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How to Flirt Without Leading Someone On

Updated on June 19, 2013

You arrive at a local club and are ready to party. You know you want to have a good time- dance, drink, and flirt- but you have no intention of asking anyone out when the night is over. If you're a guy, you don't want to look like a schmuck because you didn't ask for a girl's number. If you're a girl, you hope to avoid looking like a tease.

So how exactly do you flirt without leading someone on?

Flirting can be observed in all species.
Flirting can be observed in all species. | Source

Define flirting

So what is flirting anyway? We know it's a biological and psychological process that lets someone know we are interested in them in some way. Men and women use movements, speech, and other non-verbal cues in an attempt to:

  • Show the other person they are sexually attracted to them
  • Feel out the sexual interest of the other person

For men and women, flirting signals may be different. When a woman leaves a party or evening disappointed that a guy didn’t ask her out, she must first ask herself, “Was he even really flirting with me or was that my own interpretation?” Men may wonder, "Was she just using me to feel good about herself?"

What are some of the signs of lighthearted flirting?

  • Entering the other person's physical space by leaning in close
  • Touching the individual in non-sexual places like the back, arm, shoulder, or waist
  • Asking the person to dance or offering to buy a drink
  • Prolonged eye contact
  • Compliments or poking fun

Understand why you flirt

The title of this article begs the question: Why are you so interested in flirting but not a relationship?

It might be because:

  • You're already in a relationship
  • You are insecure about dating
  • You need a distraction from difficult life circumstances
  • You want to flirt with a friend and not ruin the whole "friendship" thing

Flirting is fun. It releases chemicals in the brain that induce pleasure, relaxation, excitement, and adventure. As long as you understand that your pleasure should not come at the expense of someone else's broken heart, you can keep your flirting harmless.

Here are a few tips...

1. Work the room

Don't spend the entire evening with one person. Enjoy some conversation but then move on to other people. It helps if you go out with a group of friends so you can mingle with them when you need to "escape" a situation that might be getting a bit too intense.

2. Don't accept more than one drink

If you accept a drink from someone, don't accept two. It is courtesy to say, "I'm having a great time but I just want you to know I'm currently unavailable." If the person still wants to hang out and buy you another round, then that's fine. But accepting drinks all night without giving him/her a head's up is rude.

Instead of the ol' bump and grind, why not ACTUALLY dance?
Instead of the ol' bump and grind, why not ACTUALLY dance? | Source

3. Don't drink too much!

The more alcohol that runs through your veins, the more likely you are to throw caution to the wind. Give yourself a limit before you set foot into a bar or club. Tell a friend how many drinks you are going to have. Only bring enough money for a couple. Create boundaries so you don't get sloppy drunk.

4. Keep it clean

Flirting can be fun without having to go into rated R territory. You can joke around, dance, and yes if you're a woman, even flip your hair back without getting the other person too revved up.

You know when you've crossed a line. For women, keep in mind that just because men have a reputation of liking casual sex, it doesn't mean they enjoy getting their hopes dashed. And for the men? Remember that there are a lot more women who don't like the harmless flirting UNLESS it will go somewhere (like a date out). Learn how to figure out who these women are, and avoid them.

Have you been the victim of a casual flirter?

See results

5. Explain yourself up front

This doesn't mean you have to sit the person down and launch into your dating history and pitfalls. It's fairly simple to say hello and then casually suggest you're just here for a "night with the girls" (or guys). Choose your words carefully. Don't say, "I'm looking for a good time." How about, "It's been a hard week and I just needed a night to be with my friends and enjoy the atmosphere."

6. Find someone in a similar situation

It helps tremendously if you both are of the same mind. If you are involved in a messy breakup and the other person is too, there is a mutual understanding that the night is simply an evening for fun - and it isn't going anywhere.

Do not take advantage of someone who you know obviously is crushing on you. Those are the people you want to avoid if you have no intentions of your flirting going anywhere.

7. Be honest with yourself

Sometimes it takes putting ourselves in the other person's shoes to evaluate our behavior objectively. If you were the other person interacting with you, would you be led on?

If the answer is yes, pull back. In fact, stop flirting immediately.
If the answer is no, then you can continue.

Remember back to the last time you flirted with someone...and it went somewhere. Recall the evening and the progression. Your "flirting without strings" should be about 50% of that memory.

8. Avoid repeats

The more you flirt with the same person, the more likely feelings are going to develop. If you frequent the same club or bar every week, don't keep flirting with the same people. Chances are, one or both of you will want to take it further.

A word of caution

Flirting is designed as a prerequisite for a long-term relationship. If you are stuck in a habitual pattern of flirting without strings, you may want to explore the deeper issues behind it.

Oftentimes insecurities, hang ups, past issues, and depression can be the cause of this type of behavior. Once you've sorted it out, you might find you want to flirt with the expressed intent of finding a mate!

In that case, don't heed the advice of this article!


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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Maybe I am the odd one out, but I get no pleasure from flirting with people who I have no intention of pursuing. I think it is just a form of attention seeking and ego stroking if you don't even like the person.

    • rtburroughs2 profile image

      Robert Burroughs 

      7 years ago

      I love reading your hubs, you have a lot of interesting things to say.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Great hub. I have a buddy that likes to flirt even though he is happily married. He makes sure his ring is on and visible.

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 

      7 years ago from Upstate, New York

      Julie - Spoken like a true connaisseur! I derived great pleasure from this article as I never saw anything wrong with harmless flirting.

    • rfmoran profile image

      Russ Moran - The Write Stuff 

      7 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Excellent advice about not drinking too much. Although I'm not in the game (happily married) I am reminded of the old joke about the drunk flirt. "For a fat girl you smell pretty nice."

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      7 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Interesting ways of flirting. one has to be honest about what they actually want thanks for this hub.

    • Julie DeNeen profile imageAUTHOR

      Blurter of Indiscretions 

      7 years ago from Clinton CT

      Well I kinda am actually. :P

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      So, what you're saying're NOT totally in love with me? Sigh. HOW WILL I GET OVER THIS?

      Okay. I'm over it. Moving on...

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 

      7 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      Great information! I actually did something right for a change!

    • MelChi profile image

      Melanie Chisnall 

      7 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

      If I was single this would definitely be something up my alley because when I was dating during high school, I didn't know much about flirting. Thank goodness my husband made it easy for me, LOL!


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