A General Theory of Flirting

Ohmygod, I love a good theory. I love to look at things, find patterns, and then see if I can explain them by a theory (of my own, or someone else’s, creation). Fun!

Theories are gorgeous to me because they explain things and leave room for little ‘what ifs’ (well, the good ones do, anyway). They are both steady and flexible. And I like that!

Anyway…on to today’s post.

So, as I have been discovering my sensual self (and there’s more on that to come!), I have started to think about how sensuality and sexuality are connected. And how they are not connected.

Many, many people only find their sensuality through the sexual doorway.

My sensuality coach helped me figure out that sensuality is its own land, and I can get there without sex. (Which might feel like a big ‘duh!’ for you, but was a surprise to me. Most people, I think, only encounter their sensuality through sexuality.) So, the point is that sensuality and sexuality are connected, but they aren’t the same.

But as I was thinking about where the two overlap, I started thinking about flirting.

You remember flirting, right?

It’s that fun place where you smile or wink or giggle as an expression of your happiness with life?

It’s an opening to joy, when you get down to it. But we also use it as the opening for sensual and sexual expression.

Think of it this way, you can flirt with anything: babies, dogs, the barista, a beautiful work of art.
But, quite often, we flirt with sexual intentions.

– – – – – – – – – – – –

I was cogitating about flirting as part of expressing my sensuality.

I wondered, “is it okay to flirt just for fun?”
“If I’m bringing out my sensual self, is flirting a workable way to do that?”
“what does it mean if I flirt with a woman?”
“what does it mean if I flirt with a man?”
“what would my husband think and feel if I flirted with someone else in front of him?”

And that last question made my brows super furrowed.

What would it mean to flirt with another person to whom I might be attracted, if I’m already partnered?
Is that even okay?

I talked with my husband about it.
He (brave man) admitted that it might feel weird to see me flirting with another man, even though he knows our bond is strong.

He was pretty sure he didn’t feel personally threatened, but more that our relationship might be threatened if I flirted with another man.

We started to pull this idea apart, because it made us both curious.
What was it about flirting that was so potentially threatening?

– – – – – – – – – – – –

What we came up with was this:
in modern American society, flirting has the potential to lead to fucking.

How’s that for a theory?

It goes like this:

If I flirt with another person,
and because flirting is so heavily connected with sexuality
then I might be signaling sexual interest (not just general joy)
which might lead to attraction
which might lead to interaction
which might lead to fucking.

I know it’s kind of a long step between those last two points, but I hope you understand the space and the steps between them.

Part of the theory is also this: that flirting will inevitably lead to fucking.
There’s no way around it. If you flirt, chances are, you’re going to fuck.
One nearly always (and perhaps, instantly) leads to the other.

And so, if I’m not allowed to fuck other people (that’s one of the rules in our marriage, anyway)
and because flirting could lead to fucking
then flirting is threatening to my marriage.

So I shouldn’t flirt.

It’s weird, huh?
And maybe it isn’t true for everyone, but I bet a lot of relationships operate on this theory.
If you look, you’ll touch; so don’t look.

– – – – – – – – – – – –

There is some research to back this idea up. In her book, Sex After…, Iris Krasnow talks about hook-up culture and how that is conducted- as efficiently as possible, via text.

If you want to hook-up with someone (and for those of you in Gen X or earlier, ‘hooking up’ means sexual relations of some sort or another) then you text them with a general question, like “what are you doing tonight?”

And if the person answers the text, you’re likely to get laid.

That’s all it takes! Answering the text!

(I think this is crazy, can you tell?!?)

I can see where people get the idea that if you flirt, you’ll fuck.


oil painting of one young man flirting with two young ladies, who are seated on a bench near a bowl of apples

Nice apples, wanna f-ck?
(It’s an old SNL joke…)


What this theory leaves out, of course, is that flirting can be perceived as completely innocuous.

No harm intended.
Just an expression of one’s fascination and inspiration with Life.
A wink of mystery; a wide grin; a little rub of the arm in thanks for an excellent tea latte.

Flirting can just be a little drop in the pond of sensuality.


I asked my husband, could he see it that way if I flirted with other people? (Men people.)

He said he could, but that it would take clear communication from me, and I would need to understand that maybe he might need a little relational reassurance the first few tries.

That seems fair.

– – – – – – – – – – – –

An interesting point about all this, for me, is that some of the most spiritual poets flirted all their lives.

They flirted with the Divine.

(Not a few of them made love with the Divine, but I don’t think that is the same as fucking. Although, I’m not sure on that, either!)

Some of them flirted with women and men in their community.

Some of them flirted with their patrons for decades.

(This I do not think is crazy.)

Imagine this: flirting and sending poetry and gorgeous, magical letters to each other for decades.
Never consummating (although it did happen for some).
And yet, all the while, being the vessel for the joy that is flirting.

Decades of joyful flirting.

Flirting that did not lead to fucking.
Flirting that was satisfying in and of itself. 

That sounds like fun to me.

– – – – – – – – – – – –

I think flirting is a great practice for developing your sensuality.
I think it’s also a great practice for figuring out where the line between sexuality and sensuality is.
I am guessing I will have to cross back and forth several times as I enjoy and practice flirting.

I want to see if I can prove the theory wrong.

To flirt just for the joy of it.


Wanna flirt with me? Leave a comment and let me know what you think of my theory!
Or contact me…ooooh, fun!



4 Responses to A General Theory of Flirting

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  3. Kath January 12, 2015 at 7:02 pm #

    This is amazing. Is it our instant gratification culture? I want it, I want it all, I want it all right now. I love flirting and fantasizing about it going further but I don’t love thinking about what would really happen if it did (family consequences – hurting my husband being #1 on that list). I never really explored the act of flirting for its own sake.

    Also, as someone who has only recently ever felt visible in my daily life, it has been incredibly fun to feel flirted with for the first time in 20+ years.

    I’m in.


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