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Sex is the way most animals gain the flexibility to healthfully sort and mix their genes.Getting sex, in turn, is wholly dependent on attracting attention and being attracted.Flirting achieved that end, offering a relatively risk-free set of signals with which to sample the field, try out sexual wares and exchange vital information about candidates’ general health and reproductive fitness.“Flirting is a negotiation process that takes place after there has been some initial attraction,” observes Steven W. D., an evolutionary psychologist at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque who is currently studying how people choose their mates.For Eibl-Eibesfeldt, these gestures represented primal behaviors driven by the old parts of our brain’s evolutionary memory.

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All mammals and most animals (including birds, fish, even fruit flies) engage in complicated and energy-intensive plots and plans for attracting others to the business of sex. Single people flirt because, well, they’re single and therefore nobody is really contractually obliged to talk to them, sleep with them or scratch that difficult-to-reach part of the back. They’ve found themselves a suitable–maybe even superior–mate, had a bit of productive fun with the old gametes and ensured that at least some of their genes are carried into the next generation. Notice the quick little eyebrow raise you make, the sidelong glance coupled with the weak smile you give, the slightly sustained gaze you offer?Evolutionary biologists would suggest that those individuals who executed flirting maneuvers most adeptly were more successful in swiftly finding a mate and reproducing and that the behavior therefore became widespread in all humans.“A lot of people feel flirting is part of the universal language of how we communicate, especially nonverbally,” says Jeffry Simpson, director of the social psychology program at the University of Minnesota.For our Valentine’s-Day series, we’ve mashed up several recent articles summarizing some of the possible situational causes of flirting.The articles are Belinda Luscombe’s article in Time Magazine titled “Why We Flirt,” Joann Ellison Rodgers’s article in Psychology Today, “Flirting Fascination,” and Deborah A.

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