How to Tell the Difference Between Flirting and Friendliness

Do you struggle to tell the difference between flirting and friendliness? How do you tell if someone is flirting or just being nice?

Not being able to recognise the difference often leads to being hurt because you thought the person really liked you and had a genuine interest in you.  

Flirting happens to both single and married people and it can be hard to tell the difference because they’re so close.

It can also be difficult to know how to be friendly without flirting. I’ve seen naturally friendly girls mistaken as flirts, and I’ve also seen girls acting awkward and almost rude around guys for fear of appearing flirty.  

So how do we figure this out?

Appearing friendly or flirty depends on three things:

1. The state of your mind and heart

A friendly person sees the opposite sex as friends and respects their feelings. A flirt sees the opposite sex as “potential” and uses them to boost their own self-worth with no regard for their feelings.  

2. The words you speak

A friendly person uses their words in a God-honouring way, for healthy, interesting conversation. A flirt uses their words to stroke ego, get attention, and flatter.

3. How you use your body (body language and touch)

A friendly person respects personal space and does not cross the boundaries of friendship by touching unnecessarily. A flirt moves into personal space and uses touch to stir feelings.

RELATED: How to let a guy know you’re interested without appearing desperate

Friendly vs Flirty

Which is it?

Let’s get a bit more specific about what flirting and friendliness look like.  


  • Is generally for selfish amusement with no serious intention.
  • Hints at the possibility of casual romance or sexual interest.
  • Toys with emotions.
  • Uses flattery or excessive compliments.
  • Often suggests things inappropriate for the stage of the relationship.
  • Uses double meanings, winks, and prolonged or intense eye contact.
  • Uses lingering touches on the arm, back, or shoulder, and leans toward you when you speak.
  • Gets into your personal space a bit more than what you would expect from a friend.
  • The person may laugh and smile more when you’re around (girls tend to giggle or laugh more and talk louder).
  • Singles you out and teases you.
  • The person may tell you they’re single or ask for your help a lot.
  • Gives you full-body hugs.
  • The person may hang around, or go out of their way to say hello or talk to you.
  • A flirt is more concerned about how you make them feel than how you feel.


  • Treats you with kindness, respect, compassion, and politeness.
  • Does not toy with emotions.
  • Talks to other people as well, and is just as friendly.
  • Asks general questions and sticks to small talk.
  • Gives hugs that only touch the upper body instead of full-body contact.
  • Is not suggestive in body language or conversation. No double-meanings.
  • Eye contact is maybe a glance or a nod or a relaxed hello.
  • The person will not go out of their way to touch you.
  • Keeps a respectful distance while talking to you.

While it can be tricky to tell the difference between flirting and friendliness, if you pay attention to a person’s words and body language you should be able to figure out if they are genuine or not.

Be wise, hold yourself in reserve, and observe, observe, observe.

Did this help to clarify the difference between flirting and friendliness? What can you add to this list? What’s your experience been with a flirt? Share in the comments and let’s talk!

About The Author

Jennifer Lovemore

Jennifer has three grown kids and is married to her best friend, Richard. She started this website as a platform to help families, and specifically women, to take control of their lives and grow themselves spiritually, mentally & emotionally, and to discover their God-given purpose and live it out with confidence. She is a trained Life Coach and has diplomas in relationship counselling and CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). She is a certified SYMBIS (Save Your Marriage Before It Starts) facilitator. She lives in sunny South Africa.

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