to flirt or not to flirt?

Usually when I like a guy my natural instinct is to avoid him. Instead I might talk to his friend who I feel more comfortable with, or maybe I’ll surround myself by a large group of girlfriends, or perhaps I’ll hide in a dark corner. Because I know if I approach the guy it will be painfully obvious that I like him (e.g. talking too fast, laughing too much, compulsively crossing and uncrossing my arms, peeing my pants.) The other possible reaction I’ll have when talking with said guy is to act almost completely disinterested – partly out of fear of rejection but mostly because I’m trying to maintain at least some dignity.

I’m not trying to play hard to get (honestly, I detest such games) – I’m just insecure and awkward when it comes to the opposite sex. I know I should suck it up and grow up, but at the same time I guess I believe if a man likes me, he’ll come after me – even if I’m hidden in the shadows across the room. I’ve seen enough movies and read enough books (let alone real life examples) to know this is how it often works. If a man fancies a woman, he will go after her no matter the cost…

woman stands across the room

man sees her

he woos her

he wins her over

they grow old and take baths together in their clothes

Obviously, I know Hollywood has tainted our idea of love and fairy tales don’t actually come true and yadda yadda – but at the same time, these stories exist for a reason. And besides, I know men who have done this. They spot a woman and go after her – despite whether or not she’s given him the time of day.

My mom tells me that when I like someone I need to make it known (translation: flirt with him), because sometimes they need a little help. Some encouragement, if you will. I respond by saying that when a man wants a woman (and I mean really wants her) neither heaven nor hell will stop him from going after her.

But then I read Pride and Prejudice.

Charlotte: In nine cases out of ten a woman had better show more affection than she feels. Bingley likes your sister undoubtedly; but he may never do more than like her, if she does not help him on.
Elizabeth: But she does help him on, as much as her nature will allow. If I can perceive her regard for him, he must be a simpleton, indeed, not to discover it too.
Charlotte: Remember, Eliza, that he does not know Jane’s disposition as you do.
Elizabeth: But if a woman is partial to a man, and does not endeavor to conceal it, he must find it out.

Is what Charlotte says true? Should a woman show “more affection than she feels” (or in my case: any affection at all) nine times out of ten? Or is it up to the man to discover how she feels, like Elizabeth says.

If you don’t know the story, the relationship between Bingley and Jane is later damaged because Jane doesn’t “help him on” enough (aka FLIRT.)

As for Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth, they probably wouldn’t have ended up together if he didn’t hear about her possible affections: “It taught me to hope,” said he, “as I had scarcely ever allowed myself to hope before.”

At the end of the novel Elizabeth asks Mr. Darcy why, if he loved her, “did you look as if you did not care about me?” He responds, “Because you were grave and silent, and gave me no encouragement.”

So now I don’t know what I think.

I asked my roommates, Alexandra and Bethany, their opinions on the matter. Alexandra believes if a woman likes a man, she should put herself in his line of vision (initiating conversation, sitting next to him at meals, showing up at the same social events, etcetera etcetera.) Bethany, on the other hand, believes a man will notice a woman because of her character (and let’s be honest – her smoking bod), not because she puts herself in his path.

My older sister fell in love with a man before she was ever on his radar. Instead of letting the love of her life pass her by, she put herself out there – she made herself known to him (my mom must be so proud.) Now they are married and remain madly in love.

And yet, I can’t help but wonder – what about those of us who are like Jane, whose nature doesn’t really allow her flirt? Or Elizabeth, who remains grave and silent in the presence of the man she loves (“I was embarrassed,” she later explains to him.) Do we lose our chances with men because our affections remain hidden within us? Should we go ahead and invest in some cats?

I’m not usually one to open up a discussion on my blog, but I’m curious about this. Ladies – what do you do? Men, what are your thoughts? Marrieds – how did it work for you?

too obvious? or just obvious enough…

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About Hope Naomi

Lover of all things tea and travel.
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48 Responses to to flirt or not to flirt?

  1. Joe Bunting says:

    The protective father in me says, You’re too young to flirt. Maybe when you’re thirty and old enough to go on a date.

    • Rebekah says:

      I introduced myself to my husband. And I made sure to remember his name, say hello, and make eye contact with him every chance I had without seeking him out. If he was in our class, fine. If not, I was quietly filled with angst. This showed him that I was kind, he was important enough to remember, and I was attracted to him even if it was only as a friend.

  2. Adam C says:

    as a man who loves women, i can honestly say that if a girl shows no interest in me, then chances are im probably not going to try very hard to get her to notice me either. just go for it… loneliness is way worse than rejection, i promise

    • ryanS says:

      As a man… I agree with this almost completely.
      The exception being, if a certain girl absolutely captivates me and I am undoubtedly drawn to her… you best believe I’m going to go after her regardless of her level of interest in me!
      If a woman has feelings for a guy before he has feelings for her… WHY NOT do something about it??

  3. this is a really good blog, HOPE! 🙂

    my opinion is already stated in your blog, but i feel your confusion! what to do?!
    love you, always!

  4. Talia says:

    i think youre right – if guys see a girl they want, they will stop at nothing till it happens. I just don’t think guys will decide they want you until they know if a) your interested b) he can have a conversation with you c) your fun to hang out with. There are a lot of pretty girls in the world and they can marry any one of them – I think you preclude yourself if you do not show that you are an option. I DON’T think this means you have to show up at everything he does or talk to him every day (let him miss you!). But if you look at flirting more like flattery – it might feel a bit more palatable. Men are just as insecure as us and they want to know that you won’t reject them either.

  5. Katie B. says:

    Hope! I love this! I put myself in Aaron’s eye sight and called him up and out on a couple things no other woman had before, BUT he did all the pursuing 🙂

    • Aaron B says:

      Hope, so glad you wrote this blog. As much as I want to say that every case is different, the overwhelming thought that comes to mind is what Talia alluded to earlier. Guys can be just as insecure as girls. Katie’s right, if she hadn’t put herself in my sights, my eyes might not have been opened to the idea of us together. I know that I come off a guy who is extremely assertive (and I am), but the reality is that she made herself known to me. And today I’m so glad she did. 🙂 I would have never been so tenacious in my pursuit if I didn’t have an inkling that there was something coming from her side as well. Love you sis, hope we can see you soon!

  6. Alexandra says:

    This is such a good blog to bring about discussion…I’m so glad that I have a bold friend like you that is willing to put things we’re all thinking, into a blog to get others opinions.
    Well done my friend!

  7. Alison says:

    If you are interested in a dude then I don’t see what’s wrong with giving him a little nudge. Guys are guys and sometimes they have no clue that a girl is interested in them…a little encouragement never hurt. (: Don’t you want the guy that you are interested in to be confident? I feel like as women we can help men to be more confident. I always say…just go for a kiss!…that will let him know you are interested! Just kidding.

  8. laceypauley says:

    I think that whatever you are comfortable with will attract the kind of man you want and that will fit well with your personality. If him pursuing you is a quality that you desire in a man then you shouldn’t change that, but there is a balance. You wouldn’t want the guy going away thinking that you were disgusted by him.

  9. Kimmi says:

    Haha. I can’t help but add my thoughts on this one 🙂 Initially (aka the very first time I ever met Josh) I tried to talk to him, you know, so he’d at least know my name, but he seemed fairly disinterested, and I summarily wrote off any potential relationship (assuming, quite frankly, that he had a girlfriend… I mean, why WOULDN’T he? 🙂 ) Only much later did I learn that he had other reasons for not encouraging our conversation and subsequently pursuing anything with me, even as we got to know each other and I was painfully obvious with the fact that I liked him (I didn’t mean to be, I just was even while I tried my very best to be cool and collected in his dashing presence!) Oh my. It’s true. Turns out he was praying the whole time (while God gave him a firm no on asking me out) and only my smitten-ness kept me giddy and giggling. Once he had essentially moved out of the state and I FINALLY gave up on the situation, God gave him the thumbs up to ask me out and, well, the rest is history. I guess what I mean to say is that sometimes a guy comes along that you don’t find yourself with any option of playing it cool with… your brain kinda shuts down all normal functions. He’s probably the one you’ll marry 🙂

  10. Lissa says:

    I’ve been married for just a few days over 3 years = 2003 days and counting and I’ll be honest to tell you that I never went after a man till I met my husband. We were casual friends and then I met him “really saw him” and I fell madly in love. It took over a 1 1/2 years for him to see me not as a best friend but as a woman he loved and wanted back and though I might have wanted it to speed up – I’m glad God didn’t let it. I chased after him and put myself in his “face” and loved on him like I would anyone. I was just myself to a fault I swear because one time I actually dressed up and he was like “you own things other than flannel pjs and a hoodie!?!?!” but then again he still loves me just like that….even to this day.

    Be you. Be who you were meant to be. Laugh, live, giggle, and dance in the rain. When the man comes along that was planned for you – he’ll be him and you’ll be you and you will be a pair.

  11. trevorperla says:

    I think a little flirting is good for encouragement but don’t make it too obvious! Pursuing and not knowing whats going on in a girl’s head is half the fun. We like a good chase around the playground.

  12. Rozy McCormick says:

    I unapologetically flirted, kissed him right on the corner of his mouth on the first date and then (metaphorically) ran slowly so he could catch me. 30 years later, we are more in love than I ever knew was possible. A little encouragement never hurt.

  13. Wendy says:

    I think flirting wins cause i also think so but sometimes we girls are too proud and loose the 1ns we luv.

  14. helen says:

    Hope ….i am so much like you….(I might be more awkward)…but I think it is time to pull out the big guns and take Rozy’s approach 🙂

  15. marissavilla says:

    i think giving the guy the idea you’re into him is good, but looking at it from another angle i also think it’s important to not flirt with EVERY guy just because he’s around. because in the same way a guy might not realize you’re into him because of lack of flirting, he can think you’re not into him because you flirt with everyone. know what i mean?

    although who flirted with whom first (or is it whom flirted with who? who knows?) is different in every situation, at one point or another someone had to have shown interest in the other. aside from that, i don’t think there is a formula.

  16. Great discussion here Hope.

    I think I would agree with what seems to be the general consensus here. A lot of guys, myself included, can also be insecure and not pursue anyone without a pretty good idea that they might be interested too. My sister in law was shocked when she found out that if she hadn’t laughed at my brothers jokes or seemed interested in him he might not have pursued her at all. Small things can lead to big things ;).

    But, as others have said, anything can really happen and I’m sure as you remain your free and joyful self that really cares about the people around you any guy would be crazy not to be crazy about you.

  17. Excellent blog Hope!

    Oh, so I just wanted to ask, is that why you ended up with wet pants when you met me at Searchlight??? LOL totally j/k…I know that didn’t happen, esp. since u were all upset I didn’t remember your name from the Awakening livestream the previous year. Haha!! Hope you are well Hope! <~~get it! Hahaha.

  18. Suzy Hachey says:

    I go back and forth on this, and the fact that flirting, to me, has always seemed like a horrible, desperate attempt from women who are attention-starved {blunt, but really…}. I’m all about men pursuing women {biblical}, but I also realize we live in the 21st century, and things have changed. Drastically. I still believe in chivalry, I still believe our hearts can be captivated, etc. What I struggle with is the fact that I am an introvert, and it’s hard for me to always be the first to initiate conversations. Some days I’m bolder than others, but what if Mr. Guy catches me on an “off” day–is he going to think I’m entirely uninterested just because I didn’t flirt with him like a lot of other women do? I think there’s a lot to be said about the 1 Peter 3:5 scripture about a woman who has a “quiet and gentle spirit”, and doesn’t seek outward adornment or affections/attention. That type of spirit is precious to our Father, and it’ll be equally as precious to the man I marry. I also think we sometimes have the “go ahead” from God to run with things, and just dive in, doors open, full-steam ahead. But other times, we must have discernment to sit back and not try to cultivate something on our own, in our own strength and timing.

    Maybe I’m over-analyzing the whole thing, but I {watched} Pride & Prejudice last night myself, and so now, my wheels are turning.

    Thoughts? 🙂

  19. WHAT!? Are we the same person!? Thanks for saying what I can never articulate. I have always been more of a Jane and to be vulnerably honest, I cried at that part of the book because it was so frustrating and honest. What if you make it obvious though and they look at you like your nuts, or worse, totally ignore you later!! It’s happened. Or guys “pursue” with poor intentions. “No, you may not touch my leg when I don’t know you at all.” But yes, I guess my thought is what if guys were more open because they didn’t have anything to lose? I wonder if they know that there are guys you’d date in an instant if they just knew that awkward meant “I like you.” maybe I’d suddenly attract the whole male populace by accident. Anyway, I may just be banking on a guy finding me really endearing. It’s perhaps too bold to outright say it and proximity doesn’t always allow flirtation, for crying out loud.

    • what i can’t believe (and which i stand in flabbergastment at) is how anyone has ever made it all the way through the book pride and prejudice, much less found it moving enough to imbibe tears.

      my fascination with austen’s singular writing prose got me, one time, about halfway through before i too was in tears, but, I’m afraid, of an entirely different sort.

      i kept pulling my hair out over what on earth darcy did for a living, or any of the other guys for that matter, besides bumming around drawing rooms making chit-chat. if they were independently wealthy, as i was led to believe, why weren’t they doing something adventuresome (at the least)? or something noble, like improving the felicity of the human race carte blanche (at the best)?

      i still don’t know how the story turns out in the end, and i daresay am not losing sleep from that willful ignorance.

      do the whats-his-name friends ever end up with the whats-their-name sisters? i hope not, because i had a bad feeling about both guys (for differing reasons), and good feelings about both girls (also for differing reasons), and believe the sisters could each have done a good sight better. perhaps their chances would have been improved were they volunteering at orphanages rather than mingling with the upper crust that frequent ritzy balls.

      so perhaps this guy/girl love/hate affair with pride and prejudice could be the subject of a future blog post some day? (i predict said post would no doubt be fanatically popular)

  20. Victoria says:

    Hope! I totally relate to the fact that I act either too giddy (maybe feeling a little desperate) or just avoid it all together. It is eye opening to hear all the stories on here. And it all sounds like it just is one huge balance. We can’t be too available but we can’t be too unavailable. Well either way it still has shed some light on the situation that has helped alot actually. Hope you are not alone! PS. Miss Chelsea is a friend I made down in Cali because Noe’s email. So now that I have moved to Atlanta, I need to meet you! Coffee date? (This is me showing you that I am available 😉

  21. Steph says:

    Flirting and stories of flirting are so fun to me. But that’s because I’m probably a medium-flirter. I would do it some to the point it was fun and exciting but not over-do it where I felt desperate or attracting some lame-o. My boyfriend is the man for me, for life. When he saw me, he knew, and immediately started talking to me, we talked until it was 2am and time to part ways. I got him to role-play with me one day at a bar as if we were meeting again for the first time and flirting and he was terrible at it and so uncomfortable. When you find a man who will set aside the game-playing you mentioned, you probably won’t have to think about the whole flirting thing. You’ll be able to be yourself and just enjoy meeting that person (at least that’s what I wish for most women).

    In the meantime, I’d say: it’s nice to let a guy know you’re interested back if you feel that coming from him. Men appreciate that kind of acknowledgment and encouragement, especially when they’re putting themselves out there to potentially get shut down. And sometimes sticking with what’s comfortable territory for you let’s you truly see how interested he is.

  22. Hope, I’m borderline obsessed with you right now. Do i know you? Nah, only when i facebook stalk my ballin’ SQL, Bethany:)

    Anyways my teammate/squadmate Emily sent this to me knowing this is EXACTLY my thought process. I’ll talk to my parents about guys im interested in and lately it’s been hilarious to see their responses. My mom will tell me the same thing, “You just need to encourage the poor guy!” Or, my personal favorite…”Honey, some guys just need the come hither look.” And my dad has been all about “You just ask him out!”

    HA! I act way more confident than I actually am around men I’m Interested in, I’d probably need some strong liquid courage to do any of those things! Someone in your comments said “loneliness is way worse than rejection, i promise” I want to believe that, I really do. but HOLY CRAP thats terrifying! askdhasjdjhasfuouiayflm!!!!

    anyways, lets be bffs and figure this crap out.
    k?
    awesome.

  23. this blog is getting so much action! way to go, Hope!

  24. Hannah says:

    Sooooo good Hope! I can completely relate. Lets hang out when I move to GA and talk about things like this, okay? Great. Can’t wait!

  25. Stacy P says:

    Such a great blog, Hope!! I tend to lean more on the side of Big Fish (one of my very faves!). I’m a romantic; what can I say? At some point, dream guy has to make a decision that you’re worth the risk of rejection.

  26. Jon says:

    I have the same issues as you, Hope. (Minus the peeing-the-pants scenario… but there’s still time.) My natural instinct is to avoid a girl that I like. I suppose I’m afraid I might not be funny enough, or I might talk about something boring, or I’ll have something stuck in my teeth. None of this makes any sense, of course, because doing nothing will result in nothing. Doing something will either result in something more or nothing at all — but at least there’s a chance of a positive outcome.

    In regards to whether or not a girl should flirt, I think she should at least express some interest. Even if I was good at flirting, if the girl is hiding in dark corners (and assuming I left my flashlight at home), how would I know that she had any interest in me? Don’t overestimate the mental and emotional capacities of guys and our ability to guess what girls are thinking. If a girl doesn’t return the interest that I express toward her, I’m not going to view that as a challenge that I need to pursue her further. Instead, I’m going to acknowledge her disinterest and move on, which seems like the most respectful thing to do.

    I think the ideal scenario is that both the guy and girl know how the other feels as soon as possible. I don’t like these games that result in me constantly questioning myself. (Did I come on too strong? Should I have complimented her shoes? Maybe that thing I laughed at wasn’t actually a joke?) Instead, I’d like to skip past that whole awkward phase and move on to what I can only imagine are the fun parts of a developing relationship — having long conversations about important and useless topics alike, going for walks, cooking her dinner, seeing plays and movies, renting a tandem bicycle. (Okay, maybe not that last one.) And none of that is possible if both people don’t express some sort of interest toward one another.

    As Gandhi once said, “It takes two to tango.” And to continue the dance analogy, I’m already well-acquainted with the folding chairs off to the side of the dance floor, the result of not approaching others and others not approaching me. Maybe we should have met halfway instead?

  27. I don’t think there’s any hard and fast rule, because everyone is different. Some guys don’t need encouragement, some guys need heaps, some guys would actually rather that they were pursued, and sometimes there’s no pursuing at all. There have been heaps of good points raised in the comments that I’m not going to go over again.

    The one thing that I haven’t seen addressed is that setting the gender role at “women wait” and “men pursue” can run the risk of giving the guys a sense of entitlement. I’ve had a number of guys believe they were entitled to a relationship with me just because they liked me. In hindsight, I am naturally quite a flirty person (with men and women) because I like to make people feel like they are interesting and worth being around (because they are, of course), so part of my problem was that the men going after me probably did feel encouraged. However, I literally told them outright that I wasn’t interested in a relationship and still had to repeatedly tell them “no”. I think that because guys see in the movies that the man who relentlessly pursues a woman always gets her (even if she says no, because she secretly does want him) some can end up believing that it’s true, and actually make some women really uncomfortable by not taking no for an answer.

    With that in mind, although I’ve also daydreamed about being at a party and a man pursuing me without me having to do any work, I’d actually prefer it if I could put myself out there, show him I’m interested and risk rejection rather than risking being harassed because the man genuinely believes that I’m only looking uninterested because it’s the “womanly” thing to do.

    Leaving aside the entitlement dudes, the gay dudes, the uninterested dudes and the rare assertive but good dudes, I’d say that guys do need encouragement. They are insecure and worried about rejection just like women are, because it’s a human thing to do, not a gendered one.

  28. Nicole says:

    this has gotta be the best blog post i’ve read… ever! i’m going through some “Boy problems” because i like him but i’m not the type who flirts. My friends said that he’s been trying to reach out to me, a lot. Yet, i stop myself from reciprocating that makes me appear UNINTERESTED. He hasn’t talked to me for almost a week now and heaven knows how much i’ve been beating myself up for it. Help me 😦

    • Hope Naomi says:

      Hey, Nicole! I think you should go ahead and try Charlotte’s advice – put yourself out there to see what happens. Seems like the guy needs a little hope… 🙂

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