It’s not really a thing, friend flirting. Not yet, at least.
But here’s the definition of flirting, according to my laptop dictionary: “Behaving as though attracted to or trying to attract someone, but for amusement rather than with serious intentions.” I would take issue with the second half of that definition— plenty of people flirt with romantic interests with every intention of eventually making it serious—but that first section seems spot on.
And if that is correct, if flirting is simply a way of behaving to attract someone and show your interest in them, then the word really can be used for the friendly smiles and nods we use to endear ourselves to potential BFFs.
One thing I’ve come to believe, lately? As a woman, it’s easier to “flirt” with a guy than a girl.
I’m always on the lookout for new friends. I’ve trained my eye, so now I can spot an inviting smile anywhere. If a potential friend seems to be expressing “interest” in me (strictly platonic interest, but you can see why the issue of having no vocabulary for making friends can be tough. These quotation marks around the generally romantic words are just annoying), I reciprocate or even initiate the contact. And as I’ve always said, the people I’ve reached out to are generally responsive.
But what if it’s friendliness with no agenda? What if, say, I’m interacting with someone in an airport, and there’s pretty much no way we are ever going to see each other again, so any type of real BFFship is out of the question? In that case, it can be really hard to strike up conversations with women.
Yesterday I was at LaGuardia Airport, killing time before my flight from New York City back to Chicago. I wasn’t looking for a best friend (I’d just seen all my lifers so was feeling nostalgic for those specific ladies), but I’m always on the lookout for someone to chat with. The woman across the aisle from me at the gate seemed friendly. But every time I thought I might say something, just to chat, I chickened out.
Meanwhile the guy at Five Guys, the guys at the security line, the guys at the gate, they were talkative and friendly. I think we’ve all been trained in charming the opposite sex, even for a moment. But winning over a new buddy? No one’s gone to class for that.
Am I crazy? Have you found that it can be easier to strike up small-talk conversations with men than with women? Is it because we’ve been trained to flirt? Or because men are less judgmental, and thus less intimidating, than women?