Jean Smith, founder of Flirtology and Flirt Interpreter extraordinaire, shares her top tips on how to date in a modern world

In this age of online dating, virtual flirting and location-based hookups by app, dating today is harder than ever. And what’s even more difficult? Knowing how to act and what to do if you actually meet someone you like in person (because let’s face it; flirting and talking online is so much easier as you have time to think about your oh so natural and witty reply). Also, what are the rules for dating? Is it ok for a woman to ask someone out? Or is that intimidating? With all these questions in mind, we’ve asked flirting expert, Jean Smith, who has appeared on BBC Breakfast, Daybreak and ITV’s London Tonight commenting on topics ranging from dating, flirting and relationships to wider social issues, to share her expert advice on how to date in a modern world.

Over to you Jean…

Society and its rules fluctuate depending on what people need and what people have. Traditionally, it was men’s sole responsibility to ask women out and pay for the date. Why? Because they had the money, they had the transport and they held all the cards. As the higher-earning gender, along with deciding whom to ask out, they also had the honour of paying for it.

Society has moved away from this pay model, with women now earning almost as much as men. Nevertheless, this old-fashioned attitude about who should do the asking (and paying) still prevails, creating a disconnect and much confusion on how to behave. As a Flirtologist, I meet many high-flying, executive women, who make bags of money and have bags of confidence. Why shouldn’t they ask a man out? Besides, men like it!

So, what are the dating rules in this modern society? Let’s turn to science for the answer.

While researching for my book, The Flirt Interpreter, I interviewed 100 men in four different international, Western cities. I asked them if they would like it if a woman approached them and asked them out. The answer was a resounding ‘yes!’ on both counts. Followed by ‘as long as it’s not done too aggressively’. So there we have it – just don’t plop yourself down on their laps, arms dangled around their necks, and expect them to say yes. Other than that, you’ll be fine!

So, what are the 8 rules for dating in the modern world? I am so glad you asked.

1. If you like someone, approach them!

Don’t wait for the other person to make the move. Gender has become obsolete in this regard and now it’s more about common sense! How is a guy to know you’re interested if you stand in the corner willing him to walk over? If you are looking at art, for example, and get chatting you could say something like, “I have been meaning to go that new exhibition at the V&A. Would you like to join me?” Which leads me to rule #2…

2. Don’t be scared of rejection.

Believe it or not, it is your friend. Statistically, we cannot click with everyone we meet. If you chat to someone and they make it clear that feelings are not reciprocated, move on! Don’t think of it as a setback for your self-esteem, but a step forward to finding someone you’re compatible with.

3. Keep it casual.

If you see someone cute, walk over and start a natural conversation. Hitting on people can seem intimidating when you think of strutting up and opening with “hey, sweet cheeks,” but simply asking, “is it always this busy? It’s my first time here,” is a casual and natural way to start chatting.

4. Change your expectations and do away with false standards.

Despite whatever belief you have in destiny, you will not be able to determine if a man is right for you within two minutes of meeting him. Admit it, you probably spend more time lingering over the Chinese takeaway menu! Once you stop looking at people with, “is this the future father of my children?” or “is she the one?” in mind, taking things as they come becomes a lot easier. The question you should be asking is, “am I having a good time right now, in this moment?”

5. Got a date? Great! Don’t expect the man to pay.

There are a surprising amount of women, even in the younger generations, who expect men to be ‘chivalrous’ and pay for dates. Why should men pay for dates? We now know that in the past it was because they had more money and had cars, but these days, aren’t we all on equal (or, at least closer) footing? More importantly, don’t we want to be? As a general rule, whoever asks should pay. If women can ask, they can pay and, equally, if men can be asked, they can be taken out!

6. So you’ve had a great date, wonderful! Now, forget it.

This person you’ve just been on a date with is a stranger minus a few hours you’ve spent together. Get on with your full and happy life and don’t fill your thoughts with romantic ideals of your ‘future’. Nobody should keep you waiting by the phone, especially not someone you’ve only just met!

7. Keep an open mind.

There are plenty more happily ever afters than the old husband, wife, two kids and a white picket fence. Just as we have more choice in the modern world, we also have more scenarios in which we could be happy. Don’t let old-fashioned notions of happiness stop you from actually being happy in life. Which, brings me to rule #8…

8. You can be happy alone.

You should be happy alone. Why should your feeling of contentedness rest on another human being? Sounds pretty risky to me. Don’t wait for someone else to come along and fill in the gaps. Start living your life and now! People are attracted to happy people. Be open, be happy, exude that happiness and the person to share that with will be drawn to you.
The rules have certainly changed in the last few generations of flirting history. Women can approach, men don’t have to pay for dates and being single is coveted rather than pitied. Nowadays, we have the capacity to flirt and date for fun, not just for the traditional goal of an early marriage. We have the tools at our disposal to enjoy single life, no matter what gender we are. The ‘rules’ are about you and your life, rather than finding someone to complete your life.

For more of Jean’s expert advice visit:

Rachel is the beauty and fashion director at IDEAL. She loves trying new products and is an avid fan of London's fashion, from the high end to the high street.