Flirting is a time-honored way of signaling interest and attraction, to say nothing of mutual awareness. It is a kind of silent language spoken by men and women around the world.
The ways people communicate interest are so deeply rooted in human nature that the signals are automatically understood by all. Flirting is part of the behavioral repertoire we come equipped with to meet nature’s most basic command—find a good mate and multiply.
Flirting is not a trivial activity; it requires many skills: intellect, body language, creativity, empathy. At its best, flirting can be high art, whether the flirter is vying for a soul mate, manipulating a potential customer, or just being playful.
The process of flirting allows us to signal interest to another in small increments, which is especially appealing to a partner and enables both parties to gauge the interest level of the other. Flirting is an activity we don’t really have to think about; it is driven by emotions and instinct rather than logical thought. The gestures and movements used in flirting provide reliable clues to biological and psychological health.
Flirting in the Animal Kingdom
Flirting is not restricted to humans; it has many parallels in the animal world, seen in the behavioral displays many animals engage in to signal not only their availability but their suitability. Animal courtship varies tremendously between species, ranging from subtle movements to lavish displays. For example, penguins search for small pebbles to deliver to their partner of interest. Seahorses lock their tails together for a romantic swim. Bower birds use leaves, grass, and twigs to construct elaborate nests. Across the animal kingdom, these actions signal reproductive fitness by one creature to another.