There also appears to be gender differences in flirting motivations.
Flirting usually involves speaking and behaving in a way that suggests a mildly greater intimacy than the actual relationship between the parties would justify, though within the rules of social etiquette, which generally disapproves of a direct expression of sexual interest in the given setting.
This may be accomplished by communicating a sense of playfulness or irony.
Flirting may be done in a under-exaggerated, shy or frivolous style.
Vocal communication of interest can include, for example, Flirting behavior varies across cultures due to different modes of social etiquette, such as how closely people should stand (proxemics), how long to hold eye contact, how much touching is appropriate and so forth. For example, ethologist Irenäus Eibl-Eibesfeldt found that in places as different as Africa and North America, women exhibit similar flirting behavior, such as a prolonged stare followed by a head tilt away with a little smile, as seen in the accompanying image associated with a Hollywood film. The Oxford English Dictionary (first edition) associates it with such onomatopoeic words as flit and flick, emphasizing a lack of seriousness; on the other hand, it has been attributed to the old French conter fleurette, which means "to (try to) seduce" by the dropping of flower petals, that is, "to speak sweet nothings".
Additionally, Messman and colleagues’ study provided support for this hypothesis; it demonstrated that, the more one was physically attracted to a person, the higher the chances one would flirt with them.
Flirting in the goal of signalling interest appears as a puzzling phenomenon when considering that flirting is often performed very subtly.
In this sense, flirting plays a role in the mate-selection process.
The person flirting will send out signals of sexual availability to another, and expects to see the interest returned in order to continue flirting.
Flirting can involve non-verbal signs, such as an exchange of glances, hand-touching, and hair-touching; or verbal signs, such as chatting, giving flattering comments, and exchanging telephone numbers in order to initiate further contact.