Flirting Style Can Predict Success in Romance

Think flirting is all fun and games? A new study suggests there's much more to it than that.

Research from the University of Kansas found that a person's flirting style can predict success in the romance department.

"Knowing something about the way you communicate attraction says something about challenges you might have had in your past dating life," lead author Jeffrey Hall, an assistant professor in communication studies, told Reuters. "Hopefully, this awareness can help people avoid those mistakes and succeed in courtship."

Hall says that people who flirt more "playfully" do so to boost their own egos and self-esteem. He found that they have less luck with lasting, meaningful relationships than those who show their attraction in other ways.

Hall, who co-authored the study with eHarmony's senior director of research Steve Carter, quizzed more than 5,100 dating adults and broke flirting styles into five categories: physical, traditional, polite, sincere and playful.

The traditional flirts let the man be the initiator and the women play the more demure, coy, passive role. They gravitate toward more "intimate" dating settings, Hall told Reuters.

Physical flirts tend to be forward and direct in communicating their sexual attraction. Their relationships often progress quickly and are generally characterized by a strong emotional and physical connection, according to Hall.

Sincere flirts are genuine in expressing their romantic interest in another person, and polite flirts are chivalrous or coquettish towards the objects of their affection.

But playful flirts, says Hall, are flirting primarily because they like the game and they want to bolster their own self-confidence. And they tend to fail at making serious, long-term relationships work, he said.

"In some ways, the very early part of developing relationships is important to the success of long-term relationships, including marriages," he said.

University of Pennsylvania psychiatrist Dr. Christos Ballas doesn't believe you can generalize a person's success or failure in love based on what kind of flirt he or she is -- especially because people's behavior changes depending on who their partner or potential partner is.

"I can't watch you with one girl in a bar and predict how you'll be with all girls in bars," he told AOL Health. "People are so different with different people."

Flirting style may be an indication of what people want or don't want in a relationship, but not how they'll act once they get into one, according to Ballas.

"If you're a highly focused flirter, asking about the person, you're not looking for multiple relationships. You're trying to lock it down and look for just one," he said. "If you're a flirter who doesn't ask many personal questions -- if it's much more about the game -- you're not likely interested in relationships but just the fun of it."

In addition, the motivation behind playful flirting can vary by gender and age, Ballas believes. Younger people usually flirt playfully, whereas older people don't, he said -- so flirting style isn't a good indicator of relationship success, as youth can often be a factor in whether a couple lasts or not.

Besides, isn't all flirting done in part, at least, to make you feel good about yourself?

"Isn't that the whole point of it?" Ballas said. "You want to get the person to like you."