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What kind of flirt are you?

Updated: 2013-10-01T01:20:07Z

By LISA GUTIERREZ

The Kansas City Star

Steve Harvey wanted it.

Playboy radio wanted it.

So did the New York Post and Cosmopolitan magazine.

So University of Kansas professor Jeffrey Hall gave it to them: the lowdown on flirting.

He has been studying the topic for seven years and recently put his research into a book, “The Five Flirting Styles: Use the Science of Flirting to Attract the Love You Really Want.”

Scientifically dissecting the heterosexual flirting habits of more than 10,000 people — including 5,000 users of eHarmony online dating service — Hall has identified five flirting archetypes: physical, playful, polite, sincere and traditional.

Everyone is typically a mix of the five styles, he says, but one style is usually more dominant than the others.

Which one are you? Take Hall’s online quiz to find out. (See box.)

Of course, we asked Hall, married 10 years to his grad-school sweetheart, to identify his own romantic modus operandi. But he preferred that the research, not the researcher, be the story.

What a tease.

He makes clear that there is no right or wrong way to flirt and that his book is not a pick-up artist’s guidebook. (Though one reviewer did call it “a GPS for singles looking for the most direct route to finding love.”)

Knowing how you express your romantic interest in someone is invaluable because it gives clues to why you end up in the relationships you do, he says.

That playful flirt, for instance, is so not interested in a long-term relationship.

Knowing your flirtatious tendencies also can help you steer clear of behavior that could be making others run the other way.

And wouldn’t you rather that they stay?

Physical flirt

This person relies on body language to communicate sexual interest.

“One of the unique things about the physical flirt is they like to go to clubs to dance with strangers,” Hall says. “That’s something they find enjoyable.”

He describes this person as being “switched on” — always looking for signs of flirting and sexual interest from other people. They can interpret even the most innocuous gesture as flirting.

In this category: the obnoxious ones who see themselves as heaven’s gift to the opposite sex. “They think everybody is flirting with them. They think of themselves as being more physically attractive than the people around them,” Hall says.

“Their problem is they’re more likely to assume the person they’re flirting with is interested when they’re not. They can end up stepping on toes and making people feel uncomfortable.”

Bottom line: People who scored high in this category often develop relationships quickly and have more sexual chemistry with their partners.

Polite flirt

Where the physical flirt is switched on all the time, the polite flirt doesn’t even know where the switch is.

They might have to be hit over the head, figuratively speaking, to realize that someone is flirting with them.

“They’re never getting the picture,” Hall says. “You basically have to tell a polite flirt that you want to take them out to make them understand that you are coming on to them.”

Cautious is another word for this person. They think that touching another person or complimenting them is bad manners — though, as Hall points out, science tells us that both those behaviors are useful in showing romantic interest.

In Hall’s research, people over the age of 40 were most likely to prefer using this style.

Bottom line: Polite flirts tend to have longer, more meaningful romantic relationships.

Playful flirt

This person thinks the bar is the best place to start a relationship. They enjoy the sport of flirting, playing the game.

This is that casual fling, the friend with “benefits.”

The problem? All that game-playing can make them seem dismissive and belittling and — surprise! — it’s hard for them to go beyond short-term dating in a relationship.

Bottom line: The playful flirt has little interest in romance. They flirt for flirting’s sake, no strings attached.

Sincere flirt

This is the most common flirting style, according to Hall’s research, probably because it has also been proven to be the most effective.

You might meet this person at the bar, but they’re probably there with a group of friends and not there to troll.

Out of the five styles of flirting, this person is the one who’s going to complain that the music is too loud in the bar to talk.

The sincere flirt wants to make an emotional connection with a romantic partner and enjoys the getting-to-know-you phase. They ask a lot of questions and pay attention to the answers.

Bottom line: The sincere flirt has meaningful relationships where emotional connection comes first, sexual chemistry second.

Traditional

This flirt believes that women shouldn’t be too forward, and men should take the lead — make the first move, open doors, pick up the tab.

Guess what? This style was the least popular among the men that Hall surveyed.

Guess what? Women are much more likely than men to be traditional flirts.

Guess what? Women might want to rethink that.

Bottom line: By taking a more passive role in dating, women with this style are more likely to have trouble getting a guy’s attention.

Physical flirt

‘Dirty Dancing’: Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey turn dancing into foreplay.

You’re one if: You like to go to clubs and dance with strangers, and you use your body to flirt.

Playful flirt

‘Friends With Benefits’: Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis try to keep their relationship all about the sex.

You’re one if: You think a bar is a great place to meet people and enjoy flirting as a game.

Polite flirt

‘Pride & Prejudice’: Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen do a careful dance between desire and disdain — with perfect manners.

You’re one if: You focus on proper manners and nonsexual communication.

Sincere flirt

‘Before Sunset’: Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy talk, talk, talk and talk some more on the way to falling in love.

You’re one if: You prefer a date with lots of talking first then lots of sex later.

Traditional flirt

‘Princess Bride’: Cary Elwes moves heaven and earth to save Robin Wright — his true love Princess Buttercup.

You’re one if: You think the woman should be the damsel in distress.

Flirting Styles Inventory

Get your own personalized flirting style report at flirtingstyles.dept.ku.edu.

You’ll be asked to answer questions on a sliding scale of strongly disagree to strongly agree. A sampling:

Men should pursue women, not the other way around.

Flirting is just for fun, people don’t need to be so serious.

Being too physically forward can be a turnoff.

I am good at picking up on the sexual interest of others.

People should be cautious when letting someone know they are interested.

To reach Lisa Gutierrez, call 816-234-4987 or email lgutierrez@kcstar.com.

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