One of today’s much needed behavioral correction is how men express their romantic interest in women. The consequences of their inappropriate actions have resulted in scores of women finding the strength to confront these men that took liberties with their sexual advances. These women shared their horrid experiences, outed these men, and rightly so.
However, we know not all men have bad intensions and amongst them there are those that have a genuine concern of how they can express romantic interest in a woman without being too aggressive or come across as creepy. Yes, if you can believe that, some men say they don’t know what constitutes crossing the line.
Well men, the first thing to understand is what flirting involves. Essentially, it involves deliberately pushing relationship boundaries. In order to flirt with someone means you have to push at the boundaries of your relationship, regardless if the relationship is recent or established. Flirting doesn’t break the boundaries of the relationship but it doesn’t stay safely within them either.
Pushing at the boundaries of the relationship without breaking them is the essence of flirting, but first off, how do you know where the boundaries are in a relationship? For instance, something that may be appropriate to say to a friend you’ve known for years could be entirely inappropriate when speaking to someone you share a professional relationship with.
The best way to do this may be by using indirect communication. Indirect communication will suggest an idea or a feeling rather than baldly stating it. If you are flirting with someone, they should have the impression that you’re interested in them without you telling them in so many words. It’s not flirtatious to say to someone, “I want to have sex with you”. Or men who send unsolicited pictures of their genitals are not being flirtatious. Sexting is an explicit expression of intent or desire. Flirting is an implicit expression of how you feel and what you might like to do and that doesn’t include sending explicit photos.
One of the most potent ways to flirt with someone is with eye contact. Strangers usually break off eye contact quickly while people who know each other maintain it for longer. If you make eye contact with someone, you don’t know, holding their gaze for slightly longer gives a powerful message. If you look at the other person while he or she is looking at you, it conveys that you’re interested in them, as does smiling when your eyes meet. That doesn’t mean that you should stare at the other person. Remember, flirting is about pushing the boundaries, not breaking them. Staring at another person violates the social barriers and it’s creepy. However, holding eye contact for an extra second doesn’t.
The other nonverbal components of flirting are proximity, gesture, and touch. Proximity is about being allowed into someone’s personal space. Inappropriate closeness is one of the biggest mistakes made by men attempting to flirt. Many men think that standing right next to someone, or putting their arm around them, is a good way to express interest. Instead, the person they’re trying to flirt with may feel pressured and thus become defensive and withdraws. If you want to push the boundaries of someone’s personal space rather than break it, it’s always best to do it appropriately by letting her take control and allow her to move at her own pace. For example, offering to show a woman a photo on your phone would require closer proximity than you might not otherwise have with her. However, it will allow her to make the decision to either lean in and get a closer look, or not. This interaction would allow her make the decision without feeling pressured. Best of all, it’s her decision.
The gesture is a great way of making a connection. Facing someone you’re talking to, rather than keeping your body turned away, suggests that they’re important to you. Make sure that you keep an open posture, don’t cross your arms or legs in front of you, and try to relax your shoulders. People who have a close connection will usually mirror each other’s posture, so you can create a feeling of closeness by deliberately copying elements of the other person’s position and movements. Don’t attempt and copy exactly everything they do because that’s creepy and another example of breaking the boundary, not pushing it. If the other person has a defensive, closed posture, they’re already feeling threatened so copying their posture isn’t going to help.
Touch is an extremely powerful way of communicating, which means it’s very easy to break boundaries, so it is strongly recommended you do not touch someone unless you are absolutely certain it is acceptable. Remember there is no such thing as appropriate touching if it is unwanted. Many people believe being touched, even something as simple as a hand on their shoulder as invasive and threatening, so if you’re trying to flirt with someone, make sure that you touch only when it’s timely in addition to appropriate.
People will always need to express a romantic interest in each other, but nowadays they are also more aware of the potential for abuse or offense. If you intend to flirt with someone, then you need to make sure that you don’t break the boundaries of your relationship or what is socially acceptable. You can push the limits by using eye contact, proximity, gesture and touch which all give an indirect but deliberate message that you’re interested in developing a relationship.
Then you just need to watch for whether or not your interests are reciprocated.
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