What Does Flirting Have To Do With It?

A social networking site says American women are the world's "least flirtatious." But does flirting have anything to do with love?

Badoo, a site that's more popular in parts of Europe and Latin America than it is in the US, decided to study how often its female users initiated contact with men. Spanish women came out on top, messaging 1.33 men per month on average. American women, meanwhile, scored a miserable 19th place, with just 0.63 contacts initiated monthly. Badoo's Director of Marketing Lloyd Price said in a press release, "Most of us probably still expect men to make the first approach. But we wanted to know whether women in some countries were more likely to take the lead than those in others — and what this said about those societies."

It's not really clear from the press release what women's online messaging habits on a single site said about their cultures — and really, behavior on one site doesn't necessarily reveal much even about women's flirtatiousness. Maybe the American women just sent fewer messages because there were fewer Americans on the site, and they were looking for people they could meet in person. But even if American women are less flirty than our Spanish sisters, I'm not sure that says much about any of our love lives.

Flirting, I've come to realize, is an activity unto itself. The people who are really good at it — and who really love it — often do it with no expectation that it will lead to a relationship or sex. And it's perfectly possible to have dates, relationships, and sex without ever really flirting at all. Sure, flirting comes in different forms, and rarely looks like Cosmo' s hackneyed version (flip your hair, lick your lips, playfully slip your hair tie around his penis). But it's still a particular type of social interaction, a little dance that's sexy but not always sexual, and that has precious little to do with whether you actually get laid.

I say this as someone who doesn't really flirt, to whom flirting has always seemed like something of a dark continent. Fellow non-flirters, take heart: nine times out of ten, just paying attention to someone is as effective as flirting. But that's assuming flirting is supposed to be "effective," when, in its purest form, I sense it's not goal-oriented — it's more about means than end. And it does look fun, which is why I'm sometimes jealous of people who pull it off with aplomb. According to Badoo, I should ask a Spaniard for tips. But sheer volume of messages hardly indicates flirting prowess — where's the study that separates quality from crap? I'd actually like to see a guide to flirting that addresses these issues, but most ladymags and dating books discuss flirtation only in the context of Snagging Yourself A Man Before Your Ovaries Have Withered. Maybe there's an untapped market here — but then again, maybe great flirts are born, not made.

New Study Reveals U.S. Women Are The 'World's Least Flirty' - Women Of Spain Top The List! [Badoo, via Sacramento Bee]

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