Not to be confused with the Rizz Ranch in Raleigh, “rizz” is a new popular term started by famous Twitch streamer and YouTube personality Kai Cenat. Rizz comes from the word “charisma” and is defined as your ability to flirt with someone you’re interested in.
According to Kami Kosenko, associate professor of communication, rizz started out as more of a communication phenomenon than a non-verbal or unspoken one.
“What [Cenat] was saying was that there are essentially better and worse ways of attracting a person,” Kosenko said. “I think people are likening it to the idea of having a spit game. It seems to have taken on a new life on TikTok, and the original creator of the term, so to speak, is not necessarily happy with how it's evolved. Because it's evolved to include things that are noncommunicative, [things] that are unspoken.”
As far as the unspoken signals of attraction or unspoken rizz, Kosenko said these rules are pretty consistent with the evolutionary psychologist and biologist views of attraction, which is largely governed by our need to procreate.
“It’s a very cis[gender] and heteronormative view of sexuality and attraction,” Kosenko said. “But, it's built on the notion that we have this innate need to see our genetics carried on and passed on to the next generation. And so it reasons from there that what and who we're attracted to is based almost on entirely unconscious factors that have to do with the relative fitness, genetically speaking, of the person that we might find ourselves attracted to.”
Kosenko said that a lot of flirting is done through nonverbal communication, especially through eye contact. She explained that eye contact should be at the Goldilocks level: not too much, but not too little. You don’t want to come off as creepy, but if not enough, the person won’t recognize if you’re flirting. Positional cues are also a popular nonverbal way of communicating.
“By positional cues, I mean things where you're positioning your body in such a way that it's mirroring the body position of the other party,” Kosenko said. “That tends to lead to synchronization in body movements. So, if you see two people that seem to be getting on really well, we would tend to see them doing things that look like they're in synchrony. They're moving the same arm in the same manner, at the same time, crossing their legs or crossing their arms in the same way.”
Eric Romero Velasco, a fourth-year studying business administration, said rizz is all about how you approach someone you’re interested in and your confidence level.
“I think one thing about it is that some people can have [rizz] and just not know,” Velasco said. “Some people are somewhat flirtatious naturally. When they're speaking to someone, they can inadvertently be rizzing them or another person up and not know that. I think for some people, it's a very subconscious thing, and when other people actually do pursue someone. … They'll tell their friends, ‘Watch me rizz this person up,’ and then they go for it.”
Velasco explained that when rizzing someone up, it’s important to be at your comfort level and theirs as well. He said as cliche as it may sound, a smile goes a long way as long as it’s maintaining that Goldilocks level. It’s important to be able to read body language when flirting as well.
“Be very observant and look for social cues, because it's a big problem in college students,” Velasco said. “Consent is a pretty big thing. If the person’s feeling uncomfortable, if they're not feeling your rizz, then just stop. … You need to make sure the person is actually feeling what you're saying and not just like, listening to what you're saying.”
If you’re worried about how much rizz you may or may not have, Kosenko has some advice for you.
“I think the question about whether or not someone has rizz and then the W rizz, the L rizz and all that stuff — I think it could get out of hand and be another source of insecurity for people and sexual insecurity is very high,” Kosenko said. “There is someone out there for you if that's what you want, and don't get hung up on whether or not you’re able to attract a lot of people. Get hung up on whether or not you're able to find that one person or if you're polyamorous, those people, who are going to be good for you.”
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