Why You Should Try The H.O.T. A.P.E. Method When Flirting With Someone

Despite what the movies might have led you to believe, flirting is not something you simply come into the world knowing how to do, but rather, a technique you pick up over time through experience. It's also something many people struggle with. According to 2014 research by The University of Kansas, people are so bewildered by the act itself that only 18% of women and 36% of men are able to accurately identify if someone is flirting with them.


"Millennials don't like to talk on the phone; on text, it's tough to flirt. They don't know how to articulate it," matchmaker Amy Nobile tells Business Insider. "The flirting part is lost among millennials because they're leading with their resumes. It's making conversation become a transitional dialogue. We need to go back to the old-fashioned way of flirting."

While that may be a fantastic solution, it opens up another question: What does it really mean to flirt? We've built such a high fortress of technology around ourselves that knocking it down and getting back to the basics almost sounds near-impossible. Is there any hope for those of us who have grown up in the digital age and those generations that will come after us? Well, according to social anthropologist Jean Smith, there is, because it turns out flirting may be better understood as a science rather than an art. In response to seeing others struggle with the act, she came up with the H.O.T. A.PE. flirting method – which breaks it all down into six straightforward steps.


What's the H.O.T. A.P.E method?

What we need to realize about flirting is that it's not just one move, but rather, a collection of actions. "In my research, I found that there were six different ways that people understood when someone was flirting with them," social anthropologist Jean Smith tells The Irish Examiner. "I created an acronym HOT APE (Humor, Open body language, Touch, Attention, Proximity, Eye contact) for the six signs of flirting — so the more of these signs that someone's exhibiting, the more likely that they're interested." As Smith explains, although many people consider flirting an art, she prefers to teach it as a science that can be learned. "By looking at it as a science, we can deconstruct the different components and turn it into a skill, rather than something we're either born good at or not," says Smith.


Granted, these six elements aren't the only signs of flirting. Research has also found other factors like how people tend to play with their clothing more when they're flirting or specific facial expressions to be indicators as well, but these six, especially all together, are dead giveaways that some major flirting is happening.

Why you should try it

If you're someone who usually struggles to tell whether or not someone is flirting with you, following H.O.T.A.P.E. might be to your benefit. For one, having specific signs to look out for takes away the guesswork of wondering about someone's interest. As explained in their TED talk "The Science of Flirting," Jean Smith says if you're following H.O.T. A.P.E. approach and notice the other person doesn't respond positively to one of your H.O.T.A.P.E. steps, you can probably figure that they're not a match for you. That might look like them pulling away at your touch or not laughing at your jokes. However, if you notice they start to mirror your actions — for instance, their body language becomes more open as yours does, they break the touch barrier — you can likely take that as a cue they might be interested, and gradually add on more H.O.T.A.P.E. actions to see how they respond. 


Following the H.O.T.A.P.E. method can also help you figure out areas where you can improve your own game. "Like any skill, the more you practice, the easier it gets," Smith adds. For instance, if you're someone who is usually good at breaking the ice with jokes around people you like, but you routinely find people don't read your actions as flirting, you might consider reevaluating your approach. Are you avoiding eye contact? Or maybe you have a habit of closing off your body by crossing your arms. Following H.O.T. A.P.E. can make you more self-aware of your own actions in these potentially flirtatious situations. 

How to make it work for you

The best way to make the H.O.T. A.P.E. method work for you is by entering into all engagements with the same openness and energy. If you save these skills for only when you meet someone attractive, you're setting yourself up to become intensely nervous every time you do attempt to flirt because of how infrequently you pull out the H.O.T. A.P.E. technique, also meaning you're missing out on boatloads of practice by not using it regularly. "[Whereas if] you're practicing all the time with everyone, when that moment comes, you'll know what to do," Smith tells The Irish Examiner. "The way I would hope people would use flirting is just having better interactions in their everyday life," adding that whenever you're out and about there's always an opportunity to interact with someone. In other words, there's always a chance you could meet a romantic partner. You know, The One. 


Ultimately, the H.O.T. A.P.E. method teaches all of us to be better communicators and, in turn, have better experiences with the people we come across in our everyday life. While not everyone is going to reciprocate in the manner we hope or find us charming (although we are!), that's just life, so don't get bummed. It doesn't say anything negative about you. Remember: there are oodles of people that you'll come across with whom you may not want to engage for whatever reason and that's absolutely your right, just as much as it's everyone else's right too. But hang in there; eventually, you'll meet your lobster.