The Art of Flirting

By Robine Jean-Pierre

Have you ever stopped to think that flirting is just a form of communication? It is basically behavior that conveys a specific message: either “I’m attracted to you,” “I want you to be attracted to me,” or both. Some people are very intentional with it, while others don’t even know they’re doing it; some are successful, some are not. Being in a committed relationship has increased my interest in what I’d like to call “flirting etiquette.”

From Cooties to Catcalls

To start, it’s interesting to note that the style of flirting seems to change with age. Generally speaking, as children we were taught that if someone teased you, it meant they had a crush on you; Billy sticking out his tongue and calling Sally names were his way of hiding his true affections. As we get older, it seems a more direct approach is usually favored. Traditionally, if a guy is interested in a girl, he has to “make a move” and present himself to her. It is then the girl’s decision to accept or decline the offer.

Got Those Moves?

So what are those moves? Is there a code or a system? Can it be taught? I’ll let you answer those questions yourself, but I figure that just as there are five love languages, there are probably five broad categories in which people flirt. Someone might try to give you a lot of gifts or buy you things (receiving gifts); go out of their way to do kind gestures (acts of service); compliment you frequently (words of affirmation); give you long hugs or pats on the back (physical touch); or spend as much time with you as possible, either in person or on the phone (quality time). Someone who’s really ambitious would probably do a mix of all five. (If you’re interested, see
my previous post about Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages.)

When it came to my fiancé Angel, he hit heavy with words of affirmation. Early in our friendship, the compliments were non-stop. He often texted me things like “I’ve never met a girl as cool as you” and “you’re really an amazing person.” I couldn’t tell if he was just being friendly or if he was flirting; but either way, it started to bother me, so I kindly asked him to stop. (I was really hard to get; I had my reasons.)  So that brings me to the next topic: is it flirting if it’s not being done on purpose? What if that person is just being “nice”?

Oops, I Did It Again

Sometimes your words and actions are misinterpreted (which I talk about in my previous post titled “What Do You Mean?”). During this early stage in our friendship, Angel may not have thought he was flirting, but I definitely took it that way. (In the same way, I may not have thought I was flirting when I gave him bear hugs every time I saw him–but he subconsciously took it that way.) I believe anyone who receives questionable affection has the right to confront the giver of it. The world of romance can be mysterious and elusive, which is what some people enjoy about it; but there’s nothing wrong with asking someone outright, “Do you like me?” and having a mature conversation about it, whether the answer is yes or no (or “it’s complicated”).

I Want You to Want Me

In our case, Angel and I did actually like each other, even if it took time to acknowledge and develop. However, that leads us to another question: is it OK to flirt with someone whom you have no intention of actually pursuing? Again, I’ll let you answer that one; I can only speak for myself.

Some may consider flirting to be harmless fun. It brings pleasure knowing that someone wants you, even if you don’t actually want them; flirting is a way to test the waters, to see if you could get that person to want you.

However, in my opinion, doing this could cause undesirable conflicts. Flirting with other people especially if you’re already in a relationship can lead to jealousy, insecurity, and at the most extreme side, cheating. It can be just as risky if you’re single. It makes me think of a line from Michael Jackson’s song “Billie Jean”: “Be careful what you do, and don’t go around breaking young girls’ hearts.” It’s easy to frustrate and hurt people if you play with their emotions through flirting. And unless you enjoy that, why do it?

The Feeling Is Mutual

Relationships are all about reciprocity. Most of us enter one expecting each party to contribute in some way. At the very least, we desire a mutual physical attraction for one another. Unrequited love is perhaps one of the greatest sources of discontent. No one wants to like someone who will never like them back; if they could eliminate the desire, they would. This must be why we are more likely to become interested in someone who appears to be interested in us, even if we were not initially attracted to them.

A Penny For Your Thoughts

I’m sure I could say a lot more on this topic, but I’ll leave it here. What are your thoughts on flirting? How would you respond to any of the questions I mentioned above? Feel free to leave a reply below.

Virtues from Motherhood: Am I out of the loop?

Let me start by saying, all things considered I believe myself to be relatively close to the loop, or what it represents but not totally there-yet. A few years ago, though I was so far from the loop it was semi embarrassing, I hadn’t earned any degrees yet, I was working an aimless retail job and just began supporting my kid. In 2014 I started to get my shit together, well the most important parts of it anyway, education, career and all that fun stuff like bills, car insurance and so on. So needless to say, socializing and dating took a backseat, so even when I tried to dive back into dating, I was somewhat taken back by the dating scene, and I still don’t know if it’s me or if my generation is just a mess.

If my generation is just a mess, I won’t feel so bad but I find myself grappling with the same issues every time I date, granted not all at once but the same themes recur. Now I’m not trying to nit-pick or bash anyone or anything I’m just sharing my qualms with the dating world as a 20-something year old single mom.

Let me start with the nice guy, who’s also painfully lazy, this guy is dynamite he’s friendly, social and patient but he lacks motivation. He either just has a HS diploma, some or no college and is totally complacent with it. Back tracking for a second, some people do just fine with only a HS diploma because they get into a trade, union job or open their own business, the kind of guy I’m talking about is okay with his 15$ an hour, he doesn’t want more. That’s totally fine, but not for me, I worked too hard to be complacent and I worked too hard to share the fruits of my labor with someone who doesn’t share the drive I have. I’ve gone on dates with really nice guys that I just can’t bring home because they have nothing to bring to the table other than their charm.

The next guy on this list is the too over bearing guy, he’s got it all together he has a career a portfolio he’s established, but he has no social receptors at all. I went on a couple of dates with a guy a little older than myself who on the third date started talking about marriage, buying houses and so on. Absolutely not. That’s just too much, because not only am I sharing my life I am sharing my daughters and that kind of zooming relationship isn’t going to work for me as a mother.

The last kind of guy, or theme, I seem to find in the dating field is the “I’m working on it” guy, which wouldn’t be an issue if he was working. I don’t mind too much when a guy doesn’t drive, because after all its NYC, you don’t HAVE to have a car, but it just shows a little added responsibility and a sense of mutualism in a potential relationship (I won’t always be picking up and dropping off). But, when you’ve been in the same place for years and don’t seem to know how to bring it all together I can’t stick around, while I’ve had my fair share of struggles but I also knew when it was time to kick it into gear.

All in all, I want an equal I want someone who might be a work in progress but the progress is real, it’s tangible and we’re both able to grow. I don’t want to ever be the “bread winner” I want to be a teammate, someone who I can hustle with, in careers, in education, in life and in experiences and I’ve yet to find it. Some have one but not the other, some I’ve tried to stick it out while they figure it out, but the short of the long is I don’t have all that time to spare. It kind of feels like I’m missing something, is there some dating power card I didn’t pick up along the way or was oblivious too. I see my peers with these great relationships or flawless ability to date and I’m like“what gives?”  Maybe that’s the next part of my life I’ll figure out, and I just have to be patient or maybe life is telling me to wait I have much more growing to do.

Virtues from Motherhood: Dating

Dating by its own account can be a nerve wracking ordeal, picking a time and a place, juggling a busy schedule, and of course what to wear. Then throw in finding a sitter and a night where you have no other responsibilities and you might be inclined to just stay home. If you’re a single mom, or dad for that matter, you know how hectic managing your life can be without trying to pencil in time to get to know someone new.

When you’re a single parent, your life tends to be a cycle of wake up, go to work, pick up the little one and prepare for tomorrow, and if you’re like me throw a full schedule of college classes in there. With only 24 hours in the day finding even one to sit down with a date or potential significant other can be a feat that you end up neglecting altogether. Since Ava’s father and I split in 2011 I have been in one serious relationship spanning just over a year and even that amazes me. I’ve gone on plenty of dates and awkward “you just have to meet my friend” set ups but after one or two meet ups over lunch or dinner I usually end up having to cancel future plans because something comes up, mostly because I don’t have a sitter or I’m just swamped with work and school responsibilities. My family helps me tremendously with Ava while I’m at work and at school and some days I’m out of the house from 9am until 9pm so asking them to watch her yet another night so I can go on a date seems a little selfish of me, not to mention after being a passing ship to Ava most nights a week I want to use my weekend to hang out with her. In my mind a date can wait, I just want to be home.

That desire to just want to flop on the couch and watch Disney movies on a Friday night is often met with skepticism. Things like “Don’t you want more kids?” “Don’t you want to get married soon?”, “You’re still single?!” come whizzing past your head at family gatherings or even work events and for the sake of your job, and being polite, you learn and master new ways to avoid or brush off this questions all the while screaming in your head “I DON’T HAVE TIME TO WORRY ABOUT THIS NOW!”. Don’t get me wrong, the women who stuck it out with their partners, whose relationships work, I applaud you and I’m happy you’ve found that so early in life. But for others it didn’t happen in that order, some of us thought love started and ended with a high school sweetheart only to find that a high school romance may not be strong enough to withstand the seasons of life. So when these relationships don’t work we don’t throw pity parties, we throw on our grown up britches and get on with it. We pour ourselves into giving to our kids, to bettering their lives and to make sure they live the life they deserve, after all they didn’t ask to be here.

What it comes down to and truth of the matter is I don’t want to be in a relationship right now, I simply do not have the time to commit to one and I’m not one to half commit or skirt on any aspect of my life. Right now I’m worried about getting my second degree and securing a good job for Ava and I to live comfortably. I want my own life to be on solid ground before I begin looking to share that ground with anyone else. I’m unapologetic when it comes to being consumed with my own life because when I’m ready to share it … I will.