Did you know that female rodents wiggle their ears, flick their noses and arch their backs to send “come hither” signals to potential mates? Well, anthropologists have researched and found that human females have their own unique signals, including sultry smiles, swaying, giggling, lip-licking, thrusting out their buttocks and chests, and even wearing high-heeled shoes.
Most of us call it flirting, but the skill is in using these little cues to notify potential mates of our interest and availability. Without permission, I plundered their fascinating non-verbal dictionary for the finer points of flirting, and discovered that there are a host of factors to take into account, that should be part of every girl’s education!
The main object is to go out there and announce: “I am here … you may approach”. To achieve this you should firstly look to your clothes - use bright colors, floral prints, bold lines and geometric shapes to attract the eye, as well as jewellery – necklaces, bracelets and anything shiny to catch the light. The reasoning is that our potential mates’ “primate eyes” are programmed to notice alluring feminine body parts emphasized with tempting bright adornments. Aroma (perfume) is a turn-on, too, and a musky “animal” smell is important.
In social situations, men tend to set up “mini-territories”. They will establish an “artifact scatter” area – plonking car keys, cell phone and other personal items around their drinks and snack plates – in order to establish a “fixed courting station” and send out the message that they are available.
Women, by contrast, go “walkabout through the party space”, skirting and brushing past the stationary men. This is when a woman uses her ability to preen and use her eyes seductively as she circulates.
While presenting herself to potential male partners, there are some very important grooming signals being sent out by women, too. Hair styles, for example, say a lot about a girl like “Our hairdo is a badge of identity reflecting membership in a group”. Some points to ponder with regards to hair: clean hair is a sign of high status, good health and careful grooming; bushy hair draws attention to the face; short cuts emphasize masculine features like bony brow ridges and large jaws; long, thick hair showcases pretty eyes and lips; long hair indicates passion and lack of inhibition, while shaved heads and short hair symbolize discipline, denial and conformity.
Men are “very visual creatures in courtship”, and therefore make-up is important for concealing blemishes and highlighting youthful features. According to research “beauty’s essential template is the ‘baby face’, with taut cheeks and prominent cheekbones”. So remember that tip next time you make up for a date!
Lucky for men, a man’s wrinkles and lines actually work in his favor, giving it the aura of strength of character – so he does not need to make up for you!
Oh yes, and a word about those aforementioned high heels! Shoes with thin, elevated heels enhance the derriere, firm the leg and showcase the feminine ankle.
The combination goes to suggesting that a woman’s feet are delicate and ethereal, destabilized and not planted firmly on the ground (i.e. you need taking care of – hope the feminists forgive me for this one!!). Also, high heels shift the body’s centre of gravity forward, causing you to lean forward and resulting in “an additional 25% protrusion of the derriere”. High heels also make legs seem longer and slimmer. So, if you want to catch a man – out with the flatties!
When it comes to the ideal body shape, it seems a woman “has it made” if her waist is visibly narrower than her hips. A “deep décolletage” is also a sure turn-on.
When using body language, the idea is not to come on too strongly, but rather to issue some subtle “welcome signs”. Tilt your head towards the shoulder on either side to indicate coyness and submissiveness; use an open, uplifted palm to indicate your friendliness and vulnerability; and above all, smile, smile, smile!
Once you have his attention, you need to use eye contact to let him know that you know he feels responsive to your “come on”. Amazingly enough your eye pupils actually dilate to unconsciously telegraph sexual interest (apparently European women once used to artificially dilate their pupils with belladonna!). Mutual eye contact is very important – “as we lock eyes with a lovely face, information flows from visual areas of the cerebral cortex to the hypothalamus, which influences our sexual behavior as a ‘prime node’,” whew!
Now you can use eyelid batting, blushing, head-tossing and self-touching as messages to respond to his interest.
After all this hard work, comes the most difficult step of all – actually talking to him! If you reach this point, it is not so much what you say, but how you say it, that is important. Conversation “locks the pair into a mini-territory”, and the focus is on each other’s lips, eyes, cheeks and brows, revealing “subtle cues with which to probe the possibility of physical intimacy”.
Guard against gazing too long or powerfully into his eyes, turning your face too far to one side while talking, or pulling your lips into a thin line – these will be received as negative cues.
It is suggested that eating while you indulge in verbal communication can reduce the stress of the situation. Chewing, crunching and grinding reduce tension. Moreover, like a drug, food engages our nervous system’s calmer parasympathetic division. Not only does eating together promote relaxation, it also stimulates bonding, he says.
So, you have broken the ice over lunch, now to move on to the “tactile stage” of courtship. Touch is one of the nonverbal world’s “most rewarding experiences”. Humans are mammals and we evolved to enjoy reassuring hugs, snuggles, nuzzles and kisses in our nurturing.
The first touch – a milestone in courtship – is likely to seem casual, unpremeditated and accidental rather than serious. Be very careful how you react to his first touch; perhaps it is just a light fingering of forearm or shoulder or some other neutral body part, but remember, it is an exploratory gesture and if you pull away or tense up, he will sense your reluctance. Rather respond positively by a gentle shoulder shrug, sideward head tilt or a return touch.
As things progress in the touch department, embracing is the evolutionary correct way to say ‘I love you’”. Holding or clinging to someone is an infantile sign of needing to be mothered, so we don’t need to do that to a potential mate! Embracing, of course, should naturally move on to sealing your courtship with a kiss!
The final phase of courtship is when intimate touching crosses over to physical bonding in the form of sexual intercourse. Now, whether this involves a serious relationship or marriage is a personal choice and I will leave you to sort out your own non-verbal dictionary on that one! However, if you have come this far, you have passed this “non-verbal courting course” with flying colours, and you should be able to cope further on your own. All the best!