We’ve all had that moment. You know, that moment when you’re talking with your friend of the opposite sex, and suddenly a mutual acquaintance comes over and asks if you’re dating. The two of you laugh it off and explain that no, you’re just friends. “But, like, you were totally flirting,” the acquaintance explains later, after your not-boyfriend has left the scene. “He definitely seemed into you.”
Whether or not the events panned out that exact same way for everyone, they do hold true to a lesser extent. Maybe it’s because romantic comedies have led us to believe that best friends of opposite genders are clearly soulmates (thank you, Nora Ephron! :)), or maybe it’s because the social cues we have always considered flirting are a little broad. For example, when you skim AskMen.com’s Signs She’s Flirting article, you’ll find that many of these signs (such as smiling, making eye contact and playing with one’s hair) signify things we also do in situations when we’re not flirting. Some lists may be comprehensive and even hold some truths, but they don’t tell the whole story.
These expectations we gain from such articles are misleading because then we start to equate everything with flirtation and romantic interest, and that can be harmful. I want to be able to hold a conversation with a male friend without making him feel like I’ve led him on, and I want to be able to laugh with him publicly over something funny we just saw without having others think we’re madly in love.
I asked a friend how she would define flirting, and she claimed that people do it unintentionally all the time, regardless of romantic interest, and that it’s more of an attitude than anything else. This leaves me wondering: where do we draw the line between unintentional and intentional flirting? Is unintentional flirting something we do just for fun, or is some weird part of our subconscious telling us to act now? Does it even matter?
Of course, when it comes to interactions between men and women, a lot usually seems to get lost in translation (otherwise there wouldn’t be so many Facebook fan pages like this). We just have to try our best to differentiate between playful banter and full-on I-want-to-get-with-you cues, and not mistake a friendly smile for a come hither.
That is, of course, unless you do like that person and want to send those cues out, and then it’s another story entirely.
My question to you readers: Where do you draw the line between friendliness and flirtiness? — Tweet this!