In marriages, a potential source of monotony arises from the notion that men, typically, lack skill in the art of flirting. The desire for conquest, self-assurance, and assertiveness often clash with the subtle nature of flirting. Flirting creates a delicate balance, allowing for space, teasing, and the exploration of sensuality rather than solely focusing on physical intimacy.
It can be both enjoyable and deceptive and exists within the realm between acceptance and rejection, between revealing and concealing, adding an element of doubt that propels its allure. However, once certainty takes hold, the dance of flirtation concludes.
Consider a familiar scenario of a tense "negotiation" regarding sexual intimacy: One partner, often portrayed as male, is focused on having sex. His objective remains fixed, while the approach may vary. Regardless of the specific method of courtship, the ultimate aim is achieving orgasm. Conversely, the other partner, typically portrayed as female, holds the power to consent, decline, or perhaps reluctantly participate due to a blend of compassion and guilt.
The heart-wrenching aspect of this poignant scenario lies in the couple's experience of "going with" but truly "feeling without." Their sole expectation is for physical pleasure at best, relinquishing their need to feel desired or loved at worst. Conversely, the act of flirting represents a complete reversal. There is a tantalizing sense of conquest even before the other person is fully won over, and a delight that arises even before reaching the ultimate happiness of consummation. In a way, the means and the end become interchangeable. The anticipated physical pleasure takes a backseat to the psychological pleasure derived from an erotic sense of playfulness. The pursuit of the other person is relegated to the sidelines, while the enjoyment of the game itself takes center stage.
In a state of flirting, the process itself, while devoid of guarantees, still holds an enchanting allure. Its inherent value lies in its presence and the excitement it generates. As observers of a strip show may attest, the most captivating moments often occur when the stripper is still clothed, allowing the imagination to play a role in undressing them. In terms of passion, the anticipation leading up to the moment of undressing can hold greater appeal than the actual act itself.
Flirting, often perceived as lighthearted or casual, actually encompasses much deeper aspects. Its very essence defies conventional understanding and thrives on paradox. It requires a balanced sense of entitlement, acknowledging one's worth, while avoiding excessive arrogance. A flirt embodies self-assurance without being forceful and is unburdened by others' opinions while staying true to oneself. These qualities enable the flirt to derive satisfaction solely from the act of flirting itself.
By relinquishing the need for approval and simultaneously embracing the possibility of rejection, a newfound inner freedom is discovered. This liberation allows one to engage with life as a playful game, rather than viewing each moment as a mere stepping stone toward a final desired outcome or fearing the possibility of never attaining it.
In long-term relationships, when the other person becomes excessively important, our freedom to act diminishes, making it challenging to break free from their presence. Fear of judgment or scrutiny from our partner sows the seeds of relationship monotony and undermines the dynamics of sexual negotiation.
This also explains why people who lack emotional self-awareness, such as those who constantly seek validation, struggle with flirting. When we "force ourselves" to adopt a pleasing, amiable demeanor and suppress anger, we engage in mental deception. We present ourselves as someone who can be accepted by others, in the hope of gaining self-acceptance. However, this approach limits our ability to flirt, as it restricts the space necessary for taking risks and embracing the constant possibility of rejection by the other person. This fear of rejection can lead to self-rejection, hindering our ability to engage in the playful and unpredictable nature of flirting.
Flirting can prove to be a challenging endeavor for those who take themselves too seriously. In Woody Allen's film "Annie Hall," there is a remarkable scene where the camera alternates between Allen sitting in his therapist's office and his lover (Diane Keaton) sitting with her own therapist. They are both asked about the frequency of their sexual encounters. Allen responds with a touch of sadness, "Almost never... maybe three times a week." Keaton, on the other hand, grumbles, "All the time... something like three times a week."
Allen's seriousness and his tendency to interpret Keaton's response as a personal rejection, make him vulnerable to fluctuations in his self-worth and severely limit his ability to flirt with her. When we don't get what we desire, our determination and fixed stance on how we feel about it, take over, and as mentioned earlier, once that happens, flirting comes to an end.
Indeed, if Allen had been open to flirting with the idea that his partner's libido might be lower than his own, he could have approached the situation with humor instead of overwhelming seriousness. He could have used those moments when she rejected his advances as an opportunity to playfully reaffirm his attraction to her. For instance, he could have said something like, "You know, Diane, even when you refuse me, I still find you incredibly sexy. It's everything about you, especially the conversations we have when we're not even thinking about sex. Maybe we should avoid sex altogether?"
By injecting humor and lightheartedness into the situation, Allen might have diffused the tension and created a space for open communication about their differing libidos. This kind of approach demonstrates a willingness to embrace the playfulness of flirting, allowing for a deeper connection beyond just the physical aspects of their relationship.
Flirting is indeed not typically associated with seriousness, as it involves approaching intercourse with a light-hearted attitude, infused with humor, confidence, and playfulness. Embracing a life of flirting means embracing a willingness to take risks, prioritizing curiosity and experience over immediate gratification, and embracing uncertainty and vulnerability. It involves transforming doubt into a companion, anticipation into excitement, and being open to the fluidity between the destination and the journey.
Looking at specific scenarios through the lens of flirting can provide insights. For instance, when a man experiences premature ejaculation, it is possible that anxiety may hinder his ability to engage in flirting. Similarly, a woman who avoids a man she desires may find it challenging to flirt. In both cases, flirting could potentially help them regulate their emotions more effectively, allowing them to maintain their passion while simultaneously creating space for themselves. Flirting can serve as a tool for self-expression and self-discovery, enabling people to navigate their desires and boundaries with greater ease and balance.
First published: 14:14, 07.05.23