Flirting Myths Revealed

I am a young adult man, and after multiple conversations with women, I have come to the conclusion that there are obvious misconceptions regarding the interpretation and meaning of flirting.  Just what is flirting anyway, and how does it influence the opposite sex (note, I’m saying opposite sex with the assumption that this discussion is dealing only with male-female relationships)?  Well, I will give my perspective on this topic, hoping to give insight for both males and females.


 Well, let’s set the foundation first.  There are two sides of flirting; one being the overt physical, emotional, and personality-driven ways to induce attention from the opposite sex.  This type of flirting is often very intentional and is used as an attention-getting maneuver to attract or gain favor.  Most people would consider this the most common type of flirting; like the batting of the eyes, the physical touch, the change in speaking tone, or the forced laugh at the end of every not-so-funny response.  The intensity to which one flirts in this manner will vary based on shyness, personality, etc.., but usually the motive is the same.  The motive in its most simplistic form is to get a personal satisfaction from the relationship based on your current needs.  I know that is a bit of a lofty book definition, but hear me out.  The ‘personal satisfaction of current needs’ statement is meant to emphasize that not all flirting is for relationships or “sex”.  The needs of people differ and sometimes people flirt for money, for self-worth, for attention,  status, or any other thing that they feel they can get out it.  Don’t get me wrong, not all flirting is with ill intentions, but there are intentions none the less. 


Let’s now move to the more unintentional form of dating.  This has gotten me into more ‘colorful’ conversations with females than most any topic.  The question or response being, “I wasn’t flirting with him!” or “Why would he think I was into him?” or “I was never leading him on.”  Well the short answer would be ‘yes and no’.  Yes, you may not have thought you were flirting, or no you weren’t intending to lead him on.  Unfortunately, most people who say that don’t understand the reality of flirting, so here is the hard truth.  In addition to the overt, out-in-the-open, in-your-face flirting that we all can easily interpret, there is a whole other dimension of flirting that tends to get lost in the complex web of male-female interrelationships.  Flirting is a two-part phenomenon.  The first part being the overt, in-your-face flirting from the giving party; with the giving party being the male or female doing the flirting.  The other part is the interpretation and perception from the receiving party that is usually expected to yield a certain response.  In other words, the receiving party is expected to recognize the ‘flirting techniques and signals’ from the opposite sex, because the techniques are proven and would cease to exist if they didn’t yield positive results.  It’s almost like a coach’s playbook.  You only run the plays that work and the other team only sets up their defense based on the most successful plays run by the offense.  No one sets up a defense based on an offense that doesn’t yield results.  So the response of the receiver of the flirting has been conditioned to either produce a defense mechanism of rejection, or a positive invitation of acceptance. 


All that mumbo jumbo was said to get to this point.  Listen closely because this may be the most important thing I say.  Most females think they know the rules of the flirting game, and most guys think they know how to interpret the rules.  The sad part is both sexes are wrong.  First I’ll hit on the misconception of females.  Most females I talk to think they have the ability to turn on and off their flirting at a moment’s notice.  They believe they can control their flirting vibe with ease as to clearly define when and how intense their flirting is at all times of the day.  Sorry ladies, you are mistaken.  There is no off switch!!  That’s really what is comes down too.  Remember what I said earlier about the two sides of flirting.  You’re only thinking about the open flirting that is so obvious your grandma can see it from a mile away.  What you’re forgetting about is the other side of the person receiving those interactions.  You have to trust me in that there is no way you can perceive other’s thoughts and interpretations of your actions, hence you could be thought of as flirting at anytime in any situation. Anything you say, do, touch, or interact with a guy can be interpreted as flirting.  And when I say anything, I mean anything.  Touch them on the shoulder, you could be thought of as flirting.  Give them a compliment, flirting.  Laugh at their jokes, flirting.  Ask how their day was, flirting.  I know what you’re thinking.  Yikes!! Maybe I just shouldn’t talk to guys at all if I’m not interested.  Well, it’s not that simple either. 


With guys, most aren’t as susceptible to flirting as you think.  It’s not like any female monster off the street can flirt was a nice guy and he suddenly gets mesmerized by the mystical uncontrollable power of the female flirt.  That is simply not true.  Most guys who think you’re flirting with them, probably already like you anyway.  They are either probably already attracted, already emotional connected, and maybe even already has a crush on you.  The fact is, guys look more for the flirting signals when they are trying to figure what best way to approach a female.  Guys fear rejection just like as much as anyone else, so flirting is a way to give confidence to guys to ask a girl out or move to a ‘next step’ in the relationship.  Think of the classic “wink” in the bar.  The wink doesn’t start the attraction; the wink only signals that there may be a positive response at a face-to-face encounter.  It’s like when a guy proposes marriage.  More often than not, the guy has the confidence that you will already say yes based on how the relationship has been going and based on the females obvious or not-so-obvious signals that she wants to be married. 


The misconception of guys is that we tend to ignore certain flirting tendencies to meet our own circumstances.  Guys know that a lot of girls tend to flirt 24-7 (correction we perceive that they always flirt), and we are okay with that.  As a matter of fact, we have many flirtatious female friends and it doesn’t faze us one bit.  We may even playfully flirt back just for the fun of it.  The problem is when we actually do like the female.  When that happens, we ignore the fact that most girls emit a general flirtatious vibe that can be left into interpretation and in turn interpret all of it to mean they are flirting with us specifically.  It’s like if someone gives you a present for your birthday.  Forget the fact the a dozen other people gave you presents; the present you got from “her” was special.  Why was it special, why was it different?  Well, because we perceived it to be different.  Yet, to the girl it was an everyday ordinary circumstance.  Guys tend to be blind to the fact that yes, while most females in our minds tend to flirt a lot, when it comes to the ones we like, then all of a sudden we think it must be different, or special.  I hear it all the time and I admit, I’m guilty too.  A guy would be interested in a girl and would talk with other dudes giving a laundry list of things the female did to justify how they were interested in them.  In isolation, all the guys agree, yep, she’s “flirting with you”, she’s “into you,” and the like.  What the guy fails to mention is that she acts that way toward all guys.  We always tend to leave that little tidbit out because then it would dilute own circumstance to be less than extraordinary.  So yes, we may embellish, yes, we may stretch, but the flirting doesn’t change, just our interpretation of what it means to us.


Now that I’ve muddied the water, what’s the answer to this riddle?  How do you know 100% positively when you are flirting, when someone is flirting with you, and better yet, if they are interested in a dating relationship?  Here goes… I don’t know?  You’re listening to a man who is still single and trying to figure out this maze just like everyone else.  The only difference is that I’m documenting what I’ve learned to date and trying to share some perspective for both males and females to contemplate on.  To be honest, I think it’s harder on the guys because we are the ones expected to accurately analyze, understand and interpret these flirting signals and decide when and how to initiate the relationship conversations.  Despite the fact that guys often get it wrong, we of course are the ones expected to lay ourselves out there to be the fool (I’m somewhat joking).  But I digress because that is a whole other topic of discussion. 


In reflection, I hope this topic enlightens a few people on the complexities of flirting, male-female friendships, and relationships.  Everyone may not agree with my findings to date, but I’m okay with that.  In fact, please share your thoughts.  All I know is that the only way to get success is to put yourself out there and don’t be afraid to be a little vulnerable.  There are no secret potions to change one’s feelings, one’s heart, or one’s love interest.  You either like them or you don’t.  Everything else is just the confidence it takes to ask the question and the willingness to accept a truthful answer.

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