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In this episode of Sexplanations, Lindsey answers some of your questions about flirting and attraction.

Go to to get your very own Want/Will/Won't Poster:

You can ask Lindsey Questions at:

Host: Dr. Lindsey Doe

Directing/Filming/Editing: Nicholas Jenkins

Titles: Michael Aranda

Executive Producer: Hank Green
I received a lot of great questions regarding the last two videos on attraction and flirtation. Ready for some answers?

"I am 19 and I've never had anyone interested in me sexually or romantically. I understand I have to be willing to change in order to find someone, but how much is too much? How do I become more attractive without changing who I really am?"

This is a great example to apply a Want/Will/Won't list to! I have a whole episode explaining how to use one. Essentially, you have three columns: What you want to change; what you're willing to change; and what you won't change. For me, in my attractiveness, this would be: I want a clear complexion; I'm willing to wear make-up; I won't get plastic surgery. We want to focus on the "Wants." That's how we maintain attractiveness without changing who we really are. You don't need a fancy poster like this one, but you can get one or ten at

You're not an ugly duckling, you're a perfect swan. Maybe you think that you're not as attractive as you want to be because you're hanging out with ducks. Go hang out with the swans! This is to say that becoming more attractive doesn't have to be about changing you, it could be about changing your audience--the company you keep. Hang out with people who prefer the features you have!

"Out of curiosity, are you talking about sexual attraction, romantic attraction, aesthetic attraction, or what?"

All of the attractions! It's going to be so interesting to learn what more there is to beauty and appearance and attraction as we move away from reproductive function and look at things like same sex attraction, asexuality, inter-sexed and paraphilias.

"These days, if I am attracted to someone, I assume they're not attracted to me, so I try really hard not to pursue it. But it's really hard not to pursue it."

This mess of thoughts might be explained by the Error Management theory: the idea that when you're faced with the decision to pursue someone or not, you're faced with two errors to juggle. One is that you hold off and you don't make a move. But, oops! They would have actually welcomed the interest. The other is that you ignore the signals of: "This is not a match. Don't hit on me!" and proceed to get rejected.

Reproductively speaking, not gender, not orientation, women are more likely to make the first type of error--more specifically called "Sexual Underperception Bias." They're going to play it safe, they're not going to take the risk of pursuing, even though it could mean missing out on Mr. Awesome Sperm.

In contrast, men are more likely to commit the second type of error--Known as "Sexual Overperception Bias." They ignore things like The Matching Hypothesis and closed body language
because for them, it is better to try and fail than to not try at all.

"I've been having problems with older guys (7-10 years older) at my university not reading my one-syllable responses or nonverbal closed body language."

Start with awareness of two things: 1) you deserve to feel safe and 2) this nontraditional student could be operating on a different type of flirtation social script than what you have. You might not have them in your field of eligibles, but you might be in theirs. It's your role in respecting your elders to also be honest. If they are making you feel uncomfortable, let them know. Tell them to back off. It isn't rude to take care of your safety, but it IS rude to harass someone.

"You mentioned that hormones change how/when a person might be attracted to someone else. How does this affect, say, a queer girl?"

This is a brilliant question! Curiosity high five!! Hormones obviously play a role in attraction, and they play a role in masculinity and femininity, which is why some of you take them in order to have more congruency between your bodies and your gender. How hormones affect what you're attracted to? That's uncertain.

Let's try something we haven't before. I'm gonna call it "Crowd Sourcing Curiosity."

Sexplaneteers: Please share with us in comments any experiences you have or research you've found addressing this question.

"The "eye contact" part made me uneasy, as a person with an important visual handicap."

The steps that I outlined for attraction do not have to be the way that it goes. There are lots of ways to interact socially and flirtatiously, including the sound of our voices and the way that we touch one another.

"When someone you wish to flirt with is a very friendly person, how can you tell if the person is being flirty or friendly?"

I'm gonna give you three options and let you sort 'em out. One way is to increase your flirtation to draw out their intentions. Another way would be to decrease it and shut 'em down. The third way would be to ask. Say something like, "Are you flirting with me, or are you just the friendliest person in the world?"

What I've noticed about my own behavior and other's is that if it's friendly, the steps of flirtation are more scrambled, whereas if it's sexual or romantic, then they're more linear.

"What about flirting with someone you already know? A friend? A classmate? A lover? A long term spouse?"

So many of you have asked me this question, and it's really quite simple. You start from the first step of the flirtation and you do it more deliberately--more linearly--so that you're communicating that you have a sexual or romantic interest, rather than the sporadic inserts of flirtation that might happen with a friendship.

With partners in particular, I encourage them to go somewhere separately and meet up--kind of put each other in their field of eligibles. Glance at one another from across the room and then play out the steps as if they were strangers, knowing that in the end they'll go home with each other. I have done this and it's really fun. I even managed to find some wingmen to share my experiment with and they played along.

Please subscribe and support us at Subbable, and stay curious.