We respond to people in different ways and on different levels. We take cues from each other and respond to the way someone looks, smiles (or doesn't smile), their sense of humour, the way they smell (for better and for worse!). When you're flirting with someone, you might make eye contact and smile as you talk, decrease the physical distance between you, or compliment them on the way they look. When you are attracted to someone you might flirt with them without even realising it.
Sometimes we like someone instantly. At other times, as we get to know someone slowly, the attraction comes gradually. Flirting doesn't necessarily lead to dating: it is often just a mode of relating which lets us know when someone likes us, or tells us that we like them. It's important to remember that flirting is never an open invitation for sex or that you are 'leading someone on'. If you think someone is flirting, it doesn't necessarily mean they want to sleep with you and, in turn, just because you flirt with someone, it doesn't mean you owe them anything.
Feelings are very subtle and personal to each individual so it's important to also remember that some people might take flirting as a direct and definite signal. If a person has no interest in following up the flirtatious advances and actually getting to know someone more closely, don't forget that it is easy to upset those who feel they are being 'led on' and then dumped!
How can you tell if someone likes you?
Some people are shy, or only give very subtle physical cues about how they feel about you. What if you want to find out if someone likes you? Try to find low-stress, natural, ways of spending time together. Show them the same kind of interest you would show in any one of your friends. Ask them questions about themselves. Find out what you have in common. Find out the things that make you both laugh.
Flirting doesn't have to involve showing heaps of skin either. It's more about the attraction of whole person - and this makes sense: in the end, you want someone to like you for who you are, not just for your body.
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