The best aphrodisiac? I'll bet you’re expecting me to say oysters or wine or even chocolate.

But the surefire and best way to get someone between the sheets is to flirt.

People don’t give flirting the credit it deserves. Yet it can take your sex life from sleepy to all-systems-go in a matter of seconds. The ultimate cat-and-mouse game, flirting is where it’s at whether you’ve just met or have been long-term. The teasing, playful innuendos involved can ignite a romance or keep the embers burning.

Flirting is passion’s prelude, subtly adding spice as interested participants nibble at its forbidden fruits. Lovers thrive off of it since it invites a relaxing and calm, yet charged, atmosphere. It’s a savory mix of innocence and deception. So potent are the effects of flirting that a centuries-old law in Little Rock, Ark., made flirting with a member of the opposite sex punishable by at least 30 days in jail. (I wonder if there’s a law on same-sex flirting ...)

Flirting is a way to connect and make your interest in someone else perfectly clear. It supports partners’ positive attitudes for one another. It can make any lover more desirable in that it makes you friendlier, friskier, warmer and more lovable, open, adventurous and sexy.

Flirting is a must for all lovers, even if you’ve been together for a while -- and especially if you want a hotter sex life. A 2002 report by Ananova found that most working women believe flirting is good for their health and confidence. It’s good for your relationship, too.

While flirting comes naturally to some people, others need to really think about what they’re doing. Some, in fact, may not even be aware of what they’re doing.

Research in the Journal of Sex Research found that women tend to be more aware of what is taking place during flirtation, noting interest by the way a man moves, dances, looks at her, or handles himself around her. Yet even men who attract women successfully are oblivious to how they attracted them. A man focuses more on something a woman will do publicly to demonstrate her interest, like having a drink with him.

Whether you consider yourself a flirting pro or need to brush up on some playful passion strategies, the following tactics can invite a number of sexual opportunities:

Woo with Walking. Consider how you hold yourself when you walk. What does it say about your confidence, mood, style and agenda? Does a certain body part lead your walk? Do you seem anxious or too busy to seduce? You want to walk like you own your sexuality.

So, ladies, square your shoulders and use an exaggerated role of the hips. Make direct eye contact, indicating that you’re in charge. Men, add a little spring to your step, standing tall and confident with an easy swing of the arms. Doing so can lift a guy or gal’s self-esteem, sense of desirability, and confidence -- and all of that can get you action.

Engage your love interest. Connect with the object of your affection with mutual sharing. Both people need to be good listeners and conversationalists. Be sure to maintain eye contact, allowing your lips to part for a moment as your gazes lock. Indicate that you’re engaged in the moment with head nods and facial expressions — raise your eyebrows up and down in reaction to an interesting point.

Touch yourself. Touching yourself can plant ideas about places you want to be touched, such as your neck or the back of your knee. Do this as you smile demurely and make eye contact. You can also do things like run your fingers through your hair or play with the buttons on your shirt. At the same time, lightly touch your lover on the knee or face.

Use classic moves. Famous flirts are known to slowly lick their lips, to give a mischievous half-curled smile, and wink. As you do so, keep your body language inviting as you brush each other’s skin. You want to keep your arms open as you sit upright or lean forward, which indicates interest.

Aim for a playful conversation. You want sexual wit and lots of it. Clever conversationalists tease the mind, allowing you to allure your partner with charm and intrigue. If you’re the one being enchanted, react with laughter and questions in stroking the other’s ego.

Expose yourself. And we’re not talking full frontal. You want to show some skin, but keep it to glimpses. Let your lover’s imagination run wild in wondering when more will be unveiled.

Mimic to flatter. Mirroring another is an unconscious compliment. In doing what your lover does when it comes to head movements, body postures, hand movements, and facial expressions, the two of you will feel more connected.

Lower your voice. Dropping your voice to a whisper forces the other person to lean in to listen. Use some erotic talk to keep him or her there. Take your time, breathing slowly as you reveal your desires.

Smile. It sounds too easy, but in many ways it’s most effective. Having an inviting, pleasant facial expression can send your lover’s adrenaline and heart rate soaring, boosting the desire for sexual intimacy even more.

Dr. Yvonne K. Fulbright is a sex educator, relationship expert, columnist and founder of Sexuality Source Inc. She is the author of several books including, "Touch Me There! A Hands-On Guide to Your Orgasmic Hot Spots."

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