The other day I was having a beautiful, intimate conversation with two dear friends. One had a sensitive question around flirting.
She and her husband had made great friends with another married couple, and they were spending tons of time together. She flirted easily with the male counterpart of their new friends… and then started to worry. Would a line be crossed? Was she being “too much”?
Now mind you, no lines had been crossed. No secret meetings or anything untoward had happened, or would. In fact, Joel (let’s call him that) would do stuff with Amy (let’s call her that) that her husband wouldn’t do, like attend the local ballroom dance class – you know, without having to imbibe something alcoholic first. The conversation would go like this: all four are at dinner on Friday night. Amy announces to the table, “Joel. Salsa. Thursday.” And Joel says, “Deal. What time?”
As far as I could tell, the flirting was equal opportunity. Everyone enjoyed everyone’s company. And no, not in a swinging, wife-swapping kind of way (although I have no problem with that when all parties enthusiastically consent). They were flirting the way I define flirting: thoroughly enjoying themselves in the company of each other, with no ulterior, subterranean motive other than sheer pleasure.
And oh yes, it’s sexy and playful and fun. Does it mean that she’s drawing away from her husband? No. Does it mean that her pleasure flirting with one robs her relationship with the other? No.
To flirt is to shine your whole light in the presence of another, to allow them to witness and play in your radiance. Your light includes every aspect, including your sensuality. Your joy in your skin.
This is what was happening. And Amy was starting to feel uncomfortable with just how much fun she was having flirting with this guy, Joel. She was feeling affirmed in her attractiveness as a woman. In her magnetic power. And it was starting to freak her out.
I was reminded of a young, doe-eyed woman who took my Bellydance and the Art of Flirtation workshop at an outdoor yoga festival. When I asked if anyone had any questions, she shouted out, “Yes! Can you keep going? I don’t want this to end!” She hugged me after the workshop, confessing, “I haven’t flirted since before my babies were born.”
The thing is, we’ve been taught since we were little that there is something… unseemly… about an openly flirtatious woman. A flirtatious man is a charmer. A lady-killer. (We won’t even delve into the repercussions of that term… subject matter for a whole ‘nother article).
A flirtatious woman is “asking for the wrong kind of attention.” Less than. Even dangerous.
She is shamed for being so outspoken in the public display of her pleasure. For enjoying the innocent spark and interplay between herself and another person. Keyword: innocent.
I always think of that scene in the movie, The Witches of Eastwick, when Susan Sarandon’s character meanders through her shopping, expounding out loud on how delicious these cookies are (“double double chocolate are to die for”), eating pickles right out of the jar, and literally flirting with everyone in sight. She’s in ankle socks and heels, a pink tank dress and little else. She is a woman thoroughly in her pleasure. At the register, the cashier hisses under her breath, “Slut,” accenting the t.
Susan drops her basket and backs out of the store, while another woman in line intones, stunned, “She’s not… wearing… a bra.” Of course, in the plot it’s not just her actions in the supermarket that garner her the women’s scorn, but she – a pleasure-filled, enjoying-life character who has awakened sexually – is openly shamed for not behaving “appropriately.” She’s “too much,” an woman unrestrained, and punished for it.
There are limits placed on a woman’s flirting. It’s tolerated when she’s young and single… But once she is of “a certain age,” or married, or a mother, she believes she must put such foolish behaviors away and get serious. (*snore*). Besides, her mother didn’t flirt, right? (Ha, ha). Good girls don’t flirt, right? Overly much, at least. She’s no longer trying to attract a mate so… why flirt?
Ah, why flirt. One may as well ask, why meditate, why eat nourishing food, why move your body?
Flirting is as important to our wellbeing as any of these things because pleasure is like food for the woman’s soul. And flirting is the simple act of being in your pleasure – owning your beauty – in the presence of another human being. Being totally and fully present in this, your divine sensual feminine body.
Your body doesn’t end at the tips of your fingers, the bottoms of your feet or the top of your head… Your body casts its energetic glow over everyone whose path you cross.
I learned this on stage as a bellydancer. The dancers who captivated me, who held my gaze above all others were not necessarily the ones with the most experience – that master dancer who could send a wave of emotion through the audience with a crease of her brow. I could be just as captivated by a “baby” bellydancer, rocking the three moves that she knows. The key was her total groundedness in her body, her comfort and rampant joy in her own skin. Her pleasure – whether it is a happy or heartbreaking song. And her total lack of attachment to whether we paid her any mind. Ultimately, this was for her. Not you. (You just had the privilege to witness her!)
How did this translate for me as a performer? It wasn’t until I gave up the need to please, gave up my attachment to what reaction or accolades I might get through my performance, fostered my own ease and enjoyment in my body, and showed up as myself, without apology, that I really began to own the stage.
And it worked, whether my audience was a dozen or hundreds – I was, am, captivating. (It’s not a magical elixir unique to me; every woman has access to this magic).
Flirting is how I keep my juices flowing. When I flirt with a bus boy at the local taqueria, I have no desire or intention to take him home with me. (I’m quite happy with my hubby, thanks.) I don’t even really expect or intend for him to shower me with extra-special service (although, usually, he does, when met with the full radiant force of my undivided positive presence. Yep, I’m that good. You are too.) That is just a side perk. It is their privilege to witness you in your pleasure, and maybe even flirt back! But there is no expectation, no attachment.
The point isn’t some end result that I’m manipulating someone into providing, through my magnetic feminine wiles. (Could I do that? Of course. But I choose to use my power for good). The point is the act of flirting. Which, in and of itself, is innocent.
Flirting is a spiritual act. An expression of generosity, beaming your sacred presence at another human soul. It is a ritual of abundance. An unveiling of your pleasure and presence. It is a practice for tapping your infinite, feminine power. (Note: Flirting is also an act of vulnerability. There is a risk to it, to being nakedly yourself in front of someone else.)
Flirting turns you on, recharges your batteries, keeps you in the vortex, fills your cup. Because you, my love, by flirting, fill the cups of everyone who encounters you. And there ain’t NO shame in that. It’s a freaking public service, for Pete’s sake.
You, flirting, make the world a better place. I write that in total seriousness.
Try it. I dare you. 😉 Flirt in the most unlikely of places. Flirt without wanting anything at all. Flirt for the fun of it. Witness the fears that come up (because they will), just as they did for Amy. Just as they did for the doe-eyed woman who buried her flirtatious nature when she became a mom. Just as they did for me as I learned how to harness my power on stage.
Witness, too, the sheer pleasure of flirting, of embracing your natural, magnetic power.
Then, you tell me – which do you prefer? Fear or pleasure? You may find that once you let your flirting genie out of the lamp, you may never want to send her back into hiding!
I want to hear all about it. Tell me in the comments below: Brag your favorite flirty story… Share your sensitive questions… Where could a little more flirting light up your day… and someone else’s day?