The Secrets to Successful Flirting

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Romance tops the list of problems for many aspies. This shouldn?t be surprising. NTs find it hard enough. Several huge industries make it their business to teach NTs the mysteries of love, sex, and marriage, and yet relationship councilors audit a steady stream of NTs who have problems making a romance work with their partners. Relationships aren?t easy for anyone. Aspies occupy the unenviable position of playing the game of love handicapped, so to speak. Aspies lack social circuitry. Reading members of the opposite sex for the all-important clues that make or break the first flirtatious encounter becomes, for many, an exercise in frustration and a constant source of stress and low esteem. A detour around certain aspects of this frustration exists. We will explore that method here.

Read on for the rest of GroovyDruid’s article on Flirting.
Have you seen the movie Twins? In this comedy, Arnold Swarzenegger portrays the better half of a set of twins (the other one being Danny DeVito). Swarzenegger?s character is buff, educated, a genius, unflinchingly honest, and a kind human being to boot. He has one problem: he was raised by a brilliant scientist on a desert island. He has never been around women before, and he has no idea that they are attracted to him. In fact, he?s never had any kind of relationship at all. He is uncomfortable with romance and has trouble making one work.

Sound familiar?

Romance tops the list of problems for many aspies. This shouldn?t be surprising. NTs find it hard enough. Several huge industries make it their business to teach NTs the mysteries of love, sex, and marriage, and yet relationship councilors audit a steady stream of NTs who have problems making a romance work with their partners. Relationships aren?t easy for anyone. Aspies occupy the unenviable position of playing the game of love handicapped, so to speak. Aspies lack social circuitry. Reading members of the opposite sex for the all-important clues that make or break the first flirtatious encounter becomes, for many, an exercise in frustration and a constant source of stress and low esteem. A detour around certain aspects of this frustration exists. We will explore that method here.

Romance and Your Brain

First some background on why aspies have the romantic problems they do. In a nutshell, people on the autism spectrum find reading any of the intentions and emotions of others difficult. Recently, scientists at UCLA found what they think is the answer to why this difficulty occurs: all humans possess a set of neurons?called mirror neurons?that fire off the same way whether a person does an action himself or watches someone else perform an action. this gives NTs a duplication mechanism. It helps them to learn things by watching others, because, in a sense, when they watch someone else do something, they do it themselves in the mirror neuron section of their brains. This applies as much to watching someone?s emotional reactions as fixing an engine. Emotions manifest through body language. NTs unconsciously read body language from one another and duplicate it with their mirror neurons like other actions. This way, they get a copy of the other person?s emotions and can intuit how another person feels.

For NTs, the action of mirror neurons happens in an unconscious and effortless process. They don?t realize where their empathy comes from. What the UCLA researchers discovered was that mirror neurons activate much less or not at all in the brains of people on the autism spectrum. Their empathy mechanism doesn?t work. The result? They receive no intuitive information on the emotional state of those around them. Even when they consciously focus on reading body language, they find its meaning elusive. For most intents and purposes, aspies are socially blind.

Flying by Instruments

the theory I put forward is that social blindness need not shut down social activity. There is another way to deduce the emotional state of others. To explain this method, an analogy is helpful. In flying planes, pilots do something called ?flying by instruments?. When a pilot can?t see because of darkness or clouds, the he must rely on his flight instruments to tell him where he is how high, and which direction he?s pointing. You can use a similar process when dealing with people. The process involves education and observation.

To use this method, you must read about kinesics (body language). There?s no way around this work. Many aspies want to magically enable their mirror neurons and reach into their intuition to understand others, but this is a haphazard and unscientific approach, and it fails more than it succeeds, causing embarrassment. Many good popular books exist on kinesics, and the rudiments can be picked up quickly. You?ll learn to analytically recognize clusters of behavior that indicate NT emotions and states of mind. The clusters are numerous and distinct. Pretty soon, you form a habit of remembering what the experts have said about the meaning of an NT?s posture, hand positions, leg positions, eye movements, and other body movements. The understanding derived from kinesics becomes your set of instruments, so to speak. Once these instruments are in place, you begin to practice them every chance you get.

Okay, Flirting?

You?re probably wondering, ?When is this dude going to get to the part about how to flirt? I want to know how to get with somebody!? Thanks for listening to some theory. Here?s the practical application, the low-down on how to start using kinesics to meet people and refrain from screwing up.

I?ll be writing more to the guys in this section, because they have a harder row to hoe: they have to initiate encounters, so they have more work to do. I hope aspie ladies will find this explanation helpful, too. I am in essence explaining the NT modus operadi of flirting for guys, and that should help the ladies recognize it and respond correctly.

The Game

Romance is a game. It is the guiding light of flirting and relationships. NT women crave romance. They buy billions of dollars of books, novels, magazines, self-help CDs, and movies every year about romance. For a good relationship, a man must create romance. What are the ingredients? Well, for a man, his availability must be doubtful. Guys who are easy to get aren?t romantic. A romantic man must be independent, confident, able to communicate well (not to be confused with ?always communicative?), safe (not to be confused with ?boring?), and above all, creative. This is where flowers, chocolates, inventive dinners, thoughtful gifts, and surprise marriage proposals enter the equation. To a woman, these are signs of a creative man. He creates romance.

By the way, you?ll want to pay close attention this section, because a lack of romance leads to the dreaded ?just friends? debacle. All aspie men know what I mean: you meet a woman and talk, and there seems to be a connection, until finally you go for the date or a kiss. She drops the bomb: ?I really like you. But I just want to be friends.?

?&%?*#@!? you mumble as you walk away.

What happened? Odds are that you made her like you, not love you. Why didn?t she love you? Because you didn?t create the romance, the allure and mystery that makes women lose their minds and date those horrible, smelly, inconstant creatures called men. The result: you get pleasure of being her friend and watching while she goes off and dates a cave man named Stu who treats her like dirt and has her coming back for second helpings, all because Stu knows how to create romance. Time to change the paradigm, hm? Back to our discussion.

Practicing with Burt

We know we?re aiming for the romantic man. But how does this translate to behavior? Allow me to introduce Burt, the aspie Casanova. Burt is average in just about every way imaginable, except that he?s learned the love game. We will step through a successful flirtation with Burt:

Picture a party with many chatty NTs all drinking martinis. Burt enters the room. He is well groomed and looks good but not flashy. Before the party, Burt had the foresight to check with a tasteful NT friend to make sure his clothing was appropriate and matched. His ?look? is definitely his own, and he is comfortable with himself. Also, Burt has his body language instruments ready. They tell him to stand straight and keep his shoulders back. He walks with a strong step and keeps his head up at all times, because romantic men are confident and must put off confident body language.

Burt walks to the bar. He tries to make eye contact with every woman he passes, even though it feels unnatural. Burt knows that flirting begins with your eyes, and he tries to make eye contact with every woman he could possibly want to meet. A few women avoid his gaze completely. This doesn?t surprise Burt. They were older or were with a boyfriend. They were saying with their eyes, ?I?m taken. Don?t bug me.? A few girls look Burt briefly in the eye and pass on by. They have said, ?For my own reasons, I?m not interested in you right now.? No problem. Burt knows that in the game of love, women choose men, and you can?t push your interest on a woman who, for a thousand different reasons, isn?t interested in you right then. No need to be discouraged. But wait! One woman (call her Charlotte) makes eye contact with Burt and holds it a little longer than is normal, more than a second by the clock, as she passes Burt. Bingo! Charlotte?s gaze said, ?I?m intrigued.?

The Approach

Burt goes to the bar and picks up a beer. He knows that the look meant, but he has to verify interest. Better to be sure, because nobody likes to be shot down. Burt casually glances over to where Charlotte stands with a friend. After a moment, Charlotte gives Burt a little look again out of the corner of her eyes. Burt makes eye contact for a moment and gives her a little smile, then turns away. Sure enough! Charlotte?s interested and has been checking Burt out, and he caught her. The game is on!

Here?s where Burt?s knowledge of romance helps him out. Before he understood the love game, Burt would have screwed his courage to the sticking place and marched over to talk to Charlotte right away. Big mistake. Now, Burt knows that the romantic man can?t seem too interested, because that makes him available, thus unromantic. Burt turns away after the second round of eye contact and makes no immediate attempt to get near Charlotte. He knows she will be burning with curiosity: ?Does that cute guy really like me?? Romance is in the air, and Burt will keep Charlotte in that tension of ?Does he really like me?? for a long time.

Burt spots a friend near Charlotte. He ambles over and chats with him for a moment. This gets him near Charlotte without it seeming planned. His friend goes for another beer, and Burt is left standing by Charlotte. Because of the two looks they have shared, Burt knows that she is expecting him to small talk with her. It?s very important. Why? Because romantic men are safe, and they are able to communicate well. Light small talk allows Charlotte to quell her common womanly fear that the man she?s with is among the serial murderers, rapists, abusers, and stalkers the media warn her of every day. Burt also shows Charlotte that he is a responsive and good communicator, the number-one quality women dream about in a man. (For more general info on small talk, ready my article ?The Secrets of Successful Small Talk?.)

Burt knows that smarmy lines like, ?Hi, I?m Burt!? or ?What?s your sign?? or ?Hot enough in here for ya?? will seem contrived and desperate to Charlotte. Burt thinks to himself, ?What is interesting at this party? What do she and I truly share?? Burt realizes the music?s unusual. He says out loud, ?This is some funky music, huh?? Charlotte smiles. She brushes the hair back over her ear and turns to squarely face Burt.

?Yeah,? Charlotte says. ?I once heard this band live blah blah blah? and the small talk is off and running.

Raising the Stakes

Burt now must be sharp with his body language instruments. The flirting isn?t over, not by a long shot. He and Charlotte will continue to flirt via body language for the rest of the evening. Burt must read Charlotte to know how physically attracted she is to him and how fast she wants to take things, because she?s an NT woman and she?ll never say it out loud. She expects a man to notice. Burt must not go to fast, or he?ll make her uncomfortable. He must not go too slow, or he?ll seem weak, hesitant, and unromantic.

Burt can handle it. Already, he notices two good signs. Charlotte pushed her hair back from her face. This is a grooming gesture, an unconscious attempt to make herself as attractive as possible. Also, she turned to squarely face him. This stance cuts out the possibility of other people joining their conversation. If she had stood at an angle, it would have been a body language invitation for a third person to join the conversation. But no, she just wants to talk to Burt.

As the evening goes on, Burt notices more and more signs that Charlotte is attracted to him:

–Charlotte pushes her hair back, straightens her clothes when she thinks he?s not looking, and moistens her lips.

–She exposes her palms and the soft skin on her wrists to Burt?s view often. She stands straight, pushes out her breasts, and stands with one foot pointing toward him at all times.

–She tilts her head to the side when listening and makes abundant eye contact, sometimes biting her lower lip.

–As she and Burt go to sit down, she walks with a roll to her hips, like a fashion model on a runway. As she sits down she first crosses her legs with the top leg crossed toward Burt. Later, she even kicks off a shoe and pulls one leg underneath her.

Burt knows the flirtation is going very well. Charlotte has moved closer than the socially acceptable 18 inches several times. She has also ?accidentally? touched Burt on the chest and arm. Burt knows that NT women never touch anybody accidentally. She is sending strong signals of interest.

Burt plays it cool. Of all the romantic mystiques to maintain, the most important is keeping one?s availability doubtful. It?s also the easiest to goof up on. Burt stays close, but he keeps his hands completely off and doesn?t touch her, even by ?accident?. She is tense, wondering whether she has him or not, and he doesn?t want to resolve that romantic tension. Not yet. Instead, Burt plans out and sends back his own body language signals of interest:

–He returns her eye contact and gives lots of feedback to her small talk: ?Really? You?re kidding!? ?Um hm.? ?Jeeze?? He talks as much about her and as little about himself as possible, because romantic men are mysterious.

–He stands in an aggressive pose with his legs spread and his thumbs hitched in his belt or pockets.

–He ?cuts? Charlotte out of the group by moving closer than 18 inches and blocking any possible approaches from other men. He makes signs of ownership by leaning on objects near her. Any guy who tries to butt in will feel like a butcher at a vegetarian convention.

–When they walk to sit down, Burt walks with a swagger. He sits first crossing his top leg over and toward Charlotte. They both now sit this way. It is the same motion as standing squarely to someone: they form a closed pair. Later, he sits with his legs spread wide.

The Payoff

Burt allows romantic tension to build until the small talk is winding down a bit. He knows that romantic men are creative, and he has a romantic, creative idea all ready for Charlotte. He asks her whether she has been out on the balcony yet. She says no. He says the stars are beautiful, and she?s got to see them. They both understand this is code language for getting away from the crowd so that Burt can kiss Charlotte. He leads Charlotte away from the party to the quiet balcony.

After a few moments, Burt finally breaks the taboo on touching Charlotte. He gently takes her by the arm and turns her toward him. Charlotte is thrilled. Great kisses go exactly like this, and she?s expecting it. There?s no way Burt will be refused. And he isn?t?

Meeting Megan

We will now step through a shorter flirtation from the viewpoint of Megan, the aspie seductress. This should be of equal value to men and women who want to further understand flirtation.

Megan enters the party of martini-sipping NTs, and she?s interested in meeting a man. Her body language instruments are all ready to go. She must overcome the number-one flirtation killer that aspie women are especially prone to: seeming distant or closed off. First, Megan scans the room and sees several men she finds attractive. She has a goal: to get one of these men to talk to her. Megan knows that, since she is a woman, she gets to make the initial choice of whom to draw to her.

Megan walks to the bar and consciously puts a roll to her hips, like Charlotte earlier. As she passes the men she finds interesting, she stands straight with her shoulders back and her chest out. She attempts to make eye contact. Several of the men don?t pay any attention. They?re talking to someone else. No big deal. However, one man (Doug) catches Megan?s gaze. Megan holds Doug?s eyes a little longer than usual as she passes him, and goes on to the bar, where she orders a martini. It is hard to break her aspie habit of avoiding eye contact, but it has worked. The game is on, and the rules say that Megan must now wait. She knows to put herself by the bar, where Doug will have several excuses to come close to her. She talks with a friend, but she is careful to stand at a 45-degree angle so that there is a natural place for a third person in her group when Doug comes over. Megan carefully checks to make sure she hasn?t crossed her arms or her legs. She doesn?t want to send out closed body language. She checks Doug out of the corner of her eye several times.

Before she knew the rules, Megan found waiting for a man confusing. Why not just walk over to a man and strike up a conversation? Through study, Megan learned that NT men want to pursue, and if they don?t have to pursue a woman, they don?t usually appreciate her. Megan was treated badly in several relationships because she was too forward and landed an NT man who, because he didn?t have to pursue her, took her for granted.

Megan doesn?t wait long. Doug comes over to the bar, ostensibly to get another beer. His approach isn?t very clever: ?Hi, I?m Doug.? Megan doesn?t mind. After years of struggle in romantic situations, Megan tolerates other?s missteps. Doug came over to her. That?s the important thing. She and Doug start up small talk. Megan notices that Doug is turned more toward her than to her friend, and that he has his foot pointed toward her, even though he doesn?t know it. Megan?s friend senses this and excuses herself to go see some other friend.

Encouragement

Megan understands that she must encourage Doug with her body language while still allowing him to pursue her. As she makes small talk, Megan consciously puts off the signals Charlotte used earlier. She reveals her palms and wrists, grooms in front of Doug, and stands with her chest pushed forward. She cocks her head to the side and works hard to keep lots of eye contact, because an NT finds obvious encouragement in these signals.

The encouragement works. Doug gradually moves closer to Megan and relaxes. He stands straight and pushes his chest out. He grooms for her by straightening his jacket and hitching up his trousers. The small talk becomes more intimate, and Megan allows Doug to cut her out of the group so that they become a pair.

By the end of the evening, Megan wants a kiss from Doug. She has a problem: Doug can?t seem to make the creative move to get her someplace quiet. He is in some distress because of it. Now, many girls would find this disgusting. Any man who can?t play the game well in all respects should be punished, they would say. Megan knows different. Doug seems like a great guy, and she is confident enough to help him make his move. Megan mentions that she lives close by, but it?s late. She needs a ride home. Doug latches on to the idea: he?d be happy to see her home, then come back to the party to help clean up.

Doug sees Megan to her doorstep. Megan knows that Doug must be stressed out, wondering if his kiss will be accepted. She knows how to make it easy for him. She says goodnight, but doesn?t move. She stands facing Doug. As he moves closer, she raises her chin and halfway closes her eyes in a seductive gaze. Doug wins his kiss and leaves with a phone number for a date later on. Mission accomplished.

Owning Romance

Many self-help books on dating and romance tell you things like, ?just be confident! I?m confident, and just look how many men/women I get!? This sort of rah-rah salesmanship really brings you no closer to getting a girlfriend or boyfriend than you were before, and makes you feel inadequate in the process. My goal has been to show some steps drawn from study and experience to improve your knowledge of body language and the game of romance. The knowledge will lead real confidence, that you can create romance when you want to.

Something to keep in mind: aspies have a tendency to hoard their mental privacy, what I call their ?mental space?. They don?t usually like people invading their mental space with questions or small talk, and so they often avoid making the all-important approach to an attractive man or woman out of respect for that other person?s mental space, even if the other person is NT. Allow me to put your mind at rest: very few NTs hold any sanctity for their mental space. If the body language indicators are present, then you are expected to make conversation, and to do so will not impinge on their mental space at all.

I wish you success!

Recommended Reading

Signals: How to Use Body Language for Power, Success, and Love by Allan Pease

The System by Roy Valentine

How to Succeed with Women by Ron Louis and David Copeland

How to Succeed with Men by Ron Louis and David Copeland

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