Putting on the Flirt
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Putting on the Flirt • Posted: Jul 08, 2012 12:30:38Comments WelcomeVote CoolPhotoblogsPurchase a PrintShare

That expression is one I learned from a female. And it's so revealing, revealing not only of her, but in a more general sense of dangerous differences that can exist between men and women, or even between flirtatious homosexuals.

The lady who introduced me to that expression thought of herself as "in control". In other words, she knew when she was flirting and when she wasn't, just how serious or playful she meant to be, what lines she had no intention of crossing and which she might cross, and she expected everyone she flirted with to know and understand exactly what she understood. But, did they?

Without doubt, there have been plenty of instances where playful flirtations have been misunderstood as unqualified invitations, offensive overtures, or malicious teases. What is innocently obvious to the person "putting on the flirt" is not always so benignly received by the person being flirted with. And problems exist both ways. A guy offering an admiring whistle these days risks charges of harassment, not just cold rebuff. Add in religious proscriptions with sometimes horribly cruel penalties and the activity of flirting no longer seems innocently enjoyable amorous play. And that's a shame.

It's a shame because flirtation is not only a laboratory for the development of sexual sensibilities, but it is also a laboratory for the development of a sense of self-worth and of the worth of others. Through flirtation we come to understand what about ourselves attracts and holds another's interest. And reciprocally, we come to understand what qualities in others we find fascinating, inspiring, and endearing. Flirtation is learning. It is, in fact, an activity young people need to engage in for healthy development. On the other hand, older people would likely find themselves less depressed and less rigidly tense if now and again they too engaged in such healthful play. It gets the juices flowing in a way that revives youth without the need for over-the-counter pills and doctor's prescriptions. Definitely a money saver.

Hard to understand exactly why, but very few cultures are fully open to and encouraging of the need for and benefits of flirtation. Even in cultures where unrebuked flirtatious play happens, serious consequential misunderstandings do occur. We'd, no doubt, all be better off if all parties were taught and understood both the benefits of and the safe and respectful how to's of responsible flirtatious play.

Not too much to ask, is it?

May the heat of your summer include at least a little youth reviving flirtatious play. I am sure we'd all enjoy seeing you wear the healthful glow it inspires.

Monday, May 30th, 2011
St. Joseph
45.1 mm 214 mm
1/500 sec
f 5.6