According to researchers, the answer is probably no. In a study published in 2014, only 36% of men could tell. And only 18% of women could tell.
That’s right. Out of five women, only one is likely to notice when a guy is flirting with her. The other four? Clueless.
Obviously, it doesn’t work exactly that way. Sometimes a person can tell and sometimes she can’t. But you get what I’m saying.
I’m going to help improve your batting average. And I’m going to do it by sharing a surprisingly accurate formula from a different research study.
But before I do, let’s examine why we’re so bad at detecting flirting.
Take a look at this conversation between two coworkers:
MAN: Hey, Cheryl.
WOMAN: Morning, Mike. Have a good weekend?
MAN: Not too bad, not too bad. My triathlon was Sunday, so I’m still pretty sore.
WOMAN: Oh, right! How’d it go?
MAN: Well, I finished, so that’s good, right? (laughs)
WOMAN: Um, I’d say. It’s certainly not something I could ever do.
MAN: Sure you could. You’ve already got a nice build. Just takes training.
WOMAN: (laughing) A lot of training, for me.
MAN: (laughing) A lot for anyone.
WOMAN: It does sound fun, though.
MAN: Well, you know, if you’re serious about trying, I’m available. I mean, you know, I’d be happy to help train with you.
WOMAN: Thanks. I’ll keep it in mind. See you.
MAN: See you.
Here’s what we know from what is actually said:
- These two know each other well enough to be on familiar terms.
- Mike just completed a triathlon.
- Cheryl says she’s interested in doing a triathlon, but only sort-of.
- Mike offers to help her train.
Mike could be flirting. He could be trying to find a way to spend more time with Cheryl. Because he likes her.
But there are alternative ways to see this, too.
Maybe he’s really into fitness. And he likes getting other people into fitness. Or wants someone to train with. Or perhaps he’s just a friendly guy.
From this conversation, it’s impossible to tell for sure.
Now, obviously in a real-life conversation, there would be other cues. Body language. Voice inflection.
Those things can help indicate interest.
But here’s the thing: most flirting is subtle. So it’s very easy to confuse friendliness with flirting. And vice versa.
Here’s where that other study comes in.
Stanford researchers put subjects through “speed dates.” Then asked them whether or not their partners were flirting.
But they also used something called a “flirtation detection system.”
It was better at detecting flirtation than both the men and women.
I’m going to break down how it works. So, you can keep their findings in mind the next time you wonder if a guy is really coming on to you.