You, the reader, are probably a guy, and you are probably interested in dating girls, who are probably girls. At the risk of generalization, this feature will deal with ways that guys can attract and hold onto girls, using facts that come from scientists.
Science Fact: The way someone flirts can determine whether or not a relationship with her would work.
Explanation: Let's say there's a fun, outgoing girl whom you have finally mustered the courage to ask out, possibly through wizardry. "Hey's up, how are you going?" you ask her, unintelligibly. "Thanks, brain!" you think to yourself, mentally preparing for her to laugh in your face. To your shock, she somehow seems receptive to your blundering advances, flinging woo at you until you are basically covered in woo. Clearly you have hit the date lottery, and are destined for a wonderful relationship! But fast-forward a few weeks, and you're lying on the ground as she runs over you with a golf cart, then backs up and runs over you again. "I don't like you!" she clarifies, even though you have already come to that conclusion. What went wrong?
The Science: For starters, how you flirt can predict whether or not you understand someone else's flirting. Some scientists surveyed thousands of participants ranging from 18 to 96 (and if you're not picturing a flirtatious 96-year-old, you probably should be). What they found was that there are five distinct flirting styles—traditional, sincere, polite, physical, and playful. Playful flirts, for example, had no trouble getting noticed, but also complained that they couldn't so much as purchase a hot dog without accidentally seducing a random passerby. Traditional flirts, meanwhile, reported that nobody ever asked them out, even when they dutifully spent all their time sulking alone in the corner, as is traditional. (Tradition dictated that men should ask them out, not the other way around.) These behaviors could also predict how people would act in relationships later on; for example, sincere flirts were more likely to flirt by asking about someone's interests than to go NOM NOM NOM and lick his face; these sincere flirts were then more likely to try to make emotional connections down the line.
So What Should I Do About It?
If you're having trouble discerning a girl's intentions, simply check her phone. Android users are more likely to hook up with you. The end; post over.
Just kidding. The idea here is that it might seem awesome to date some girl who is a whirlwind of excitement and partial nudity, but you might not actually want that. If your flirting style is to creep around in the air ducts and hope nobody notices you, you might not want a relationship with a girl who's flirting style is to say "Psst, hey," and hand you her underpants.
On one hand, everyone loves the fun and flirty girl, and it's nice to imagine that you could date her, and maybe she would accidentally marry you, due to confusion, and you would live happily ever after. But for a lot of us, that relationship would end in disaster. Here's the actual Flirtation Styles Inventory from the aforementioned study. Check it out, and ask yourself who's a better match for you: the girl whose stories always involve crazy parties where she loses her bra, or the girl whose approach is to go "ummm, hi!" and then go hide in the closet?
Do you like shy people? Which flirting style do you use?