6/2/2011 – Wink, Wink? – New Haven Register

New Haven Register, 6/2/2011

The first rule of Flirt School is that it’s OK to talk about Flirt School.

Don’t roll your eyes, ladies. Despite our ultra-social, ultra-connected modern lifestyle, plenty of women these days say they’re in need of a romantic refresher course — if only to dispel their preconceived notions about flirting.

“They think it’s cheesy,” says Ronnie Ann Ryan, a local dating coach (www.nevertoolate.biz/) who will lead a Flirt School workshop for women Saturday in Shelton. “They think it means you’re leading a man on, or that you’re being too sexual.”

None of that is true, she explains.

“There’s no promise involved in flirting and no agenda,” according to Ryan. “It’s simply the idea that if you’re approachable and fun, then men will talk to you. That’s all.”

This will be Ryan’s fourth go-round teaching Flirt School. She gears it to women ages 35-65. Younger women, she contends, usually won’t ask for help.

“The common theme for so many women is, ‘I don’t know how to flirt. I don’t know if I EVER knew how to flirt,’” she says.

Kathy, a 51-year-old woman from New Haven, says she took Flirt School because she wanted to be more at ease socially. “I tend to be very logical,” she explains. “Very geeky. Some women are natural flirts, and then there’s me.”

Kathy says Flirt School has made her “a lot more relaxed. It’s nice to know how to act in social situations and not take it so seriously.”

But why is flirting necessary? Ryan contends it’s because most people are averse to rejection. They need some small hint or sign that if they walk across a crowded room to initiate conversation, they won’t be met with verbal annihilation.

Some of those hints come through in body language. Ryan shows her students how to make eye contact and smile without looking creepy or obvious. She even demonstrates a nifty little over-the-shoulder glance that works like a flirting fastball.

“If you look at him three times and smile, chances are he’s going to come over,” she says.

And if you think any of this is too obvious, be aware that many women are resistant to such suggestions.

“What I’ll hear is, ‘I am who I am. Any man I meet needs to get to know the real me,’” Ryan says. “Well, of course, be yourself. But be your best self. He doesn’t have to hear your opinions about makeup and clothing in the first 10 minutes.”

Other subtle bits of flirting for a woman include playing with her jewelry and not wearing clothing that covers the neck.

Here’s another thing about flirting: It allows women to size up their suitors in advance. “I tell women to pay close attention to what men say,” Ryan notes. “They’ll often tell you the truth. They’ll tell you whether or not they’re looking for a relationship. But you have to listen.”

As guidance, she’ll have students look to some of the celebrity flirting greats: Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman,” the late Princess Diana, and actress Kate Hudson. “She’s got some flirting action going on,” Ryan says.

Ryan also recommends her students rent the 2003 film “Something’s Gotta Give,” and watch Diane Keaton’s character flex her flirting muscles.

“It’s a fabulous transformation,” Ryan says. “She starts out as a woman completely cut off from her feminine allure.”

It’s the same for many Flirt School graduates. Ryan recalls hearing from two former students — both of them age 49, both of them professional working women, both of them divorced — who decided to put their new flirting skills to the test at a local pub. One woman came away with two guys’ phone numbers and the other had arranged a date for the following weekend.

They were amazed.

“What happened was, they finally gave men the time of day,” Ryan laughs. “No dagger eyes.”

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