Flirting is a bizarre factor in the dating ritual. Not only does everyone respond to flirting differently, but we all tend to mean something different by doing it. I had one recent incident, which I've already mentioned in a previous blog, where a guy took the mildest of flirting to mean that I was going to have sex with him. Considering he'd been the one who was doing the actual flirting, I was unsurprisingly surprised by this. I could have understood if I had been the one trying to 'charm' him, but I wasn't. I was having a simple conversation, or so I thought. That's probably a really bizarre example, but it does illustrate intent and meaning in a very obvious way.
Now, I'm the type of person who does not flirt with a bunch of people. If I'm flirted with by someone who is not the current object of my affections or attention I will respond very mildly, and then steer the conversation to safer shores. I'm pretty rigid about it. Partially because I'm uncomfortable with it, and that has a lot to do with my childhood I'm sure. I'm rather finicky about physical contact with people, too. The only person I want to touch with any consistency is someone I might want to have a sexual relationship with. Beyond that the words, "You're violating my territorial bubble," want to pop out of my mouth when someone tries to be affectionate with me. I know people who like to hug. I'm not one of them. I have some good friends I will hug if I see them for the first time in years, and then there's my daughter. We hug on birthdays and Mother's Day, and for the rest of the year we stay in our own bubbles. I raised her with lots of hugs, but she grew up like me anyway.
I've known many people who will flirt with almost anyone, and it's all fun and games until someone gets poked in the ego - then it's a sport. Unless both people flirting are the type to flirt unashamedly, without it meaning anything, someone is probably taking it seriously. Now, if you flirt with everyone, you're certainly going to end up flirting with a few that do take it seriously, and while it may be unintentional, it can still be hurtful. Or in the case of someone who just wants to get laid, it can be a tad disappointing. On a more serious note, people can get raped that way. It shouldn't be that way, but it is what it is. Some people refuse to take no for an answer, particularly if they feel they've been led on (whether they were or not, it hardly matters - no means no). That's obviously a part of my reluctance to flirt with anyone I'm not planning to sleep with. Also, I don't want anyone led on emotionally, either. I don't like hurting anyone's feelings.
Now, when it comes to the dating pool, and you're casting in your line to catch another fish that is supposedly so plentiful in number, there's a bit of a conundrum there. If you choose to flirt with someone, you run the risk of them thinking you're ready to hop into bed at the drop of a zipper. Now, decent people are not going to make that assumption, because relationships should evolve to that point when they're ready to go there, but in the dating pool there are no guarantees you're going to run into decent people. In my experience I've run into a number of men who, when flirted with, are pushing for the next step, which is apparently video masturbation.
I'm confused. Maybe I'm old, but I don't remember video masturbation ever being a part of normal dating rituals, particularly in the initial rounds or win, lose, or draw. To me that kind of thing is best left for a time when you've been carrying on a regular sex life with someone for a while, and maybe you want to spice things up a bit. I could understand phone sex, perhaps, particularly if you're far away from a prospective partner and have yet to do the deed in person, and the frustration is building because you do have a connection. I don't know about anyone else, but the first time someone actually sees me naked, I want it to be in person, and vice versa. There is just something utterly unromantic about watching someone play with themselves on camera. In fact, I would go so far as to call it private porn - again, something best left for a time when you actually need some extra zip beneath the zipper.
Chatting with one person I was asked if I would be willing to show off my assets (so to speak) on a webcam. A question which was met with an assertive, "No!" For two very simple reasons. First, that's just bloody rude! Second, webcam feeds get hijacked and recorded by way of viruses. I don't exactly want my 'assets' out there for the viewing public to ponder in whatever fashion they feel is necessary. I don't do anything on my webcam that wouldn't be fit for public consumption - okay maybe my 'assets' could be considered fit for it, but that doesn't mean I want them out there, fit or not. I don't say anything on webcam that would be something I wouldn't want repeated, either. However, if you read this blog you already know there isn't a lot that I won't talk about publicly.
Back to the dating pool. So, the flip-side of flirting with someone, and running the risk of video masturbation requests, is not flirting. One would assume that's pretty safe. Yeah, it sure can be. So, where's the problem? Well, the risk in not flirting is the assumption from someone that you're simply not interested, and that there's no connection. You can carry on a two-hour conversation with someone, agreeing on everything from politics to religion, yet be told that there's no connection. I've had it happen. In fact, I was talking to my ex about that, and his response was, "How would he know?" That's exactly my point. It's similar to that whole 'friendzone' bullshit thing. I've had friends turn into lovers, and lovers turn into friends. There are no limitations just because someone is currently a friend. The kind of relationship I'd want with someone, I'd want it to start with those long conversations. From the mental connection sometimes all it takes is a simple touch, or even a look, and the whole game changes.
I guess, though, that if someone thinks the zing needs to be there within the first heartbeat, it tells me they haven't done a great deal of self-reflection. The zing is a lot more complicated than that. Sure, there's lust at first sight, for both men and women, but it disappears really fast if the personality isn't there to support it - unless of course the person feeling it is really shallow and they're only looking at the six-pack abs, or whatever it is that attracts them visually.
I have to say, I'll always be attracted to intelligence, and a person's looks mean next to nothing to me. I'm also attracted to emotional connection, and the way someone treats me. A gentle hand touching my face, or fingers running through my hair, are far more sensual to me than pectorals. If I feel cherished, I'll be a lot more likely to respond physically, just as I will if I'm mentally stimulated. You could call me a sapiophile, or say that I'm sapiosexual. Admittedly, it's not just intelligence that does it for me, since I'm not turned on by intelligent women. Women don't do a thing for me in that respect. Looks may not mean anything, but the various parts are somewhat important to me.
So, I guess I've answered my own question, really. Or, at least I have when it comes to my own choices. I'll flirt when I'm damn good and ready to do so, and not a minute before. If someone is really that interested in me, they'll stick around for the little bit of time it takes for us to get to know each other well enough that I feel comfortable showcasing all the goodies. If they're not that interested in me, what the hell would I want them for anyway? No one who has any pride or self-respect would be willing to keep chasing after someone who doesn't return their interest. I might actually have a little too much of both traits.