I'm one of those people who totally doesn't notice when people are into me. After a night out, my friends will say things like, "That guy was totally hitting on you," and I, usually, am unaware. I'm completely oblivious to their efforts. It's not just me, though. I am pretty sure part of the problem is that some men are way too low-key when it comes to flirting. While men generally have a reputation of being direct — cheesy compliments, come-on lines, cat-calling — in my experience most men have more subtle ways of hitting on people.
Like, for example, my husband. When we met for the very first time I had no idea if he was into me. Even weeks of talking via the internet didn't give me a clue as to how he felt. Fortunately, after a few minutes of talking, I caught on to his subtle ways of flirting. He seemed genuinely interested in me, listened to me talk, looked at me (in a way that made my face hot, to be honest), and he asked if he could hold my hand and kiss me goodbye. These clues told me that he was attracted to me, and honestly made me want to reciprocate (and way more than complimenting my appearance would have, by the way).
To make things easier for other people who to translate men's looks, words, and gestures, I asked some men I know for answers. Like, how do men subtly flirt, hit on, and otherwise try to woo other people in ways that might just go unnoticed? Here are a few of their tips, tricks, and strategies for making their intentions known, that you may not have picked up on:
"I try to just be nice and listen — not being a creep and commenting how beautiful they are in that dress or something to that effect. Actively listening and being thoughtful with my comments. It never seems to work."
"I am fond of using bad humor and doing small favors for someone to show them I like them."
"I get them food or a special drink. Also, sharing music I like is one that I’m particularly fond of."
"I'm about as subtle as a moose."
"I have a hard time talking with women in person, and have a tendency to look down or at my hands, so I don't get nervous. If I make eye contact, it's because I want you to know I am interested in you."
"Giggling like a chipmunk when they are around."
"I guess you could say it's 'teasing.'"
"I try to give them more attention, even non-sexual attention. I share pics with them. I use their name. I try to play on posts they've made in our messages. Most of my flirting is either pretty obvious (sexy things) or fairly innocuous stuff that is just kind and friendly."
"By trying to make them smile or laugh. Like, to be noticed and make an impression by making them feel good."
"I do silly things like 'giving noogies,' engaging in play-fighting, stealing their food, or doing stupid human tricks."
"I don't think I know how to flirt, but here goes: I usually just try to tell a woman that she is amazing without commenting on her looks."
"I follow up quickly to their texts or DMs."
"I make eye contact and try to maintain it as long as they look interested and I'm not creeping them out."
"I sit or stand next to them. I try to give them a bit of space, but let them know I want to be close to them."
"I compliment something about their hair, eyes, or outfit."
"I give them my full attention, instead of staring at my phone or around the room, while they are talking. I ask questions and let them talk. I repeat back something I heard them say, so they know I am really listening."
"I don't really flirt or hit on people, but if I want to show a date I'm into them I will sit next to them, rather than on the other side of a table, at a restaurant."
"I smile, and wait for a smile back that looks real, before I say something."
"I know it sounds cliché, but I find a non-sexual, non-threatening way to touch them, like removing an eye-lash from their cheek, moving their hair out of their face, or asking if I can hold their hand."
"I stand up or sit up straighter when they enter the room."
"Most of the time I flirt awkwardly, by making jokes about how awkward I am, using pop culture references from the 90's or asking her if she's seen the latest Marvel movie."
"Honestly, I usually wait for people to flirt with me and then tell them something I like about them. Being let down or rejected is hard for me, so I don't often make the first move. If you show interest in me, though, I will not hesitate to tell you that I like you."
"I ask her to pick the restaurant or movie."