Here’s the dictionary definition of flirting: ‘behave as though sexually attracted to someone, but playfully rather than with serious intentions.’

The keywords here are ‘playful’ and ‘sexual attraction’. A tricky combination to express sometimes.

Flirting is one of the most important skills you could ever develop to vastly improve the quality of your life. It makes your daily life exciting, there’s a potential in every encounter to have fun, get some adrenaline, make other people smile, connect with strangers, etc. It’s one of the things that make us come alive. But when you’re doing it wrong, it’s a source of huge frustration, shame, embarassement and awkward situations.

Luckily, Jean Smith, has figured out the elements of what makes good flirting. And it’s easy to remember, because she’s stuffed her wisdom into the acronym ‘H.O.T.A.P.E’.

Here’s how to be a Hot Ape:

Humor

What you say should be funny. You should still express romantic or sexual interest, but you should have plausible deniability, your approach should be coated in

Open Body Language

If you look like you’re protecting your body from harm, guess what,the person you’re talking to will pick up on that, and you’re giving the message that the situation somehow is not safe. Open body language conveys a message of safety and paves the way for interaction.

Touch

Touch has a profound effect on us, much more than we realize. In one famous study a lady left coins in a phone booth. When she asked people that for a phone call after her to give her the coins back, she got the coins back much more often if she physically touched the person while making her request. She had significantly worse results when she didn’t touch the person when she asked for her coins.

The upper arm and shoulders are considered ‘safe’ and ‘innocent’ to touch. The further down you go towards the hands, the more ‘intense’ and ‘intimate’ and also ‘eroticized’ the touching becomes. Also the back between the shoulder blades is a firtsy spot to touch.

If you start touching thighs or buttocks you’re already one boundary further of course… In the intitial stages of flirting going towards the hands and back is a good idea.

Attention

Make your attention specific. Don’t say horrid overused things like-  instant stomach ache – ‘heaven must be missing an angle’ or -cringe, cringe, cringe!!- ‘If I would tell you have a great body, would you hold it against me?’

Be specific in your attention. Focus on the person you’re flirting with, don’t say things you could say to just anyone. Use details in the situations to fuel the flirting.

If you see a woman in some form of military dress, like camouflage pants, get a running joke going that she’s a tough marine or modern day amazon, or combat veteran.

(In the US and Israel she might actually be a combat soldier, so be careful…)

Proximity

If you’re too shy to come closer and try to flirtatious standing 3 meters away staring at the ground. Guess what? He/she won’t be feeling your vibe…

Eye Contact

I think we all know the importance of making eye contact by now. It’s a cliche, but it’s all in the eyes, isn’t it?

This is why construction workers whistling (or ‘cat calling’) from the tof of roof are flirting horribly. You can’t even call it flirting. It’s usually not funny, you can’t even spot the open body language, there’s certainly no touching involved (the targeted women are usually most grateful for this fact), it’s non-specific attention, I don’t think it makes women feel all that special, though not every woman finds it obnoxious, there’s no proximity obviously, and there’s no eye contact. They are not being a Hot Ape.

So next time you spot someone on your radar who has the potential to lift you to cloud nine, be a Hot Ape.

If you want to watch Jean’s Ted Talk about the matter, here it is: