Oh how I love to flirt! I'm shameless! I have a special man who's becoming part of my life and I'm enlivened by our shared flirtations. I'm not overtly sexual, but sweet little snippets of hints of whispers of possibilities is SO much fun. A look, a smile, a light touch, a few words whispered or a laugh at a shared embarrassment are powerful communications in romance.
My mother says I was born flirting and I always assumed it was natural for everyone. She loves to tell stories of how I enchanted everyone around me, how I flirted and engaged them even before I was able to carry on a conversation. As a child, my flirtations were my way of showing how I liked someone and wanted to be liked. Flirting had no sexual implications, I just seemed to know how to say nice things to others to make them feel better and that made me happy.
As I aged, flirting took on a darker element - it was no longer harmless. It was being perceived as a sexual invitation and I suffered painfully as a result of doing what came naturally for me and what that meant to men I met. I was inadvertently sending out sexual messages when all I really wanted was to have fun, safe ways of connecting - not promising. I thought of sexual flirting as something deeper - what I shared with the man in my life, not messages cast out to all men transmitting my availability.
I had to learn how to NOT flirt, to be conscious of every nuance of possible hidden messages in words, movements, and looks when around men. My behavior became stilted, frozen in fear that I would be sending signals that would cause problems for me. I stopped feeling light and free around men and waded into the heaviness of fear that I would be misinterpreted and suffer the repercussions. The words "appropriate" and "inappropriate" became my guidelines. I had a new rule book to memorize and practiced my new "not flirting" with a seriousness that was alien to me. Being around men was no longer fun and exciting - it was fraught with potential consequences that brought up past painful experiences.
Like everything we put into practice, I became adept at learning how to dampen my messages, but in the process I also dampened my spirit. Somewhere there had to be a happy medium, where I could be the fullness of me and communicate safely. I hated hiding who I am as protection, but I needed to find the place in me where I could express myself honestly instead of hiding.
I began by talking openly and honestly to my friends - men and women - about communication - how it's interpreted, what meanings are implied or understood, how to communicate without fear of endangering myself. Since my creative art is communication, I was like an old master who had to learn the fundamentals before exploring the uniqueness of his individual signature.
I had to fine tune my signals and develop my own style. I was learning the art of subtle flirting without subjecting myself to interpretation of how others perceived me. It was not my job to try and decipher someone's opinions or thoughts, only my own. If my motivation for my behavior was without sexual intent, I was not responsible for how someone received it.
Flirting became fun again! It was no longer communication exclusively for men - my flirting includes my women friends. It's about seeing the humor in our hubris which is not gender specific. It's about subtle manipulation of words and phrases. It's about expressing who I am and my perspective on life. It's about fun and I'm enjoying the connection flirting creates with family and friends. I'm a flirt again and loving it...