Flirting means a kind of playful, romantic overture, expressing the wish to make contact with another person for amorous reasons, so who doesn't like to flirt and to be flirted with? But for international relationship, the same flirting gestures may do not mean the same meanning. Read this dating articles to learn how covert glances, fleeting touches and apparently innocent kisses can be interpreted differently in various countries around the world.
Eye Contact and Covert Glances
Shooting frequent, sideways glances from beneath the lashes, or even winking are all common flirting gestures in the US and Europe, where it is a sign of open admiration. The same behavior, however, could land you in hot water in Muslim countries.
Eye contact, is not allowed between men and women in Arabic countries for religious reasons. The gesture is considered as "adultery of the eyes" and can have dire consequences for foreigners who, in the worst of cases, might get themselves arrested. That doesn't mean that Arab men won't stare at Western women, but if she returns the glance, thinking that she might only be flirting, she could be in for an unpleasant surprise. Glancing back means that she is sexually interested in the man in question and could be construed as an open invitation to have sex. She might be considered a prostitute and be treated as such.
Traditionally, Japanese and Chinese women won't initiate eye contact either. It is considered rude and a sign of disrespect and the same applies to a man seeking prolonged eye contact. In Latin America, steady eye contact is not a sign of openness and trust but often indicates aggression and a challenge. Men's ogling of a woman, do not mean flirtation with a particular woman either, but are a general expression of admiration for the female sex.
Spanish women on the other hand, may still be guided by some atavistic rules of eye contact and flirtatious glances. These rules stem from the centuries old 'language of the fan'. The fan was not so much a cooling device, as a means to convey a message to a man, given the fact that Spanish girls were very much protected and not allowed open contact. Fanning oneself vigorously means: 'I'm in love with you', closing the fan slowly means :'yes', moving the fingers along the ribs means:'I'm interested in you and want to talk to you.'
Even nowadays, you will hardly see a Spanish woman or girl without a fan in the summer and some may still remember how to use the fan language.
Kissing a lady's hand is very much a European habit and has recently seen a revival in Germany and Austria and America. A hand kiss, which involves only one hand each and no touching of the skin by the lips at all, is a sign of respect when a man greets a woman.
However, the greeting turns to flirting, when the man grabs the woman's hand with both his hands, squeezes, plants a kiss on the back of the hand and accompanies the entire ceremony with an open or seductive glance.
Trying to kiss or even shake a woman's hand in Arabic cultures is an absolute no, no. Islam forbids any bodily contact between the sexes, other than husband and wife or close family. In Turkey an exception might be, you could kiss the hand of a much older woman as a sign of respect.
Cheek kissing and touching
In the US, flirting gestures are very much restricted to glances, fiddling with earrings, flicking or straightening the hair. Kisses, even on the cheek, and touching come later after the initial contact has been made and both partners have expressed their mutual attraction and wish to know each other further.
Kissing the cheek, once or several times, is a common greeting ritual in Spain and Latin American countries. The kiss is often accompanied by touching the arm or shoulder, but it's not a sign of flirtation. Latin people are just much more physical than Americans. Such kissing and touching is, again, totally forbidden in Muslim countries and equally inappropriate in many Asian countries. In India, Thailand and Japan, for instance, bowing substitutes for the handshake and cheek kissing.
Flirting gestures in one country can be offensive in another, so it's good to study the rules of cultural behavior before starting international dating.