Today I was talking to a male friend. Totally platonic friendly chatting. The topic ranging all over the place, but completely harmless surface-level stuff. Then I briefly mentioned the conversation to another friend, who declared that I was flirting. She could not be more off the mark. I don’t know how to flirt, that was not my intention whatsoever, and I’m absolutely certain neither of us were reading into it that way. Even so, her comment made me think. What constitutes as flirting? Why do people flirt? Why am I so against it?
I don’t have any answers. I’m not a flirt at all. I am more of the “stare from a distance and then hide under a table if they happen to glance back” type. If, in an emergency situation, I am forced to interact with a crush? I go on autopilot. I start rambling and acting silly if I’m lucky. Maybe I try really hard to play it cool and come off as only mildly awkward. If not, I stumble over my words, walk into walls, and forget how to function. It’s not a pretty sight either way. But is that my version of flirting?
People flirt as a way of testing the waters. It’s a method to help get to know the other person, develop a banter, and figure out the nature of their feelings. It’s a light and harmless way of catching the other person’s interest. Whether it be lots of touching, smiling and laughing, or teasing the other person. It varies from person to person. There is no set way to flirt and it all relies upon the intention of the interaction. It’s all between the lines.
Which is why I personally refuse to flirt. There is too much reliance on subtext. The few times I have tried to understand subtext in my own life have been a disaster. I create stories that don’t exist. Sometimes really detailed, exciting, and fascinating ones. Only to learn later that the entire thing was a figment of my imagination. If I’m not creating fairytales out of nothing, my anxiety is convincing me that everything is going terribly and I am making a fool of myself and I should quit before I fuck things up more than I already have. In the end, I’ve given up trying to maneuver between the lines. It’s just a bad idea.
So do I unintentionally flirt? Have there been actual stories between the lines that I have completely missed due to my refusal to read the subtext? I don’t know. I don’t care to find out. Unless something becomes text, there is no evidence to support it. We’ll see what happens in the future. Maybe I’ll join the club and up my game. Maybe I already have started and I wasn’t aware. Who knows? But there are many different ways to get to the finish line. As I said, it entirely depends on the two individuals and their personal relationship. What will happen in the future is a mystery. But hey, maybe I’ll pick up some tricks as I go along.