May 7, 2012

Flirting | It's Not That Dangerous

It goes without saying that one of my most favourite extra-curricular activities in life is flirting. When you take a look at my tag count here on my blog, you’ll see that well over 100 of my entries, almost one-third, have some connection to flirting … and my sometimes naughtier-than-most behavior.

The thing is: I love to flirt. Despite my own occasional social awkwardness (hey, we all have quirks), I am very much a people person. I love to sit and people watch, and I like getting to know what makes people tick.

My coworkers sometimes ask how I know so many other people in our building, and the answer is simple: I talk to them. If you have to ride in an elevator with the same people day-in day-out, or make deliveries to their departments, you might as well get to know who they are. I’m amazed at how someone can work at the same job for years and never know the name of the person they pass in the hall every day.

And it’s not just about the Office Guys either. I’m an equal-opportunity flirt.

I make it no secret – on here, anyway – that my occasional flirtatious dalliance has led to some really erotic encounters and fantasies being fulfilled! But I am still amused that some people seem believe there has to be an ulterior motive behind the flirting, other than having a bit of fun and social interaction.

You may recall that a while back I blogged about how social psychologists at a Canadian university discovered that different beliefs between men and women about the power of flirting can hurt committed relationships.

I can certainly see where the line can be crossed … I have no doubt that some people will see that is exactly what I have done in my own adventures. However, all of my own personal experiences have involved willing partners. I don’t hide any of it from my husband, and when things progressed to something a lot more intriguing, he was there for the whole show.

But, reading back on what the study had to say remains one of those things that intrigues me: men are oblivious when it comes to the dangers of flirts.

“Men simply do not see the same danger as women when a flirt strikes,” says Prof. John Lydon, lead author of the study.

Lydon, a relationship expert, says in one experiment, a meeting with an “available, attractive alternative” was closely followed by the discovery their partner had done something that irritated them, such as reveal an embarrassing detail to others. The men got angry. The women, however, became more loving and forgiving.

According to Lydon, the women recognized the danger presented by an attractive flirt and worked to shore up the committed relationship they already had. The men didn't have a clue what was going on. Lydon says women are more proactive at saving the relationship, using skills honed over centuries of being warned of the perils of flirtatious men.

“Women are just more likely to have guys coming on to them,” he says, adding that this kicks in a defensive response, “Oh, I've got to watch out for the relationship.”

Once again, I reflect back on my earlier thoughts when I was writing about this. Maybe it is just me, but I find most – if not all – commentary on flirting tends to be negative. There may be the occasional trashy women’s magazine advice column on “How to flirt with that hot guy at the gym …” but outside of focusing specifically on the singles set, flirting is deemed deadly once a ring goes on the finger. Article upon article is dedicated to how interacting on a “sexual level” with others is dangerous, as if every interaction is going to lead to a steamy rendezvous in the supply closet.

We get caught up in the preconceived notions that marriage and commitment mean an end to the sexual excitement of being an individual. Social mores paint women as jezebels if we dare have anything but a June Cleaver conversation with a man other than our husbands. I see it every day in my own life. I choose to sit and chat with my Office Guys because, unlike the women I work with, they have something interesting to say.

But the looks and scandal-laced gossip that flies because I dare to cross the gender divide of the lunch room … lions, tigers and bears, oh my!

How about looking at a more modern perspective of the psychology – that we are no longer defined by the standards suffered by our mothers and grandmothers and have discovered that we are capable of thinking for ourselves when it comes to game of innuendo and batting of the eyelashes.

Naturally social psychologists are intrigued more by the kind of study that examines "risks" versus the "emotional excitement" of flirting with other people because the results hold greater impact. And, just maybe, it may be difficult to identify a group of people who are willing to admit that flirting has become an enhancement to their personal happiness – which translates to a happier relationship at home.

For me, I remain committed to the idea of being a shameless flirt. In a way, as twisted as it may seem, is that the results “validate” me as a woman. We still want to know that we can be attractive to other men, that we can be interesting and intriguing enough to stop and chat with. Just because we have a wedding ring doesn’t necessarily mean that our mind and imagination becomes a closed environment. In fact, marriage should open it up to even more wonderful experiences.

And honestly, feeling completely at ease with being a shameless flirt, I know my marriage is much better off for it ... but mostly because (as you have read many times before) I share my experiences with my husband. It's the secrets that cause the danger!
Andee     xoxo

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