The Art of Flirting Online

The Art of Flirting For the Social Networker: How to Transition from Online To Real Time I hear some version of this sad story nearly every day:

Online we were so good, so hot, it was easy to talk to and tease each other. I thought it would be just as good when we met, but instead it felt so awkward. We never recovered from that, and our online thing just petered out.

The Art of Flirting For the Social Networker:How to Transition from Online To Real Time

Even if you’re sporting a well-developed persona online, it won’t necessarily transfer to RL. The reasons are varied, but the most important has to do with the fact that you are so much more relaxed and attentive behind the monitor. Your brain isn’t over-flowing with worries like “what does he think of me?” or “does she think I’m as phat as I think she is?” The boundary between cyber and RL is getting slimmer every day, but it’s still thick enough for cyberplay to continue being more protective of our egos than RL. In a relaxed and uninhibited state, it’s much easier to flirt. You can be fearless! And that’s the key right there. In real life, you become more of whoever you are when you’re afraid. That is, if you tend to be tongue-tied when afraid, or if you get overly talkative or more aggressive and confrontational, those qualities come to the forefront, hiding some of your most desirable aspects. In fact, they hide the very qualities that come across so well online.

To make matters worse, fear impedes your ability to control your body talk. When anxious, all your little quirks are exaggerated, and your capacity for strategy goes out the window. That may be your most serious handicap, because seductive body language is the secret to winning the game-set portion of any RL match.

Eighty percent of a first impression rests on how you move, stand, make eye contact, and express your interest nonverbally. Very little of the first impression comes from what you say. The tone of your voice – that is, the sound and cadence of it, not the words themselves – also weighs in. If your voice is weak and shallow, if your body is pulled back and stiff, or hyperactive and fidgety, you can blow things at hello. Why is this particularly important for social networkers to know? Your relationships online are based almost entirely on language use and its impact upon perception. You come alive to others through the words you use. Your body language, which could probably be best described as “slumped over the keyboard,” has little to do with the impression you make. Flirting in real life means honing a communication style in which social networkers tend to be least fluent. The anxiety and awkwardness you feel in RL is understandably a reflection of lack of comfort with your body and insufficient practice using it as your communicator.

Of course, the smarts that you play with online are as valuable in RL as anywhere in cyberspace – they just aren’t usually the meat of a first impression, nor are they sufficient to give you confidence as a bona fide flirt. To become comfortable in RL, new learning can’t develop inside your head or through an avatar; it requires actual practice. In that respect, flirting is a lot like dancing. You need to release fear and relax your body, while simultaneously paying attention to your movements. Yes, “relax and concentrate” sounds almost paradoxical – which is why, like dancing, flirting has to be practiced. You can’t head-trip your way to a successful flirting style – you have to do the physical deed over and over again until your body owns the experience.

Here are suggestions for flirt-worthy moves that you can practice daily with almost anybody. After you’ve mastered them, you’ll feel more confident and in charge of yourself when approaching someone whose response truly matters.

  • 1) Sit and stand straight; move with confidence. Proper posture really does matter a lot! Watch some of your favorite actors move with easy grace on screen and follow their lead. Don’t swivel or swagger; don’t over-do; just relax and move like you’re perfectly happy to share your billions of dollars and even greater wealth of heart. Remember that when you meet someone, the way you silently enter the room and sit down will be your first impression, and this can carry more weight than anything you do with your mouth open over the subsequent hour.
  • 2) Use your eyes to connect. The more intimate you want to be with someone, the broader your “zone of attention” can be. In business, you want to look primarily at the upper face as you “meet their eyes.” This term is a bit misleading though, because you don’t want to stare straight into someone’s eyes at all. Rather, shift your focus from eye to eye or take in their eyes and whole face simultaneously. When you are intimately interested in someone your zone of attention can become more encompassing, often taking in the most alluring bits: chest, shoulders, lips. Watching someone’s lips as they talk can be flirtatious and signal you are thinking thoughts about their mouth that go far beyond speech. In any social situation, though, you want to be looking at the person you’re talking with – never down at your hands, at the floor, over their shoulder, or around the room. This takes lots of practice, especially for social networkers who are adept multi-taskers. If your attention wanders easily to the newest incoming stimulus, you’ll need to put a strong rein on this habit.
  • 3) Shift your body subtly in the direction of the other person, as if they are the sun and you are a vine that grows toward the light. For instance, lean forward a little as the other person speaks; angle your body in their direction rather than away; cross your leg so that your toe is pointing at them.
  • 4) Mirror: Watch the other person’s body language and mirror their positive moves. If they take a sip of their drink and then lean forward, wait a moment and do something similar – but not necessarily an exact imitation. If they cross their leg in your direction, wait 40-60 seconds and do the same. Yes, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. In this case, you’re saying, “I like you” with your gestures and forming an unspoken connection.
  • 5) To increase the intensity of flirtation, use touch. As you’re speaking, emphasize a point by lightly touching the other’s arm or knee. Lean in when you’re laughing and touch them as if to underscore the joke. This will suggest a certain intimacy (unless it suggests drunkenness!) and might even be viewed as a come-on, so be judicious here. You don’t want to do this in business or with someone you aren’t interested in pursuing, unless you are close friends and touch comes naturally.
  • 6) Match your body talk and vocal tone. Again, pay attention to your favorite actors and actresses in roles where they seem to be flirting. Notice how body and the voice compliment one another. Watch a scene depicting flirtation in a foreign film, then turn off the subtitles (DVDs usually let you do this in set-up). Notice how vocal inflections and conversational melodies work with body language to signal sexual interest, even in the absence of understandable dialog. This just goes to show how little the actual words matter – quite unlike the online experience, where words transmit 98% of the message.
  • 7) If you’re a woman, touch yourself. (No…not like that!) Capturing someone’s attention can be as simple as imagining that you feel a cool breeze or a tickle on your skin and are “unconsciously” reacting by mirroring the sensation with your fingers. Practice running fingertips across your throat or the top of your chest; drag them over your shoulder and down the side of your arm. These moves can send an “innocently” sensual signal. You’ll want to save this tactic for when you’re deep into a conversation and avoid doing it more than once or twice. Like the act of sensually applying lipstick while someone watches – a no-no in polite company but ultra come-hither when flirting – self-touch can be a powerful move. Keep in mind, though, that you don’t want to pull the trigger on the big guns of flirtation unless you’re hankering for return fire.

Start practicing the art of body talk in situations where the outcome isn’t terribly important, and you’ll be surprised how soon these moves become second nature. Then your confidence will soar, along with your fluency as a RL flirt!

About the Author:

A psychologist and sex therapist based in New York City, Dr. Joy Davidson has been involved in the development of internet-based sexuality education for much of her career. Convinced that the internet has the capacity to revolutionize intimate connections, she has been actively researching and writing about the internet as a vehicle for sexual expression, education, and therapy for nearly a decade.

Dr. Davidson was a key contributor to MSN’s pioneering online magazine for women, Underwire, as well as a sex and relationships columnist for MSN’s,, and Offline, she was for 8 years the sex columnist for Playgirl magazine and Men’s Fitness magazine. In addition to her current articles on, she hosts a sexual enhancement video series, The Joy Spot, which can be viewed on other major video sites as well. Dr. Davidson’s personal website is

Dr. Davidson is the author of Fearless Sex: A Babe’s Guide to Overcoming Your Romantic Obsessions and Getting the Sex Life You Deserve (2004, Fairwinds Press), which, in hardcover, was a selection of the Literary Guild and the Venus Book Club. As an expert on sexual issues in popular media and culture, she is also a contributor to four of Benbella Books’ acclaimed “Smart Pop” anthologies and the editor of an upcoming fifth release. Her astute insights and warm, vivacious personal style have made

Dr. Davidson a sought-after speaker at seminars and conferences, and a guest on hundreds of national television and radio shows, including Oprah, 20/20, CNN News, Entertainment Tonight, Montel, and Bill O’Reilly. She was the host of 36 episodes of the Playboy channel’s series, “Secret Confessions and Fantasies,” and the writer/creator of the Playboy/Sharper Image home video series, “Secrets of Making Love to the Same Person Forever.” Dr. Davidson is a frequently featured expert in national magazines and press, including USA Today,, Redbook, Wall Street Journal, Glamour, Marie Claire, Men’s Health, and Cosmopolitan. She holds a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology and a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology. She is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, an AASECT certified Sex Therapist, and a member of AASECT’s Board of Directors.

Article by Dr. Davidson ©

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