Love and Romance Relationships

How To Be A Flirt Expert

by Imei Hsu, RN, MAC, LMHC

Whether you are married, single, single again, or some other unclassifiable hybrid in a relationship DMZ, the art of flirting is an invaluable skill, both personally and professionally. Over the years, clients of mine have requested coaching and reading material to help them become better at attracting and engaging the people they want to get to know, or how to quickly make connections (or end mistaken ones!) without social awkwardness. After walking so many people through “flirt school”, imagine my relief when author, sexuality expert, celebrity, and podcaster Violet Blue released her book, “Total Flirt” (March 2011) and iTunes app “Total Flirt App” (May 2011). Anyone (and I mean, anyone) can use these resources to increase their confidence in flirting.

If you are trying to increase your chances of meeting and attracting someone, flirting should be a part of your strategy. Unfortunately, there are many people who are flirt dorks. Violet Blue’s book and app serve as a wing (wo)man in your pocket, with information gleaned pickup artists as well as to her experiences interviewing others on the subject of attraction. Those who have always felt uncomfortable with this subject can become quickly become flirt experts by putting into practice Violet’s tricks and tips.

From my observation, here are a few points on the pathway to being a Flirt Expert:

1. Prepare. Practice how to sit, stand, enter a room, and send the body language of a confident person. An open stance with arms uncrossed, shoulders back, open chest, and bright eyes messages to others that you are ready to engage a person with your presence.

2. Know your target. Understand your own preferences about who you like, how people behave in various settings, and how to set up situations that make people feel good about saying “yes” to you. This includes knowing your competion as well as barriers to engaging your target.

3. Grow your attunement. Learn to detect the subtle signs of flirting when your flirt target responds to you. There are too many tragic stories of people missing out on someone’s interest. Know how to tease these signs out and acknowledge them so that your response is clear.

4. Have an exit strategy (aka bail button) in place in case you make a mistake in selecting a flirt target. Ever flirt with someone, only to find your target’s boyfriend moonlights as a security guard? Or attract someone who later tells you he’s into a sexual practice you find repulsive, or definitely not your thing? There are lines, gestures, and retreat patterns you can learn that leaves both of you a gracious “out”.

5. Practice makes perfect. Pick up artists aren’t born overnight. Even if you don’t want to be a smooth operator, you still need to practice your moves and watch for feedback to see if they are working. Practice can involve everything from hair flipping, teasing, playful banter, pitching one’s voice lower or higher, and pouting.

For those of you reading this and screwing up your nose, consider another type of flirtation: a little girl and her father. Don’t try to tell me that her actions, eye blinking, movement, vocal qualities, and how she touches her father’s arm or wraps her arms around his neck is not the beginning of flirtation knowledge. A father who denies the power of his own daughter’s practice of flirtation, and his own healthy and positive response to reward her with attention, would only indicate his own dysfunction and lack of appreciation.

Violet Blue’s book and app breaks every step of the flirt process down. No matter where you are in your flirting skill level, there is something to be learned. As a therapist and coach, I am particularly excited to see more shy and introverted clients interact with her material and build their own confidence while attracting more people to interact with them.

Flirting is a natural part of romantic attraction, and most of us could use a tune up. Even married couples can improve their flirt skills to keep the zing and zip in their own sexual connection! The Total Flirt App is available on iTunes, and is ready for release on Android in the last week of May 2011.

How to Love and Romance Online Dating Relationships Therapy

Love In A Time of Technology and Online Dating

While some look forward to Valentine’s Day and romantic weekends full of relational bliss, others struggle painfully with feelings of loneliness. On Feb, 14 (Valentine’s Day), I swore I could hear audible groans among those who find the most romantic day of the year one filled with pain and withdrawal. A single person living in a city can come in contact with more than fifty people a day, and yet come home to an empty house and an empty heart. Time and time again, my clients share stories of meals eaten alone, activities they have missed because they couldn’t find a date, and worries about ever finding Mr. or Ms. Right. It’s no surprise that many have turned to technology – especially online dating – to find love.

Gone are the days of ridiculous videos (but there’s still a lot of silly and outdated photos), like this Youtube video, “Before eHarmony”:

A couple of years ago, I developed a method of helping people determine what they want out of a relationship, what they come to the table with, and a strategy for increasing their opportunities of finding a life partner. For many, online dating platforms provide a safe way to meet larger amounts of people with less risk than trying to find someone in a more traditional way. Sites such as Match, Plenty of Fish, OKCupid, and eHarmony use different kinds of questions and strong profiling categories to help create potential matches based on your interests and values.

While it’s now commonplace for new clients to mention they are using dating sites to find love, it isn’t always common for therapists to have a program to help those clients make their search more fun, safe, as well as effective. How do you know if people are telling the truth? Which kinds of profiles should you be looking for, and which ones should you decline? What should you do to increase the number of quality dates you try, and what can you do to encourage a second date with someone who shows interest? I can look at your profile online, help you make corrections, and become your date coach until you say “when.”

I’ve considered all the ups and downs of online dating, and I’m prepared to share this information with my clients. Included in your assessment is a reading of your profile, and a session focused on writing to be read, engaged, and interacted with time and time again. I’ll finesse your profile without you losing your “voice” and help point yourself in the direction of becoming the kind of person who attracts the right kind of partner. I’ll also do post-date processing, where I’ll help you explore options to make even bad dates a positive experience you can use in the future without becoming bitter.

While online dating has some definite downsides, the upside is how it’s possible you can find your life partner by being savvy on the Internet. It’s all about love in a time of technology and online dating. Take the time to learn how to use the tools to your advantage and learn to read people — and yourself — better than you ever have before.