What Is Flirting, Anyway?

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Spotting when people are flirting

I missed Flirting 101 in college, and it still doesn’t come naturally to me. (I don’t accessorize well either.) I don’t even understand what flirting is or how to recognize it. Girlfriends, even my children, have said, “He’s flirting with you.” I say, “Really?”

Recently, my girlfriend and I were visiting her platonic male friend, an alleged skirt chaser. We were drinking iced tea in his beautiful garden filled with herbs, vegetables and flowers. He says to me, “Watch out, there’s a bee trying to pollinate you.” My knee-jerk biting response was, “Join the club.” Is such behavior considered flirting?

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So what is flirting? My two favorite definitions:

  1. A person who is engaged in innocently overly friendly behavior, especially the type of friendliness that is interpreted as seduction. Actions may include: giving away a telephone number, blowing kisses, caressing and free lap dances.
  2. To intentionally behave in a way that one believes will induce sexual arousal in their target.


Well, a lap dance and a caress fit the second definition and giving away your telephone number and blowing kisses probably do not.

A girlfriend told me she flirts by touching in a seductive way, paying extra attention to her target, making longer eye contact and participating in pleasant repartee. I do the last one with ease, but the other three tactics are difficult if I don’t really know the person well.

For as long as I can remember, when I notice a man staring at me, I reflexively look down or away. I get shy, even embarrassed, especially when he’s not looking at my face.

april 17 part colored April 17I’ve decided to start flirting when I might “like” my date (geez, I really feel like a teenager now). I need to let him know I’m receptive. Pleasant, intelligent and engaging conversation isn’t enough. I need to up my game. I’ll start by touching his arm gently and quickly, without knocking over his wine glass. Then I’ll stare at him, hopefully in a way that doesn’t freak him out. I don’t think I’ll blow kisses, and he probably has my telephone number by now anyway, since we are dating.

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If you have any other suggestions about how to flirt, please share. I believe you can teach this old dog a trick or two. However, if my date asks me to sit, it won’t be on his lap. I think lap dancing is a little over the top, especially free ones. Don’t you?

Coming Oct. 29: First kiss.

*Names and identifying information have been changed to protect privacy and security.

Photo: Artfully79/iStock

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