Flirting! What is it and how to do it.

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Post by Guest on Wed Nov 26, 2014 5:45 am

So, I noticed there's no real flirting thread. I searched everywhere but couldn't find one, so I hope this isn't going to end up a duplicate.

Anyway, I agree wholeheartedly DNL in his flirting piece where he mentions nerds in particular don't have a good grasp on it. It's certainly troperrific and something I see in a few of my nerdier inclined friends. I also couldn't flirt my way out of a paper bag, hence making a thread about it.

Basically, I figure if anyone needs help with the ancient art of flirting, come here? I'm sure there's a whole bunch of people proficient at flirting on the site to help out. Consider this an act of friendly impressment. Razz

But seriously, I saw flirting brought up in the on being interesting thread and realised that flirting goes over my head. I'd appreciate some insight from more enlightened people than I.

To start and get to the point, I find a lot of flirting kind of... weird? It doesn't jive well with me. I get the basic ideas - you tease and compliment in, hopefully, equal measure to build a rapport, gauge interest and hopefully find a spark of breathe life into one. Don't be too nice, don't be too mean. Simple enough in concept.

My problem is I don't take well to teasing, even when I know it's in jest. I think it's a holdover from being bullied as a child and through high school. It brings back memories I'd rather not have to deal with. Especially when it's teasing from people I respect. I unintentionally associate them with the people that hurt me and it can sour an entire day if I'm already not in a stellar mood. I'm far better at dealing with it than I was, say, three years ago, but it doesn't change the fact that teasing and me don't work well together. I also don't like to tease others because part of me thinks What if they feel the same? Chances are, they probably wouldn't. But it's not something that I like to do.

So, I have a few questions. Is flirting really only body language and this to-and-fro stuff? Also, it always so... corny? The example DNL listed...

DNL wrote:
“You’re the coolest person I’ve met… at this bar, anyway.” “Holy crap, you really are such a nerd, it’s adorable!” “It’s a shame you seem like a nice person, you’re giving me the most inappropriate ideas.” “You’re awesome, I never meet people like you; get away from me, I just can’t talk to you.” “We’re never going to get along, we’re too similar.”

Strike me as something I'd hear in a sitcom, not real life. And that 'inappropriate ideas' one is skeevy as hell to me. If I was told that by even the woman of my dreams I'd weirded out. Big time.

I trust that DNL has used them and knows what he's talking about but I didn't expect real flirting to be that completely corny or what I would associate with acting rather than genuine interaction.

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Post by kleenestar on Wed Nov 26, 2014 10:54 am

I think that there is a dominant paradigm of flirting, but it's not the only one. For me, flirting was never about teasing or that sort of light-hearted banter. It was much more about saying things that are just a touch beyond the current level of intimacy of the relationship, but doing so in a way that let the other person draw back without hurting either of us. For example, one thing I would do is to say something pretty innocuous, but to touch the other person on the wrist and look into their eyes steadily while doing it.

Basically, the key to effective flirting is finding YOUR style of flirting instead of trying to do it the Doc's way - which is actually harder, I think, since it requires self-knowledge, but will be easier and more effective in the long run.
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Post by reboot on Wed Nov 26, 2014 11:13 am

I agree with kleenester. Flirting is highly individual for both the flirter and flirtee. What pings for one person will not ping with everyone, so the key is finding a style that works for you, which will automatically filter in the people it works for. Teasing is one option. Escalating the intimacy of a discussion is another. Some people like mock arguments such as whether or not German postal workers really wear Dr. Martens. Some people like to slip compliments into normal conversation. And a whole host of other option that can be mixed and matched.

One thing, as kleenester also said, that distinguishes flirting from regular conversation is touch and shrinking social distancing in personal space. The good doctor has some good tips on reading receptiveness and how to know when to stop. A good portion of it is knowing the comfort level of the flirted as you progress and being prepared to stop or deescalate if they signal things have crossed a line.
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Post by Enail on Wed Nov 26, 2014 11:45 am

There are definitely other ways to flirt -and I also find DNL's examples quite corny and sitcomesque (though to be fair, I imagine almost any kind of flirting, or even non-flirting comments, taken out of context and written down would sound pretty fake). I think at its heart, flirting is basically just letting your attraction and liking of the other person come out a little, and hopefully play with their attraction and liking.

I am very much not an expert flirter myself, but I've sometimes had ways I was acting without consciously intending it to be flirting be read as successful flirting. Probably my most successful form of flirting (in that people seemed to respond to it - which was quite a shock to me, b/c it was not my intention) was basically just over-the-top joking sleaze. I think it had a flirty effect because it was playful but also did have an element of sexuality even though I thought it didn't count because it was clearly joking.  

As well as touch and shrinking social space, I'd add showing you're putting a little extra effort/interest into the person you're flirting with - stuff like making eye contact with them specifically when you're in a group setting, bringing up things relating to their interest a little more, suggesting small acts of teaming. Just showing that they're on your radar and you're interested in being closer.

Definitely seconding that you need to be aware of their response and back off if they're not receptive, as being flirted with is the kind of thing that's awesome when you're into it and unpleasant and awkward if you're not.
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Post by kath on Wed Nov 26, 2014 11:49 am

I also hate teasing and don't flirt. I'm not in a place where I'm working on flirting, so I don't have tips to give you on overcoming that (or telling when someone is teasing to flirt with you vs. just teases everyone vs. is being mean), but I wanted to say I feel you there.

I think some of those scripts could work in very particular contexts - like the “It’s a shame you seem like a nice person, you’re giving me the most inappropriate ideas.” - I think that works if you have an established sexy-ish flirtation rolling. Like I can't imagine someone saying it to me and me being like "oh yeah," but I can imagine someone else liking it. I also think “We’re never going to get along, we’re too similar.” is something you could say at an earlier, less-sexy stage of flirting. But the tone of all of them is going to make a lot of difference, I think.

I kind of think a lot of flirting is trying to be playful in a way that's intimate / just for the other person? I do think I've managed to learn how to flirt with my husband. I still don't tease him, and it's certainly not the only way I interact with him, but I can be playful and silly with him in an emotionally intimate, one-on-one way (I can be silly with my other friends / in groups, but it's generally not very one-on-one, "close" silliness ...).

I think another piece of flirting is really trying to engage just that other person on a really deep level - not in a specific topic, but in your shared gaze and possibly some touching. Sort of like focusing on them more than you are focusing on the topic - so it would differ from having a really intense, interesting discussion about a compelling topic with someone. It's more like you might have the same intense feeling, but it would be from interacting with them versus the topic. I'm not sure how to build that - I think it would have a lot to do with slowly increasing eye contact, slowly getting physically closer, and slowly increasing touch (and being mindful of signals of discomfort from the other person and responding to them).

I also think keeping your tone of voice very warm and friendly would be important - if one's a little more reserved by nature, one might not be used to using a warm, friendly, open, accepting tone - to match what you are showing them about how you feel.
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Post by Conreezy on Wed Nov 26, 2014 12:10 pm

I'm the joking type, generally outgoing, so people think I'm flirting when I'm not.  The difference to me is really intent: joking to make friends vs joking to spark a romantic/sexual interest.  The initial banter is the same, but one route doesn't lead to sexualized comments until we're established friends who know that's all that's happening.  When flirting, things like small touches help gauge interest (and those don't always have to be things you just do to someone else), and slightly provocative comments can come later, provided the touching and joking is being received well.  Initially, though, and regardless of intent, engaging someone directly with body language and eye contact is just plain more sociable and conveys confidence in the positivity of the interaction.

Don't be too nice, don't be too mean. Simple enough in concept.

Yes, but tough to execute.  Personally, I'd err on the side of being too nice, as an engaging, interesting conversation that isn't full of teasing is always better than overstepping bounds.  It's tough coming back from that.

“You’re the coolest person I’ve met… at this bar, anyway.”

That's not too bad, but it demands a specific sense of humor from the person you're talking to or you could look really douchey.  Personally, I like dark, slightly insulting humor, but many, many people don't, or are simply not prepared to hear it from people they've just met.  

“Holy crap, you really are such a nerd, it’s adorable!”

This is great, though I would just end it with "you're a nerd!"  So long as you convey that you're happy/okay/thrilled at the other person's nerdiness, it's just playful teasing, especially if you follow it up with something like, "I could tell you were one of my own."  

“It’s a shame you seem like a nice person, you’re giving me the most inappropriate ideas.”

Like Kath, I'd save this for a very definite sexual interest, maybe even someone with whom you've already engaged sexually (in some way).  This sort of comment isn't my style.  

“You’re awesome, I never meet people like you; get away from me, I just can’t talk to you.”

Classic push/pull, though it seems a little too much of a non-sequitur for me.  

“We’re never going to get along, we’re too similar.”

I've always like this one.  "We're just going to fight all the time, and I'll always win...it'll be terrible for you!" It's challenging, which will get a response, but when obviously a joke, isn't likely to provoke anything hostile.

My problem is I don't take well to teasing, even when I know it's in jest. I think it's a holdover from being bullied as a child and through high school.

I know that feeling.  Like the others said, it doesn't have to be your style.

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Post by reboot on Wed Nov 26, 2014 12:38 pm

I tend to go with a teasing in joke, sort of like the nerd comment.

"Holy shit, you are absolutely nuts! I knew I liked you for a reason."

"See, when you do X/say Y, it just confirms my suspicion... You are my kind of people."

"You like/do X? Jeez. I thought I was the only freak that did that. X doers of the world unite, we have nothing to lose but our chains!"

"A X drinker/connoiseur/appreciator/fan? You are a man of great refinement and impeccable taste, cheers!"

I also tend to do compliments, like:

"You play flamenco guitar? That is so cool! I admire people with musical talent."

"You have a great voice. I suppose we should all be glad you missed your calling as the Minister for Right Think & Truth, because you could probably whip up some serious mayhem."

"You have great taste in X. Color me impressed."

Alone they all sound kind of stupid, but embedded in the right conversation they work well.
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Post by Hae on Wed Nov 26, 2014 4:20 pm

I've never analyzed how I would try to catch someone's attention, mostly due to the fact that I hardly ever flirt. But to the time I did try, I relied mostly on my body language to communicate interest. Also I am extremely shy so talking was even harder for me.
For example, when I showed up to meet my love interest, I surprised him by plopping on the bench next to him with a breathless hi (I ran for some reason). He was so caught off guard, his stare went from my face to my chest (Nothing was showing but I was leaning forward). I just smiled knowingly at him, and he regained his composure pretty quickly and started talking. Sounds juvenile, but it was interesting in that moment.
Another example was when I was walking behind him while he was talking to a friend. His friend said some joke about making out, and my crush said, "I'm good at that too." I had to laugh, and the way he cocked his head to laugh with me and the kind of look he was giving me meant that his comment was meant for me. He was trying to get my attention and my desire for him spiked, not to mention I was mad curious about his kisses now.

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Post by ChrissyOrig on Wed Nov 26, 2014 9:44 pm

I've said this before elsewhere, but DNL's style of flirting is only ONE way of flirting. It works for him-yea! But for other people, what he calls the pull-and-push is a big turnoff. Some people are more sensitive to teasing. Others don't quite pick up on the social give and take of that style. In any case, it's not the only way.

I'm sure others will have additional thoughts and ideas about how to do it. What works for me is what I call collaborative storytelling. Example, I go over to someone and make up a scenario about someone else or a couple of people within sight. Maybe they are spies. Maybe one has just found out he/she won the lottery. Could be anything, depending on what the person/people look and act like.

What I want is someone who will play along by adding on to or changing the story. When it works, we get closer and closer, physically and end up whispering in each other's ear. We're being creative and sharing a little secret. It can get sexy or thrilling or bizarre, depending on the dynamic. As always, pay attention to how the other person responds: do they smile, laugh or have their eyes light up? Good. If we can play together, then I'm interested in finding out who you are. This style isn't for everyone, either. But at least it's an alternative and great fun for creative, playful people.

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Post by kath on Thu Nov 27, 2014 12:51 am

Also, if you really are like "eeeh, can't do the flirting thing" I think it is sometimes possible (though not easy) to just not flirt. You would build rapport with someone the same way you would with anyone else, and then ask them out when you are getting pretty close, and respond well whatever their response. That is pretty much what happened to my husband and I - we just grew closer gradually. I didn't think it was super flirty. Then he asked me on a date.

However, I would say that's a less direct approach than trying to approach the flirting skill head-on (figuring out a way to do it that seems authentic to you versus trying to flirt in a way you find uncomfortable), so working on that is better as a strategy than just leaving it out of your skill-set intentionally. For one thing, the only way you can check if someone is interested in you is to ask them on a date, after you've put some degree of effort into building enough rapport that you are comfortable / want to do that.
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Post by Lemminkainen on Thu Nov 27, 2014 2:34 am

kleenestar wrote:It was much more about saying things that are just a touch beyond the current level of intimacy of the relationship, but doing so in a way that let the other person draw back without hurting either of us.

I think that this part of your discussion actually generalizes well to give a definition of flirting. I think that basically all forms come down to "show the other person that you like them and want to do physical things with them, but in a way that would let them ignore your interest without either of you losing face." This is why stuff from adversarial teasing to lightly touching a person you're talking to to subtle sexual innuendo to just talking to a person while being embarassingly unable to conceal your attraction to them can get labeled flirting.

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Post by Guest on Thu Nov 27, 2014 4:27 am

Wow, lots of good responses! Thanks, people.

It makes sense that flirting isn't just that one model - I don't feel so crazy now. Finding your own way to flirt seems the most practical avenue to go if only because it may also result in finding it's totally not for you in the first place. Or negligible when looking for people.

I'm not so good at picking up on that social give-and-take that ChrissyOrig mentioned so that's another reason the whole teasing thing just doesn't work well for me. I can't really take it all that well and dishing it out feels awkward and wrong. Probabaly something worth working on not being so sensitive about if only to make life easier outside of relationships.

reboot wrote:I tend to go with a teasing in joke, sort of like the nerd comment.

...

I also tend to do compliments, like:

...

Alone they all sound kind of stupid, but embedded in the right conversation they work well.

I like some of the compliment based ones. I realised last year that I honestly don't give other compliments all that much. I started working on putting them into conversation naturally and it's going well. Hopefully I can work that in my favour when it comes to flirting if I ever really delve into it.

kath wrote:For one thing, the only way you can check if someone is interested in you is to ask them on a date, after you've put some degree of effort into building enough rapport that you are comfortable / want to do that.

We'll see if I get to that point. Razz

One thing that seems pretty constant in most of the replies is physical touch. This is another sticking point I have to a degree. I'm not big on touching at all. I'm actually less bothered about being touched than having to touch someone else. I don't really have a clue why this is, so I'm sort of stumped at how to remedy it. Could be down to negative self-perception (ew, who would want to be touched by me? Gross!).

Touch is definitely important when it comes to flirting or showing interest, but it also seems like the biggest way to destroy a good moment if you fuck up. That fear of making a mistake is, I suppose, another factor why touch doesn't sit well with me. The only way to beat that would be to use best judgement and, well, try it I guess. It's hard to really practice something like that.

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Post by Guest on Thu Nov 27, 2014 1:58 pm

MapWater wrote:Touch is definitely important when it comes to flirting or showing interest, but it also seems like the biggest way to destroy a good moment if you fuck up. That fear of making a mistake is, I suppose, another factor why touch doesn't sit well with me. The only way to beat that would be to use best judgement and, well, try it I guess. It's hard to really practice something like that.

I struggle a lot with this, too, actually. Once contact has started, I'm fine, and if someone touches me, I can decide quickly if it's okay or not, but the act of touching always feels extremely intimate to me -- I just don't touch people, as a rule. I get uncomfortable if my hand accidentally touches the hand of a cashier while I pay for things, or if my arm brushes someone else's as we pass in the hall, like I am invading space.

What this means with flirting, for me, is that touch becomes this massive hill to overcome. At some point, I know I want to touch a person, because I need to touch in order to start working out, "Is this something that I like beyond conversation?" I want to try it out. But I'm not yet feeling like, "I find this person physically attractive," because I don't really get to that point before I've tried touch out. So it feels awkward and artificial and forced, and the longer I wait, the more artificial and forced it starts to feel. I fall into analysis paralysis, and start to become convinced that it will feel as artificial and forced to the guy as it does to me. It always takes 10-15 physical contacts before it starts to feel right and natural, and I have to make myself plow through them. Usually, my "first contact," is more me signaling, "touching me is okay! See my hand? Right here! Touch!"

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Post by kleenestar on Thu Nov 27, 2014 2:32 pm

MapWater, are you from the UK? If so, I would not stress about the touch thing. Being reluctant to touch people you don't know might well be a cultural thing; I've seen some cross-cultural studies looking at how often people touch each other in casual conversation, and the UK had the lowest scores in the world (0 times per hour!). So for you, it might be a much stronger signal of interest than it would be for, say, me. I might think of it as the "big gun" to bring out when you're already pretty sure the interaction is going well, and to do it in a modest and moderate way. I really like ElizaJane's approach of thinking of the first touch as signaling that touching is okay.
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Post by Guest on Thu Nov 27, 2014 9:11 pm

The reason I had such a hard time with touch was because, for a good part of my life I was told to keep my hands to myself despite never bothering anyone. Always, always, always, was I told to keep my hands to myself for a good 10 or so years. Okie, fine.

Once I got into high school, it wasn't until then I realize that it was okay to touch and even then it still seemed a little weird. I was reluctant to hug people, especially girls for a very long time, now I'm actually a lot more open to it and if I have to, I'll initiate it despite it being awkward as shit sometimes. D: I have to remind myself, "This is how you show your affection."

But the way I touch is by tickling/poking, usually poking their arm lightly and then the more comfy they are with me and the more comfy I am with touching them and vice-versa, can I poke their side or tummy. It's also a very light gentle and poking. Razz I always let girls know that I'm ticklish along my sides and that it's okay to poke me back too, I'm cool with it lol

Flirting is still kinda tough for me, but I've gotten sorta better at it. IDK if anybody's noticed in meat space tho...

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Post by Guest on Fri Nov 28, 2014 12:33 am

ElizaJane wrote:What this means with flirting, for me, is that touch becomes this massive hill to overcome.  At some point, I know I want to touch a person, because I need to touch in order to start working out, "Is this something that I like beyond conversation?"  I want to try it out.  But I'm not yet feeling like, "I find this person physically attractive," because I don't really get to that point before I've tried touch out.  So it feels awkward and artificial and forced, and the longer I wait, the more artificial and forced it starts to feel.  I fall into analysis paralysis, and start to become convinced that it will feel as artificial and forced to the guy as it does to me.  It always takes 10-15 physical contacts before it starts to feel right and natural, and I have to make myself plow through them.  Usually, my "first contact," is more me signaling, "touching me is okay!  See my hand?  Right here!  Touch!"

That artificial feeling is how I perceive a lot of the times I've been in a position where I've had to utilise touch to show, well, anything really. It's something that, unlike Mikey's experience, I seemed to be adept at when I was younger when I had to but I seem to have lost that knowledge during my high school years. Kind of shows how withdrawn I was at high school, in a way.

Using touch as a signal for being receptive to it is how I could see myself using it.

kleenestar wrote:MapWater, are you from the UK? If so, I would not stress about the touch thing. Being reluctant to touch people you don't know might well be a cultural thing; I've seen some cross-cultural studies looking at how often people touch each other in casual conversation, and the UK had the lowest scores in the world (0 times per hour!). So for you, it might be a much stronger signal of interest than it would be for, say, me. I might think of it as the "big gun" to bring out when you're already pretty sure the interaction is going well, and to do it in a modest and moderate way. I really like ElizaJane's approach of thinking of the first touch as signaling that touching is okay.

Aussie born to two Scottish parents actually, but close enough! I was brought up more as a Scot than an Aussie, so I'll assume that's part of where it came from. I wonder where Australia falls on that study. In general, it feels like a touchy-feely nation. There's the usual hug when meeting people, continental kisses if there's women and they initiate (oh man do I hate that... talk about uncomfortable) and LOTS of handshakes. I don't know if it's just the women I know (probably) or a national trend (possible, I guess) but women in particular are very huggy. It's confusing to a degree since I rarely, if ever, initiate hugs outside close family. I must seem like a bit of a cold bastard. Laughing

I do like the idea of using it as Eliza describes. One can only hope it's seen for the signal it is and reciprocated or acted on.

The Mikey wrote:The reason I had such a hard time with touch was because, for a good part of my life I was told to keep my hands to myself despite never bothering anyone. Always, always, always, was I told to keep my hands to myself for a good 10 or so years. Okie, fine.

Once I got into high school, it wasn't until then I realize that it was okay to touch and even then it still seemed a little weird. I was reluctant to hug people, especially girls for a very long time, now I'm actually a lot more open to it and if I have to, I'll initiate it despite it being awkward as shit sometimes. D: I have to remind myself, "This is how you show your affection."

But the way I touch is by tickling/poking, usually poking their arm lightly and then the more comfy they are with me and the more comfy I am with touching them and vice-versa, can I poke their side or tummy. It's also a very light gentle and poking. Razz I always let girls know that I'm ticklish along my sides and that it's okay to poke me back too, I'm cool with it lol

Flirting is still kinda tough for me, but I've gotten sorta better at it. IDK if anybody's noticed in meat space tho...

Like I said above, I seem to have been okay as a child. I distinctly remember knowing when and when not to touch and being rather comfortable with. Then high school rolled around and BAM! - dropped the skill like a rock and now I'm uncomfortable with it.

I'm slowly becoming better with touch, but I'm also starting to realise my body language is quite obvious about my dislike of touch. I slouch, I keep my arms in close to my chest and I'm not particularly animated until I've had one too many drams. If I'm conscious of how unapproachable I appear to be, I can fix it easy, but it's hard to concentrate on that and talk to people and concentrate on not messing that up and make sure that I'm not just dithering and boring the other person.

Ugh. Being social shouldn't feel that difficult all the time.

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Post by Gman on Wed Jan 28, 2015 8:19 am

MapWater wrote:Ugh. Being social shouldn't feel that difficult all the time.

Wow, this sentence right here is something that resonates with me on a really deep level - I feel so frustrated sometimes about just how I need to be aware of myself and aware of so many aspects of social interaction - how is my body language, am I slouching, am I being overbaring on someone, are they listening to me and am I really listening to them and reacting in accordance and AAAGGGHHHH!!!! It's just so tiring sometimes. My best social interactions are the ones where I feel like I'm not really in full awarness to the social interactions theoretic "rules" and I am just "flowing" in it and responding in a "natural" way (even though that I am absolutley positive, that the difference in these cases is that all the social thoughts proccessing is done in a non-concious way instead of in a concious way and not that these processes have somehow "dissapeared").

Also, a huge irony that I am only now realizing.... I don't flirt, like at all, even if I am interested in someone. I just have never given it any real, concious thought. The irony in this is due to the fact that I have become good at dancing - an activity where reading body language and "flirting" on a purely physical level is the actual foundation in becoming a good dancer. It what helps to make the difference from a solid dance to a dance where the dance partner comes back to ask ME to dance with them again (or in some cases, when I ask them to dance with me again, they tell me "Took you long enough! Where were you hiding?! *said in a light and playful voice*). The minute the dancing stops and I find myself in a regular social situation - poof! All that knowledge doesn't seem to be interpreted for me to these situations as well.

No wonder that my ex told me that when we initially met she was quite confused - she said that I was giving quite strong and clear signals while dancing but that when we talked outside of the dancing context that she didn't see it at all (read: I wasn't touching at all, like not even light touches, brushes etc.) and she had serious doubts about my interest in her. In some sort of strange fate, in that case I mustered some courage and decided to hold her hand at a certain point - that was the point for her where she realized that, yes, I'm interested, just kind of awkward about it.

Thinking about this all of the sudden is really making me depressed.... realizing a few situations where I was interested, but due to a lack of flirting skills, it didn't go anywhere, even though there was potential for success, some of them had REALLY GOOD potential....... sigh......... Sad
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Post by Caffeinated on Wed Jan 28, 2015 2:03 pm

Some thoughts on what flirting is. In a lot of ways, I feel like flirting is the exact reverse of some of the self-protective behaviors we learned in junior high/high school. Like in junior high, if I had a crush on someone, it was imperative to make sure no one could tell, so it meant don't look at him and don't talk to him, ignore at all costs or else people will be able to tell! But to flirt with someone, the idea is to reverse that, and look at them a lot, and talk to them a lot, and make it obvious to them and anyone observing that this is the person in the room I'm the most interested in. I suspect this would be noticeably harder for someone who was bullied than for someone who was merely a bit shy when young. I see flirting as letting out my inner child or inner puppydog, and being just overt and happy and unashamed in my interest in someone. So if I were standing in a group and wanted to flirt with one person in the group, I'd look at him twice as much as I looked at the others, and talk to him twice as much as I talked to the others, and just really overtly focus my attention on just this one person (while trying not to completely snub the rest of the people). Does it make me a little vulnerable to be so open about my interest? Yes, and I think that's why it works.
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Post by KMR on Wed Jan 28, 2015 3:51 pm

Gman wrote:
Wow, this sentence right here is something that resonates with me on a really deep level - I feel so frustrated sometimes about just how I need to be aware of myself and aware of so many aspects of social interaction - how is my body language, am I slouching, am I being overbaring on someone, are they listening to me and am I really listening to them and reacting in accordance and AAAGGGHHHH!!!! It's just so tiring sometimes. My best social interactions are the ones where I feel like I'm not really in full awarness to the social interactions theoretic "rules" and I am just "flowing" in it and responding in a "natural" way (even though that I am absolutley positive, that the difference in these cases is that all the social thoughts proccessing is done in a non-concious way instead of in a concious way and not that these processes have somehow "dissapeared").

I think what you've described here is an excellent reminder that social interaction is a skill just like any other, because what you're saying here applies to pretty much every skill out there. When you're fully aware of all the minutiae behind what you're trying to do, it takes a lot of cognitive effort to do it. When some of those processes occur on an unconscious level instead, it makes everything much easier and feel more "natural." This applies as much to skills like driving or dancing as it does to social interaction.

I have a saying: "Thought impedes action and action impedes thought." When you overthink, it makes it a lot harder to take action, both before and during that action. If you're overthinking something before you do it, your worries and anxieties can get in the way and lead you to avoid or postpone action, especially if you feel like you have to account for everything before you can do something. If you're thinking too much while you're trying to do something, that extra cognitive load can interfere with what you're doing and make it harder to do. When I say "action impedes thought" what I mean is, when you actually take action, that forces you to come out of your head at least a little bit in favor of a mode where you are reacting to the world around you, which is a much quicker and more automatic process than deliberate conscious thought. So I find that when I'm overthinking things, sometimes it helps to just push myself to take action instead; once I'm actually in the process of doing something, a lot of those thoughts naturally start to quiet down and push themselves to the back of my mind.

Gman wrote:
No wonder that my ex told me that when we initially met she was quite confused - she said that I was giving quite strong and clear signals while dancing but that when we talked outside of the dancing context that she didn't see it at all (read: I wasn't touching at all, like not even light touches, brushes etc.) and she had serious doubts about my interest in her. In some sort of strange fate, in that case I mustered some courage and decided to hold her hand at a certain point - that was the point for her where she realized that, yes, I'm interested, just kind of awkward about it.

Thinking about this all of the sudden is really making me depressed.... realizing a few situations where I was interested, but due to a lack of flirting skills, it didn't go anywhere, even though there was potential for success, some of them had REALLY GOOD potential....... sigh......... Sad

The thing about flirting is, it's just one form of expression of interest, and a relatively subtle one at that. All you're trying to do when you flirt is to say "I like you" without actually saying "I like you." A way of dipping your toe in the water before deciding whether to dive in or not. Which means that, if you're not good at flirting or interpreting those signals in others, you do always have the option of taking a more direct approach (e.g. asking someone out or making a more overt physical move, like you did when you held your ex's hand). The more direct ways of showing interest are scarier and riskier, but they have the same goal, and you'll pretty much have to do this anyway if you think there's a chance that the other person is interested and you want to move things forward. So flirting isn't exactly necessary to achieve romantic success, it's just an intermediate step in the process that can be used, if you want to.

So when you talk about missing out on situations that had potential because of a lack of flirting skills, it sounds like you're interpreting it as:
[I am interested] --> [I do not flirt] --> [Girl I'm interested in is therefore not aware of my interest] --> [Nothing happens]

But there are other ways to go about it, that may or may not include flirting (or may include unsuccessful flirting):
[I am interested] --> [I do not flirt] --> [Girl I'm interested in is therefore not aware of my interest] --> [I decide to ask her out directly]
or
[I am interested] --> [I attempt to flirt] --> [Girl does not recognize my flirting as a sign of interest] --> [I decide to ask her out directly]
or
[I am interested] --> [I attempt to flirt] --> [Girl recognizes my flirting and flirts back] --> [I decide to ask her out directly]

The last step in the process is the same in any scenario (unless she asks you out first, which may or may not happen regardless of whether you flirt or not), so you can pretty much pick whichever path you feel like taking at any given time.
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Post by TheRoux on Wed Jan 28, 2015 5:12 pm

I like to think my best "successes", meaning getting a positive response/feedback, have been when "flirting without being aware of it"... so basically, when not thinking about it too much. This usually happens when I feel most comfortable and am able to let myself loose. So I start to joke around lightly, flirting comes naturally (I think)... I think context and confidence are the two things to remember here.

Example 1:
This my first time meeting completely new people during lunch break at my first week of college. I didn't know anyone so I just picked an empty table and eventually a bunch of other people came over and sat for lunch too. The mood was so fun and light that when one of the girls said she had to leave, I started singing "Ne me quitte pas" from Jacques Brel ("Do not leave me"). Laughs all around, her included. It was a little wierd but those people became my good friends for all my college years (better friends than those actually in my program)

Example 2:
Another college, another program. I was in my final year. We had a room for the computer science students: sausage fest. But that year, in the new students, came a girl. She was cool, open and very friendly. And of course, all the other guys would be drooling in their minds... she was freaking cute. In any other context, I would have been reserved and shy, but this time, she was on my turf, and so I felt more confident. So I let loose... I would joke all the time, poke fun at her a little bit saying she's immediatly spottable in this room... because boobs... and at some point, she started reciprocating and initiating physical contact. I would say that I like to be tickled someplace on my back and she would immediatly go for it... I think at this point, one of the reasons I was successful was because I was the only guy who was confidant enough to really engage with her. The others would interact with her, yes, but on a more serious tone. The other being that I'm so damned charming when I want to. XD

Example 3:
A bit more risky this one. Talking with a friend of mine. I do not remember exactly the conversation subject but at some point she'd say that she doesn't like her ass, or that her ass was fat or something. I couldn't help but say: "You shouldn't worry too much, your ass looks fine from where I stand." To which she replied: "Hey, don't look at my ass, it's full of corndogs!!". Now if she had just answered "don't look at my ass", that would have meant (I think), that she didn't like my comment. but the fact that she added that last part, I believe she took the compliment and bantered back (the fact that she's still talking to me seems to corroborate this version also). Also consider the context: had I said this with no previous mention (made by her first) of her ass... this would have been quite out of line and creepy. But since she pulled it in conversation, the joke made the cut.

Because when I actively think about flirting, this is when I my words become an awkward mess of innapropriate comments...

What do you think?

EDIT: Funny thing: re-reading my post, I realize I used the word "think" way too many times for a post talking about not "thinking too much".


Last edited by TheRoux on Wed Jan 28, 2015 7:31 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post by Guest on Wed Jan 28, 2015 7:19 pm

Gman wrote:
MapWater wrote:Ugh. Being social shouldn't feel that difficult all the time.

Wow, this sentence right here is something that resonates with me on a really deep level - I feel so frustrated sometimes about just how I need to be aware of myself and aware of so many aspects of social interaction - how is my body language, am I slouching, am I being overbaring on someone, are they listening to me and am I really listening to them and reacting in accordance and AAAGGGHHHH!!!! It's just so tiring sometimes. My best social interactions are the ones where I feel like I'm not really in full awarness to the social interactions theoretic "rules" and I am just "flowing" in it and responding in a "natural" way (even though that I am absolutley positive, that the difference in these cases is that all the social thoughts proccessing is done in a non-concious way instead of in a concious way and not that these processes have somehow "dissapeared").
KMR wrote:I think what you've described here is an excellent reminder that social interaction is a skill just like any other, because what you're saying here applies to pretty much every skill out there. When you're fully aware of all the minutiae behind what you're trying to do, it takes a lot of cognitive effort to do it. When some of those processes occur on an unconscious level instead, it makes everything much easier and feel more "natural." This applies as much to skills like driving or dancing as it does to social interaction.

I have a saying: "Thought impedes action and action impedes thought." When you overthink, it makes it a lot harder to take action, both before and during that action. If you're overthinking something before you do it, your worries and anxieties can get in the way and lead you to avoid or postpone action, especially if you feel like you have to account for everything before you can do something. If you're thinking too much while you're trying to do something, that extra cognitive load can interfere with what you're doing and make it harder to do. When I say "action impedes thought" what I mean is, when you actually take action, that forces you to come out of your head at least a little bit in favor of a mode where you are reacting to the world around you, which is a much quicker and more automatic process than deliberate conscious thought. So I find that when I'm overthinking things, sometimes it helps to just push myself to take action instead; once I'm actually in the process of doing something, a lot of those thoughts naturally start to quiet down and push themselves to the back of my mind.

I certainly despise the way I overthink things. I know you should push yourself into action, but more often than not I just lock up and don't do anything. Haven't quite worked out how to avoid that.

That's a good saying though, KMR. It sums up the relationship nicely.

I remember reading somewhere that your thinking should take place far before the event / social interaction if possible so that all you have left by the time the actual need for what you've thought about occurs, there's not much left but to do. The idea has it's problems, namely that you can overthink whatever the interaction is way in advance and have it blow up your brain. But I think in many ways it's still useful to think about.

TheRoux wrote:I like to think my best "successes", meaning getting a positive response/feedback, have been when "flirting without being aware of it"... so basically, when not thinking about it too much. This usually happens when I feel most comfortable and am able to let myself loose. So I start to joke around lightly, flirting comes naturally (I think)... I think context and confidence are the two things to remember here.
It's definitely easier to talk to people when you're not really thinking too hard about every little thing you're doing, they're doing and so on. The only ways I've found I can loosen up to that extent is deprive myself of sleep or get a little sloshed. Both of which actually result in similar effects on the brain, apparently: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1739867/

Basically, the only way I can talk without feeling like a doofus is to physically force myself not to think all that hard by plying myself with alcohol or forgoing sleep. Neither are particularly healthy. Laughing

Flirting seems to require a fair amount of thought (or pre-thought when it comes to learning what works and what doesn't) so I'm more than likely better off not focusing on flirting outside of recognising and responding to it.

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