Dr. NerdLove is on vacation this week. Rather than just giving you nothing but dead air or running a “Best Of” column, I bring you this excellent guest post from my friend, confidant and occasional provider of much needed corrections: Kira.
Kira, the floor is yours.
Bringing the Boys to the Yard
Flirting is a great thing. It’s a way to show interest without getting in over your head, and without getting kicked out of a conversation. And it has a lot of nice side effects – you get to tell someone they’re beautiful without embarrassment, and once you get good at it you get to feel slick, and it’s always fun to make someone smile.
Flirting of any stripe is, essentially, verbal dancing: For every positive sign you get, you give a little positive sign. Nothing so explicit as to ruin the rhythm; just enough to make someone think a little. Hopefully these positive signs escalate until you both feel beautiful, or you have a date, or whatever else you had in mind comes to pass. But the key here is call and response, on the most immediate, most granular, most tactical level.
Everyone wins, because either everyone feels good, or one party backs out before anyone has a chance to feel bad.
OK, fine, it doesn’t always mean what you think it means. Because messages in flirting are implicit, not explicit, it can be hard to figure out what’s going on. For the recipient, it can be particularly hard to tell the difference between ‘flirting with intent’ – subtle un-said signals that mean I like you, and I’d like this to go somewhere – versus ‘flirting without intent’ – which people do for a host of reasons, or for no reason at all.
So, why not just declare your interest outright and save everyone the trouble?
First, flirting with intent allows the relationship between you and someone else to evolve naturally, instead of trying to hustle an innocent interaction into something else without stopping to let emotions catch up. As the good Doctor says, it’s all about persuasion.