Without going in to detail or naming names, I recently have had a number of “flirt” related situations perpetrated both by me and to me that have caused me to become introspective about the nature of the flirt and the responses to the behavior.
First, let me clarify and define what I mean by “flirting”. Dictionary.com defines Flirt as “act amorously without serious intentions.” The Oxford Dictionary defines it as “experiment with or show a superficial interest in (an idea, activity, or movement) without committing oneself to it seriously.”
For me, I tend to think that flirting often occurs both with and without intent. It certainly occurs as playful banter between people, perhaps intended as “good clean fun,” but I believe it occurs regularly as ”probing” type of behavior - that is, it is performed to obtain a response. The flirter can then make a decision based on the response – does it appear that this person is open to my advance, or does that door appear closed?
I have come to realize that I pass such interactions (someone flirting with me) through 3 possible filters:
1) I consider the person attractive and am open to the possibilities, and so I welcome the “filrty” interaction and encourage it with similar behavior of my own.
2) The person is a friend and it’s understood that any “flirty” behavior is just in good fun, and not taken seriously or offensively, and so neither of us feels like we have to have our guard up.
3) I do not consider the person attractive or am not open to the possibilities, and so I want to find a way to discourage the flirty behavior, or at least certainly not encourage it, for fear I may be sending wrong signals or building their hopes.
I find that for my side, the line between 1 and 2 can often become blurred – I may be being flirty in good fun, but would also be open to the possibilities. I suppose this reflects my perspective of it as a probing type of behavior.
Unfortunately, if I fear that someone flirting with me is genuinely interested and probing to see how I feel, that colors my view of everything she says… They may be, at any given moment, engaging in normal “friendly” behavior, but I am now on the defensive because they’ve flirted with me before; so I am now cautious and not responding in a normal, friendly manner because I don’t want to risk sending the wrong signals.
This is where I often just have no idea whether I just struggle with these kinds of situations because of my Asperger’s, or whether this type of struggle is typical for people.