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Many people have anxieties about flirting, and as a result they don't do it well, or they don't do it at all. If so, they may be missing out on a lot of fun. For, despite my many caveats about destructive flirting, the truth is that harmless flirting can be fun, and seductive flirting can greatly enrich your seduction experience.

Most people with flirting anxiety are simply afraid of rejection. The good news is that much of this fear can be overcome by shifting your mind from the idea of flirting to the idea of simply connecting with another person. When you connect with someone, you make a link or a bond with that person, and not necessarily with romantic or seductive intent. You can make a connection with the gas station attendant, the person in line behind you at the supermarket, or the woman who's checking you out at the bookstore (by this, I mean she's ringing up yoi!i9purchase, not "checking you out" in that way). In fact, connecting with people in these neutral situations is a great way to begin getting over your anxiety about flirting. After all, what is flirting but just another way of connecting with other people?

I'm going to share some secrets for connecting. Master these, and flirting will come naturally. (Also see Chapter 5 for some extra help.)

• Your state of mind is the most important determinant of your happiness. Your happiness doesn't depend on your state of matrimony or relationship; it depends on your state of mind. Seducing someone that you're wild about may ultimately be your goal; but remember, getting there is half the fun. And you do want to have fun, don't you? Otherwise, what's the point? Whether you want to be a great seductress or seducer, or you just want to form a connection with that woman who works at the bookstore, cultivate a joyful state of mind, and the rest really will come easily.

• Don't be too attached to the outcome of your connection attempts. I've said this so many times that you might call it the Love Coach mantra, but it's so important that I'm going to keep saying it. When you're connecting with someone, or even flirting with that person, you're not going to hit the mark every time. It's like striking a rock 99 times, and it doesn't crack until the 100th swing of the pick axe. You need a little practice, particularly if you haven't been out there flirting in a long time (or ever). Remember, you're going to start simply by connecting, making conversation, and talking to people. Learn not to be disappointed if the outcome isn't exactly the way you would have liked.

• Remember that everyone wants to connect with a happy, confident person. Do whatever it takes to reinforce your confidence and your self-esteem. Remind yourself that you're a unique and worthwhile person. If you need some inspiration, go back to some of the exercises in Chapters 3 and 4.

• Smile, for Pete's sake! Okay, I admit it, this is another one of my mantras, and if you've read some of the earlier chapters, you'll know it. It sounds so simple, but if you learn the art of the genuine smile and practice it as often as you can, people will be drawn to you. Try smiling at people whom others rarely smile at—that grouchy librarian nobody ever talks to, the post office attendant stuck behind the service counter at lunch hour, or that check-out clerk in your supermarket who looks like she's never smiled a day in her life. See if you can't light up that person's eyes. When you smile, you give away a gift of joy.

• Practice eye contact. But practice it in moderation; you want to look interested, not predatory. Look away occasionally when you're talking to someone, but do return your glance frequently, and be sure to smile.

• Genuinely care and have empathy for the people with whom you're connecting. If you make a genuine attempt to see the world through the other person's eyes, the empathy and caring will come naturally. See Chapter 5 for more about this.

• Don't forget that laughter and humor are fun—and sexy! Laughing with somebody is one of the most delightful experiences you can share.

• Find things that you have in common with people and talk about that. Don't forget that most folks are comfortable around people with whom they have something in common.

• Find something that you really like about someone and share it with that person. Remember, if you like someone, that individual will almost always like you back. If not, you don't need to be hanging around with that person, right?

• Be approachable. It's fine to maintain a level of mystery, but no matter how beautiful or how handsome you are, people will not approach you if you don't look happy, friendly, and receptive. In fact, stunningly good-looking people often have more trouble than average-looking people in this area, because others automatically assume that beauty renders a person unreachable.

Heart Brakes

Heart Brakes

Don't be a ieff-rejecting flirt. Let's say you'ne thinking of asking that attractive person you've just met bo dance, but you don't do it because you're afraid of rejection, ßad choice! It can't hurt to go ahead and aik (he percon to dance. The worst that can happen is that the ans wer will be no. Even if it is, it might be for a reason completely unrelated to you. Maybe this person has two left feet, or maybe he or she is already involved and doesn't want to be ternpted. In any case, don't reject yourself without even consulting the object of your attention. And remember,, the people who Jose out ajie not the ones whose flirtations are rejected; the only losers are the ones who never get in the game.

The first step, then, is to get out there and practice simply connecting with people. The next step is to overcome your resistance to actual flirting. While flirting may seem to come naturally to some people, it is a skill that anyone can learn. So go ahead and try it. And yes, you have to practice. Just like playing tennis, riding a bike, or anything else, your flirting will improve with practice. The important thing is that you get out there and do it!

Now that you're feeling better about flirting, let's explore the different varieties of flirtation. Testing, Testing: One, Two...Wow!

Harmless flirting can be fun and ego boosting. Jill just ended a long-term relationship and went through an intense grieving period of several weeks. Jill did little but sit around the house trying to decide if life still had any meaning. She finally came to the conclusion that it did, and knew it was time to dust herself off and get back out there in the action.

However, she wisely decided she really wasn't ready to date yet, so instead she elected to go out with a couple of girlfriends for a night of harmless flirting, or "equipment testing." They decided to go to a new club across town.

Aik the Love Coach

Aik the Love Coach

There's nothing wrong with engaging in harmless flirtation to test your attractiveness, if you are dear about your intentions and don't lead anybody on. Set boundaries for yourself, and don't cross them. Remember, it's very easy -for people to misconstrue signals, particularly if their judgment ii impaired by alcohol, Don't let an innocuous "equipment test" turn into a cruel bsase.

Jill was still a bit shaky after having been out of action for so long, but she prepared herself by taking a leisurely bath and playing some music that really got her in the mood. As she applied her make-up, she studied herself in the mirror, focusing on her best features: her large blue eyes, her long, blond hair, and her fantastic, easy smile. People have told her she looks a lot like a younger version of Goldie Hawn.

By the time Jill walked into that club, she had psyched herself up. She was thinking, "I'm a dead ringer for Goldie Hawn. In fact, I'm even more adorable." So she strode right in and put on her biggest smile. First she looked all around the room—not at the people, but at the colors and the decor of the club. She soaked it all in: the music, the rhythm, the laughter and noise. She really felt good about herself, and more alive than she had in weeks. She laughed and joked with her friends, and ordered a nonalcoholic drink.

Ask the Love Coach

We flirt for many reasons. For some peopie, flirting is a means of convincing themselves that they are worthy and desirable. For others, it's merely s tool to be used to satisfy sexual uigings. And for a pitiful few, it's a weapon to manipulate and dominate other people. Fer the practitioners of delicious seduction, however, flirtation is but One of the ways to communicate that we, ourselves, are seduced by the wondrous flavors of life, ----■, ---

Ask the Love Coach

We flirt for many reasons. For some peopie, flirting is a means of convincing themselves that they are worthy and desirable. For others, it's merely s tool to be used to satisfy sexual uigings. And for a pitiful few, it's a weapon to manipulate and dominate other people. Fer the practitioners of delicious seduction, however, flirtation is but One of the ways to communicate that we, ourselves, are seduced by the wondrous flavors of life, ----■, ---

Before too long, a man walked up and asked Jill to dance. He wasn't really her type, but that wasn't what she was after. She went to the dance floor with him, danced several dances, flirted a little with him, and had a delightful time. After awhile he took her back to the table, and said, "Would you like to go somewhere quieter, where we can talk and get to know each other better?"

Jill replied, "No, thanks. I'm really here just to have a good time dancing. But hey, you sure are a great dancer, and I've had a wonderful time."

He shrugged good-naturedly and said, "Well, okay, maybe I'll see you on the dance floor later! If you'd like, maybe you'll give me a call someday if you'd like to go out dancing again." He gave her his card and left with a good attitude, because she hadn't led him on, and she hadn't made him feel rejected. Before too long, Jill noticed another man looking at her from across the bar. She looked at him briefly, then she looked down, and then she looked up again, making eye contact and smiling briefly. She looked down again and started to twirl a strand of her hair. This was definite preening posture—in other words, unmistakable flirting!

The guy came over and said, "May I buy you ladies a drink?" They said, "Sure," and began to talk to him, but he zeroed in on Jill. Finally Jill said, "Let's dance." He was a great dancer, and she really liked the way dancing with him made her feel sensuous and sexy again. He seemed to be quite turned on to her, but she stuck to her vow not to get involved with anyone. So, just as she did with the first man, she let her new dance partner know that she was there that night just to have a good time dancing. He seemed disappointed, but didn't push it.

for HER Eyes Only

When you're flirting, you can really wow him with eye contact if you do it right. Look at him briefly, then look down, and then look up again—making, the actual eye contact^ and smiling briefly. This is very important; eye contact without a pleasant smile is just staring, and that's notviery sexy.

for HER Eyes Only

When you're flirting, you can really wow him with eye contact if you do it right. Look at him briefly, then look down, and then look up again—making, the actual eye contact^ and smiling briefly. This is very important; eye contact without a pleasant smile is just staring, and that's notviery sexy.

As the evening progressed, Jill's self-esteem and self confidence steadily rose, but not at the price of anyone's feelings. She flirted in a way that didn't lead anyone on, or damage self-esteem.

Later on in the evening, she noticed another man making eyes at her. But she also noticed he was there with his girlfriend, and this was definitely a violation of the ethical boundaries she'd set for herself. So she looked down, not giving him a second glance, and struck up a conversation with someone else.

By the end of the night, Jill had danced and had fun, laughed, and told stories with her friends. As people said good night to her, she felt wonderful. She went home and had a restful night's sleep, knowing that, yes, her equipment still worked—and when she gets ready to use it again, it will work just fine the next time, too. 202

As God Is My Witness, I Shall Never Flirt Destructively Again!

For HER Eyes Only

For HER Eyes Only

Nearly every woman will admit to having led a man on at ore time or another, for the sole purpose of boosting her ego. Unfortunately, to establish a pattern of this type of behavior is to perpetuate all the negative elements we've been trying to get away from. Flirting for vanity's sake may give you some temporary emotional reinforcement, but in the end will make you feel ugly inside. If you are going to practice equipment-check flirtation, biMure to do it in such a way that it is not harmful to the man you're flirting with, or to you.

You can be pretty sure that those are words Scarlett O'Hara never said. We all remember the image of Scarlett seated so demurely at the center of a circle of fawning would-be suitors. With deft movements and subtle words, she held out to each of them the promise of her attentions, even her affections, if only they played their cards right. In one scene of Gone With The Wind, she was flirting madly, leading the men on, enraging their women, and generally causing mayhem. Her intent was meaningless, beyond her desire to feel good about herself—everyone else's feelings be damned. The character of Scarlett was, in her fickleness, the epitome of the old-fashioned flirt—the destructive flirt, if you will.

What we so often forget is that Scarlett, as adept as she was at flirting and seduction, ended up alone and unhappy. Her very fickleness caused her to lose the one man she truly loved—and who truly loved her.

The old style of flirting generally had one very clear and very short-term objective: attract someone's amorous attention. There was little or no thought given to the "next step," much less the final outcome of the actions. All that mattered was to get another person to notice and want you.

That's not to say that such an objective is inherently bad, of course. We all want to be noticed and desired. To some extent, we all wish to be seductive. It's in our wiring to want, even need, to attract the attentions and affections of another human being. And, as we just saw in Jill's example above, flirting can be a fun and harmless means to gain this attention. Unfortunately, however, there are still many Scarletts (and their male counterparts) running around out there, flirting with disaster.

It happens all the time. A client of mine named Hannah told me about two couples she observed at a dinner party recently. It was an intimate gathering at a home in a ritzy part of town. One of the men, Fred, had brought his date, Melissa. Melissa was pretty and personable, and Fred found her quite attractive. They had been going out together for nearly a month. But then Fred noticed his business associate Phil's date, a pretty blonde named Connie. So, Fred began to do what Fred does best: flirt. He would make comments—some subtle, some not so subtle—about how pretty Connie was. He'd make eye contact with her, wink at her, and laugh a little too loudly at her jokes.

Connie, who had no particular attachment to Phil (beyond the fact that he'd brought her to the party), began to respond to Fred's overtures. As a matter of fact, she found him quite attractive, and she figured, from the way he was behaving, that he didn't have any particular attachment to Melissa. Fred, however, didn't have any serious intentions toward Connie, other than a desire to grab her attention. Once she began responding flirtatiously to Fred, he quickly grew bored, and turned his amorous attention to my client Hannah, who had the good sense to ignore him.

Meanwhile, Phil was furious, as was Fred's date Melissa, and Connie was just feeling humiliated. What Fred had accomplished, in the space of a single evening, was to make three people very upset. This was definitely a case of harmful flirting.

!f the person you're trying to attract teems to be practicing old-style, destructive flirtation, should you dismiss this iridivfduai as a potential partner, or should you offer the benefit of the doubt? It depends. He or she may weH he a wonderful person who jimply doesn't realize that things are done differently now. Pay attention to your gut feelings, beyond whatever physical attraction you may have. If you think this person reaJly might ha^; promise, try getting to know him or her a little better; reserve your judgment until you feel you have some more "facts." Maybe this old-style flirt is a diamond in the rough. If this person's behavior is truly oftemwe, however, don't stick around for the abuse. It's not your job to "fin" ajvybody.

How do you avoid harmful flirting? It's really just a matter of common sense and decency. If your intent is honorable, and you project those good intentions to those around you, you shouldn't run into any problems. And, since it is impossible to know for certain what a new acquaintance is thinking or, therefore, what his or her intentions are, you can only make sure your own motives are pure. Here are some pointers:

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