By Coleen York
I’m not one to stand on the corner on a very tall box yelling at couples to “leave room for the Holy Spirit,” or telling singles, “Thou shalt not flirt unless thou art getting married to the subject of your flirtations.”
Don’t you hate the “however?” It’s like that split second when you realize an ax is about to fall, and you need to decide if you’re going to roll out of the way or if you’re just going to take it … at least that’s how I feel sometimes.
So as the writer, I promise not to guillotine anyone in this article. But I would like to have a discussion about flirting.
In college I came to the oh-so-brilliant conclusion that there were only two possible outcomes for a dating relationship: you either marry them or break up with them. Based on that epiphany, I got a little choosier about who I started truly dating. Because let’s be honest, no one really enjoys break-ups.
HOWEVER … (There it is again …)
However, that meant I often felt a little starved for both attention and affection. But I knew some relationships were just pointless to even enter into, regardless of how needy I was feeling. As a result I became somewhat of a serial flirter. I could get attention while eluding a relationship I knew would never work out. Seemed like a pretty good solution to me at the time. Sort of like I got the best of both worlds …
I’ve heard the statement “harmless flirting” a lot in my life. I’ve probably even used it myself. But I’m not entirely sure how accurate it is to put the adjective “harmless” in front of flirting. I’m not about to tell you flirting is wrong. It’s pretty much how every relationship that ends in marriage begins … so I mean, go ahead, flirt. But before you do, evaluate why you’re flirting in the first place.
Is it because you feel like you need attention or are fishing for compliments? Is it because you think they’re cute, but maybe they still aren’t quite “dating material?” Is it because you’re bored, or maybe a little impatient for the relationship you’ve been waiting for? Or is it because you truly like them and are interested in getting to know them (with the intention of hopefully dating)?
If it was any reason but the latter, I would really urge you to reevaluate whether or not you should be flirting with that person.
People may adopt the mindset that flirting is “harmless,” but flirting triggers an emotional response that isn’t quite as harmless as we originally thought. I can’t speak for the men, but for the ladies flirting leads to more than just thoughts concerning that initial flirt-sesh. Flirting can lead to daydreams about what it would be like to be in a relationship with the object of your flirtations. What’s more, flirting can also involve playful touches that leave you wanting more than you should if you’re not in a relationship.
Even if you can distance yourself from an emotional response, the other party may not be able to as easily. Although it’s difficult, we need pause and ask ourselves if feeding our need for attention is worth jeopardizing another’s feelings.
Flirting is a precursor to dating. Not a substitute for it.