A couple of weeks ago, my partner and I were visiting a local shop. While my partner was along for the ride, I was the one who wanted to shop there. After a brief conversation, getting more information from the shop employee, and making my purchase, we left the shop to head home.
“They were totally checking you out!” my partner said with a laugh as we walked toward the bus.
I sputtered. “Wh-what? Really? Like checking me out checking me out?”
“Yeah, really. It’s a thing.”
I pondered this for a while. It’s not the first time someone has pointed out to me that someone else is flirting with me, checking me out, or otherwise romantically interested. Perhaps because I don’t intentionally flirt with others, I find it incredibly bizarre that anyone else would view me that way.
Not long after my husband and I separated, I spoke to a counselor about some tangentially related things. I remember addressing some deep-seated fear of romantic relationships, because I don’t flirt, and don’t conceptualize how a romantic relationship can just spring out of two people meeting each other and vaguely being interested. The counselor seemed very convinced that casual flirtations and hookup culture were foreign concepts to me because I didn’t get the visual context of staring at a guy across a crowded bar or dance floor.
But that never seemed right to me. Even in situations where I should have picked up subtexts of flirtation and romanticism – phone chats, conversational volleys, summer camps where tons of relationships flourished – I never noticed any of that. When watching a movie or reading a book, where I was supposed to intellectually understand how or why the main leads were going to end up as a couple, it almost always seemed to come out of nowhere. Like, you hated his guts and then decided they were hot stuff because they made eyes at you and it’s all okay now?
It’s an alien concept to me, and yet it seems so ubiquitous. Before my relationship with my partner began, we were friends. I remember telling him that I didn’t understand flirting. I remember saying something like “If you’re going to flirt with me, you’re gonna have to make it REALLY obvious. You might even have to say something along the lines of, ‘hey… I’m trying to flirt with you.'”
But there’s hope for me yet. Not long ago I was on a work-related phone call. I don’t remember the entire conversation, but for a minute or two the banter was friendly and kind of fun. I hung up the phone, only for the thought to pop into my head… “Wait, was he flirting?”
I’ll never know. And maybe I’ll never get this flirting thing all right. And maybe… that’s OK.
You know what? I’ve been pondering this exact same question for quite a while. I must ask is your partner sighted? I ask this because he must have seen some of the visual cues to suggest that the shop attendant was “checking you out” as your partner put it. I’ve never been very social and am trying very hard to change this and I’m constantly checking myself to make sure that a compliment doesn’t end up being something flertatious and I would like that if it was flertatious that instead of dragging me away and lecturing me, that there is space to talk it out with me away from the situation and being calm about it or, allowing the person that the comment or comments were directed to was allowed to talk it out with me and whoever I was with more to add their piece. The only forseeable way I’m going to know what flerting is or isn’t is to actually witness it or observe it face to face and/or in person but I guess that has its risks. and if I said something to somebody, i.e to a waitress, i’d much prefer tht it be spoken about once i’m back in the car with whoever i’m with to discuss it but i’m sure there are some non-visual cues that potray flertatious behaviour.
Carol anne said:
Lol about the guy in the store checking you out! I’ve had similar happen to me!