systems are seeking out compatible systems to exchange the really important stuff - DNA. And each one of us tells others of our inner bacterial worlds through smell. After that on the list of physical checkpoints is tone of voice - which far supersedes witty banter, according to research.

Mirror, mirror on the wall
Regardless of who's considered hot in your social set, guess who we pick for the long haul? People who look just like us! The person who has that elusive familial feeling generally does look like family. So, though the supermodels may have the advantage during the initial scan of the room, the lasting bond will likely be with someone who doesn't look out of place in a family portrait. Even when people are shown pictures of strangers and asked to select the person they would want to take on a date, they consistently pick people who look like they do! And now here's the Freudian bit - on even closer examination, people have a particular preference for people who look like their parents. So women want men who look like dad and men want women who look like mom.

Do the math
Ever lamented that you have a big nose? Well, it turns out that the size of your nose matters little, but whether your eyes are in proportion to your nose matters a lot! Men have a strong preference for symmetry in the face while women are more forgiving if some features don't quite add up. And moving further into the science of proportions and mating, it's not what you weigh, but instead, it's a hip to waist ratio of 7 (divide waist by hip measurements) that attracts men. As women get older and become less fertile the waist area tends to fill in.

Now that you know the science behind the art, use it to your advantage. Remember, don't sweat the small stuff, just play up your assets and let biology take its course.


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