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One of the benefits you unlock when you start studying Spanish is the privilege of flirting with the natives. If you haven’t done a lot of Spanish flirting so far, now is your chance to get started.

If you’re in a happy relationship and have no interest in flirting, I’ll just tell you now that this whole post is a scam to get you to have more productive conversations with Spanish speakers, irrespective of your ultimate goals. Treat the flirting part as a bonus.

Rachel.—El camarero de detrás de la barra lleva media hora haciéndome ojitos.
Rachel: “The waiter behind the bar (carries / has spent) half (an) hour (making me little eyes / eyeing me up).”

Amiga de Rachel.—Pues acércate a hablar con él, chica.
Rachel’s Friend: “Then (approach yourself / go) to talk with him, girl.”

Rachel, listen to your friend.

Remember that shyness can be overcome, Spanish speakers are hot, and life is short.

To have an interesting conversation in Spanish (or in any other language) you only need to follow 3 steps:

  1. Approach someone, so you’re not talking to yourself.
  2. Tell a one-line story, to get the conversation started.
  3. Change the subject, to keep it going for as long as you want.

To turn vanilla conversations into flirty ones, you just have to be bold, amuse yourself and assume they already like you.

Step 1: Approach

You can technically flirt from a distance, but it’s easy to overdo it, and it won’t do much good for your Spanish, so let’s focus on talking for now.

Pick up lines are for chumps. Instead, you should focus on putting yourself in the right mindset: you don’t have to impress them, everybody loves you, just say hello and have fun:

—Hola, yo soy Raquel.
“Hi, I am Rachel.”

—Jordi, encantado.
“Jordi, (enchanted / nice to meet you)”

First contact: success.

What happens now depends on the country you’re in. In Spain, we put our right cheek next to the other person’s right cheek, and make a kissing noise. We often do the same with the left cheek.

If you miscalculate, or if the other person isn’t expecting two kisses, or if they forget to start with the right cheek and start with the left instead, you’ll end up kissing on the mouth.

Have fun with that.

Step 2: Tell a one-line story

The best way to initiate a conversation is to tell a one-line story. Your Spanish high school teacher spent years training you for this. Simply talk about why you’re here, what you want, or what you’re interested in:

Estoy aquí visitando a una amiga.
I’m here visiting (to) a friend.

Acabo de llegar y ya me he perdido dos veces.
I’ve just arrived and I’ve already gotten lost two times.

Me encanta esta ciudad, sobre todo la playa.
(This city enchants me / I love this city), (above all / especially) the beach.

A one-line story is a much better way of starting a conversation than a question with a one-word answer:

—Hola, ¿cómo estás?
“Hi, how are you?”

—Bien.
“Fine.”

—¿Es la primera vez que vienes a este bar?
“Is it the first time you come to this bar?”

—Sí.
ಠ_ಠ

Once you have a story backdrop, it’s much easier to show the bold, self-amusing, flirty aspects of your personality. Save the interview questions for later.

Let’s combine an approach with a one-line story, and see what happens:

—Hola, yo soy Raquel. En realidad me llamo Rachel, pero estoy intentando españolizarme. ✌ ️
“Hi, I’m Raquel. My real name is actually Rachel, but I’m trying to Spanishify myself.”

—Encantado, Raquel. Yo soy Jordi. Y me parece que estás bastante españolizada. 😉
(I’m) enchanted, Rachel. I’m Jordi. And it seems to me that you are pretty Spanishified.

—Será por los cuatro años de español que estudié en el instituto, que fueron súper útiles. 😝
“(That must be) because of the four years of Spanish that I studied in (the) high school, (those) were super useful.”

—Igual de útiles que mis clases de inglés, seguro. Pero mira, como me has caído simpática, te dejo que me llames George. 😎
“Just as useful as my English classes, (for) sure. But look, since (you have fallen on me / I think you’re) nice, I let you call me George (English for Jordi).”

Hi. Self-amusing one-line story. Hi yourself, bold comment. One-line story. Assumption that she likes you. Boom!

You’re flirting.

Step 3: Change the subject

Once the conversation gets rolling, talk about something else. If you stick with your opener, it can get awkward quickly:

—Igual de útiles que mis clases de inglés, seguro. Pero mira, como me has caído simpática, te dejo que me llames George. 😎
“Just as useful as my English classes, (for) sure. But look, since (you have fallen on me / I think you’re) nice, I let you call me George (English for Jordi).”

—Sí, llevo mucho tiempo estudiando español y quiero aprender más. 😅
“Yeah, I have (carried / been) much time studying Spanish and I want to learn more.”

—Hablas muy bien. 👍
“You speak very well.”

—Me gusta hablar español, pero es un poco difícil. 😀
“I like to speak Spanish, but it’s a bit difficult.”

—Ajá. 😴
“Aha.”

—Sí, porque hay sonidos que me cuestan bastante. 😃
“Yeah, because there are sounds that (cost a lot to me / are very difficult for me).”

—Bueno, tranquila, ya aprenderás. Encantado, ¿eh? Hasta luego. Que lo pases bien. 😬
“Well, relax, you will learn. (Enchanted, huh? / It was very nice to meet you). See you later. (I wish that you) (pass it well / have fun).”

I study Spanish. Nice. I want to learn Spanish. Aha. I like speaking Spanish. Spanish is difficult. Ok, bye.

Once you’ve explored a topic, move on to something else. Anything you want. As long as you think it’s fun, go for it. The more you talk about, the more chances you’ll have to showcase who you really are:

—Igual de útiles que mis clases de inglés, seguro. Pero mira, como me has caído simpática, te dejo que me llames George. 😎
“Just as useful as my English classes, (for) sure. But look, since (you have fallen on me / I think you’re) nice, I let you call me George (English for Jordi).”

—Como George Harrison, mi Beatle favorito. ¡O como George Costanza! 😂
“Like George Harrison, my favorite Beatle. Or like George Costanza!”

—No sé si somos compatibles, Raquel. Yo soy más de los Rolling y el Costanza ese no me suena nada. 😏
“I don’t know if we’re compatible, Raquel. I’m more of (the Rolling / a Rolling Stones kind of guy) and the Costanza (guy) doesn’t (sound me nothing / ring a bell at all).”

—No te preocupes, George. Nadie es perfecto. Pero parece que hay un gran abismo cultural entre nosotros. 😜
“Don’t (preoccupy yourself / worry), George. Nobody is perfect. But it seems that there is a large cultural (abyss / gap) between us.”

—Debemos encontrar rápidamente algo que nos una o el futuro de nuestros hijos corre peligro. 😆
“We must quickly find something that (unites us / brings us together) or the future of our children (runs danger / is in jeopardy).”

—Esto no es Regreso al futuro, McFly. 😝
“This isn’t Back to the Future, McFly.”

—Tienes razón, Doc. Además, yo todavía no estoy preparado para formar una familia. 😎
“You’re right, Doc. (Also / besides), I’m still not ready to (form / start) a family.”

From the Beatles to starting a family in under 5 seconds. If that’s not flirting, I don’t know what is.

Now that you’ve created a vibe of mutual interest, you’re free to ask all the vanilla questions that most people start with: ¿de dónde eres? (where are you from?), ¿a qué te dedicas? (what do you do for a living?), ¿cuánto pagas de hipoteca? (how much do you pay for your mortgage?).

You can also keep raising the flirting levels until mother nature takes over (you won’t really need Spanish after that).

Bonus: How to say flirting in Spanish

There are a million Spanish translations for flirting, but two of the most common ones are ligar and coquetear, although they each have a slightly different usage.

To me at least, coquetear sounds like the kind of low-intensity flirting that Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy did back in the 19th century, but I guess some people still do that today.

Ligar is bit more substantial. An important point to remember is the huge distinction between estar ligando and haber ligado: if you estás ligando, it means that you’re doing your best to show someone that you’re kiss-worthy (or at least phone number-worthy); if you has ligado, it means you have already succeeded in showing it and have benefited from the rewards.

Check out this very interesting Spanish StackExchange page about the different translations of flirting around the Spanish-speaking world.

Spanish takeaways

I don’t know about you, but if I had known back in high school that flirting was as easy as approaching, telling a one-line story and changing the subject, my life would have been a lot more exciting.

If you’re not flirting in Spanish because you think you don’t know enough Spanish, you’re missing the point. Flirting is a great excuse to step outside your comfort zone, and it will teach more about Spanish than talking about the weather ever will.

Don’t worry about being super original, just say whatever is going through your head, express who you really are and what you care for, and make lots of eye contact. If the person you’re talking to doesn’t keep up with their side of the conversation, find a more interesting partner.

Above all, don’t be afraid of feeling as awkward as a talking sock puppet.

After a while, you’ll realize life is a game anyway.

Si ligas después de leer este artículo, me debes una cerveza.
“If you (hook up / meet someone) after reading this article, you owe me a beer.”

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