Covert Glances and Eye Contact
Shooting frequent sideways glances from beneath the lashes, seeking open eye contact or even winking are all common flirting gestures in the U.S. The flirtatious meaning of eye contact is even more pronounced in Europe, where it is a sign of open admiration.
The same behavior, however, could land you in hot water in Muslim countries. Eye contact, except the most fleeting, is not allowed between men and women in Arabic countries for religious reasons. The gesture is considered as "adultery of the eyes" and can have dire consequences for foreigners, who in the worst of cases might get themselves arrested. That does not mean that Arab men will not stare at a Western woman, but if she returns the glance, thinking that she is only flirting, she could be in for an unpleasant surprise. Glancing back means that she is sexually interested in the man in question and could be construed as an open invitation to have sex. She might be considered a prostitute and be treated as such.
Chinese and Japanese women will not initiate eye contact either. It is considered rude and a sign of disrespect and the same applies to a man seeking prolonged eye contact. In Latin America, steady eye contact is not a sign of openness and trust, but often indicates aggression and a challenge. Men's ogling of a woman, often accompanied with “piropos" like “guapa" do not mean flirtation with a particular woman either, but are a general expression of admiration for the female sex.
Spanish women, on the other hand, may still be guided by some atavistic rules of eye contact and flirtatious glances. These rules stem from the centuries old “language of the fan". Given the fact that historically Spanish girls were very protected and not allowed open contact, the fan was used as a coy way to convey a message to a man, rather than as a cooling device. Fanning oneself vigorously means “I'm in love with you," closing the fan slowly means “yes," moving the fingers along the ribs means “I'm interested in you and want to talk to you." Even nowadays, you will rarely see a Spanish woman or girl without a fan in the summer and some may still remember how to use the fan language.