We live in a world where the single life is becoming somewhat of an epidemic. Besides the divorce rate being higher than ever, so is the figure of people who never manage to find a partner to wed in the first place. As entrepreneurs identify this void, online ads for dating sites, match-making services and speed-dating organisations are being created quicker than bunnies in Benoni (I know you get what I’m saying regardless of whether you’ve actually ever visited the famous Benoni bunny park).

So why are we finding it so difficult to attract the right partners? What can we do about it? I’ll try tackle this broad topic through my perspectives as a mentalist. In this article I’ll give you an insight into how our brains are programmed and the non-verbal flirting process which is hard-wired into all of us. My hope is that this will help you to be more effective at reeling in your potential partner of choice the next time you’re out painting the town red.

Please note, this is not a “pick-up guide”. It is a peek at natural non-verbal human flirting and attraction rituals; helpful for both men and women to attract their partners of choice.

Did you know that up to 60 – 80% of how we communicate is through non-verbal channels? Of course I’m referring to face-to-face encounters and not text-messaging or social media platforms. If we want to be able to attract more potential partners then we need to become more adept at understanding human non-verbal mating rituals. Yes, I used the term ‘mating rituals’. Although we prefer to think of ourselves as higher life forms to all other animals, we are still very much connected to our underdeveloped brethren by our base needs to survive, procreate, eat, drink, and sleep. Human flirting rituals and signals have been as inborn and observable as the ones we’ve all enjoyed watching on National Geographic.

Let’s start by attacking one of the biggest culprits: the great myth which causes all types of non-verbal confusion – the myth that “men are the ones who make the first move”. This misconception is created by the fact that men are typically the ones to make the trip across the room to begin the conversation with a lady.

The reality is that in most encounters it’s typically the lady who calls the shots. She does this by initiating a series of subtle body language cues towards the man she finds herself drawn to. This is a way that a woman gives the man the green light to approach. All she can do is hope that he will be perceptive enough to pick up the signals and respond to them. These non-verbal cues are so subtle that most men think they are the ones taking the lead. Think of it like the movie Inception… Yes lads, women can plant seeds of thought in our brains like natural-born mentalists.

So, ladies, become good at giving the correct non-verbal cues to increase your chances of getting the man you want. Gentlemen, your job is to become more perceptive to the signals given off by women (and to respond to them correctly).

The 5-Step Attraction and Flirting Process of Humans

Stage 1: Eye Contact

Although at first glance ladies seem more interested in their friends when they’re out on the town, when she spots a man who she finds attractive, she will generally wait until he notices her, will discretely hold his gaze for 4 – 5 seconds and then turn away. At this point she is on the man’s radar and he’ll usually sweep a few glances in her direction to see if she does it again.

Man-tip: Gentlemen… On average it will take the lady three times to deliver this discrete gaze to us before we even realize what’s happening. It’s a good idea to become more consciously aware and perceptive to these signals!

Lady-tip: Some women use the “hard-to-get” strategy and will avoid any eye contact. If you do this you may still be approached by men, although it’s a form of playing the numbers game and you won’t fully control which types of men approach you.

Stage 2: Smiling

Following mutual eye-contact the lady will send a fleeting smile – a type of swift half-smile – sometimes followed by her turning away. This brief smile is the official “green light” for the man. Unfortunately many men do not understand this body language, often leaving women feeling as if there’s no real interest.

Man-tip: If there’s mutual gaze and a fleeting smile from her – take the hint! On the same note, don’t now approach the first girl who smiles back at you. Men often mistake ‘being friendly’ for ‘sexual interest’. This is because we have 10 times more testosterone than women and often view the world in terms of sex.

Lady-tip: We men are not as naturally intuitive as women so it might take a couple gazes and smiles until he starts to get the idea. If he does respond, avoid the temptation of “I have his interest now; Let me switch to hard-to-get”. These erratic signals often confuse men and he may decide against approaching you.

Stage 3: Preening

Highlighting gender differences is part of what creates a sexy impression. At this stage of the process, both the lady and gent will be super-subconsciously tuned to this.

There is a well-known saying amongst people adept at body language: “the feet know where the body wants to go”. At this stage of the flirting ritual both the man and woman will have their feet pointing towards each other much of the time. Keep an eye out for this key signal!

Man-tip: Throughout step 1 and 2, look out for these preening signals: Women will often stand straighter, emphasizing her breasts. A classic preening pose is tilting her hips and head to one side, revealing her bare neck. She’ll hold her hands (or an object like a glass) in a way that shows her wrists and if she’s sitting she’ll often cross her legs to best reveal her naked ankles. A well-known sign is playing with her hair for 4 – 6 seconds and fixing or playing with her clothes or jewellery.

Lady-tip: A man will subconsciously respond by trying to emphasize his size (no… not that…) – he’ll stand up straight, emphasizing his chest, and use stances which uses up more space. He can also be found adjusting his clothing and even touching his hair. Another key stance to watch out for is when he stands with one or both of his thumbs casually tucked into his belt or pants pockets.

Stage 4: Breaking the Ice

Gentlemen, once you’ve observed all these signal clusters (and sometimes it can all happen fairly quickly) you can then make an effective approach. You should not get rejected – unless phrases like “Did it hurt when you fell from the sky?” are still part of your repertoire – but if not, then you’re right on track to now make use of your natural charm and sincere nature. If you make the approach without receiving these green lights then you’ll be playing the numbers game.

Stage 5: Touch

Assuming that all is going well with your conversation, the lady will usually look for an opportunity to initiate a light touch. This touch will usually be on the arm and will, more often than not, be an “accidental brush” or part of a bigger reaction such as laughing at a joke. A touch on the hand indicates far higher intimacy. Eventually each level of touch will be repeated to check if the other person is happy with that level of intimacy.

Man-tip: By shaking hands right at the beginning of breaking the ice you break the touch barrier off-the-bat. This means she may initiate the touch phase sooner. Another reliable signal to observe is if she adjusts your tie, lightly brushes lint off your shoulder or adjusts your appearance in any way. This is a natural indicator that she cares about your health and wellbeing in general.

Lady-tip: If his personality is not a fit for you then do not initiate touch, even if his skew tie really does set off your OCD! Eventually he will start to understand that it’s going nowhere.

In Summary

As unique, creative and independent as we may all be, people are still predictable. Any professional in the behavioral sciences will tell you the same. I have developed an entire career by the virtue of this fact. The same applies to our flirting process and you can now decode this process using the steps above.

As you practice this, keep in mind that I have highlighted the specific body language processes which are hardwired into our brains. Of course every social situation will require its own adaptation of these steps, and your own unique charm.

Good luck!


Gilan Gork is a full-time professional Mentalist. He presents shows in which he reads thoughts and influences minds. He delivers keynote talks such as ‘Influence’ and ‘Reading Body Language in Business’. Gilan has been featured on radio and television shows such as Carte Blanche, 3Talk, 5fm, Highveld, 702 Talk Radio and many more. Connect with Gilan directly on twitter and facebook (@ImTheMentalist). Watch Gilan in action here or on his official  website

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