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Turn on the charm -- get what you want

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  • Being confident about yourself is a key to flirting
  • Make other person feel like only person in the room
  • Share similar interests with opposite sex
  • Flirting can also help you find new ways to connect with others
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By Gail Blanke
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Real Simple

(Real Simple) -- Whether you're happily married, contentedly single, or looking for a partner, there's no better way to grab someone's attention, says life coach Gail Blanke, even if it's just for fun.

Besides attracting the opposite sex, flirting can help you become more confident in yourself.

I've been thinking a lot about flirting lately. Probably because I've observed my daughters, Kate and Abigail, and their friends. They are out of college now and all caught up in the adventure of discovering the career of their dreams (OK, at least a job) and the man of their dreams (OK, maybe just someone cute to go out with). Anyway, they really have the flirting thing down. And it's a lot of fun to watch.

Recently at a party, my husband, Jim, who doesn't miss much, nudged me and said, "Look at Kate. She's got her molars going." We always say that about Kate when she's flirting with someone and shows all her gorgeous, straight (at no small cost!) teeth. It's when she shows the back molars that we know she's fully engaged in the game.

And it is a game -- a fun game. I think we all ought to play it more. I mean, why not? We're not talking Fatal Attraction here; we're talking about tapping into a zillion-year-old art -- the art of engaging the interest of someone we find interesting and delightful by being delightful ourselves.

Now, I have no doubt that polishing up your flirting techniques could lead some of you to your next great boyfriend or even your soul mate. But it's not just about attracting the opposite sex. (Hey, some of the best flirters I know are happily married.) When you hone your flirting skills, you're also perfecting new ways to connect, charm, and, perhaps best of all, project confidence in yourself.

Flirting makes you feel terrific, and the fellow you're flirting with will feel like a million bucks. So just imagine what you could achieve if you employed that same charm when dealing with your boss, your child's teacher, your husband, or the guy who's considering giving you a discount at the electronics store.

I must say, since I've been practicing, I've gotten a big kick out of it. My husband is rather enjoying it as well. In fact, he took a crack at a bit of flirting the other day in Central Park as he passed a woman jogger who was lifting weights. "Wow," he said admiringly, "I wouldn't want to run into you in a dark alley." Not surprisingly, the woman scowled and turned away. See, that's why it's a good idea to practice a little bit.

So since I'm committed to reawakening the flirting instinct in all of us, I've assembled here some of the best techniques I could find. I've watched what seems to work for other people, I've asked women I know to tell me what works best for them, and I've tried out some new moves of my own. What follows is a sampling of my research results. Got your own technique? Log on and tell us all about it. There's only one rule: Have fun.

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1. The Gail technique. Here's an example of my flirting method. It was a beautiful fall day in New York City, and my cab had just pulled up in front of my office building on Third Avenue. As I got out, a very attractive, well-dressed man walked up to get in. I smiled, looked him straight in the eyes, and said, "Well, I've got your cab for you." He looked surprised but smiled back and said, "How much do I owe you?" I looked into his eyes again and said, "This time it's on the house."

"That's absolutely lovely of you," he said. At that moment, I knew I had connected with him. Hey, maybe I had even charmed him. I mean, we were both standing there grinning at each other. But given the fact that I was just trying out techniques and definitely not looking for any sort of relationship (I bet he wasn't, either), I nodded, smiled one last time, and said, "See ya."

"I sure hope so," he said.

That was it. And though I doubt very much that we'll ever in a million years run into each other again, we brightened each other's day. So what was the technique? Well, for me it was a mix of disarming directness (looking an attractive stranger right in the eyes and starting a conversation with him is a little out of the ordinary, wouldn't you say?), warmth (I smiled my best smile), and good old optimism (I assumed he would find me delightful).

In the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit that I didn't make up this technique myself. I had observed it a week earlier in the airport in Pittsburgh, when a really darling guy flashed me a warm smile and engaged in some harmless banter as we waited to board the plane. It was nothing short of (or more than) delightful. So I decided to try it myself.

2. The Bill Clinton technique. If you get an up-close chance to watch Bill Clinton working a crowd, you'll notice something worth emulating. Whenever he's talking to someone, especially a woman (but, honestly, he uses this technique on everyone), he focuses every bit of his attention on her. Nothing, truly nothing, can distract him. For him, at that moment, there is no one else in the room -- no one else who counts. It would be easy for him to be distracted, but he never is. His ability to focus is almost as unforgettable as his warmth.

3. The Val Hunt technique. Val was my best friend at camp, and she completely mesmerized my older brother, Jay, when she came to visit us one time. Jay was about to leave for a canoeing trip, and Val sat on the floor with him for hours, poring over maps of Canada as if she had never seen anything so completely riveting in her life. She was only 13 at the time, but she sure knew how to flirt. When Jay pronounced her "really neat," my mother said to me quietly, "See? If you want to get a boy's attention, be fascinated by whatever fascinates him." (This was the 50s, after all.)

4. The Abigail technique. My daughter Abigail looks at a young man she's interested in with eyes that appreciate his entire face. She smiles, looks down for a moment, then looks up and locks in again with her eyes. She becomes extraordinarily animated, particularly in response to something he might have said. And she's always genuine. The bottom line is that she makes a guy feel better about himself when he's with her than he does when he's without her. And that's a good thing.

5. The Liz Kelberg technique. A lot of women use humor as a flirtation device. I don't mean they tell jokes but that they don't take themselves too seriously. They're genuinely funny people, and men love it. Liz, a dear friend of Abigail's, is one of the funniest young women I know and a master of the one-liner. Here's her favorite: "If you think I look good now, you should see me with the lights off." She says it has about a 60 percent "return rate" and is still in the refinement stage.

I e-mailed a bunch of friends and asked them for their flirting tips. Many responded that it's a lot easier to be a great flirt if you feel good about yourself in the flirting moment. "Nothing is more attractive than a confident woman," a dynamic young friend named Maura Daly wrote me. (Actually, says Jim, "nothing's sexier than a confident woman.") So when you're out for some flirting, walk tall, put your shoulders back, and get those molars going.

Sheila Kotur, an old friend who is one of the most confident women I've ever met (and happily married), tells us: "You have to feel that you'll get a response before you even begin. Some men are cold and indifferent. Forget them and move on. Remember -- the fellow you're talking to is the luckiest guy in the world."

Then again, maybe in the end, Eva's straightforward, "What's the big deal? Just go for it" approach is best. Eva is the seven-year-old daughter of a marvelous colleague named Marsha Anastasia, and she advises us to keep it simple: "If you see a boy you like, you just grab him and drag him along."

Now, you might need to refine that one for the guy at the electronics store. But if it's a relationship you're after, I recommend that you try Eva's approach first. I mean, what's the worst thing that could happen? E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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