Is it REALLY just flirting?

Syracuse postcard - 1913

I can still remember when I first committed the sixth of Pope Gregory I’s seven deadly sins. I was in Mrs. Heath’s sixth grade class at Charlotte Elementary School in what is still a two red-light town. At this age I had began noticing the opposite sex, which prompted a new outlook about girls as something other than contagious. Midway through the school year Tammy Moneypenny transferred to Podunkville from somewhere up north, but to me she was sent special delivery from heaven. It was love at first sight and Farrah Faucet had now been replaced. As if only yesterday I can clearly remember my elation after discovering her desk would be across from my own.

Target acquired. Locked and loaded.

If my future plans included Tammy and I living together on jellybeans, chocolate milk, and puppy love she apparently had other plans. As I dreamed about her she was fantasizing over my good buddy Steve. With a determination never before witnessed in our parts, Tammy proceeded to win his heart while showing a total disregard for my feeble advances.  Cold even by today’s chilly standards the Human League’s just released hit “Don’t you want me baby” was my love scorn theme song.

My envy ran forest green which led to the occasional pout and whine along with desires for Steve’s demise via Holstein cattle stampede. Eventually my covetousness subsided after they broke up on the playground and we moved into junior high the following year.

•♦•

Jealousy can be an occupational hazard if one’s going to be in any type of romantic relationship. I’ve dated and been married enough to be on a first name basis with the green eyed monster. And while there are people who claim not to be jealous, they’re lying. That or they don’t care about the person in the first place. Ugly as it may be, jealousy is a basic human character trait in all of us with some controlling the beast better than others.

Before the Internet jealousy was primarily an in-person problem. She sees him making eyes with the blonde in the corner or she’s talking to the stud while flicking her hair like she’s swatting a fly. But with the likes of Facebook jealousy has taken on a whole new dynamic. And it seems, in the past few months, the Queen and I have heard story after story of this boyfriend, that girlfriend, husband or wife getting caught chatting it up with or commenting on the wrong thing with the wrong person.

•♦•

The Flirtation

The interesting thing about flirting is you know when it’s happening but it’s almost impossible to prove. All the person has to do is play stupid and say something like “I was jut being nice”. Not to mention the mere act of bringing it up and making a big deal about something so seemingly trivial makes you look like a psychopath control freak. I mean it’s JUST flirting, right?

Let’s look at a few examples. Let’s say I put a comment on a female friends FB page about her new profile picture using something like “OMG!!!”, “WOW!”, or “that dress gives me naughty thoughts!”. Now society would say I didn’t do anything wrong, I was simply being a good friend remarking on her appearance. Or what if the Queen and I go out for dinner and drinks and in the middle of my screwdriver I step away to the little boy’s room only to return and find her complimenting the eyes of the cute guy next to her and the way his Seven Diamonds shirt accentuates his pectorals. Has she REALLY done anything wrong? Crossed a line? Gone too far? And if either of us say anything aren’t we just being overly sensitive?

•♦•

Here’s something I’ve come to learn about people – everything has become relative. That means we now rationalize our way into or out of almost every situation. Most argue that flirting is little more than being friendly. But if that’s the case why does most of it occur between opposite sexes and why don’t we flirt with ugly people? Like it or not, flirting is teasing with the only unknown being the objective. While one claims it’s all in harmless fun how can that person be sure the other feels the same? The thing about flirting is that our perceived interest opens a door to the other person allowing hope to step in. Maybe it’s the possibility she’ll have another drink, or he’ll ask for her phone number, or perhaps we’ll go home together. Regardless, when we flirt we crack the lid on a Pandora’s box of “what if?”

But the real question shouldn’t be what is or isn’t flirting and why should we care, instead it ought to be why is it necessary? If I’m in a committed relationship (if you’re single knock yourself out) what do I gain in writing about another woman’s appearance and where’s value in the Queen expressing her admiration for another man, other than forcing each of us to question the other’s commitment?

In my mind the most serious consequences from my actions are more than just rudeness or thoughtlessness, it’s that I’ve exhibited a complete disregard for the Queen and her feelings plus I’ve shamefully dishonored our relationship and have given her an ever so small reason to doubt the security she has in us. Not only will she likely be embarrassed she’ll understandably begin to question my motives, which left unchecked, will result in a total lack of trust. You tell me, is ‘just being nice’ worth that?

I’ll let someone else flirt with strangers, as for me, I’ll be flirting with the Queen.

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11 responses to Is it REALLY just flirting?

  1. I’ve never liked that Human League song. The line ‘ It’s me who put you where you are and I can put you back down too…. (something to that effect)’. It always makes me think of a stalker, someone who was really nasty, vindictive and volatile. But anyway…

    I liked what you said about the fact that we don’t flirt with ugly people. That tells a story in itself. I think the point of flirting is to make ourselves feel attractive. We prove this by making sure so-called good-looking people pay attention to us. I think there’s a case for jealousy in this regard. 🙂 I’d be jealous.

    Funny that you should mention jealousy in relation to caring about someone. Of course, people take this too far, but a mild amount of jealousy can mean we actually care about losing that person about whom we’re jealous. I wrote an article about so-called ‘bad’ things that can be good for relationships, and jealousy is one of them. Obviously, jealousy can lead to dangerous behaviour too.

    I’ve only just discovered your blog. I think we have a lot in common and would like to pop by again to see what’s cooking. I’ve added you to my blogroll page on my relationship blog so that I (and my readers) can do so.

  2. Lisa

    First, let me say I love this post. Now, since I’ve read your blog for a bit, I feel like I should leave a little back story. I’ll try to keep it brief.

    Like you, I was married once before. Like you, I was cheated on. We were married about 10 years when it started and 12 by the time the divorce finally came to pass. Our daughter was 9. Flash forward a bit and I was lucky enough to find my soul mate. I had no idea a relationship could be so healthy, spiritual, and fulfilling. He’s my “King” to use your analogy (love that) and I couldn’t be happier.

    I believe you hit the nail on the head when you said jealously is present in all those except the ones who couldn’t care less about their partners. Jealousy is a sign of passion. I wasn’t happy in my first marriage and definitely didn’t feel the jealousy – that is not until I was betrayed and that was more about my own self esteem than anything else.

    When my soul mate and I first started dating, I remember both of us were brainwashed into believing that jealousy was the “big bad” and had bought the idea that healthy relationships didn’t play with “the green eyed monster”. But then I remembered that feeling of not being jealous with my ex and I never wanted to feel that again. Essentially, I had taken that first relationship for granted. Not being in love didn’t help matters either. Whatever my reasons were, I didn’t care if he flirted and I had been guilty of flirting on many occasions. It was a way to get attention when I felt neglected. Still not right, but at least I can understand it now and make sure it doesn’t happen again.

    So, I guess what I’m saying is that maybe overt flirting is a sign of a bigger problem in the relationship. Regardless, I believe a certain amount of jealousy is healthy and helps a couple not take each other for granted. It’s never good to think your partner doesn’t have other options or that no one else wants them. First, that’s totally never true. There are always options. And second, it will make us forget that this amazing person chose us for us. Not because they didn’t have anywhere else to go. They said “I pick you forever and there is no where else I’d rather be”. And that’s an amazing gift to be given.

  3. Agreed. Flirting can be hurtful to one’s partner. It can threaten a relationship. And there *is* a difference between outright flirting and simply being nice. If the relationship is healthy (and decidedly monogamous), neither partner should feel the need to engage in that kind of behavior. And if the relationship isn’t healthy, perhaps that should be dealt with first and foremost instead of attempting to meet those needs through an external source.

    Thanks for providing such a mature perspective.

  4. M

    Flirting, no matter how you slice & dice it, is attention seeking behavior. I have been on both ends of it especially during the demise of my marriage & now that I am in a loving, harmonious relationship, when recently approached by another, I chose to walk away rather than playing with fire. My bf would have never known if I batted my eyes, or exchanged a witty word or two, however I do not feel the need to receive attention from any man, other than him. I absolutely loved this post! Your insight is priceless, Chopperpapa!

  5. My story is opposite of Lisa’s. There was so much jealousy in my first marriage that I never wanted to feel it again. I think trust plays a big part in having a healthy relationship. And FOR ME when there’s mutual trust, along with communication, compromise, respect, etc. the green-eyed monster doesn’t rear it’s ugly head. I feel so much happier in a relationship like this. I should be able to compliment a male friend on Facebook when say he puts up a new photo showing that he’s lost some weight. “Looking good! Keep up the great work!” That should be fine without it being construed as flirting. I also think your examples of “OMG” and “WOW” are also harmless. Now saying, “That dress gives me naughty thoughts” is a different story. You’re actually letting that person know, publicly (practically), that you’re having sexual thoughts about them. That crosses the line.

    I don’t know. I just feel that there IS a difference between being nice and flirting. I wouldn’t want to be with someone who accused me of flirting every time I was being nice. I experienced that and more with my ex and I never want to experience it again. My husband and I are secure in our marriage and we trust each other completely. So, I don’t even look on his Facebook to see what his comments are. I don’t try to find flirting because it just doesn’t even cross my mind. Nor does it cross my mind to flirt with others.

  6. I’m a notorious flirt, but EVERYONE – including my wife – doesn’t take me seriously! Waaaahhhh!

  7. Papa – Author

    Thanks for stopping by Anne.

    Great points. Still not sure if jealousy of any kind can be good for a relationship but it sure has the ingredients for making things interesting.

  8. Papa – Author

    Lisa, overt flirting is surely a sign of a bigger problem.

    Thanks for the comment, and does your man know he’s “the King”?

  9. Dawn

    “Wow”, your examples are extreme. Both without question would cross my line and what 9.5 out of 10 would consider beyond “just being nice” – lol. We all know the difference between flirting and just being nice and if it has to be discussed then it was flirting. If in person, you can definitely tell by the eye contact. The “notorious” flirt (previous comment – ha) would not have the intensity and cause the same concern as the flirt with a soulful moment.

  10. a little bit of jealousy is healthy…a little bit. The most important thing, I think, it’s to be straightforward with your partner, talk openly and say what you need from them,so you both come to an agreement. Life together is not easy, but good communication is the key for its success, at least in my opinion.

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