A new study conducted informally by me by observing people shows that nobody knows how to flirt.

Men don't know how to do it. Women don't know how to do it.

This is the source of the great divide [when there is one] between the sexual side of the [a] person and the simple-social side, as flirtation is the bridge.

I suppose flirtation doesn't happen as often even among people between whom it would be apt because they're not serious to any degree and they feel like they'd just be being a tease to flirt and not follow up [with more, like, commitment-y, on-off binary relationship-y stuff], so, wanting to be nice people and seeing flirtation without [such] follow-through as rude, they abstain from flirtation in the first place.

Worsening the divide are the loose freaks who are in opposition to the stance that people who [just] want to get along well in society hold. I'm talking about the "loose" people: manwhores and pairs to [of] women that troll together for three-ways with strange men, and such and the like. Noting these freaks' "flirtations", the good people of society don't want to do anything that could make others confuse them with those freaks, so the chasm has a fence erected around it.

Really, the "flirtations" of such people are to flirtation as methamphetamine is to dopamine. It may simulate it and be indistinguishable [from it] without analysis [(according to the brain, in the case of meth)] but it is fundamentally a different thing. Back in metaphor-land, the manwhores and ubersluts are launching themselves across the chasm in a freaking CANNON. It gets them across, but it is fundamentally different from the bridge that genuine [actual] flirtation is.

While these cannonballs fly across, people forget about bridges and simply resign themselves to these drastic measures and an unscientific, gambling style of finding their way to the other side each time.

Only the [archetypical] massive failures ever get [have gotten] popularized, and those who've never been exposed to realm of flirtation at all [only] get a view of it as [being] mostly made of [instances of] guys being retards, women hurting others' feelings [in wholesale-ly rejecting them], and of random pairs of men and women meeting [each other], being in friggin' love immediately, and each seeking the other from Millisecond One. With only so polarized a set of representations [available to most people], the [that] highly multi-shaded [portion of the real] world that falls in [is] the realm of flirtation is left with its subtle darks and lights of grey indistinguishable from each other to those 'most people' without loads of practice.

Flirtation is not something that you can 'jump' straight into [at all]. Flirtation is something indistinguishable from normal conversation at a distance or at low levels. It will start as an interaction that can go anywhere,--to flirtation etc., to a fight, to a business arrangement, or anywhere else--and then the character of the interaction may get changed by changes in the content which happen in ways that may be sudden yet subtle, subtle yet sudden, or somewhere in between. The misconception of flirtation being like a pool where you can just jump in--[having a distinct, switch-like, on-off state]--has hurt a lot of people and opportunities.

[Editted, uglified, and sensible-ized on 19Mar2010]

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Replies to This Discussion

Thinking of games as a bad thing might be where you are missing the point of flirting. You might not want to be someone's toy, or to be the game they play, but playing together is one of life's great joys.

I feel quite comfortable with my ability to flirt, and it's something I really enjoy. I do look at it as a game, NOT a competitive game, a friendly one where the object is just to make a fun experience for yourself and a friend. It really only becomes a game in the bad sense of the word if you intend it to "go somewhere". Think of it like verbal-emotional hackey sack, or frisbee, or making fun of a movie together - it's a collaborative creative performance art, the game aspect comes from the desire to do it really well, just because that's fun. Think of it like badminton where you're just trying to keep the shuttlecock in the air, not a cut-throat game of tennis played against each other for a score.

It can be good to practice with someone that you like as a friend, who there is definitely NOT going to be a possibility of romance coming up, like with the "wrong" gender for you, a person who is waaaayyyy too old or young, etc. The emotional subtext is not supposed to be "you're hot, I want you" but rather "aren't you fun/awesome/clever/bad-ass/funny/precious, who wouldn't want you?". Think of how you play with a pet - that free-form but intense connection that shows a lot of affection, and appreciation, and emotional connection, but zero sexual context. It's just intensely friendly interaction, and it's good for you.
I think flirting is a sport, a science, and an art. Frankly, it's one of the few times in the adult world where you're permitted to be silly with a relative stranger. Maybe there's not so much flirting in your area? It definitely happens down at the pub or anywhere on university campus around here.
I think flirting is a sport...

Yeah, I've never been good at sports! :) or should that be :( ?

It definitely happens down at the pub...

Yes of course, but you're pretty, too.
You know, I kind of hate it that people have the attitude that when people get older that they are supposed to loose interest in sex. I hate hearing anyone refer to a man as a "dirty old man", unless it is really well deserved. Typically it is not. There seems to be a lot of animosity to older men who are still interested in sex. Not sure why.
Although I'm not single, I still like to flirt, I like the attention sometimes, but that's as far as it goes. It's just fun to flirt. But I wanted to make a comment about dirty old men... Personally, I think it's great that older men and women want sex, and they should never be made to feel ashamed, or think that they are too old to enjoy a healthy sex life. But I have run into plenty of dirty old men, who think it's fine to be rather too familiar in their "flirting" with me... Their straight forward approach to discussing their sexual interests, or wanting to know mine is totally rude and not a 'turn-on'. It offends me if any guy takes this approach regardless of their age. In my experience it does seem like older men take their flirting technique to the extreme much more often than younger men do. Maybe this is why the label, dirty old men, has caught on?
Yeah, I understand where you're going with that. I've seen older men be way too forward and almost vulgar with younger women at times, to the point that it offended me, the observer. However, the fault lies not in their interest in sex, but rather their inability to show decorum or respect.
If you just crudely hit on people, then hell yeah you'd be a "dirty old man". But actual "flirting" that starts from conversation that could be innocent to start with that turns less so later won't make you a dirty old man. You demonstrate my thesis well; thank you.
My bestvfriend was pissed at me for not knowing how to flirt. She said it's a natural thing, but it obviously isn't.
Guilty here! I don't know the first thing about it, or how to do it. And I don't think I want to know. 1.) I'm kind of shy about liking someone, and don't always have a lot of confidence, so either I won't tell them, or if I am feeling confident, I just say it. I just ask them out and wait for the inevitable "no thanks" that is sure to follow.

2.) To me, flirting seems like "beating around the bush" and trying to say something through misdirection or innuendo. Flirtatious people have always seemed to me to be insincere people who might have something to hide, or perhaps were just on the prowl (not that I am opposed to casual sex), or somehow as being disegenuous. Maybe that is not entirely fair to say. Certainly not all people who flirt are disengenuous, but I am inclined to think that most disengenuous people are inclined to be flirtatious. Does that make sense?

Being flirtatious has just never seemed to me to be anything a gentleman would do, and I think I normally act in a gentlemanly manner when I am genuinely interested in someone. I'm certainly never vulgar, and I've never like grabbed a man's crotch or felt up his ass in public, which has happened to me.

I'm pretty sure I have been flirted with, but I never felt certain at the time. You kind of have to hit me over the head with that. Plus, my attitude is: If you are intereseted, then just ask me out!
"Flirtatious people have always seemed to me to be insincere people who might have something to hide, or perhaps were just on the prowl (not that I am opposed to casual sex), or somehow as being disingenuous."

I think there are people who are "smooth talkers" who are always out on the prowl to find their prey. They bore me. Sweet talk is nice, and clever innuendo works too, but blatant sexual comments are repugnant to me. Just good conversation can be turn-on, and can be an intro to some flirtatious comments if the person seems receptive. Not feeling confident will certainly inhibit anyone's ability to flirt. If the person seems interested in you, then it's much easier to flirt, it's not as risky. It does take some practice too. I have experience in it....lol...
Sweet talk is nice, but that, to me, seems to be something that people who are already intimate would do. So, IMO, that isn't the same as flirting. Of course, dirty talk is awesome, too, but that is an entirely different situation. :)

Good conversation, and for me, intelligence is a turn on. If a man is passionately interested in something, even if it is bugs or music or whatever, that is kind of a turn on.
I think that a lot of the difficulty that comes with flirting comes from the fact that we don't always know how the other person would like to be flirted with. For some, the line between casual conversation and soliciting sex is a blurry one, for others it is very clear.

I'd say that my tendency to take everything literally puts me in the camp of the people who see a clear line between casual conversation and being propositioned.

I consider a compliment on how arousing some part of my body may be to be crossing the line into the beginnings of being propositioned. The same goes for an inquiry into what turns me on, what I like in bed, and what I would like to do in bed but haven't had the opportunity.

I think that flirting with someone on a regular basis without establishing some boundaries is going to lead to sex (or an embarrassing rejection). I've got no problem with casual sex as long as both parties are aware of each others intentions, the same goes for casual flirting.




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