The Innocent Flirt

My male BFF thinks I’m an inborn flirt. By that, he means I unconsciously flirt without making an attempt to. He thinks that’s natural in me, but deep in mind I know I’m innocent.

There are a few instances and behaviors he drew this conclusion from:

  1. As a workplace FOB, I asked a male co-worker to “join me for dinner” as we were working late together and I didn’t enjoy eating alone. I kept getting “no”, and it seemed that, this 36 y/o guy thought I was hitting on him. Too sensitive, isn’t he?
  2. I drink long Island ice tea. Once in college, I drank 4 in a chain once at a group dinner event — too crazy? The truth is, I was trying to stay away from alcohols and ordered the only “ice tea” available, which felt nothing more than sweet and friendly until my 4thlong drink. I still drink it mildly today, but for guys, that was seen as an open invitation for wildness, and I thank my BFF for saving me that night.
  3. If I like someone (women and men), I make it obvious. The like does not need to be about physical attraction, and what’s there to hide anyways? I invite them (co-workers, classmates, friends, friends’ friends etc.) to share coffee time, jokes, recipes and laugh the laugh together. At work this friendliness is great emollient in the intense and fast paced environment, but BFF thinks this is where things can get the trickiest.
  4. My appearance. I only do light makeup, but with a statement-making lip color — usually red. I also like to wear fit clothes and dresses that highlight my bodyline as the reward for my hard work at the gym. I’m proud of the sexy look; BFF thinks that look sends a signal.

The last but not least, I’m talkative and, sometimes, intellectually challenging. BFF shared there are two reactions men have when being (benignly) challenged in a conversation — 1) feel offended; 2) like you. Apparently for those who fall in the latter, a round of benign debate can be flirtatious.

My series of discussions with this male soul mate on my “flirtatious personality” gradually evolved into some intellectual quest. First of all, was I subconsciously flirting in some of these cases? Then, if I was, what was the psychological drive, given that I’m in a very happy romantic relationship already? After a ton of research, it turns out to be a mixture of a few, and beyond the generally interpreted sex, romance and material motives, flirting can mirror the psychological need for fun interactions, and boosting one’s self-esteem simply by making us feel good about ourselves. Nothing seems out of the line here.

Is flirting unfaithful for someone in a relationship? If it’s for boosting self-esteem or seeking fun, it shouldn’t be. However, there is still some fierce debate on this and in my opinion, conscience knows — if the motive behind the behavior is just, one should not feel guilty.

Even though I’m not going to change my personal style to cater to some people’s perceptions, I do feel obligated to prevent guys from overthinking and here are some ideas:

  • Only have mild drinks at one-on-one meeting environment
  • Draw a borderline for conversations, no intimacy talks
  • Not flirting with the same person repetitively, no matter how close friends we are
  • No texting male friends after 8pm
  • Be open and transparent about my social life with my partner

Hope this sharing will help clearing some confusion among girls who share the same traits and fun of being ‘naturally flirty’.

Tags: inner strength & confidence, psychology, relationships, well-being

Originally published at on April 8, 2016.

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