The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > In My Humble Opinion (IMHO)

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 02-28-2009, 08:52 PM
Pollux Oil Pollux Oil is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
The difference between friendly and flirting?

Okay, so I've had a few experiences at work over the past month or so that have made me see the 'other side of the coin' so to speak. I know it comes up sometimes in threads around here about dating and such; how women give "mixed signals" and how it's impossible to tell if they're being friendly or hitting on you. Now, I don't think I'm a flirt at all in the main sense of the word: I don't hit on women that often. But in the eyes of some of my co-workers I'm apparently a pretty active one.

In one case, a young woman came up to check out. While I could see some people would say she's cute she wasn't anywhere near my type (too tall) so I didn't think "hot damn, let me flirt with her woo baby!" I did strike up friendly conversation with her while I was ringing her up, though, which I do regularly with customers when I'm in a good mood. After she left, my co-worker comes up to me and nudges me, saying "I saw you flirting with her!" and waggled his eyebrows at me. I, of course, said "No I wasn't..." because, well, I wasn't! I was just being friendly. At least that's what I thought I was doing, but my co-worker (and perhaps the customer?) thought otherwise.

In the second case, a woman came up and was very clearly having a bad day. It didn't register in my mind "this woman is attractive, let me flirt with her." What did register was "this woman is having a bad day, I'm going to be a little extra nice to her." And so I conversed with her a little bit, cracked a joke or two, and when I was done ringing her up she was on her way. And immediately after a co-worker comes over and says "You were totally hitting on that lady." Really? I was? I thought I was just trying to cheer her up.

In a third instance, a young woman came in for an interview but kept missing the manager so she'd have to come back the next day. So over the course of the few days she would come in I would talk with her for a bit. I noticed she was married (and had a kid) the first day she had shown up, so I wasn't trying to flirt with her at all, I was just being nice to a potential new co-worker. However, my co-workers (and one of my managers too) started teasing me and referring to her as my "girlfriend." "You're girlfriend's back for her interview, did you see her?" "Hey, has your girlfriend started working yet?" (This annoyed me for obvious reasons, the most obvious that she was freaking married.) But again, they took something that I thought was me being nice and turned it into me being a flirt.

So I don't get it. I've been puzzling over why I'm being called a flirt when I'm just being a friendly person. Of course, the other day when I had a friendly conversation with an older lady about her cat who was in the vet, nobody nudged me and said I was flirting with her. So is the assumption by most people "if you're being nice to somebody attractive, you must be flirting?" 'Cause I don't get it. I mean, I guess I'm not particularly knowledgeable at flirting anyway. I always assumed flirting equaled some sort of sexual undertone in the exchange. But apparently just being nice and trying to make people laugh is considered flirting by some people?

To make a direct question out of this OP, what's the difference between you being friendly and you flirting with somebody? I'd sure like to know so maybe I can get my co-workers to stop teasing me.
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 02-28-2009, 09:01 PM
Vox Imperatoris Vox Imperatoris is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pollux Oil View Post
Okay, so I've had a few experiences at work over the past month or so that have made me see the 'other side of the coin' so to speak. I know it comes up sometimes in threads around here about dating and such; how women give "mixed signals" and how it's impossible to tell if they're being friendly or hitting on you. Now, I don't think I'm a flirt at all in the main sense of the word: I don't hit on women that often. But in the eyes of some of my co-workers I'm apparently a pretty active one.

In one case, a young woman came up to check out. While I could see some people would say she's cute she wasn't anywhere near my type (too tall) so I didn't think "hot damn, let me flirt with her woo baby!" I did strike up friendly conversation with her while I was ringing her up, though, which I do regularly with customers when I'm in a good mood. After she left, my co-worker comes up to me and nudges me, saying "I saw you flirting with her!" and waggled his eyebrows at me. I, of course, said "No I wasn't..." because, well, I wasn't! I was just being friendly. At least that's what I thought I was doing, but my co-worker (and perhaps the customer?) thought otherwise.

In the second case, a woman came up and was very clearly having a bad day. It didn't register in my mind "this woman is attractive, let me flirt with her." What did register was "this woman is having a bad day, I'm going to be a little extra nice to her." And so I conversed with her a little bit, cracked a joke or two, and when I was done ringing her up she was on her way. And immediately after a co-worker comes over and says "You were totally hitting on that lady." Really? I was? I thought I was just trying to cheer her up.

In a third instance, a young woman came in for an interview but kept missing the manager so she'd have to come back the next day. So over the course of the few days she would come in I would talk with her for a bit. I noticed she was married (and had a kid) the first day she had shown up, so I wasn't trying to flirt with her at all, I was just being nice to a potential new co-worker. However, my co-workers (and one of my managers too) started teasing me and referring to her as my "girlfriend." "You're girlfriend's back for her interview, did you see her?" "Hey, has your girlfriend started working yet?" (This annoyed me for obvious reasons, the most obvious that she was freaking married.) But again, they took something that I thought was me being nice and turned it into me being a flirt.

So I don't get it. I've been puzzling over why I'm being called a flirt when I'm just being a friendly person. Of course, the other day when I had a friendly conversation with an older lady about her cat who was in the vet, nobody nudged me and said I was flirting with her. So is the assumption by most people "if you're being nice to somebody attractive, you must be flirting?" 'Cause I don't get it. I mean, I guess I'm not particularly knowledgeable at flirting anyway. I always assumed flirting equaled some sort of sexual undertone in the exchange. But apparently just being nice and trying to make people laugh is considered flirting by some people?

To make a direct question out of this OP, what's the difference between you being friendly and you flirting with somebody? I'd sure like to know so maybe I can get my co-workers to stop teasing me.
I'd say you're only flirting with her if you meant to flirt with her. Your co-worker(s) is just overly concerned with picking out occasions of you flirting, or they are just teasing you. I guess it's possible that you really do ask more personal questions than are normally considered acceptable, look women in the eye too long, or touch them more than necessary, but I doubt it.

Valete,
Vox Imperatoris
__________________
Nec audiendi qui solent dicere, vox populi, vox Dei, quum tumultuositas vulgi semper insaniae proxima sit.
Last.fm Pandora
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 02-28-2009, 09:18 PM
Anaamika Anaamika is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
This kind of shit pisses me off. There are people out there who, if you give someone a COMPLIMENT, immediately assume you are flirting. Sometimes a potato is just a potato people!
Vox is totally right, (except where he quotes an entire post in the first answer Bad Vox!). You are only flirting if you intended to flirt. Hands down, end of discussion.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 02-28-2009, 09:22 PM
lavenderviolet lavenderviolet is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
I think your coworker probably is just kidding around with you, but some people definitely will interpret any nice behavior towards members of the opposite sex in a potentially date-able age range as being flirting. I have run into trouble with that because I just tend to get along better with dudes than chicks and have to try to avoid giving the impression I am trying to hit on guys when I'm just trying to be nice.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 02-28-2009, 09:30 PM
Vox Imperatoris Vox Imperatoris is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anaamika View Post
(except where he quotes an entire post in the first answer Bad Vox!)
Yeah...I came back after the edit window was over and realized that.

Valete,
Vox Imperatoris

Last edited by Vox Imperatoris; 02-28-2009 at 09:30 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 02-28-2009, 09:41 PM
Muffin Muffin is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pollux Oil View Post
The difference between friendly and flirting?
Penetration.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 03-01-2009, 12:17 AM
Lust4Life Lust4Life is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
IME if you're pleasant to a woman who is diplomatically speaking, of less then average attractiveness ,then she will often pretend to assume that you're trying to chat her up and act offended,presumably so that she can brag about it to her mates.

I also think that the gradation of the chat up lines can also be very subjective,recently a work colleague was talking to a very attractive member of the public and quite frankly his conversation was getting a bit near the knuckle IMO,he was laying on suggestive double entendres with a trowel and only just stayed this side of the mark.
She had been friendly and laughing and joking with the rest of us minutes earlier but she started to look a little worried and a little incredulous and obviously found his conversation disturbing.
On the pretext of work I got him away from her before there was an incident but he blithly unaware of how creepy he had come across regaled us with heartfelt sentiments of how she was"up for it" and how obviously attracted to him she was.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 03-01-2009, 12:35 AM
Freudian Slit Freudian Slit is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pollux Oil View Post
However, my co-workers (and one of my managers too) started teasing me and referring to her as my "girlfriend." "You're girlfriend's back for her interview, did you see her?" "Hey, has your girlfriend started working yet?" (This annoyed me for obvious reasons, the most obvious that she was freaking married.) But again, they took something that I thought was me being nice and turned it into me being a flirt.
Dude. Your co-workers are totally flirting with you!
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 03-01-2009, 12:44 AM
Alex_Dubinsky Alex_Dubinsky is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: New York City
Posts: 2,859
There's two kinds of flirting. One is a cultural ("artificial") dance. The other is you act nice, charismatic, and talkative in a way that'll get the other person to like you.

Obviously, being friendly and performing the 2nd kind of flirting are actually the same thing.

Last edited by Alex_Dubinsky; 03-01-2009 at 12:49 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 03-01-2009, 03:28 AM
bufftabby bufftabby is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
I think your co-workers are being immature. It's the same old "You like her! You like her!" crap from when we were little kids. Ignore them and keep being friendly.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 03-01-2009, 06:10 AM
An Arky An Arky is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 8,325
I sometimes think some people think that about me, because I'm very friendly and gregarious. Plus, I'm southern and sometimes people unfamiliar with southern phrases might get confused. But I don't flirt.
Reply With Quote
Reply



Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 01:24 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.