by Kristie Vosper
There was a girl who I grew up with, we’ll call her Jenny. In every season of life Jenny seemed to win the school popularity contest. She was cool and cute, but it was in high school that I deduced her secret weapon: she was a great flirt.
I watched her one day in the lunch shelter as she flirted her way across a table full of the football team. She wasn’t discriminating as I had been doing, mostly because I was totally unnerved and shy around a large group of teenage boys eating their lunch. She flirted with all of the boys no matter what their social status, attractiveness, or athleticism. I remember being surprised and taken aback as I watched her flash her long eyelashes and a coy look out the corner of her eye touching their knees and calling them by name. Did she really like him? Was she really into that guy? Why did I catch her flirting with an unattractive boy who was not cool or popular? She didn’t come off as slutty, but powerful. Her power seemed to work and so in those days of feeling powerless, I learned to flirt.
I’d play the game, flirting in the grocery store or at school with any semi-attractive man that I could gain some validation from. It wasn’t that I wanted to date most of them, it was truly about finding out if they would look back at me. It was an exchange of validation between the sexes. I learned how to use men for my own validation and I’m quite sure that this is what Jenny in High School was doing too. It was about feeling powerful, sexy and beautiful. I learned how false confidence could feel like adrenaline soothing, for a moment, the soul in so much need of real love.
Before you think I’m blacklisting all flirting and calling it evil, I do think that flirting can be good. It is part of being human. Like almost everything, it can be turned in another direction and be used and abused. It’s hard to draw a hard line in the sand because I think there is something good and well about a man or a woman enjoying the beauty and ascetic of another. It’s a question of intention that we all must wrestle with to know if our motives have shifted to an unhealthy place.
I had another friend in college. By profession, her mom was an impersonator of a famous actress. She traveled to Vegas and did shows all over for money because she looked so much like this famous woman. My friend told me that on the days her mom needed extra attention she would watch to see the color of her lipstick and the cut of her shirt tell the story of how valuable her mom was feeling that day. On those low cut, tight fit, shocking red lipstick days, I imagined that her mother wasn’t all that present to her or anyone, but out patrolling the men in her vicinity looking for some attention and eye contact. I believe on these days her mom felt lonely and wanted to be seen.
I know other girls who simply don’t know how to flirt. They’ve come to me asking “how” as if they feel totally stripped of their sexuality because they learned it was all taboo. If they really like a guy, they don’t know how to communicate that non-verbally. In this case, I think learning to flirt and feeling free to express yourself in this way is good and part of life. You will want to flirt with your husband, it’s part of being alive and sexual. All flirting is not bad.
Let’s ask some questions together: What is flirting? Is it good? Is it healthy? Should we do it? If so, when? Do we have to get so serious and analytical about something that seems harmless and fun?
To live a healthy life of intention and freedom, yes, we do need to look at this topic and bring it into the light. I love to flirt, but over the years I’ve had to learn how to be a healthy flirt so that my worth and value are coming from the right place. I know when my flirtation goes in the wrong direction and uses others for validation with no intention of following through with what my eyes might be suggesting.
Let’s have eyes that are authentic and wide to the world, showing our true self and the light we have inside. Let’s not be women who use others to fill the empty places inside of us. To great men, our kind eyes and pure hearts will be the thing they are looking for most. Sultry glances will only fill us for a moment, but truly knowing our value takes time and goes the distance.
Upcoming Blogs in this series:
- Competitive Flirting
- How & When to Flirt
- Self-Esteem & Flirting: Healthy Validation
- Boundaries for Unwanted Flirting
- Intentional Living: “He doesn’t just flirt with anyone, he must like you!”
Get honest with yourself: When do you flirt and why?