Not Alone Series: Flirting


Flirting is the special attention we give or receive from that special someone. Flirting is our way of showing the other person that we like him. There is verbal and non-verbal flirting, as well as appropriate vs. inappropriate flirting. What do you do or say to let your significant other/boyfriend know that you like him? What are ways that you like to be shown interest? What are the pros and cons of flirting?

I haven’t had a boyfriend in a while (much longer than I care to admit), so I can’t really speak to how to stay engaged in a particular relationship. Yet, because I have been flying solo (literally and figuratively) for so long, I’ve had many opportunities to work on my flirting skills. The jury’s still out on their effectiveness.

There’s definitely a moral aspect to indicating your romantic interest in someone. That’s how I define flirting: an expression of romantic interest. There’s a difference between being friendly and flirting. That line can be hard to draw, but it’s definitely there. I don’t approve of flirting to gain favors, which this Wall Street Journal article calls “instrumental flirting”. If you’re taken or not romantically interested, that’s a lot like lying.

On the other hand, if you’re not taken, flirting is a gamble. As that article also points out, some people flirt without implying any romantic interest. What if the object of your flirtation doesn’t realize you’re just playing a game you don’t mean to win? If you are romantically interested, you could discover that the one you’re flirting with (and who is even flirting back) is taken! I won’t name names, but that’s happened to me before. Not fun.

I also found it interesting to read in that WSJ essay that men tend to read more sexual undertones and stronger interest into a woman’s flirting than she intends. I don’t know how often that applies to actual humans I know, but I can see how that might happen. On the flip side, I’ve heard unfortunate remarks from men who are hesitant to even be “too polite” toward women for fear that they will light into them for being sexist—or immediately conclude that he’s “the one” and start planning their wedding.

He opened the door for me! How rude! Does he think I can’t open my own door? Do I seem weak? I’m not a child!

He opened the door for me! How polite! How charming! This will make a great story to tell our grandchildren. I wonder if he’s been saving for a wife.

That’s not a good world we’ve created.

Flirting definitely involves letting your guard down. The lovely Arleen Spenceley invited Bobby Angel to comment on what a woman should do when she’s interested in a man, and together they suggested that “a confidential conversation” could be flirtatious. I’m ambivalent about the rise of the “emotional virtue” movement, but that’s something to keep in mind. If you share things with him that you don’t tell anyone else, he might think you’re into him. Playing with emotional intimacy can be a dangerous game.

But some flirting ultimately comes with actual fun. It can be a good game. Relationship-maintenance flirting is the best kind (although you probably shouldn’t call it that; so dry), but potential-relationship flirting is an invigorating challenge. Catch his eye and hold his gaze just a tiny bit too long. (I worked on eye contact last NAS Challenge, remember?) Overly compliment something manly about him: his physical strength, his willingness to serve and sacrifice, his general politeness, his well-formed spiritual life, his intentionality and leadership skills. If he likes babies, dancing, or good conversation (#StuffCatholicGirlsLike), encourage that. Smile. Smile a lot. As I wrote a few weeks ago, physical touch is a big deal for me, so I think casual touching is definitely flirting.

Note that casual touching does not include dancing. A dance is not a marriage proposal, and partner dancing generally requires some physical contact. Dancing can be flirtatious, but dancing with a stranger should always be a no-strings-attached proposition. I experience this in class frequently. There comes a moment when the instructor has stopped us to say something, but my leader is still holding my hand (and maybe also my shoulder blade). It takes no more than ten seconds (which is a long time!) for a dance handhold to turn into holding hands. Then it gets weird. When I think it’s gotten weird, I let go, which is easier said than done because, technically, he’s holding my hand; I’m not holding his. (I could get into a whole dance tangent about not using your thumbs and “never hold on, never let go”, but I won’t.)

So I’m not against flirting as a whole. In general, what I like to do when flirting is what I like to get from a man who’s flirting with me (except the casual touching; still working on that; ask me to dance, but please don’t touch me otherwise). How about you?

Next week’s topic: Adulting

How are you still connected to your family of origin (that’s the one you grew up in: parents, siblings, and extended family) even as you are adulting (a.k.a. living as an independent adult, at home or on your own)? How has your relationship with your parents changed as you’ve grown up? How connected are you with your extended family? What aspects of these relationships do you think are affected by your being single? How do you think your family relationships would change after marriage or entering religious life? (Thanks for the topic suggestion, Bek!)

Check our Facebook Page for regular alerts of upcoming topics.

Link up with Rachel this week at Keeping It Real!


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[…] an attractive man exactly the same way you would anyone else is probably the best policy. Leaning a little heavy on the flirting will help, but they’re just people underneath it all. Be friendly, be interested and […]

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