The Pragmatic Hybrid

Flirtation for the terminally repressed

I never properly learned what we call the laying on of feminine wiles.

The System in which I was raised did not look kindly upon the feminine display of wiles. In fact, the System was expressly set up to block my mojo!

This is because mojo leads to sex, and sexual autonomy (for women) leads to problems for the patriarchy and panic in the streets and so on.

So I didn’t practice on little teenaged boys like my friends did.

For a time, I actually scorned the practice of flirtation voodoo! I thought it was cheap and fake, and probably not for me anyway. Why be all coy and head-tilty when you can just shoot it straight? Smart people appreciate directness, don’t they?

Mighty sigh.

Apparently the mating dance exists for a reason. Fortunately, the urge to merge is strong in us sexually reproducing animals, and my deficient hunting skills mostly haven’t kept me from eating.

Still, it’s fascinating. Through reading and rapt observation on the subway and in the office, I’ve picked up on a few tactics:

  • Soften your voice.
  • Brush against the Object Of Your Affection accidentally, or invade his personal space in some other accidentally-on-purpose way.
  • By hinting with your words and your tone, let OOYA know that you are inviting him to something. This should be subtle, but only in that you’re not coming out and asking yourself — otherwise, it’s as subtle as a freight train.
  • Leave OOYA no doubt that you would welcome an invitation, a question, an offer, and answer it with a yes, thereby making it safe for him to stick his neck out.

Through my observation of the human mating dance, my scorn started melting.

I started to think that flirting is actually a gift you are giving someone, rather than a display of helplessness.

It is not just inviting someone to ask you for something – it’s a facilitation. A generous giving to someone that makes it possible for them to extend themselves in your direction, to risk the chance of rejection.

Seen in this spirit, flirting is a loving, generous gift.

You give OOYA the gift of your approbation, of knowing they’re wanted. This is a gift you can give freely, and that isn’t conditioned on their response. The gift is yours to give as you please.

This way of framing it made all the difference in the way I think about it. When you flirt with someone, you are doing something generous, bestowing a gift that only you have the power to bestow.

Maybe they accept your invitation. Maybe they don’t, and the gift just makes their day. Or their week. This is enough – this acknowledgment that they are seen, and admired.

Their style of receiving the gift, whatever it may be, does not negate the generous urge that led you to give it. From within the safety of your own realm, and while remaining within it, you are making it clear what you want while making it safe for them to come visit you.

Unlike what adolescent-Me used to believe, it takes nothing away from you to show that you admire someone. In fact, it takes nerve, and also the belief that your admiration is a thing worth having.

It is a sacred and ancient dance, danced between people since forever.

It is the dance of recognition, of invitation. The dance of beginning.

We are all eminently qualified to dance this dance. If you are alive to read this, then you come from a long line of ancestors who danced this dance well. You are lusty and brave. A vein of life force runs through you, making you an erotic tuning fork, a holy vessel.

This flirting dance is one more manifestation of the spirit of divine lust, which I’ve learned to hold in high regard as the force that animates every living thing.

I believe mating dances are a worthy object of study.

And so is anything else that you decree to be important to you.

In this vein, I’ve got two coaching spots open. If you think you might like to work with me on bravely anthropologizing and de-indoctrinating and custom-fitting your own life, head on over to my Work With Me page and send me a wee note.

Comment Fu

This space is like a Quaker meeting that is happening in my living room. Honored guests, please speak as you are moved to. And let’s be awesome to each other, because graciousness among friends is why we hang out together.

  1. Bridget

    I like this: “it takes nothing away from you to show that you admire someone. In fact, it takes nerve, and also the belief that your admiration is a thing worth having.”

    It’s about decoupling appreciation from expected outcome, which is so important if you want a relationship to grow.

    I’ve been in my relationship with my partner for nearly 8 years. We have moments of flirty, and moments of appreciation and moments of, ahem, resolution, but the lines between them aren’t deeply drawn. They often aren’t there at all.

    Interesting post, A.
    .-= Bridget’s last blog Top 21 Ways I use my Intuition…and how do you use yours =-.

  2. Melynda

    So interesting! I was raised in a non-flirting tradition (the Western Quakers, they do not frivol), and only discovered it in my 20s, when I moved to the U.S. South, where flirting is pretty much like breathing. It was there that I learned to flirt with babies, old ladies, grocery store clerks, and pedestrians (once I stopped to let a teenager who looked just like Joey Ramone cross in front of me, and he paused to blow me a kiss from under his dyed black bangs). For me, flirting is like throwing blowing a cloud of iridescent soap bubbles into the air–it creates a moment of thrilling but completely temporary beauty that makes everybody happy for a second. It doesn’t have to be tied to sex, or to expectation, or a plan: it’s just a little affirmation of presence.
    .-= Melynda’s last blog Buckwheat How Can It Be This Good =-.

  3. Patty K

    Hmm. I like the way you re-framed flirting as a gift. I can see that clearly now.

    And yeah…this line:

    “it takes nerve, and also the belief that your admiration is a thing worth having”

    Definitely something that I didn’t believe when I was younger…and to be honest, I’m not sure I believe it now.

    Despite my complete ineptness (and lack of practice) with flirting, I’ve somehow manged to be “coupled” for most of my life. Or maybe I’m a natural and don’t know it.

    Thanks for the perspective and for making me think.
    .-= Patty K’s last blog If you could relive one day of your life- which would it be and why =-.

  4. Sarah Marmoset

    ” it takes nothing away from you to show that you admire someone. In fact, it takes nerve, and also the belief that your admiration is a thing worth having.”

    I think you’ve touched on something really major here, especially if you think about upgrading ‘admiration’ to ‘love’ or something like it – in order to show that you love someone, you have to believe that your love is worth having.

    Thanks for the food for thought!
    .-= Sarah Marmoset’s last blog Waiting =-.

  5. Amna Ahmad

    @Bridget – The paradoxical importance of decoupling to coupledom! Yes.

    @Melynda – You’re reminding me that flirting exists on a continuum (like everything else) – from the acknowledgement-of-presence end to the let’s-make-the-next-generation end.

    @Patty K – I think nature must have a backup plan in place for us flirting-impaired types. Fortunately.

    @Sarah – Thank you! You’re so right. Flirting is one way of loving someone – and I mean love in the human charity sense. Acknowledging and seeing their value.


  6. Fabeku Fatunmise

    Seen in this spirit, flirting is a loving, generous gift.

    What a brilliant way to look at this.

    I’ve never heard anyone talk about flirting this way. Not only does it put a totally different spin on it, it opens it up all kinds of unexplored bits that I never thought of before.

    And, yeah, the worth having part feels big to me too.

    Thanks for the smarts. You are the awesome Amna.
    .-= Fabeku Fatunmise’s last blog Step Away From The Suck =-.