Friday, February 09, 2007

Man Law and Flirting

I recently read and commented on a post written by Teri. If you read the comments here you may have seen that she mentioned my terse comment. Those that know me understand that being a good sport is a requirement in my peculiar world of observations. In fact, Teri was a very good sport about the comment. The comment was made when I was in a slightly combative mood and wasn’t as tempered as it could have been.

The post was about flirting. Most of it was tongue in cheek and well written in an upbeat manner. My comment was “That is so remarkably confusing that an analytical genius like myself is left scratching his head.”

Teri may have thought I was talking about her writing. I wasn’t. I understood what she wrote. What confused me is the female ‘take’ on flirting. I think the explanation and observations of flirting described in the post would confuse any male. In fact I have seen the damage created by this attitude first hand.

In this way I represent the approximately 1.5% of males blogging. It takes great energy to refute 98.5% of popular blogging opinion…..….but, as usual, here goes.

If you read the post, and I recommend it, you will see that the major theme is that flirting is a fun form of word play with the goal being to be quicker and smarter with words than the target with whom you are flirting. The post also contains these quotes:

“Just because you acknowledge the sexuality of someone else, doesn’t mean you have to—or even want to—act on it.”

“Sometimes we flirt with one another and it means absolutely nothing”

“When I put it that way, I could be describing several of my married friends—guys and gals. And why not? Why should the single folks have all the fun?”

Now remember I’m not picking on the writing, and Teri will need to be a good sport again. But……….Here’s the thing. None of this makes sense to American males in my opinion. The gender gap is greatly widened at this juncture and trouble is quite likely. I have seen this trouble over and over.

What I am trying to tell you is this concept of flirting belongs solidly in the ‘women think’ camp.

First off men are far too analytical to let ideas like ‘acknowledging someone else’s sexuality doesn’t mean you have to act on it’ pass without examination. At least this male is such. If you walk up to a man, feel his biceps and tell him he has a sexy butt with a sparkle in your eye, even when done in double entendre style, he understands this differently than you mean it. That is, if what you mean is that you are acknowledging his sexuality and feeling his biceps for ‘smart wordplay’ reasons, he will not ’get that’ on an intuitive level.

Or, if you are a male friend and you flirt openly with my wife, you have seriously violated a cardinal ‘man law’ and are going to be dropped from my circle of friends in a Texas heartbeat. Who needs friends like that? Maybe things are different in California? Sometimes in Texas we jus shoot your ass.

If a married woman flirts with me, BEG usually lets it go, but it is duly noted to me later and it is not a happy notation.

Most men would look at the statement “Sometimes we flirt with one another and it means absolutely nothing" and wonderOK…and the point is what? Trust me I’ve been a guy all my life.

Two life examples addressing no particular point:

Example 1:

I have a platonic girlfriend that is a huge flirt. She needs it for her ego apparently. She will arrange clothing in ways that parts and pieces are made available for observation, make off color comments, feel biceps and chests, and use ‘wordplay’. Later she will call me on the phone and tell me how just totally horrible these men are because they suddenly think she is available and ready to sleep with them. Yammmer…yammer…yammmmer……and just how am I supposed to keep these men off of me? All the while, my brain is simply saying “What the hell do you expect? They are men responding to aggressive marketing.

Example 2:

One of BEG’s acquaintance/friends named Kristen is forever laying hands on me, using ‘wordplay’ and innuendo. It only happens if BEG is absent from the room or situation. Feeling biceps and saying things like “yum”, running her hands down my butt when she hugs me goodbye, saying “if BEG ever gets tired of you, let me know” and so forth.

On New Years Eve she was in high form. I decided to test my own odd male ideas. Fair is fair, eh? In a quiet moment sitting alone at a table with Kristen, I said “Kristen, you look great these days. Can I feel you up sometime?” She was stunned for about 5 seconds at my intended and challenging bluntness. Her answer was as bizarre as my presentation. She said of course I could, but to do it when it wasn’t noticed so much, like she does when she hugs me. Or maybe I could mistake her for BEG while swimming in the pool and it would seem innocent. She had a couple of other ‘innocent – sure you can feel me up’ ideas that you can imagine on your own.What I take from this is the results are the same, but for Kristen the fun is in the sneakiness.

What the heck, now I have myself confused. And this is all I was trying to say to Teri. Men don’t think this way and so please be advised you are flying on female radar, not universal gender radar. If you want to engage in ‘wordplay’ it is much more sensible to a man if we play scrabble. That way we know when we have won or lost because you keep score with numbers. That’s just the way we are; literal, analytical and straightforward. We are remarkably simple in a consistent way. Sexual wordplay can and will confuse us. We don’t know its just a game because there isn’t a scoreboard.

My reader’s gender ratio represents blogdom, being about 98.5% female. They are all comfortable telling ol’ Seven that he is paddling a canoe up ‘ignorant creek’ on Valentines week. So, what are you waiting on? Get started. Confuse me additionally, but please do it with some respectable sneakiness.


Rick said...

I hope you get some decent answers. I wrote off the female flirt years ago, as someone just testing the testosterone levels. Problem is, most men aren't accustomed to being probed for experimental purpose.

Seven said...

A portion of the 1.5% reports in early! I think what Teri is saying is that its not even an experiment, but more like a parlor game of wordsmithery? See what I mean? Confused myself again.

Jenn said...

I hear ya.

I know that if I flirt with a man, I either have to want to act on it or be ready to turn him down and stop flirting.

Sometimes, the flirting is a testing of the see if there will be a response in kind.

I wouldn't flirt with a married man as long as I knew he was married. I wouldn't flirt with a friend's boyfriend either. And I probably wouldn't flirt with another man if I were in a relationship. Unless it totally didn't bother my man. Not sure about that one...haven't met a man who wasn't bothered by that.

To flip the coin...if a man I was with flirted with other women...hmmm. I'd have to trust that he'd honor our relationship and then I would probably be alright with it. I wouldn't want to be with a guy who was playing the field right in front of me...but some wordplay would be alright. Probably no touching. Ok..make that no touching.

I guess it depends on the couple and the folks at the receiving end of the flirting.

I do think it's a tricky game to flirt if you don't expect to follow up on it. Then it's just teasing.

Mayden's Voyage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Enemy of the Republic said...

I don't see myself as a big flirt; there are a couple of guys at work who flirt with me; it's all harmless; I see it here in the blogsphere--sometimes I am flirting and I don't know I am because I really mean nothing by it, but I catch myself later. I don't want my husband to read my blog and think badly of me or another guy. I am lucky in that. The ones he hates are the ones who hassle me or proposition me. He checks those out. The ones that he sees as banter he doesn't care about, nor I with him when I do read his blog, which has been dormant for ages. I have seen it SO MUCH in other couples--to the point that one guy really confused me--I told my husband about it and he said: Oh, he is such a flirt. So I think the bottom line is this if you are married: are you encouraging something that you shouldn't? If so, careful of what may emerge. My two cents.

Seven said...

"I know that if I flirt with a man, I either have to want to act on it or be ready to turn him down and stop flirting."
I understand this statement and it tells me you understand men. Nuff said.

I don't mind my friend being a omajor flirt and I don't mind her getting a thrill from the interaction. The problem I have is the turnaround of blaming men for being interested as if she is little Miss Innocent. If she behaves in suggestive ways for kicks and thrills she should accept responsibility and not look down her nose at the men she is teasing. That is a type of mental/gender bias and weakness.

I'm not a big moralist on the flirting thing. It probably sounds like it from the tone of the post. I am an incorrigible flirt. Always have been. But, I also know what the reasonable boundaries are...and I never...ever flirt in ways that I am not prepared to honor if called on it. Maybe there is a category for honest flirters v dishonest flirters? My overriding point in the post is to suggest that men and women carry a distinctly separate understanding of what is actually occurring when we flirt with one another. The idea that a woman can flirt shamelessly with me and then say it means nothing at all I believe to be intellectually dishonest. In fact, it fails the the simplest tests of logic. Thats what I am saying to Teri. None of her actions can occur in a meaningless vacuum. Every action we take means something. And perhaps I have now become a semantics warrior? But, this is my point, the meaning I am arguing MUST exist, is usually interpreted differently between the genders.

Mayden's Voyage said...

I understand what you meant- and I agree- we have to be responsible for our actions~ and not pretend that "something" means "nothing".

Seven said...

I think we are all beginning to filter down to a common agreement that flirting cannot mean 'nothing'.....maybe?

Jenn said...

Ok. I snorted in laughter as I read " understand men." I hear what you're saying. But it still made me laugh.

Seven said...

Maybe that little part?

Teri said...

Dear new "analytical genius" friend.

I'm glad I gave you something to think about last week...and analyze. And I enjoyed your post, as dialog is always a good thing.

I also enjoyed the comments here...and I understand your points, confusion and frustration.

Having said that, I think you missed my main point, which means I must have been a bit too subtle (or PC) or something.

Anyone who reads me on a regular basis knows that my numerous "Cheating in your heart" references were clues...tongue in cheek sarcastic references. I feel our society is out of control in many areas and becoming too restrained in others.

My point was simply that sometimes what other people consider flirting (the peanut gallery, if you will) is simply harmless wordplay and one shouldn't be so quick to cast judgment or throw stones...or read something into it that is absolutely not there.

I also wrote this article specifically for a friend - a testosterone laden friend - who is the biggest flirt I've ever known...and harmless. In other words, we were having a little fun, which some circles of society may have considered flirting, or "Cheating in your heart." In other words, I was thinking with my brain when I wrote this, not my anatomy. ;)

Finally, as you say..."Maybe things are different in California? Sometimes in Texas we just shoot your ass."

Please keep in mind that my roots are buried deep in the great state of Texas. I'm not just a pretty good sport...I'm also a pretty good shot! ;)

Ciao dear Seven...I enjoy your voice. Thank you for the smart conversation. I've thoroughly enjoyed it, as I find intelligence an enticing characteristic. There now...was that flirting, a simple compliment, wordplay...or perhaps a hat trick? Perhaps we should agree to disagree. ;)

Jenn said...

Yeah...I guess I get that little part. :-)

Lynilu said...

When I have flirted (and I’ve been known as a serious flirt, I’m afraid), I had "levels" of flirting that I used:

1. I flirt casually when a man is a friend, but not someone with whom I would act on it. In this I am like Jenn, in that if it seems to be interpreted as a come on, I immediately take a step back and clarify the situation, quietly and as nicely as possible to spare feelings.

2. I may flirt with married men, but only in the presence of their wives, and usually including them, almost in a conspiratorial manner. I figure that mild flirting with careful boundaries is OK. I never minded it when it was a playful flirtation of another woman with my husband when I was so included. Frankly, that kept me on my toes at home!

3. Then there is "flirting with intent." One type of this is flirting coyly, when my intent is more romantic than sexual (although, you never know what might occur down the road . . . ). And the other is blatant open flirtation that says simply, “Gimme summa dat.” Now, I haven’t used either of these in this category in a long time, so I’m going just from memory. But I have plans. I hope they still work. Boy, do I hope!

Yeah, flirting is OK, but I think one needs to be aware of why, with whom, and be responsible for their actions without hurting others or creating problems. Flirting with someone simply as a tease or when one knows that it might/will hurt people is foolish.

Seven said...

I have very smart readers that (bless their hearts) spend a lot of energy helping me understand simple things.
Wanna play scrabble sometime? How about Fridays at your place and we can play with my board?

Silver Lovely,
Yikes...soooo confusing. A 3-part set of rules and guidelines for flirting! I've fallen intothe creek and can't get out. Ei-yi-yi

Teri said...

Hmmmm? I thought about saying something clever about shooting the "blanks" in the scrabble tiles. Too easy. Then I thought about "scoring" with a double or triple. Finally, I settled on: You show me your board and I'll show you mine. ;)

Ciao A.G.F. - scrabble it is, but - in case you're confused again, it's not a date.

P.S. You readers are very smart...and a dash flirtatious themselves. ;)

Lynilu said...

But, dahlin', YOU don't have to remember the rules. Only I do.

Seven said...

Well, that is a very good point and proof that my readers do in fact help me with the simple things.

Enemy of the Republic said...

I see your point. It's a good one.

Angie said...

Now, I'm confused! lol. I will only say one thing...putting your hands on someone's butt is flirt code for "I want some" in any gender language.

Seven said...

Well, thats what I think too....but it appears some of the populace is employed in plausible deniability regarding their desires and sexuality. Leave it to you to open a can of worms.

Reach said...

Wow, with my guard weekend, did I miss it or what? A little detective work could easily reveal your path to Teri's page, thank you for the compliment.

The whole touching thing with flirting is not right; however, some of my friend's wives do flirt with me only because I am not a threat to their relationship. I have flirted in return, but never cross any lines- I do respect and understand "Man Rules". I think what I have noticed by the comments is simply stated, "What is each person's definition of flirting"?

Trust is the key on every side for this one.

My Jaw dropped when I read what you had said to "Kristen"- even I never think to say those words. Because, of the response you did hear.

Lastly, I can not believe that your comments went so long before somebody focused on Example 2- Angie is quick.

Seven said...

Affirmative Sir, your recent post and Teri's request there for more male input at her site led to this remarkable confusion. Welcome back.
The thing with Kristen is I have known her for years. I felt OK saying what I said because in my opinion she had moved to half past benign with her touching. The thing that is confusing for me is that I don't mid her touching and very likely since we have known her so very long I doubt BEG would care either. I have a very special relationship with BEG and I told her the whole episode with Kristen which caused laughter and eye rolling. The point? I don't mind Kristens hands and really BEG doesn't mind because she knows who loves her bigger than the universe, but what is very concerning to me is Kristens need for sneakiness.
I know you as an analytical colleague. Did you notice how my female readers often agreed with me on points then proceeded to give me their own multi-layered definitions of flirting?
I think Teri is not alone. It appears my friend it is you, I and Rick that are desperately searching the maps!

Seven said...

And also......sharing the attribute of analytical genius with is obvious to me that it is not my fanny that captivates Kristen. It is the covertness and secret sneaking that flips her switch.

patti_cake said...

Seven you know I flirt with you alot in comments but in person I would be totally respectful of my hub and BEG. I cannot imagine actually feeling somebody up. I don't like sneaky people. Stacy has one or two "friends" that have tried to hit on me and let it be known they were serious. I avoid these people as much as possible because they just make me uncomfortable.

Seven said...

Those that claim to be friends of Stacy huh? I am very open about sexuality and the feelings that surround it, maybe too much for my own good and I suppose that is why the aversion to 'soap opera' intrigue and sneakiness. Yes, I know we flirt. I think its that new smile of yours.

~Deb said...


You know the saying, that every joke has some degree of hidden truth in it, right? Well, I feel the same way with flirting. I’m a very flirtatious woman. My girlfriend/partner is not like that at all, but she happens to be outgoing – yet with a guard up against any flirtatious innuendos that come flying her way.

Here’s our deal. I would love your take on this.

There’s a bartender at this pub we go to. He constantly makes remarks about us, because we are a very feminine female couple that slightly shows our affection in public- not in a lewd way, but maybe a loving glance, a touch of a hand or even touching the legs while sitting on our stools at the bar.

So this bartender notices and sort of pipes in about how he would love us to come to his house afterwards – AFTER his shift. Now innuendos are flying and he basically wants a threesome.

Now, what if this was my boyfriend? (My girlfriend) Confused? What if we were a straight couple? Would he have wanted the same thing? Of course not. It would have been disrespectful and weird. But he doesn’t realize that it makes us feel a bit weird too.

So, what we did was play the game. We go in for a couple of hours, watch him squirm as we flirt BACK at him. “Oh so you must work out, huh?” As he passes the beer down the bar. We give him entertainment and do the ‘word play’ game. Now, we wouldn’t have done this if he would have respected the fact that we’re a monogamous couple…but now we get a kick out of sitting at his bar, and leaving four hours before he has to go home.

Sometimes flirting is a dangerous game. It depends on the motives and if the person truly likes you. When it comes down to other people’s mates, it’s disrespectful and it can turn out very ugly.

So the next night when we walked into the bar, the bartender was a bit disgruntle and told us he knew we were bluffing.

“On what?” We said all innocently.

We were doing the same thing he was doing to us, right? Flirt for flirt?

~Deb said...

Oddly enough, the balls on the pool table afterwards were all 'blue'. ;)

Seven said...

Oh my, even a self proclaimed analytical genius will need to put on the soft gloves for that one!
I think the bartender violated a cardinal man rule about couples, but in his defense I think he probably did so in benign ignorance.
As the gay community is better able to express the qualities and strength of gay couples (as you have done here)in a way that a straight bartender can comprehend we may all come closer to working through the ignorance. I hope I said that in a way that is clear.
On another level, I think your story reinforces my point. Men flirt with a specific objective in their minds. (generalizing) Women have a capacity for defining flirting in a multi-layered manner. It appears from your description and story that you and your girlfriend own that capability. The bartender being disgruntled would mean he felt slightly betrayed by the failure to move the flirting to a concrete reality. I think this is women flirting v men flirting where expectations and understandings of the flirting are DIFFERENT. This is what I was attempting to say to Teri. Teri is defining flirting in a distinctly feminine way. That's my point.

Steve said...

Hey 7,
Happy 2007 and good one.

~Deb said...

Ah...... there are many levels and "layers" to a woman's flirting! Okay. I gotchya'... So, let me ask you this (cause I find this one very interesting)... What's your take on women flirting only out of insecurity?

I had one woman flirt with me, just to see if a lesbian would go with her. BUT-----she didn't intend to act on it.

I totally see your point! (It takes a little while to let it sink into my lil' pointed head sometimes!)