I am flirting impaired. No, seriously. Like, they should issue me specialty license plates or something.
I theoretically understand that there’s something about making eye contact, and breaking it, and then holding it again, that constitutes flirting. On a rare instance, that might be what happens. But more often than not, what actually happens when I see someone that I find attractive is that my 15-year-old self makes an appearance, and I break eye contact and never make it again because then he might know I like him. ACK!
On the other hand, when faced with a person I am not attracted to, but that I find worrisome – there’s something “off” about them, or something that makes me feel like they aren’t trustworthy in some way – that I perceive as danger. And since all forms of danger register the same way to me, you know what I do when faced with a man who feels dangerous to me? I tend to keep an eye on him. Just now and then, I look around and find him again. Because you need to know where the danger is so that it can’t sneak up on you. And you know what that looks like to everyone who isn’t inside my head? It looks exactly like flirting.
See? Flirting impaired.
And I smile, in a not-super-encouraging-but-not-unfriendly way. A little cool, a little aloof. But still, smiling. Because you don’t want to make the potentially dangerous man angry. Apparently it’s a great look on me. I’m all calm and unspastic, and I look like I’m a challenge, but not an insurmountable one.
It would be great if I could pull that look off when I’m actually interested in someone. You know, instead of either hiding in the corner, or grinning like I need to be medicated.
Then there’s the other mixed signals I’m sending.
The fact that every time they ask me something I tap dance it back into a question about them? It’s not necessarily that I find them just so fascinating. (Although I am socially awkward and asking questions about another person is my favorite way to get to know someone AND let them carry the conversation without noticing that they’re doing it.) But in the case of the perceived-as-dangerous-guy, it’s that I’m feeling uncomfortable and even maybe slightly threatened, and so I’m minimizing how much he learns about me by letting him talk about himself. Unfortunately this makes him feel like we’re having a great conversation and that I’m really into him. If I actually was into him, there’s a 50-50 chance I’d be too tongue-tied to hold a conversation with him.
All that tension I’m giving off that is, in fact, anxiety? Looks like sexual tension to the outside observer.
That meaningful look I’m giving to whomever I know who might come to my rescue? That look, which is meant to convey, “Can’t you see how uncomfortable I am and how much I want to be saved from this situation?” can look a lot like, “Hey, can’t you see how into this guy I am and how you should leave us alone?”
Do you see how this is a problem?
So there I am, smiling coolly at the man I’m actually uncomfortable around, and making eye contact for the opposite reason than someone might guess, and of course, I’m touching my hair a lot, because I don’t know what to do with my hands (like, ever) and it’s in my eyes (always) and I can’t be keeping an eye on the scary man if my hair is blinding me.
Touching your hair is supposed to be a flirtation signal too, of course. And of course, this is another bit of bad news for me, in that my hair is constantly doing something it shouldn’t. So my hands are in my hair pretty much full time. Pulling it back. Putting it down. Brushing it out of my eyes. Again and again and again.
OK, so now I’ve completely scared off any guy I’ve really, really liked. Meanwhile I’ve thoroughly attracted a man I have no interest in, and he is reading my lack of interest as availability and desire. Perfect.
(My flirtation failure continues tomorrow.)