How much does a polar bear weigh? ... Enough to break the ice.”
The quote above describes a typically awkward opening line, and one that is not recommended. Unfortunately, we have all been either the recipient or sender of such cliché, trite, and potentially terrible flirtatious messages. Sometimes you actually hear yourself saying the line, and are then immediately filled with regret.
Despite the pitfalls, flirting can be a key step toward initiating a date. It's equally important in maintaining a romantic relationship. Although we have all flirted and been flirted with, have you ever thought about why we actually flirt? I am guessing most people have not had moments of deep reflection on the question, but Dr. David Henningsen has. Aristotle argued that all communication was goal-oriented, and Henningsen's research has identified six goal-oriented reasons why we flirt:
In his study of flirting motives, Henningsen had participants describe a standard flirting interaction. Not surprisingly, he found that many of the interactions were driven by more than one motive. He also examined gender differences in flirting descriptions, finding that men viewed flirting as more sexually-driven whereas women reported more fun and relational motives. The remaining motives (exploring, esteem, and instrumental) did not significantly differ between the sexes.
Collectively, though, the most frequently noted motive was relational, suggesting that flirting messages are fundamentally driven by the desire to build a relationship. This finding may make readers feel more optimistic about flirting the next time they are hit on. In the interim, work on those opening lines— make sure they are practiced, polished, and well-rehearsed (while making it appear like they are not at all practiced or rehearsed...).
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