“In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.“Mr. Darcy said these words written by Jane Austen in her book Pride and Prejudice. In school when a boy quoted these lines to me, I decided that very instant that he was the one. It was a book he knew I loved, a well-thumbed copy, my companion in those days.In hindsight I realized he knew I would be favourably inclined towards a guy who was cerebral in comparison to if he flexed his muscles before me. It was a smart move.He indulged in healthy flirting with no chance of rejection.
Flirting is explained in the dictionary as: Flirt – to behave as though sexually attracted to someone, but playfully rather than with serious intentions.
Almost everyone I know has either been at the receiving end or has engaged in flirting or light banter that is fun and leaves one amused at the very least. This is what you call healthy flirting, flirting that does not cross the line. And like with anything good, we are all aware of flirting gone wrong or heading to uncharted territory.
When Does Flirting Cross The Line?
I always wondered why do we flirt? Is it good or bad? Should one do it or not? There is the general impression that healthy flirting is okay, married and flirting is also okay if you are not crossing the line but flirting with a colleague, a boss or even a close friend’s life partner could have negative consequences like an affair brewing or even could lead to micro cheating. That’s when flirting has gone too far without one even noticing that one has crossed the line.
Most would say that they flirt because they find someone attractive or interesting. But what is it that intrigues one person enough to approach another because one doesn’t flirt with everyone?
Helen Fisher,a Rutgers University anthropologist,says that the human body knows within one second whether someone’s physically attractive or not.
When I read this, I thought of the arranged marriage scenarios where the boy and the girl have to decide if they want to spend the rest of their lives together within just a couple of hours of meeting each other.
This led me to further dig the cues that hold true for why we flirt with one person in a group of people. I was amazed to find that a profound amount of information can be delivered and received by flirting through mere gestures, body language and words.
E.g. a person who has an approachable body language like a smile, uncrossed arms and legs, a direct gaze is more likely to attract people. Looking at your shoes or phone is a minus.
Men who stand straight, feet planted wide, hands out are so much more attractive as are women with hair down, head tilted, hands and wrists visible.
The whole kissing of the hands and fascination with wrists became clear to me only after I realized that this was some evolutionary cue that was stamped in the male DNA that signaled my fertility.
Related Reading: 5 Ways Harmless Flirting Can Save Your Marriage During Lockdown
There Are Five Different Types Of Flirts
That is not only my deduction but the same is also suggested by various studies. Now you may think you are not a flirt but is it possible that you fall in at least one category below? You could be indulging in healthy flirting so don’t get all worked up now.
1. Traditional flirt
If you are a traditional flirt, you are more often than not a man who makes the first move. The women tend to let the men do the work. Think Tinder, Bumble, Hinge or any kind of dating site. This knight in shining armour routine is rising in popularity so ladies let them flock to you while you swipe left…or right as the case may be. All you need is a fabulous profile picture and you are ready for some healthy flirting.
2. Physical flirt
A physical flirt lets their body do the talking. The come hither looks, the flexing of the muscles, light feather touches…even literature has referenced this style of flirting. It gets the other person’s attention like nothing else and tells them you are happy to have their undivided attention …and want more. This is healthy flirting if you are single but if you are married and flirting then god helps the physical flirt.
3. Sincere flirt
A sincere flirt will be subtle. Has anyone complimented you or tried to start a conversation about the wonderful book you are reading on the metro? Yeah…they was flirting with you, trying to find common ground and to see if they can engage you.
Related Reading: Star Signs That Are Flirtatious By Nature
Now ask yourself don’t we feel nice when we hear things like: She has such a lovely smile or He seems like a nice guy
It shows appreciation in our overall personality and we feel positive about the person making these statements. Some friendships start that way. But there is a difference between being friendly versus flirty but your instincts will tell you.
4. Polite flirt
A polite flirt…yes, there are a lot of people who like to keep their attractions under the radar. Sometimes they are so understated that the fact that they are interested in you may go unnoticed. These kinds of flirts are considered to be the most genuine, however. A soft, quiet, restful person is interested to get to know you…who would not want that? And this is absolutely healthy flirting, isn’t it?
5. Playful flirt
A playful flirt can be what you call a minefield. A person who uses flirting as a way to get something, come under this category.
It can vary from a person who is a little suggestive to someone who flirts with others to keep them on the hook or get some work done by them or just to exert control on them while they enjoy the other person’s discomfort. People who are married and flirting are the ones who are usually playful flirts.
Now imagine this, while standing in line at the grocery store, a harried man/woman with an overflowing cart looks sheepishly your way for taking so long. What would you do?
A. Smile back telling him/her it’s all right. Maybe chat a bit, laugh and then go your separate ways.
B. Turn your face and look away.
C. You would engage in a conversation, extend it and press this opportunity and ask for their phone number after gauging their interest.
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If you chose A, married or single, you are a harmless flirt or like to engage in healthy flirting. We all flirt even if we are unaware of it. You spread a good vibe, make others feel good about themselves.
If you chose B, I would like to say, smiling back and acknowledging another person, making them feel ‘seen’ is sometimes the difference between a good day and bad for them. So, smile back when someone smiles at you.
If you chose C, this is the tricky one to balance.
Maybe this is where you are crossing the line when it comes to flirting. If you are single then the ability to engage someone is an essential skill if you want to have fun in life and sometimes start a relationship.
If you are single or married and can sense the other person is uncomfortable but are still pursuing the conversation you are pushing at the line between healthy and unhealthy flirtation. So be cautious. Be mindful of yourself and the other person.
Being attuned to the effect your words are having makes all the difference between you being a nuisance and turning people off or being a fun person to be around.
Have you also wondered about how much is too much flirting if one is married?
When You Are Married To A Flirting Partner
Read the below hypothetical scenarios and you will get a fair idea of what I am talking about.
His eyes caught her’s across the room. They were both with their families having dinner. Their gazes touched and flittered away, seeking each other again in a minute. The dinner went on with their respective partners.
She laughed a little louder, her chin held at an angle that had the light falling softly on her face as she crossed and uncrossed her long bare legs. He sat back; his shirt pulled tight over his chest as he spoke in a voice that was one octave deeper than what he usually used. The partners thought that the blushes and the intense eyes were for them clueless on the games that had ensued a while back.
You are with a group of friends and you see your friend roll her eyes at her husband who is known to flirt with the wife of another friend. Despite telling him that she does not like it, your friend’s husband is unable to stop and gives in to his almost unconscious need to flirt with her every time you all meet. It has been going on for so many years that everyone just doesn’t care anymore.
You see a guy at a party. He is good looking and his eyes dance at some silliness that happens there as your eyes meet. You smile. You bump into each other at the line to get your dinner. You start chatting when you realise that you both are married but also love the same kind of music. You talk about your families and music, enjoying the shared love for it. You leave and go home telling your husband about meeting this man. Every time you play the music you think of that night.
Healthy flirting could become unhealthy when you are married and flirting. But are you married to a flirt? You need to check these pointers then.
1. Flirting with one particular person in a group repeatedly?
If yes, then something more is developing or they want it to go to the next level.
2. Talking to you about their interactions with the opposite sex?
If your partner tells you about the interesting people and funny conversations, they had with the opposite sex without you feeling uncomfortable or that they are censoring or filtering the interaction you have nothing to worry about.
3. Creating opportunities to talk privately with someone?
Initiating or exchanging messages or in-person conversations that would allow them to be alone with the person. This could turn healthy flirting into an emotional affair.
4. Making inappropriate remarks or talking about sex repeatedly in someone’s presence?
Talking about their or your sex life even if it is in your presence is inviting the other person to think of them in a sexual way.
5. Repeatedly apologizing for saying something inappropriate?
‘She will kill me if she ever finds out what I was thinking’ comes up in a conversation often or he admits flirting with someone more than you would like. That friendship is headed towards an inappropriate zone.
6. Does your partner engage in undue physical closeness?
Tucking a lock of hair behind an ear, touching someone’s knee or arms are signs that they are interested in.
7. Being unclear about your marital status?
If your partner makes it seem like your relationship is not as serious or is in troubled waters in public especially before certain people, they may be trying to downplay their involvement and commitment.
Flirting is good when it remains fun, friendly and above board. Any interaction that makes another person uncomfortable is bound to create chaos and trouble. It is undoubtedly a precarious line to navigate. Flirtations are mostly based on attraction and mutual awareness.
Keep it light. Keep to healthy flirting.