Women Are Confusing Flirts

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Women Are Confusing Flirts
Women are instinctively more inscrutable than men at showing interest when a romance starts.

Think you can always, always tell when a guy wants to sleep with you?

Us too, and while we thought we'd just come down with a strong case of the Arrogants it turns out that no, we aren't conceited, men are just super, duper easy to read. Even science says so.

A recent study at Indiana University rounded up 28 women and 26 men and got them to watch a series of speed dating videos from Germany. The students didn't even pay attention so much to what was said (well, it was in German) but instead focused on body language and other non-verbal cues like eye contact.

Both men and women were pretty dead on at predicting when the guys were feeling the ladies. But both sexes had a tough time figuring out when the women were genuinely enjoying the man's company.

"The hardest-to-read women were being misperceived at a much higher rate than the hardest-to-read men. Those women were being flirtatious, but it turned out they weren't interested at all," said lead author Skyler Place, a doctoral student in IU's Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences working with cognitive science Professor Peter Todd. "Nobody could really read what these deceptive females were doing, including other women."

Sounds about right. Us ladies have been known to be a tad too polite on a mangy blind date or giggle nervously when we're hit on by somebody we're not feeling. We don't want to hurt any poor, unsuspecting sap's feelings, similarly we're going to play a littlehard to get if we do like someone. All these mixed signals are understandably confusing to men. They have to be.

The old adage that men are like slobbery, affectionate dogs and women are cool, coy cats has never seemed so true.

Biologically speaking, Place says this hard-to-read womanly behavior has to do with reproduction. We have no choice but to carry the babies and we're going to be a little more subdued and cautious about who fertilizes us. We don't want to screw up and spread our gene pool with the first man whore who flashes us a smile, so we're going to be a bit more confusing until said man earns our affections and proves his worth.

This brand of guarded sexuality seems to have missed men completely. Which, trust us, is no shock.

However, most interesting about this study by far was how rapidly the students were able to detect a man's interest. They were often only shown 10 second clips of the interactions, and the success rate in this "thin slice" was just as a high as when they watched a 30-second clip.

Place compares this rapid blink-like information processing to the unspoken social cues of the single world. We're constantly sussing out who's interested and who isn't, which is an evolutionary tactic making the whole finding a mate task more "efficient."