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Flirty or Friendly?

Flirty or Friendly? Are you confused by these two verbs? Do they mean the same thing to you? Read on.

I admit to being utterly baffled by them. Since when did they become interchangeable? I need to constantly check myself when I say something intended as a joke because the last thing I want is to appear ‘loose’ or worse yet, ‘cheap type of flirty’.

Once, a friend was at a cocktail and conversation struck with a stranger who also happened to be in architecture. ‘Nice smile’, she noted to herself ‘Too bad he’s standing too close so I can’t quite see his tush’. They discussed an eminent building project many architectural firms were very interested in tapping into.

Soon the small group disseminated, and they were the only ones left; an onlooker would have thought that he’s absolutely smitten by this young lady he was talking to. He cracked a few jokes to which she laughed politely, as all girls do she started to notice his crisp white shirt, his not too flashy cufflinks, and he says, ‘So, erm, can I get your number?’ She didn’t know what to say, except she rambled on about how busy she is at the moment while he noted her number.

For the next few hours, she dreaded receiving a call or text. Friendly or flirty, she asked herself while sipping the rest of the much too diluted mojito. Surely friendly; but what if it wasn’t?

Confusion racked her that night until morning, and then eventually lunch, and there was still no text or call from the architect. Did he not get my number down right? Did I do/say anything wrong? Am I not attractive enough? She drove herself into a frenzy until it dawned on her that he was only being friendly.

She reasons with herself, but that eye contact and the way he casually leaned over when she showed him an ongoing project on her iPad. Who the hell does ‘friendly’ in this day and age and why can I not tell it apart from 'Flirty'? Even though she wasn’t attracted to him, his subtle rejection made her want him. A strange phenomenon isn’t it?

When you are younger, it didn’t matter if you were misread or misunderstood. In fact, confusion was your friend, you liked that you were able to manipulate people with a poker face, all the while you teased and charmed with your tone. This way, many girls aced university by having guys share their research and findings on assignments.

Now that my twenties are fast-dwindling, and the certificates on the wall reassuring me that I have the credentials to call myself a ‘professional’, I’m thrown into choppy waters where men of all ages and mental ages (please note how I differentiate the two, because ladies, as we all know we need to deduct a few years to arrive at the correct mental age of a man, ), equally and more qualified than I am in different phases in life.

If navigation in these waters meant being cautious, I would have a GPS, a map of the world, and several other tracking devices that would prevent me from landing on strange, desolate islands.

Let’s look at another instance where you are befuddled with a project that the boss has landed on your lap with a 48-hour deadline. You’re this close to tearing your hair apart and giving your resignation, with new hope of moving to another province and starting your career afresh as a fruit vendor. You have already consumed five cups of coffee and you are nowhere close to starting this; finally, at 4pm and you decide to open the document and your colleague innocently asks you what you are up to. Coincidentally, he excels in this particular area; you offer him your house and all possessions you have in exchange for a little help, and the best part is he smiles and says he wants nothing of the sort – in something like two hours he has done 80% of the work. You could weep with joy!

With the bulk of the work done already, you have completed the task by 8pm – you’re skippy-happy that you could almost see that well-deserved promotion in sexy kitten heels. Your phone beeps – it’s a WhatsApp message from the colleague, whom we shall now call ‘Alex’. You pause for a moment, I mean, after all, shouldn’t colleague just send you an SMS of a WhatsApp message? Oh well, seems harmless.
It reads;
Alex : ‘Hi… Hope your work is almost done?’
You : ‘Almost Thank you, once again. I was so stressed out and I owe you one!’
Alex : ‘What? Shouldn't you be home now? How are you going home? It was no problem at all. Wish you had asked me earlier and I could have gone through this with you.’

You bite your lip. What’s with the concern, Alex? You try to not over think it and continue, until you realized you have been texting him for two whole hours and by this point you have divulged your age, your civil status, where you live and how boring your weekends are; for all you have just shared you could have told him when your menstrual cycle is due too.

You still want to believe that he’s being friendly and then he send you an emoji with the pouted lips with his good night message, followed by LOL. Oh, thank Moses he was kidding. Thank you ‘LOL’ for saving me from so much awkwardness. Friendly or Flirty? Please let it be friendly, you silently pray.

What you don’t realize is that he’s sent you a good-morning message and there’s a continuous stream of messages, even though he sits 10 steps away from you. Now, you are concerned. He stops by your desk, sits on it and asks you if you’ve had lunch. Curious eyes in office follow you. To avoid further awkwardness, you think why not and get up and head over to the cafeteria. He compliments you on how well the skirt fits your form; he wants to drop you home after work; you cannot take a moment's break because when you look up his eyes meet yours.This has to stop!

Three days later it’s still not getting any better and he messages you saying, ‘Hey beautiful..’ This is it, you seize the moment and decide to address the situation. He doesn’t take it too well because he says that he was acting on your cues and that you were coming on to him with all the sweet thank you messages. He's insulted that you are rejecting him, and an insulted man is like a bitch in heat.

You are appalled and you cry out saying, ‘I was thanking you for crying out loud!' You are then accused of leading him on and that you’re a tease. You’re just too shocked to say anything. Apparently, if you weren’t interested you were supposed to have told him earlier. You try to reason with him saying you were being friendly; he turns around and says, 'Friendly died a long time ago'.

Can you relate to this? Have you been accused of being too playful or flirty when all the while you believed it was a perfectly platonic relationship? You can’t blame yourself because there isn’t a manual that tell us what can and cannot be done. The trick is to find the perfect equilibrium where friendly and flirty meets, where does this lie?

Men respond to different methods, even though you are at the height of curt, it could still mean something for someone with a very warped mind.

I can tell if I can like someone in three seconds of talking to them; thus, allowing me to choose if I want to use my Friendly of Flirty card. In my area of work, I encounter dozens of men, and when I look at them or analyze them like Cyclops (X-Men) their details appear on my imaginary visor…
Good looking? Yes / No
Bad breath? Yes / No
Good teeth? Yes / No
Are his hands nice? Yes / No
Hygienic? Yes / No
Can I kiss him? Yes / No
Do I like to kiss him? Yes / No
Would I like to hold hands? Yes / No
Can I take him out in public? Yes / No
Would he look good lying atop of me? Yes / No
Do I want to show that I want to be more than friends? Yes / No
Do I pop my top button open? Yes / No
So the checklist evolves gradually, and a man qualifies from one base to another as does my interest.

What you must remember is that with the passage of time, and many douchebag encounters later, you may equip yourself with wisdom to identify these situations better. Even if you don’t, that’s fine too. Remember, beautiful flowers grow from out ugly brown seeds, in this manner, accidental 'flirty' may lead to something very good!

..And with that, I conclude 'Flirty or Friendly' - Think of it as something that comes with being a woman. As always, I would like to hear your opinion via comments or private messages. My motivation is derived from your wonderful words of encouragement!


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