BY KOREY LANE
People flirt differently in different parts of the world, as you might have guessed. After all, there are well over 7,000 different languages around the world, according to Ethnologue.com. In all of those languages, there are a handful of words that we can’t even fathom. Moreover, each of those languages comes from a unique culture in which something as simple as eye contact can be interpreted differently. Even across the United States, languages, accents, body language, and certain phrases mean different things depending on where you are. So, it’s no surprise that the way people flirt would vary greatly across the world.
First though, let’s just get one thing straight: Everyone flirts. “Flirting is much more than just a bit of fun: it is a universal and essential aspect of human interaction,” the Social Issues Research Centre noted. “Anthropological research shows that flirting is to be found, in some form, in all cultures and societies around the world.” But the way people in different parts of the world flirt is quite interesting and definitely worth diving into.
In Islamic countries, it’s better to be coy when people flirt
Every single nation and culture has rules, laws, and standards. Sometimes those rules regard things like how someone should dress or worship, and such is the case in many Islamic countries. According to Newsweek, “Women in Iran may be forced to wear the hijab — a scarf covering their head,” and the same goes for many other Islamic countries. Iran, too, is fairly modest when it comes to how men and women interact in public and how people flirt. In fact, it’s all kinds of forbidden, per Newsweek. “As young Iranians strive for sartorial freedom — and fewer restrictions on the way they interact with the opposite sex — they can face fines, imprisonment, and torture,” the publication reported.
Because of those rules and laws, flirting in Iran and other Islamic countries is a lot more subtle than in other places. According to Newsweek, young people in Iran, specifically, have found that flirting in private is the best way to go about it. Additionally, many young women have started wearing more makeup and pushing back their hijabs to attract attention.
Many people flirt in Italy without reserve
If you have ever been to Italy, you’re likely aware of the stereotype that Italians love to flirt. In fact, according to a survey from dating site Badoo.com, Rome was ranked eighth in the entire world in terms of flirtatiousness, as Reuters reported. Thrillest ranked them as the second-most flirty country in the world. Clearly, many Italians love to flirt and have fun. The Telegraph described the way the world views Italians, saying, “We look to the Italians as gurus of romance, Latin lovers who conquer with a [smoldering] glance and whisk women away on their scooters to woo them in some secluded olive grove.”
In Italy, then, there is reportedly nothing subtle or modest about flirting. Men call to women on the streets, tourists giggle at being called “bella signora,” and the world continues on. The vision of Lizzie McGuire running around Rome on the back of a Vespa with a tall, dark, and handsome Italian man is what many people expect from the Eternal City, and honestly, it may not be too far off.
The French are more relaxed about people flirting and dating
Many people view France as the ultimate romantic country. And while there is definitely something to be said for the beauty of the country itself, the French language, and the area’s landmarks, the French don’t stress too much about flirting. For them, it’s apparently almost second nature. According to FrenchToday.com, “with kissing hi and goodbye being the standard and French women being more ‘flirtatious,’ it can be difficult for foreigners to correctly read a French woman’s body language.”
However, while it may be confusing at first to foreign visitors, “French women are pretty obvious, and often more direct than other women.” In short, if a French person is into you, you’ll know it.
Additionally, a 2007 study titled “Courtship compliance: The effect of touch on women’s behavior” found that “tactile contact is more frequent in French culture than in North American culture.” People flirt in France with a lot of touching, it seems, and plenty of directness. Ooh la la!
Greece might be the most flirtatious nation out there
People tend to think of France and Italy as the most romantic countries out there but, in actuality, Greece might just take the prize. Reuters reported, “The home of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle is the ‘most flirtatious city’ of the modern world.” Athens was ranked first in a survey by dating site Badoo.com that looked at the “number of online flirtations initiated per month by the average user.” Greece has also been ranked as the most sexually active country, according to GreekReporter.com. Clearly, people in Greece like to flirt and get it on.
The Lonely Planet Encounter Guide to Athens author Victoria Kyriakopoulous told Reuters that none of this was surprising. “Athenians love to party and they love to talk,” she said. “Flirting and sexual banter are not just a means to an end but part of social interaction.” In Greece, then, flirting appears to happen on a regular basis, and is almost one of the defining traits of the population.
Spanish women take the lead when it comes to flirting
Another romantic European country that is known for its gorgeous landscapes and historical monuments is Spain. The country is not only home to one of the most romantic languages in the world, but it was also ranked as the sixth most flirtatious nation in the world by Thrillest. But it’s not Spanish men who like to flirt the most, according to Thrillest. Instead, it’s the women in Spain who are often more likely to flirt.
In Spain, women tend to take the lead when it comes to flirting, although research shows that sometimes men might mistake kindness for flirting. According to the Social Issues Research Centre, men in general “find it particularly difficult to interpret the more subtle cues in women’s body-language, and tend to mistake friendliness for sexual interest.” So, in Spain, while the woman might be the first to flash a smile or wink, that doesn’t necessarily mean she’s interested.
In the Dominican Republic, flirting with tourists is a great way to make some cash
The Dominican Republic is known for its gorgeous beaches and resorts, and the locals definitely have gotten used to the rise in tourism there. So much so that the country has also seen the rise of so-called “sanky pankys,” or local men who make their living flirting with tourists. Yes, this is apparently a real thing. As The Sun reported, “Often hotel workers, sanky pankys target single women holiday-makers. They shower them with compliments, act loved-up and, in some cases, even propose. And all for cash.” The paper noted, “A sanky panky has no interest in a real relationship and in most cases has several women on the go at once.”
In the Dominican Republic, flirting is almost a job for the locals, and so it’s hard for foreign visitors to tell if it’s genuine. Additionally, women in the Dominican Republic are also more straight-forward and more flirtatious than men, according to a report by dating site Badoo.com (via Gawker). Flirting in the Dominican Republic might be work for some men, but the women clearly enjoy taking control.
Colombia is said to be a passionate country with lots of flirting
Colombia is another country where people travel to experience authentic Latin America and all that it has to offer. Colombia is a very passionate country, and the people there reportedly love to flirt. Thrillest ranked Colombia as the fifth most flirtatious country in the world and with good reason. Colombians are very outright with their flirting. You’ll definitely be able to tell if someone is flirting with you there.
However, not all of the flirting in Colombia is reciprocated. In fact, the nation’s capital city of Bogota was ranked to have the most dangerous public transportation system for women in the world, according to CNN. The ranking was determined by “how safe they felt traveling alone at night; the risk of being verbally harassed by men; the risk of being groped or subjected to other forms of physical harassment; trust that other passengers would assist a woman being physically or verbally abused; and trust in authorities to investigate reports of sexual harassment or violence,” CNN reported. Clearly, flirting in Colombia can get hot and heavy, but not always in a good way.
Canadians are super polite, even when it comes to flirting
There is often a bit of a joke about how polite Canadians are, and that definitely seems to be the case with the country’s flirting style. In fact, The Star reported that a Montreal immigration conference educated newcomers into the country on how to flirt in Canada, and it’s fittingly polite. “Don’t step into a woman’s personal space; refrain from touching; avoid talk of marriage or kids; be prepared to split the bill,” was the advice given to men, according to The Star. The conference taught women that “time spent waiting on the romantic advances of a Canadian man is time wasted,” adding, “Jump on him before he gets away.” Clearly, Canadian flirting is definitely not on par with the flirting in many European and South American countries.
Still, it’s nice that Canadians are so polite, especially when pursuing romance. While the men might not like to make advances, it’s admirable that they know not to push the boundaries. For introverts, Canada is the perfect place to flirt because it almost doesn’t even happen there.
In England, people like to make others laugh when they flirt
British people love to flirt by telling jokes. In fact, according to Metro, laughter is the best way to flirt with an English person. “The general consensus is that everyone likes a good laugh, so humour could be the way to your lover’s heart,” Metro reported. Could this be how actor Joe Alwyn stole singer Taylor Swift’s heart and inspired her to pen “London Boy?”
Another way that English people like to flirt is to avoid cheesy pick-up lines, and just start a conversation. “In Britain, it is universally understood that such weather-comments have nothing to do with the weather, and they are universally accepted as conversation-starters,” according to the Social Issues Research Centre. “Saying ‘Lovely day, isn’t it?’ (or a rainy-day equivalent) is the British way of saying ‘I’d like to talk to you; will you talk to me?'” Flirting in England is, therefore, quite charming.
Russians can reportedly be kind of aggressive in their flirting
Naturally, Russia might not be at the top of anyone’s list of most romantic countries, and it’s really not. However, Thrillest ranked Russia as the tenth most flirtatious country in the world, as Russians do like to get it on. So much so that, despite the fact that Russia isn’t all that romantic, a 2014 survey found that Russians are the third most sexually active population of people in the world. According to GreekReporter.com, the survey found that Russians reported having sex an average of 143 times per year.
For reference, America didn’t even make the top ten list of the most sexually active countries, so the fact that Russia was third says a lot. But really, Russians don’t seem to enjoy flirting much at all. A 2017 article in The Moscow Times reported a cashier scolding a customer for attempting to flirt with them, and it appears that might be the norm when it comes to flirting in Russia. The nation might not be romantic or flirty, but it’s clear they value intimacy, and that’s definitely something.
In the American South, manners reign supreme when people flirt
On the home front, flirting still looks different all across America. Sure, it’s only one country, but America has so many different regions and cultures that flirting isn’t the same in every state. To start, in the American South, manners, conservativeness, and proper behavior are all very important. According to SouthernThing.com, southerners still appreciate a good compliment when it comes to flirting, and telling someone, “You’re just as pretty as a picture!” will go a long way.
In the south then, verbal flirting is a big deal. This goes hand in hand with what a study titled “A Cultural Perspective On Romantic Love” found to be true. The study, which is from the International Association of Cross-Cultural Psychology, reported that “American culture, for example, stresses the importance of verbal expression of love to another, so Americans many times say to each other how they love. ‘I love you’ — are so typical words for them which they use on daily basis.” In the south, it’s important to use your words, especially when it comes to flirting. Just remember to be polite.
In the Northeast, people flirt online
Many Americans in the Northeast — in areas like New York City, Philadelphia, and Boston — aren’t in any rush to flirt heavily or get into a serious relationship. In fact, a 30-year-old from Washington, D.C. told Elle magazine that most of the flirting between people happens on dating apps, not in person. Really, it’s all very casual.
“An average first date is definitely drinks, and when the bill comes, my dates always insist on paying,” a 21-year-old in New York City also told Elle. “Everything is so casual that women are feeling more and more comfortable asking a guy to grab drinks after work, compared to years ago when it may have been looked [at as] ‘desperate’ for a woman to ask a man on a date.”
Northerners clearly prefer to keep things light when it comes to flirting and to connect through online dating services and apps. No pressure in this region!
On the West Coast, flirting takes place in the DMs first
The West Coast is very into technology when it comes to flirting and dating. In fact, a profile in Cosmopolitan revealed a 25-year-old male in Los Angeles primarily used social media, especially Instagram, to flirt with and maybe even date women. Basically, it’s not uncommon for people on the West Coast to be getting their flirt on using their phones. Social media and dating apps seem to be where all the action is.
Additionally, the West Coast is home to some pretty empowered women. “[I’m in college and] on my campus there’s a strong sense of feminism, so the girls often feel that they have the same right to initiate a date, pick up the guy for the date, and pay for the date,” a 20-year-old Oregon woman told Elle. On the West Coast, be prepared to send a flirty message or have a woman initiate the flirting.
In the Midwest, tradition is alive and well and influences flirting
The American Midwest is home to a lot of traditions and a lot of traditional people. In fact, a 31-year-old man living in Minnesota told Cosmopolitan that he had started a long-distance flirtation with a woman because he wanted a traditional marriage and family, and he was willing to go to the distance to get that. Again, people are using technology to flirt, and it’s working. In fact, the man told Cosmopolitan that he was seeking people outside his city of Minneapolis because the city still had a lot of people who didn’t want to break tradition when it came to dating.
“The dating scene in Minneapolis is very tough if you are trying to date outside of your race,” he said. “I’m a minority, and women say they are open to interracial relationships, but after a few dates, that changes.” But, through technology, the man was able to meet and flirt with new people all over the state and the world.