Many times in many friendships I have heard how societal and behavioral lines between the sexes have become blurred, leaving people confused about how to behave.
Men are yelled at for holding the door open for some women, while other women secretly wish the men staring at them in restaurants would approach and introduce themselves.
In the fields where civil society once flourished, the hardy weeds of gratuitous flirting have arisen. It’s as if this new growth in societal interaction says flirting must be as powerful as a caveman’s bat over the head or women might not notice.
In this case “gratuitous” does not mean free—although this type of flirting is offered all too freely. It means uncalled for, lacking good reason and most of all, unwarranted.
Flirting as we used to know it included clever banter involving communication and/or body language by one person to another, suggesting an interest in a deeper relationship.
Flirting was used to see what the chances of a connection might be without having to directly embarrass one or both parties. Used wisely, flirting could gently take a relationship from one level to the possibility of another—or not—without hurting anyone’s feelings.
At some point during the transition from polite society to in-your-face society, the gratuitous flirters began taking this behavior to an all new, and vastly unwanted, level, especially online.
Gratuitous flirters flourish in the shadowed safety of social media sites where they can harass without risking a slap in the face or a kick in the you-know-where. The most they will get is a verbal bashing and a “block,” neither of which persuades them to change their ways.
Flirting has become a way to speak and behave in a way that forces a greater intimacy than the actual relationship between the parties justifies. While the rules of social etiquette would not welcome such aggressiveness in person, this direct and unwanted expression of sexual interest via commentary, crotch-shots and invitations has become all too frequent on social media sites.
Minus eye contact and body language, the gratuitous flirter assumes the beneficiaries of his pursuit actually enjoy receiving his missives.
We don’t. If we did, he’d be the first to know.
Some women will just ignore him and hope he will get the hint, transition to a friendship of sorts, or just go away.
Women with healthy self-esteem seem to be the primary target of these gregarious Lotharios. We are complete, and feel good about ourselves. Our social media commentary, photo uploads and celebrations of success appear to be open invitations for an onslaught of social media abuse. Yes, I said abuse, because that’s what it feels like.
I’ve categorized some of the worst offenders:
The Carpetbomber will flirt with anyone and everyone. He freely comments on every photo we post, saying what looks good about us in each one. He has no qualms in writing “nice ass,” “hubba hubba“ or other choice terms designed to sexualize every photo. Even worse, others begin thinking we post photos merely to invite this annoying commentary. The Carpetbomber spreads his invitations far and wide because the more arrows he slings, the better his chances are for landing a kill. He usually sends social media requests to our friends and comments on their photos too. That’s how we find out we are not truly special in his eyes at all, but merely one of a thousand targets in a large field.
The Sniper puts his victims in his crosshairs. Years can pass yet he remains certain we will one day succumb to his amorous advances. He continues to remind us how talented he is in the sack and how mind-bending our eventual coupling will be. He will rub oil on our feet. Read poetry in bed. Please us first. Massage our backs. He casually mentions his length and circumference, and his staying power. Does he care that we haven’t responded after telling him we weren’t and never would be interested? No. He just keeps sniping.
The Gambler pays no attention to the odds since his ego has long ago eclipsed reality—as well as the ability to understand mathematics. He has deemed us worthy of his affections and that is enough in his mind to guarantee a win. We should be honored he has chosen us to lavish his flattery upon. Didn’t we post that image in a bathing suit just for him? Everyone know that sixes and eights are great bets in craps, while the field is not. The Gambler does not care about the odds because they only apply to others. He and his ego swagger in and bet his entire purse on our acceptance of his interest. While we are all for abundant self-esteem, we want him to realize when he’s crapped out and busted. Try forcing a bet at the craps table when a seven has been rolled, or beating a royal flush with a pair in poker. Out is out, buddy.
The Sexless Spouse
For some reason, the men whose wives are supposedly no longer putting out think that information is 1) our business, 2) interesting and 3) sexy-making for us. It’s not any of the three. Just because he says his wife no longer wants to do the humpty dance with him does not make it our responsibility to pick up the slack. In fact the whole conversation is a turn-off. Trust me. The first thing we’re going to wonder is why his wife closed the golden gates and then why he tolerates a sexless marriage. Women with a healthy self image know they can hold out for the entire relationship package, not grasp the one-offs with sexually deprived married men.
Word to the wise: swinging isn’t contagious. If it works for his primary relationship, good for the two of them. We’re glad to hear it. That does not mean we are interested in participating, even though his wife has picked us personally, or is totally accepting for you to do us. If we are not swingers, we are not interested in borrowing you for the evening regardless of your acclaimed sexual prowess. We’d succumb if we wanted to. Ask once and leave it; we know where to find you.
The normal avenues of refusal do not work to stop the aggressive and unwanted pursuit by these men. Ignoring does not work. Responding to regular conversation and not to the flirting does not work. Directly saying we are not interested does not work.
What are women to do?
There are those of us who want to be courted, treated respectfully and complimented in intelligent ways that do not involve his telling us he’d like to add the 207th bone to our bodies. We would rather that type of commentary be reserved for our actual lovers.
We recognize we cannot control the actions of others, and yet we don’t feel we need to diminish our truth and greatness simply to curtail his interest. We want to be free to shine without his thinking anything we do is an open invitation for him to ask for sex. It’s not. We have already recognized our power and therefore are not looking to others to validate that for us.
We try to be in a place of compassion and know that he has an agenda of his own and it simply does not resonate with us. Please extend us the same courtesy.
Perhaps the greatest thing about a self-realized woman is she is strong and aware enough to let him know if she is interested in taking the relationship to another level. She won’t play hard to get—she will meet his challenge. He can state his interest in a respectful way and allow her to choose.
We promise he will have a higher success rate in being respectful rather than employing the desperate measures we often see him seeking.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Apprentice Editor: Kathryn Rutz / Editor: Rachel Nussbaum