In our fortnightly column ‘Great Sexpectations’ the Woman Alive panel answer your questions on sex, faith and intimacy. Drop us a confidential email on firstname.lastname@example.org and ask us anything. Here, we tackle; if you can flirt as a Christian.
Dear Woman Alive panel,
Thanks for taking the time to read this. I basically want to know about flirting. I do meet single Christian men at church and through the mission work I’m involved in but I just get “friend-zoned” straight away. I want to flirt and get their attention, but I also want to honour Jesus and not over-sexualise or anything like that. Is flirting as a Christian ok? And if it is… how do I do it?
What an interesting dichotomy of a question! You want to flirt but you don’t want to be sexual? Just so we’re on the same page, I looked up the official definition of “flirting” and to provide balance will share both the English (by way of Cambridge) and American (by way of Wikipedia) versions:
to behave as if sexually attracted to someone, although not seriously
Flirting or coquetry is a social and sexual behavior involving body language, or spoken or written communication. It is used to suggest interest in a deeper relationship with another person and for amusement. A person will flirt with another by speaking or behaving in such a way that suggests their desire to increase intimacy in their current relationship with that person. The approach may include communicating a sense of playfulness, irony, or by using double entendres.
Personally, I prefer the Wiki version because it uses such old-fashioned language as “coquetry” which takes me back to the Jane Austen classics I read growing up. Picture, if you will, a lady “accidentally” dropping her silk glove as she steps down from her carriage and the nearest eligible gentleman rushing forward to retrieve it, lest its owner muddies her skirts (and risks rib-crushing by corsetry) by bending down herself. In this 19 century example, flirting looks like showing vulnerability to a man and thus letting him know that the protagonist is available to be cared for.
In our modern times, flirting has become a little less subtle and a lot more seductive.
In our modern times, flirting has become a little less subtle and a lot more seductive. At least so it might seem. I would say that in general, flirting is by default a little bit sexual and also not 100% intentional. As the definitions above allude to, it’s usually a “playful” way of showing interest and perhaps that means there’s a risk of not being taken seriously. And I mean that in the sense that there is an element of "I am making it known that I (might) want to have sex with you" to the whole thing. I’m honestly not sure if you can really “flirt” without that element being there which is what you say you want to avoid. Matthew 5:37 might be a bit strong for this ("All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.") but there can be a hurtful emotional fall out if there is any confusion on either side about what is intended in the act of flirting.
Personally, I don’t think there is anything wrong with the idea of sex (which God created) being relevant in the find a spouse dance – after all, I’m presuming you will actually want to have sex with your husband at some point so I wouldn’t suggest ruling out sexual attraction.
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Having said all that(!) I do want to make it clear that I don’t necessarily think you need to flirt in order to make it known to the guy you like that you are interested in a relationship. First off, flirting is one of those things that, if too subtle can be missed by the object of your affection and IMHO men are not generally known to read subtle signs unless they are looking out for them. You say that you get “friendzoned” by the men you meet. Assuming you’re not interested in polygamy, remember that this is not necessarily a bad thing as you only want one of them as your husband, not a plethora of them. In my experience, friendship is a great foundation for a romantic relationship! I know I’ve taken time to get to this point but sexual attraction – as exciting as it may seem – can wane during the twists and turns of life, but if you meet someone with whom you have a firm friendship with good communication and a little bit of attraction, then that’s a great way to begin something that is built to last.
In my experience, friendship is a great foundation for a romantic relationship!
I once had a great platonic relationship with a guy and I was happy with the way our friendship was going. I had no idea that he wasn’t until a message popped up on my phone in which he invited me out for Valentine’s Day! Quelle surprise! That was the ah ha moment for me where I realised he was quickly trying to remove himself from what appeared to be the “friend zone” to make it clear that he wanted to pursue a romantic relationship with me.
In conclusion dear reader, please be yourself and don’t worry about trying to be what you might perceive to be a more alluring version to all and sundry. Keep being friendly and enjoy communication with the men in your life while keeping boundaries (Guard your heart a la Proverbs 3:23) that make you feel safe and comfortable. When and if you realise one of these guy pals might be someone you want to pursue things with romantically, make it known as clearly as you can and see what happens. God luck!
Our Great Sexpectations column is written by a number of different contributors who make up the Woman Alive panel. If you have a question for us, email: email@example.com,uk
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