N.B.: this was originally preceded by another writeup, now removed due to plagiarism, which referenced a study that found that most successful flirtation attempts by women were such things as smiling directly at him, flipping your hair, and dancing alone.
As a male I find this rather interesting. I have to say that aside from one or two of the most overt signals there I wouldn't have responded to any of them. If anything most of them could easily be construed as purely harmless: flipping your hair, asking for help, dancing alone... these are supposed to tell me "I want you"? If someone accidentally rubs up against me I assume it's an accident as long as they stop after a few minutes. Then again I'm one of those guys that doesn't pick up on signs.I'm more likely to talk to someone if they simply come up and talk to me, I'm known to be a bit loquacious myself and they're obviously interested in talking.
I think this entire problem stems directly from people being too concerned with appearences. Women as well as men do no end of silly things in an attempt to try and appear more attractive or trendy and some people just don't notice or care. For some reason appearing interested in someone and actually having them notice this has become such an issue. It could come from any number of places, but I'm willing to bet that it's the idea that you're not "good enough" for them and they don't want anything to do with you.
The most unusual aspect of this (for me at least) is when someone hits on a person that already has a significant other and feels embarrassed upon finding this out. Provided it's someone you've just recently met or know little about there's no logical reason in most cases to assume that you would have known, it's just a simple correction.
As for asking someone out? It's like taking off a band-aid, the single best way is to just go and do it and if it stings a bit it'll go away pretty quickly. Women refusing to make a first move has gotten in the way of a number of potential relationships and almost always for naught. So ladies, if you're reading this and are wondering why that guy you've had your eye on hasn't said anything yet don't keep waiting for him to notice you, just go and make the first move.
I will admit, however, to being a tad biased on the issue. My girlfriend is someone who I was originally interested in, but never made a move towards. We spoke a bit and were friendly acquaintences during the latter half of my senior year of high school. When I came home from my freshman year of college we ran into each other again at a party. Suprinsgly that interest came back immediately in what I now assume was both of us. We talked a bit, but I never really picked up on any serious interest on her part until she just came out and kissed me.
This Friday (May 2006) will celebrate the six years that have passed since that night. Our relationship is as strong as ever. While it was admittedly a bold move every so often I wonder what might have happened if she'd instead kept to her usual routines (as she is typically a shy, quiet person) rather than making an obvious move and instead had tried one of the coy ones that are so often suggested and employed.