You know that Friends episode where Ross can't flirt? That's nothing compared to my awkward attempts at being sexy and alluring.
Flirting is a tricky art to master, but fear not because it's a skill that can be taught. I caught up with flirting expert and founder of Flirtology, Jean Smith, to get a few pointers on how to meet new people.
Jean has a degree in Cultural Anthropology, a Masters in Social Anthropology and through extensive cross-culture research has devised six universal signs of attraction (more on those later). But best of all, she's a brilliant flirt.
Here are the need-to-know questions we put to Jean, answered...
1. What's the secret to approaching a guy?
Attitude and expectation are key. Remember, everyone loves to chat so see it as a friendly conversation. Don't put too much pressure on yourself over a total stranger.
Approach someone, chat to them, and if you like them go from there.
There are three things to think about:
1. Look for signals of approachability (does this person look open to conversation?)
2. A situational question (something open-ended without too much expectation e.g "Woah, that drink looks good - what is it?")
3. Let the person know you like them in particular ("Do you mind if I join you?")
2. If you're a confident person except for when it comes to flirting - how do you change that?
Don't compartmentalise your life, and equally, don't make it all about you. Focus on other people and just be in the moment. Try to avoid thinking ahead, or worrying about something out of your control - just connect with someone there and then.
Often, people are looking for something lacking in themselves, but what's important is knowing that you don't need that person to fulfil you.
3. How do you know when someone is flirting back with you?
Follow the six signs of attraction:
2. Open body language
6. Eye contact
If there's any of the above going on it's a good sign, but if you get a feeling or a vibe about someone and you think there's a good connection - there is.
4. How do you avoid cringe-worthy moments?
Don't overthink things. Act like yourself and they'll like you for you.
5. What are your thoughts on dating apps?
For flirting they can be okay, but they're so superficial and so based on appearances that finding anything long-term is unlikely.
Plus, they take away all the fun/buzz of flirting with someone in person.
6. You're in a second/ third date scenario: how do you avoid friend zone?
Play on sexuality and use those six signs - you've got to want to take each other's clothes off.
Also, channel your inner Parisian woman and create intrigue. Make people want to learn more about you, but don't give too much detail away.
7. What problems do most women face when they come to you?
Control. So many women are used to having control of most areas of their life that it's hard to adjust to not knowing. I'd say go with it, relax and have fun.
If you're flirting/approaching people to find a long-term partner, there aren't many people who will fall into this category so bear that in mind.
8. Body language: what should we be looking for?
Big smiles, arms uncrossed, eye contact and being there in the moment.
Jean has teamed up with Indytute and All Bar One this Valentine's Day to offer flirting masterclasses that take you through her flirting toolbox. For more information on booking, see here.
Talking of Valentine's Day, here's a gift guide of things we'd love to receive this year.