|"Accidentally" brushing up against someone or casually touching their hand or shoulder in a gentle, tender way is one of the key signs of flirting. (Comstock)
Much has been written about the art of flirting, and how subtle gestures alert others to our interest in them. But just how do you respond to someone's up-for-it body language, seductive banter and come-hither moves?
Our guide to getting picked up will ensure you don't miss the signs and that you respond to flirtatious behaviour in just the right way.
In the animal kingdom, a bird may puff up its feathers in order to appear more attractive to a mate.
So when faced with a suitor who has straightened their posture in an effort to impress, you should respond in kind by lifting your shoulders and subtly arching your back. This move also has the added bonus of making your tummy trimmer -- quite the handy little trick.
Staying in the "personal zone" -- no closer than 20 inches no further than 50 inches from each other -- is essential to successful flirting. If you find someone hovering in your immediate sphere, there's a good chance they're interested.
The "lint pick" is a flirting classic that gives you permission to inhabit their personal zone. It involves leaning in to carefully remove a non-existent piece of fluff from your love interest's shoulder. How considerate of you! And how clever, using this old trick to keep yourself in their personal space.
Understanding eye contact and using it to your advantage is an essential element of successful flirting. Knowing when to look -- and where to look -- is the key.
If you think someone is making eyes at you, catch their gaze and see if you can hold it for a moment -- four seconds is ideal as it's just long enough to let the other person know you're not just being friendly. When you meet someone you fancy, make sure you look them in the eye and keep looking while you make your introduction.
For the person doing the flirting, leaning in is only partly about being able to hear the conversation better. It's just as much about placing yourself in a position where physical contact is more likely to occur.
Exposing your ear -- by tucking your hair behind it or cocking your head slightly to the side -- provides a prospective paramour with a peek at an often-hidden erogenous zone. By "lending your ear" in this way, you're also showing that you're listening, and this is one of the highest compliments you can pay anyone.
"Accidentally" brushing up against someone or casually touching their hand or shoulder in a gentle, tender way is one of the key signs of flirting. Physical touch confirms a person's interest in you; they are making an effort to close the space between you while at the same time testing how you respond to their touch.
Look for opportunities to return the casual, affectionate touch. Say your companion has just made you chuckle with a particularly amusing anecdote. Smile, laugh and then lean in and lightly place your hand on their forearm. Give it a little squeeze for good measure. Your companion will have no doubt about your interest in them.
Mirroring is the name given to adopting similar body language in order to make others feel accepted and validated. The theory goes that we feel a sense of approval and acceptance when we see someone else doing as we are.
If someone is flirting with you and you'd like to show your interest in return, mirror their body language. If they stroke their her hair, you follow suit. If they sip their drink, you should drink, too. Carry on this merry dance for long enough and you'll soon be mirroring some rather unmistakable body language -- back at your place.
In isolation, these signals may just be a sign of friendliness, but when two or more of the gestures appear in quick succession, you can be sure that flirting is taking place. Now, armed with this repertoire of appropriate responses, you can make the seamless transition from flirting to something else faster than you can say "Taxi!"