You Might Be 'Micro-Flirting' And Not Even Know It

Too scared to flirt? Do this instead.
Micro-flirting is flirting “in a subtle, not-so-obvious way and is usually done to gauge if one person is interested in the other.”
Thomas Barwick via Getty Images
Micro-flirting is flirting “in a subtle, not-so-obvious way and is usually done to gauge if one person is interested in the other.”

Move over, just-plain flirting, there’s a new (mini-sized) dating trend in town: Meet micro-flirting.

Worldwide searches for micro-flirting shot up on Google in December, according to a press release from the dating site PositivesDating.com. (God, everything is so tiny these days ― microplastics, microjobs, microlearning, micro-flirting ― can we get a full-sized anything?)

Micro-flirting, the site says, is flirting “in a subtle, not-so-obvious way and is usually done to gauge if one person is interested in the other.” It’s also a great way to protect yourself from rejection, since low-key flirting could easily be interpreted as you just being nice.

People who flirt like it’s a sport may roll their eyes at the idea, but micro-flirting isn’t meant to appeal to them anyway: It’s for the awkward among us, the introverted, the people who couldn’t pick up on a social cue if their lives depended on it.

On TikTok, Gen Z-ers share some tell-tale signs of the trend: Does a normally reticent co-worker have long, drawn-out conversations with you, almost like they’ve memorized a script tailor-made to your interests? Do they use microgestures, like touching their neck or biting their lip when you’re talking? That might be micro-flirting!

On X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, older generations tend to scoff at the phrase: “What the hell is microflirting pls be normal,” one person tweeted.

Dating experts are amused by the trend, too. Kimmy Seltzer, a dating coach and host of the Charisma Quotient podcast, thinks micro-flirting is just flirting dressed up in a teeny tiny disguise.

The funny thing to me is that I’ve been teaching flirting for years as I do flirt workshops and retreats, and what is being defined as ‘micro’ to me is flirting,” she told HuffPost.

“Most people start with micro-flirting before they engage in flirting. It’s 1% of people that go for the kill right away! 99% of others micro-flirt," said dating coach Marni Kinrys.
FG Trade Latin via Getty Images
“Most people start with micro-flirting before they engage in flirting. It’s 1% of people that go for the kill right away! 99% of others micro-flirt," said dating coach Marni Kinrys.

Much of how we communicate is nonverbal, so body language does a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to conveying attraction, Seltzer said.

“Plus, showing subtle signs of micro-flirting is a lot sexier, approachable and manageable than doing over the top ‘macro’ actions that might feel over the top, silly and inauthentic,” she said.

Marni Kinrys, a dating coach who teaches men how to attract women, thinks micro-flirting is just flirting in lowercase, too.

“People have been scared to flirt for centuries,” she said. “It’s just in movies where people are open, over the top, direct flirters.”

“Most people start with micro-flirting before they engage in flirting,” she added. “It’s 1% of people that go for the kill right away! 99% of others micro-flirt.”

When played right, subtle flirting rather than showy flirting really does work. Jordan Willis, a makeup artist from Orange County, California, jokes that she’s micro-flirted her way into her current seven-year relationship.

“I feel like not giving too much away upfront is a way to reel them in,” she told HuffPost. “Micro-flirting is flirting while still playing the game and playing it cool.”

That said, you don’t want to overdo it on the subtlety front.

“There is a fine line between micro-flirting and playing too hard to get,” Willis said. “You don’t want to make it impossible. Just a little bit of a chase.”

Direct eye contact is one of the more solid ways to show subtle signs of attraction.
Catherine Falls Commercial via Getty Images
Direct eye contact is one of the more solid ways to show subtle signs of attraction.

Five subtle signs of micro-flirting

Though Seltzer thinks flirting and micro-flirting are basically one and the same, she loves a new trend, so she shared a few signs of micro-flirting. Dating coach Connell Barrett offered a few examples, too.

1. Eye contact

Direct eye contact (in a sly, sexy way, not in a creepy “oh-my-god-is-this-person-a-serial-killer” way) is one of the more solid ways to show you’re attracted to someone.

“The ‘three-second rule’ is a great technique to show interest in someone, especially in a crowded room where you want to gain their attention,” Seltzer said. “This is where you look at one person once, look away and then look again all within about three seconds so that both parties can feel that connection.”

2. Proximity

Is your crush standing closer to you than usual? They may be micro-flirting.

“In addition, when you are closer to someone, using open body language and light touch on the arm or shoulder conveys receptiveness and interest, creating a more inviting space,” Seltzer said.

3. Microfacial signals

Subtle signals like raising eyebrows, smirking, winking and genuine smiles are fairly obvious signs of flirting, Seltzer said.

4. Teasing

For better or worse, negging can be a form of micro-flirting, Barrett said, like “playfully poking fun of a person’s taste in movies or TV.”

5. Asking a ton of questions

If someone you know is going full-on Anderson Cooper with you seemingly out of the blue, they might be into you, Barrett said.

“A less effective form of micro-flirting is asking the other person a lot of questions ― basically going ‘interview mode,’” he said. “It doesn’t work well because the other person feels interrogated, not flirted with.”

“Micro-flirting can complement a direct approach. If you’re too subtle, micro-flirting can make your dating options microscopic,” said dating coach Connell Barrett.
FG Trade via Getty Images
“Micro-flirting can complement a direct approach. If you’re too subtle, micro-flirting can make your dating options microscopic,” said dating coach Connell Barrett.

Some cautioning on micro-flirting

If someone demonstrates only one of the above behaviors, don’t immediately jump to conclusions and assume they’re into you: That woman at the gym may be gazing directly into the mirror behind you, not locking eyes with you. That awkward guy at work who comes over to you at happy hour with a barrage of questions just may be awkward. The barista who always smiles at you may just be super friendly.

Take in the collective ― maybe you’ve gotten three out of the five signs from your crush ― and see if you have other context clues to back it up (the person is newly single, for instance). If that’s the case, it’s a good guess that they may be into you.

The indecipherableness of micro-flirting is why Barrett isn’t a fan of it, though he understands why shy people prefer this approach. He also gets why men who don’t want to make women feel uncomfortable or risk coming off as creepy or harassing might micro-flirt.

“The problem with micro-flirting is often too subtle for people to detect, and if your flirting is unclear, your crush will miss your signals,” he said. “They could mistake your smile or eye contact with you being friendly, not flirty.”

As a dating coach, Barrett advises singles to be clear in their romantic interests. Start with micro-flirting, and if you sense the other person is feeling it and reciprocating, level up.

“Micro-flirting can complement a direct approach. If you’re too subtle, micro-flirting can make your dating options microscopic,” he said.

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