Healthy dating relationships often begin with healthy flirting. How do you know the difference between healthy flirting and compulsive flirting?
It is really important to understand how different these types of flirting are. They feel different, they look different, and they sound different. In healthy dating relationships, flirting empowers both partners.
Healthy flirting is an art. It is the acknowledgment and appreciation of each other as sensual beings. Appropriate flirting is an awareness and positive reinforcement of each other. It brings light and joy into the world. That is, if it is appropriate!
Appropriate flirting is defined by three qualities: First, it is appreciated by the receiver. Second, it doesn’t hurt anybody’s feelings. And third, it doesn’t disrespect or violate any boundaries.
Appropriate flirting is different from compulsive flirting. Compulsive flirting is done by people who need constant reinforcement of themselves. They flirt to get attention. It is often done in flagrant disregard of others’ feelings.
Appropriate flirting is done to give attention in healthy dating relationships. It is done with an open heart, with the intention of giving the other person recognition, acknowledgment, positive attention. It is not “an act of taking." Healthy flirting makes both people feel warm and fuzzy. It is not invasive, aggressive, or lewd.
On the contrary, if done well, it will lift the other person’s spirits. It will raise their sense of self. It inspires them and helps them feel attractive and lovable. Everyone deserves this kind of attention. Everyone! Married, single, young, old, even grumpy people deserve to have their day lifted with some well-intentioned flirting.
I present a class in “happy, healthy, flirting," because many people feel this is a mysterious skill. In this class my students learn how to flirt effectively. They are amazed at how much positive impact this has on virtually every area of their social interactions. When they use the techniques I teach, they begin to feel less isolated, less shy. They begin to enjoy their own power to bring more of a sense of connection into their lives. You can flirt with strangers, acquaintances, your own husband or wife. It can bring so much happiness into your world, and the world around you. It can really add excitement to healthy dating relationships.
My good friend Matthew loves to flirt. He’ll be in the grocery store at midnight, and he will flirt with the check-out girl, someone who has probably not gotten this kind of attention in a long time. He will notice the name on her badge and speak to her by name, telling her she has such a nice smile. Then he says: “Why don’t you take the rest of the night off!" She smiles and laughs like a schoolgirl. Then, because she’s feeling uplifted, the next people in line get better service too. Happiness, like any other feeling, is contagious. It’s nice to spread “good vibes."
Working with single clients and students, I find that most people do not know how to flirt in the way that I have discussed. There are several reasons for this. First, they haven’t given themselves permission to do so, and second, they don’t know how. In our world, the gentle art of flirting has gotten lost. It is time to revive it!
The third reason people have trouble flirting is that they aren’t paying attention to what their intuition is telling them. They will see a person across the room at a party, and feel “I like that person, he/she looks interesting." Then they do nothing about it. With love and flirting it really pays to listen to your intuition. It will always lead you correctly.
Your intuition is your gut sense, the part of you that knows. It is not the “mind chatter" that may immediately follow an “intuitive hit." “What if he/she doesn’t like me? What if he’s/she’s married? Or attached? Why would he/she want to talk to me anyway?"
You probably have some experience with this kind of negative self-talk. How do you know if it’s your intuition, or just habitual thinking? If it’s fear-based chatter, it is not the intuitive voice talking. This is the nagging voice of self-doubt. You must learn to distinguish them.
Healthy dating relationships should involve the kind of healthy flirting with each other because it is good training for romance. Flirting with your intuitive awareness turned on allows you to read the subtle signals from the opposite sex.
People are sending out messages all the time. They are loud and clear, if you know how to read them! With practice you can learn to detect these sometimes subtle, often non-verbal cues that say “Come talk to me." Or the other ones that say “I’m not available."
I find that many students in my Flirting Class are not even aware of the mixed messages they are sending out. A large part of this class is about learning what messages you are putting out. Is your body language sending subconscious clues to the opposite sex that say “Please approach," or unsafe-to-approach signals that mean “Stay away." You’d be surprised to discover how often what you think you are “saying" with your non-verbal cues is the opposite of what you are communicating. In class we help each other decipher the messages.
Flirting is a great healthy dating relationships skill because it brings confidence to all social interactions. You can playfully flirt with people you have no intention of being sexual with. Flirting is fun. It’s a total delight. It is a great power to bring appreciation into any interaction with people. And the best news of all is that flirting is a learnable skill!
You get better with practice, so give yourself a break if you don’t always hit a home run.
Give yourself permission to make the world a kinder place where more people feel appreciated. Follow your intuition and decide to add more happiness in the world by becoming an appropriate flirt! Healthy dating relationships turn flirting into a romantic art!