What can give hours of pleasure, and yet not turn one’s world upside down? What can be a wonderful sport of the interesting thrust and parry between the sexes, without seriously injuring either? The answer has to be – flirtation – that rather old-fashioned word connoting the batting of eyelashes and the dalliance of suitors.
Even in today’s direct, post-feminism world, where women may assertively approach men with romantic intent (at least in theory!) there is a place and value for the gentle art of flirtation. I say ‘art’ because true flirtation is precisely this.
It is expressing interest and admiration in someone without threatening their privacy or existing love life. It is conducting amusing, witty, and sometimes intimate conversations in public settings with the opposite sex without sliding into offensive vulgarity. It is boosting your own (and another’s) confidence by showing them that observant attention that they may be lacking in their real relationships with husbands or wives, parents or children. The best flirtations are those we recall from mixed settings like our co-ed college days, or in an office with both male and female colleagues. In such situations, whether during daily routine or at parties and common outings, we can enjoy lengthy conversations with a favourite colleague or classmate. What could be discussed is immaterial. What is important is the spirit in which such discussion is conducted – happy, appreciative, altogether pleasing.
People will remember a flirtatious experience by the ‘high’ it brings. When you sense another’s appreciation of some quality of your own, and their sustained interest, it is undoubtedly very morale-boosting. Laughter, blushing, and quickened heartbeats are symptoms of successful flirtation. But sometimes, these could be hiding an unexpected story.
“We had this really wonderful colleague called Charles – the whole office would call him ‘Charlie’ and the ladies were all ready to swoon over him. He truly made each one of us feel really special – he would have seasons of flirting with different girls,” recalls Sudha. “There was a daily discussion of his mood, we were all so fond of him. Then one day, he came in looking very depressed. It appeared his mother had been in treatment for cancer for many years, and she was sinking. We were all so shocked. Not one of us could have suspected that he might have had such a tragic situation at home. After that, till she passed away some months later, and even after that, all of us girls took special care of him!” It seems as if Charles was honouring his sick mother in a different way – by being extra nice to all the women in his office.
Because flirtation is meant to be a harmless pastime, and succeeds in making women feel more ‘feminine’, it is sometimes best practiced by men who are slightly feminine themselves. This leads to other men, proud of their ‘macho’ nature, to despise them. “There was a very sensitive, shy boy in my class, who was universally popular with us girls,” recalls Nisha. “All the boys hated him and made snide remarks about him being gay. I never knew him in later years to find out if this was really the case, but I always used to feel – why can’t you learn something from his considerate behavior, instead of trying to label him and feel happy being your own manly self?” In fact, the most masculine men can also practise flirtation with an absolutely clear conscience if they are just a wee bit more attentive, flattering and caring to their female classmates and colleagues.
Not convinced? Try it. Flirtation is the best it can get without actually ‘falling in love’ and seeking deeper commitment.
Login to add comments on this post.