Poor hygiene, cynical compliments and a lack of noticeable interest are the main characteristics that repel a potential partner in flirting, Greek psychologists have found. At the same time, in most cases, women are more critical of a potential partner – probably such selectivity is explained by the greater contribution of women to future family relationships and raising children. For men, the most important are the parameters related to the appearance of the partner. Older people are more strict with potential partners – obviously because they are more picky about preferences and are more interested in long-term relationships. Flirting is crucial to attracting a partner, but many people have difficulty with him. Psychologists from the University of Nicosia in Cyprus have decided to find out what exactly repulses people in potential flirting partners. The researchers described the results in an article in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.
“Research shows that many people (maybe every second) have difficulty flirting,” says lead author Prof. Menelaos Apostolu. “Understanding what exactly leads to failure will allow people to improve their skills in this area.” The participants in the first part of the study were 212 women and men with an average age of 32-35 years. Slightly more than a third of them were single, as many were in a relationship, and about a quarter were married. Participants had to consider the following scenario: they are lonely and someone comes to them and starts flirting. Volunteers had to name those traits of the flirt that could repel them. The main such traits were vulgar and rude communication, external unattractiveness, attempts at excessive cohesion, stupidity, narcissism, lack of sense of humor, stinginess, poor hygiene, cynical compliments. In total, the researchers identified 69 characteristics and their variants that could spoil the first impression. The second part of the study involved 734 volunteers with an average age of 28-32 years, of whom 42% were single, 40% in a relationship and 12% were married. They had to imagine the same situation as the participants in the first study, but this time to choose repulsive features from the list compiled from its results. Here, the anti-rating of flirting was led by cynicism, lack of hygiene and lack of interest – when, for example, a potential partner in the communication process looked in search of other acquaintances. Differences of opinion, vulgar vocabulary and stupidity were also important. Stinginess, ugly and unsightly appearance, violation of physical boundaries turned out to be a little less unpleasant, but still quite important.
The role is played not so much by the features themselves, but by what they can indicate, the authors of the work explain. “Cynicism, vulgar language, narcissism, breaking borders, lack of sense of humor are associated with negative personality traits, including lack of empathy, aggression and malice, low self-esteem,” they wrote. – Poor hygiene can indicate negative personality traits, as well as hidden psychopathology. In addition, people value intelligence in the partner, which leads to the appearance of points “Lack of intelligence”. This may partly explain the emergence of the point “Lack of sense of humor”, as humor is also associated with the intellect. “In addition, people want the potential partner to be interested only in them, to be like them, to look good and is ready to share resources. Researchers suggest that some traits will be more important for women and others for men. However, women were more demanding in almost all respects. “One of the reasons is that women make most of the mandatory parental investments related to raising children, so they are at greater risk than men if they make the wrong choice of partner,” the authors write. “Accordingly, in the process of evolution, women have become more selective and less risk-averse than men.”
Men’s requirements turned out to be higher than those of women only in terms of appearance. Older people also had higher requirements. Probably the reason is that young people are more focused on gaining experience in relationships with different partners, while over the years people become more inclined to a serious relationship and better understand what they want. “People can flirt more effectively if they work on their approach, avoiding unpleasant and sexist comments, inappropriate touch and not flirting with more than one person at a time,” the researchers said. “The results also show that personal hygiene and vocabulary expansion are other ways to improve flirting skills.” The data are collected on the basis of self-reporting, so they can somewhat distort the real picture, say the authors of the work.
Thus, participants who have no experience in a relationship may not be completely accurate in assessing which of the factors may be unpleasant to them.
In addition, the participants in the study were only Greeks – and attitudes toward certain manifestations of flirting may vary by culture. For example, touch and other physical contact may be perceived in some places as more outrageous, in others as less outrageous. According to scientists, the study should be repeated with residents of other countries to understand how cultural aspects can affect the success of flirting.