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Interpreting Flirting



I find it horribly confusing when people flirt with me.


Actually, the flirting itself isn't confusing - I don't have a hard time recognizing flirtatious behaviors. The intention behind the flirting is another story.


First, you have the natural flirts. These are the touchy-feely types who tend to come off as flirtatious any time they're friendly.


Second, there's the cultural flirts. Apparently, in some cultures, flirtatious behaviors are a sign of friendly, but not sexual, interest. I'll throw the type who flirt without intention to make other people feel good into this category, too.


Third, the attention flirts. These are the type who flirt to get attention, either from the target of the flirtation or from someone else - someone who flirts to make their partner jealous, or a straight girl who kisses other girls to get attention from guys.


And then there's the interested, but not serious, flirts. They're actually attracted to you, but in a monogamous relationship, or don't want to be queer, or for whatever other reason have no intention of actually taking it any further than flirting even though they're interested. These are especially a problem when you happen to be non-monogamously married, and most of your friends are married, too. It's hard to know how to interpret, and, if the other person assumes you're monogamous and therefore not available, they may flirt under the assumption that they're not going to be misinterpreted as more interested than they really are.


Finally, there's the real flirts, who flirt because they're interested in possibly taking things further.


How are you supposed to tell which is which?


With all the ambiguity, combined with a chronic low self-esteem habit, I have a hard time taking any flirting seriously.


I have a friend, whom I have a crush on, who flirts with me. I can go down the lists of flirtatious behaviors posted in various threads on here and use them as a checklist. I have no clue whether she falls into the first, fourth, or final category. Probably not the first, because I think I'd notice if she was frequently acting the same towards others, though I'd say she's more on the natural touchy-feely side. But between the last two categories, I really have no clue.


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