The woman checking me in at my primary doctor’s office was maybe slightly thrown off her game by my flirting, but I think that even more she liked it.
I told her I liked her glasses a lot, which was true. “They have a different shape – it’s cool.” I didn’t say they made her look like Catwoman, which also was true.
But even more, I played with her about her age.
“Have you been wearing glasses for a long time?”
“About 30 years.”
“Since you were 5.”
She smiled slyly – I knew she liked it.
WhadoIknow? When I tease with women (and yes, often – though not as often – men) about their age, it’s usually kind of sincere. I’m terrible at estimating ages. This woman could easily have been 35 for all I knew. I scoped her out again on my way out of the office later and I still didn’t have a clue.
But if I’m going to err on age with women (and sometimes men), I’m going to err on the side of calling them young. At my grocery store, when a woman tells me she qualifies for the senior discount – if I genuinely think she looks too young, or like she might possibly be too young – I’m liable to say:
“No you don’t.”
“Not ’til you’re 60.”
“You must think I’m easy.”
If they ask if I want to see their driver’s license, I always say “Yes” – and they almost always seem to enjoy this little exercise. You know they’re going to tell their friends that they got carded for their senior discount.
What’s the relationship between flirting and affirmation? Flirting is playing and playing with someone is validating. It’s a way of saying “I like you.” Flirting is also a way of saying “I think you’re attractive.” To indicate to a woman that you think they are attractive is not oppressive.
An exception is with drop-dead gorgeous women. These women are more likely to have been oppressed around their looks – hit on, treated like an object, not recognized for their intelligence and competence. They probably also already know they are attractive, so there’s no empty place to be filled here. With these women, I am more inclined to affirm them for their intelligence or competence, for their parenting or for their good taste in groceries.
If I can’t pull up those kinds of affirmations, I’m liable just to be all business. This makes me feel a little sad – it feels like a loss, a loss of a chance to play – but it seems better than to appreciate any aspect of their appearance, even their glasses…or God forbid to look at them just a little too long.
Making flirting an affirmation is tricky – it’s an art form. I don’t recommend it to people with clumsy interpersonal skills. Doing it is an affirmation of my own intelligence. And an affirmation of my connection with you. It says that I know how to play – and I want to play with you.