What Is Flirting? And How to Tell if Someone’s Doing it to You

A woman who learned what is flirting, tackling a guy from behind and teasing him as he laughs.

Flirting is important. It’s how we communicate in a subtle way to someone that we’re into them, in a more than just friends kinda way. Read the signals right, and you’ll find out that this whole flirting and dating thing can be pretty simple. But misread the signals, or fail to know what they are, and you’ll find yourself banging your head against a brick wall; missing opportunities with amazing people.

So how do you flirt? And how can you tell if someone’s flirting with you? Before you can get to those answers, you need to understand what flirting even is. 

What is flirting?
Flirting is a social and sexual behavior that involves the way we communicate with people we’re interested in pursuing a deeper, more intimate relationship with.

Unsurprisingly, it’s seen as rude and aggressive to make sexual advances to people you don’t know that well, in public as well as private. So flirting is a great way to express your interests in a milder way to test the waters, and see if your feelings are mutual.

It’s difficult to tell if someone’s flirting with you, especially if you don’t know them that well. It might just be in their nature to be playful and touchy-feely with everyone they meet. Everyone is different, so be aware that theres no one tried and true way to flirt or be flirty.  

This is why it’s important to understand the subtle signs of flirting. It will save you a ton of guesswork and confusion, and also help you up your own flirting game.

Here’s how to tell if someone’s flirting with you:

Their behavior changes around you.
The change will be different depending on the person. Maybe they laugh more, they become really chatty, or the opposite happens, and they clam up or become withdrawn.

Some people are brazen with their flirting, while other people become nervous and the way they flirt is then expressed through that nervous energy. Keep an eye out for them acting differently around you or treating you differently than others. 

They’re the first to like your photos on social media.
If you’re already friends with the person in question on social media, this is a great way for them to give you attention without actually talking to you. They might do this by constantly liking or commenting on your photos; giving you compliments or teasing you in a playful way.

There’s so much shoved in our faces online these days, so if they’re taking the time to read and look at what you post, chances are they’re interested in you.

Their body language changes.
So much of what we say and communicate to people doesn’t come out of our mouths. Body language means the way we literally position our body. It includes things like touching our hair, making eye contact, having our arms and legs in an open stance, or standing close to someone.

If their body is angled openly towards you, they’re looking you in the eye, and they’re generally smiling, they are signaling their interest in you whether they’re aware of it or not.

They find a way to touch you.
I mean this in a strictly non-creepy way. Maybe they pat you on the shoulder, lightly touch your arm or hand, or nudge their foot against yours while you’re sat at a table.

Light, often “accidental” touches in these sensitive areas send signals to our brain about attraction, and get us into that instinctive headspace.

They tease you.
This goes all the way back to our school days, when the boy who fancied you would always tease you and do his best to pretend he hated you. That being said, I don’t mean you settle for someone who is actually being cruel to you, because you wrongly believe he cares about you underneath his hurtful actions.

But things like playful teasing or joking, or backhanded compliments can be the way a lot of people awkwardly flirt. They do this because they don’t want it to seem obvious they like you in case it’s not reciprocated.

There’s plenty of eye contact.
If someone is confident, and they’re flirting with you, they’ll hold eye contact with you a little longer than most people will, and they’ll smile while doing it. If someone is nervous, they might look away as soon as you catch their eye.

Eye contact is extremely personal, and creates a shared moment of vulnerability between the two of you, which nobody else is a part of.

They always laugh at your jokes.
Even the terrible ones that sound like something your Dad would say. This sounds simple, but here’s what will happen:

The person who likes you, or is trying to flirt with you, will make sure they’re always listening to what you have to say, and they’ll make an effort to show you they were listening and appreciated what they heard.

So if you continue to receive smiles, laughter, or giggles—even when you know you said something that really wasn’t that interesting or funny—take this as a sign they’re flirting with you.

So what do you do if you know someone is flirting? Well, flirt back of course! Try reciprocating their actions and see where things go. You never know where a good flirtation can lead.

Shani Jay

Bestselling Author and Empowerment Coach

Shani is a bestselling author, empowerment coach for women, and self-love advocate. She is the author of Bloom, The Babe Bible, Glow Getter, and Light Up Your Life; and her writing has been featured on many internationally recognized platforms including The Huffington Post, Thought Catalog, and Teen Vogue.

​In 2016 Shani founded The Glow Getter Tribe – a self-love & kindness movement which helps young girls & women worldwide feel happy, confident and beautiful starting from the inside, out.

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