Flirting in the Digital Age

Practice the art of flirtation, but save the advance techniques for THE man” Arlene Dahl, Always Ask a Man.

I think I have gone backwards.

In nine months of trying to become a glamorous flirtatious sex-pot housewife, I somewhere got turned around and became a blithering idiot in too-tall heels.

I have always, always been able to get male attention whenever I wanted.  I had a way with a glance, a head-turning outfit, a clever remark in class.  I’m not the prettiest girl in the world, but if I set my sights on a guy, more often than not, he ended up mine.  (It took me three years to get Ian, but he was well worth the wait) and even now, I continue to practice my charm because, well, it’s fun.  Almost everyone likes to be innocently flirted with–NOT HIT ON–but given a little charm and attention from a stranger. 

So let’s say there’s this man.  (We’ll call him Mr. W to protect his identity.)  We had a conversation on Twitter, as people do, and nothing much of it.  But lately, he’s been tweeting to me, with a darling nickname, telling me that I am witty and well-read.  My immediate reaction to seeing these tweets was not coyness or charm, but immediate sweating (I do not sweat ever), followed by intense panic and layered with dizzy flattery.  My transformation into Liz Lemon is complete.

Arlene and Helen and all the other charm-stars out there did not write about digital flirting, so we modern ladies have no guide.  The general idea seems to be send a topless/nude selfie, which I’m not going to do.  Those are advanced techniques, far too forward for this interaction. It’s not that type of flirting.  There is no end goal or sex or marriage, just two people engaging in a little banter.  It’s important to understand the end game of any flirtation and respond accordingly.  A smile begets a smile.

Flirting in the digital ether is especially difficult because there are a thousand ways to read a sentence.  What might be construed as flirting could be just an innocent answer, or an innocent answer may be seen as sarcasm.   Aggressive techniques take over to make sure the message gets across, so charm and subtly–the fun parts of flirting, if you ask me–get lost. 

So I waited a bit before tweeting back.  I tried to be as charming and darling as possible.  I continued our conversation and, in accordance with Arlene’s suggestion about making the conversation about him, asked him what he liked.  He responded, very friendly.  It is not a love for the ages (he doesn’t even formally follow me) but seeing “Mr. W has responded to your tweet!” pop up in my email still gives me a giddy little thrill. . . after the sweating has worn off, of course.

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