Valentine's Day is fast approaching, so what better way to get into the spirit than an interview with a top flirting expert.
Jean Smith has been teaching flirting techniques both in Britain and across the pond - and will this year be celebrating Valentine's Day by throwing a party for 40 singletons. All very Sex and the City, I'm sure you'll agree.
Lauren: You've been running a series of courses to help people build upon their flirting technique. How are these received and is the feedback generally fairly positive?
Jean: It’s all been positive. By the end of the course, people are surprised at what they are capable of, as well as becoming more open-minded. It’s like the off switch has been flicked on again.
Lauren: You've been lucky enough to travel the world with your job, taking your courses to America and beyond. How do Americans' flirting habits/behavior compare to those of British singletons?
Jean: Americans are used to the ‘self-help’ culture, so it was much easier to break in.
I noticed Chicagoans’ reasons for coming on the tour were starkly different than Londoners. The Americans were primarily there to look for a husband or wife, whereas the Londoners thought it ‘looked like fun’.
Americans seem to take a more straightforward view to their flirting, as they do with everything.
It’s more acceptable to walk up to someone with the obvious intention of flirting. In London, people would rather die than be obvious about flirting.
The English culture prescribes more to what you don’t say than what you do. It appreciates the subtly and the hint of flirting, which is what the best flirting is all about..the hint of mystere, rather than a brick being thrown at you.
Lauren: So, do you often put your own tips into practice?
Now that I am a happily married woman, my husband is the only recipient of my ‘flirting with intent’ kind of flirting. I like to catch him off guard, which is another tip for great flirting - don’t be predictable.
But there are many different reasons for flirting. I still do it to make people feel happy, to pass the time in a more enjoyable way, like in a queue and, maybe, to even get a discount *gasp*.
But, that’s more about being charming than flirting.
Lauren: What's the worst chat up line you've ever heard?
Jean: “You must be a parking ticket because you’ve got fine written all over you.”
Lauren: You have your eye on a bloke in a bar. How do you approach him to strike up a conversation?
The first step is to be in his proximity. If you are at the other end of the room, the chances of you two connecting is pretty slim. The next step is to conveniently be in the same place he is and then ask a question according to the context.
For example, he happens to be standing at the bar to get a drink and then you just happen to also be there. You ask if he’s been served. He replies. You then say something else if he doesn’t take the bait. If the timing is right and the people are right then it will naturally evolve. If it doesn’t, nothing’s been lost. Go find someone else to flirt with.
Lauren: What advice would you give to people who're unlucky in love?
They are probably attracted to people who aren’t compatible with them. Look to see if there are any obvious patterns in the people you go for. People who we are physically attracted to aren’t always the right match for a happy and healthy relationship.
Lauren: Do you have anything special planned for Valentine's Day?
Jean: I am running a massive flirting and walking tour in conjunction with Bulldog gin. I will take 40 singles on a brand new route along the South Bank, ending at a bar for a party, with drinks provided by Bulldog.
Lauren: What's the most romantic thing anyone's ever done for you?
Jean: Hired me a cleaner.
Lauren :What, in your opinion, is the number one flirting faux pas?
Jean: Trying too hard to impress rather than listening to what the other person is saying.
Lauren: Finally, how can you tell when a man/woman is flirting with you?
According to research I did in over 250 single people, telltale signs are:
- The way they are looking at you: extended eye contact and frequency.
- Laughing at ‘stupid’ jokes
- Paying all of their attention to you