According to social anthropologist Jean Smith, who spent more than a decade looking at how men and women interact and recently completed a four-country comparison, she found that flirting was rare in Britain and people just give up easily and went home; New Yorkers get right down to business; Parisians take refuge in ornate but time-proven ritual.
Britain’s problems start with men. Protocol dictates that men should approach women. Men know this, yet they’re horrified at the idea of rejection, the Daily Mail reported.
“Perhaps I am intruding upon her and her friends,” they think. “She might not welcome the interruption!”
New York men can cope with rejection: they laugh about it with their pals, denigrate the girl, buy another drink, and move on. But British men seem swallowed up in despair.
British women agree that the man should approach first. But they are at fault too, as they give no clear signs of encouragement to the few men who dare.
Smith said that what British women counted as obvious eye contact is, to men, no more than a blink.
When the British women were asked how they let a man know they are interested, they said “I look at them; I don’t need to do anything physical. The fact I’m listening makes them feel important,” or “I do obvious body language, like pointing my knee in his direction while we chat.”
Smith said that only 35 percent of British men could tell if a woman was flirting with them.
“It’s best when women do something deliberate,” one man said. “Like put their hand on my knee or just tell me.”
British women are slightly better placed than men as 57 percent think they are good at spotting flirtation. Yet, it is the smallest percentage in the poll.
In Paris, 53 percent of men and 95 percent of women think they know what’s happening.
British men are expected to make the first move, although, a full 30 percent said that they would never approach anyone in a flirtatious way.