Thought Catalog

Why It’s Important To Flirt

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You enter a bar and immediately feel unattractive. You’re so sick of getting stared at, of getting evaluated. “Do I want to see you naked? Do I want to go through all the effort it’ll take to kiss you and take you home?” When you go to these places expecting to find someone to love forever, you think of something Sylvia Plath once said:

there’s so much hurt in this game of searching for a mate, of testing, trying. And then you realize suddenly that you forgot it was a game & turn away in tears. if i didn’t think i’d be much happier, if i didn’t have any sex organs, i wouldn’t waver on the brink of nervous emotion and tears all the time.

(By the way, that was definitely just copied from a Livejournal entry from 2007.) The dullness scares you. The games you might be forced to play scare you. The judgment scares you, having someone reduce you to a thing that might give them pleasure or bore them to tears. What scares you the most though is how you let these potential lovers slip through your fingertips. They’re right there waiting for you and you’re too lazy/crazy to pursue anything. They’ll wait for only so long. You don’t want to wake up one day and find that every good one has left because you were too busy being frozen.

You’re already exhausted. The second you enter a place, you feel your body go limp. You want to call out to no one in particular, “Hey, just have at it. I’ll just close my eyes and see who sticks.” Is it normal to feel this way so soon? You figured that this kind of fatigue and apathy took years to produce. How could you feel it so soon?

I’m going to ask you to do one little thing that might change the course of your life forever.

Flirt.

Flirt with reckless abandon, flirt with strangers who appear to be out of your league, because what’s the worst that can happen? They don’t like you back? Oooooh! SCARY! A stranger who knows nothing about you is not into you! The horror! That’s such a personal attack on… your body? Your personal scent? Hmm, not sure. What are they rejecting exactly?

A lot of these people who hang out in the bars are scared too. They’re nervous to make the first move so if you actually do it, you’ve already done like 80% of the work. Now you just have to produce nice conversation, coy smiles, and appropriate body language, and you’re in! (This is always the easiest part for me. Everyone’s different though. For me, the biggest hurdle is just approaching someone. The rest is the fun part.)

Flirting is a positively thrilling activity, especially if it’s with someone you don’t really care about. Then you can just be as insane as you want and not worry about whether or not you land the person. “Oh, you don’t want to sleep with me? That’s fine. I was just bein’ Miley anyway!” When you flirt with someone you actually do like, it’ll be more nervewracking but so worth it. Imagine it to be like a game of tennis and you’re just bouncing a ball back and forth with someone. You’re feeling them out and deciding whether or not they can actually banter with you. Does this person get it or are they just really hot? Are they able to play off of your jokes or are they just laughing at them and not contributing?

When flirting with someone you actually want to sleep with, you want to make sure you find excuses to touch them. Don’t grope them like you’re the TSA; I’m just saying that resting your hand on someone’s arm when telling a story can go a long way. It can go all the way to their bedroom actually. It’s also a good way to gauge if they’re into you. If someone reciprocates the hand touch, they’re telling you that it’s on. They’re telling you that they would certainly like to kiss your naked, trembling body at some point and develop a rapport on Gchat.

Don’t tell them too much about your life. Keep it mostly neutral. Talking about your alcoholic mother is a real buzzkill so leave that at home and bring it out when you know the person’s not going anywhere. “FYI, you’re dating me AND MY DEMONS! Say hello to my lil’ friends…”

Don’t get too wasted because then you risk getting sloppy and weird. The only time it would be acceptable is if you really like the person and you see them getting progressively more drunk. Then I guess you can join them on that train. Just don’t be surprised if things get #dark.

Think of flirting as a brain exercise. You have to work out the muscle that helps people fall in love with you!  And the less serious you take it, the more likely you’re able to yield positive results. Like I said, the hardest part is initiating the conversation. The next time you’re feeling nervous, just imagine Sylvia Plath crying alone in a cold, dark room. If that doesn’t get your ass in gear, I don’t know what will. TC mark

image – Tjook
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  • Eric

    I’m almost always capable of guessing which articles you’ve written solely on the basis of what the title suggests the subject will be. 

    • Gmo Saza

      That’s talent right there.

  • justanotherreader

    i loved the article, but what really did it for me was the “bein’ Miley” reference. respect has actually gone up, believe it or not ;)

    • Anonymous

       What does “bein’ Miley” actually mean?

      • VA

        It’s the same as “I whip my hair back and forth.”

      • dunno,

        i think you have to be born a certain way to get it…

  • A.J.

    Ahh, I just really do not like flirting, though. Even when the person trying to flirt with me is attractive, I just want to run away and continue being awkward.

  • http://itsrainin9.com Geraldine

    The TC articles I click on are almost always Ryan’s writings. Keep writing…

  • Nina

    The trickiest part of flirting is looking someone in the eye. I haven’t been able to master the gaze  without blushing/giggling like a pre-teen. More practice maybe?

    • Jo

      Me to it’s like if I look them in the eye the world might come to an end * Cue theme music to the apocalypse* 

  • Anonymous

    I just…I don’t even know what flirting is.

    • http://twitter.com/philosolaktor Lakshitha

      Seconded.

      • http://www.facebook.com/ralhi Akshay Singh Ralhi

        Hey good looking, what’s cooking?

        Or something like that. 

      • http://twitter.com/philosolaktor Lakshitha

        Right.. 

    • http://twitter.com/alainalatona alainalatona

      Casual banter. Joking. Sharing a similar taste in sarcasm. Exchanging friendly compliments.  Finding common ground with a stranger in [what can be] an emotionally desolate situation and appreciating it in that moment.

  • Guest

     “Oh, you don’t want to sleep with me? That’s fine. I was just bein’ Miley anyway!”

    grown up people in real life don’t talk like this…listen to this wise man: don’t rely on your intellect, charm or wit…be a slut

    • Veronica

      pretty sure he wasn’t advocating actually saying these exact words out loud.

    • Erin

      It was still funny though

  • Adamcrittenden

    Haiku #?

    Please show me your tongue.
    I need it because it won’t
    lie, like your eyes do.

  • http://twitter.com/PatrishCee patreeeesh

    hahaha goddammit ryan i love you

  • Marco Gutierrez


    Imagine it to be like a game of tennis and you’re just bouncing a ball back and forth with someone.”

    This made me laugh so much, there’s actually a girl on the tennis team I like! I’ll definitely start flirting more. Tennis games, here I come :D

  • VA

    I’d love to flirt, but all the guys in Atlanta are so goofy looking.  If you’re a guy, live in Atlanta, and are offended by this comment…call me :)

  • Sarah

    Stop being the Miley reference, it’s not cute anymore.

  • BDZ789

    yeahhhhhh but like what if said perfect flirt scenario happens and it goes on for what seems like hours…and the night ends with NOTHING happening. I need an explanation for that 

  • Domino

    i was smiling like a huge dork while reading this. then i just lost it at the “being miley” reference ahahahahah. now imma go outside and fliiiiirt mothafuckaaaaa

  • Aria

    What is this flirting of which you speak of? How does one go about doing it? I’m intrigued. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/sarah.n.knutson Sarah N. Knutson

    Currently in a sitch described in the 8th paragraph…have no idea how I ended up here or what to do, but I’m going with it. Something about this (“Think of flirting as a brain exercise. You have to work out the muscle that helps people fall in love with you!”), I think.

  • Hi, I'm Socially Awkward

    I love this article. I’m a guy who is horrible at approaching people, or flirting if I feel i’m in competition with someone else. Also, if I like the person I run the risk of psyching myself out, drinking too much, and acting like an idiot. It’s happened more than once. I then go through the typical cycle the next day of shame, remorse and self-hatred and all that. The good experiences I have had usually are ones in which I don’t think I have a chance with the person and somehow we get talking, so i just feel happy to be having a good time, no anxieties, expectations, or concerns about saying this or that, sounding stupid or making a corny joke. Flirting only works for me when I don’t realize I’m doing it (if that makes any sense). If I’m thinking about what I’m saying I get anxious. This article makes me feel less stressed about just going for it and not caring about rejection. There really isn’t anything to lose. The three principles I’ve discovered are 1) No expectations 2) Don’t drink to alleviate anxiety around a person you like, it won’t help 3) Just try to enjoy yourself, and most likely others will like you for it. Sticking to these principles on the other hand are another story, but I’m working on it.

  • TCReader

    Everyone should read this before pregaming to go out. THANKS FOR THE PEP TALK RYAN

  • Tdotrot

    i reach the final quarter paragraph and involuntarily stopper my lungs before activating the scroll bar…perhaps it will be different; perhaps, this time, an ad for online note sharing, or half-off air yeezies, luscious compact moldings of plush leather tongue and incandescent plastic sole…perhaps the tongues and laces will loll outwards, loose and happy, beckoning, yearning to enrobe my sweaty arches in their indomitable hip hop authenticity BUT NO THERE SHE IS, squeezed between the thin bars of her rectangular frame, singed by lens flare. MY DARLING I AM GOOGLE MAPSING YOUR FIELD, FEAR NOT FOR THEY HAVE BEQUEATHED UPON ME STREETVIEW

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_C5FQP5T4G3QNKQYDHYXU22C2OQ CourtneyB

    I think I forgot I had that muscle. I haven’t really wanted to flirt with anyone in about two years, and now that I do, I feel like I have no idea where to start.

  • http://twitter.com/teresaelectro Teresa Lynch

    But what about the times when you flirt and the guy is interested in your friend (not you)? 

    Granted these guys probably are wasted and not worth the effort, but it is discouraging. It’s probably a cosmic sign I need to go home, hang out somewhere new etc. I don’t mind flirting, I just haven’t met many guys worth the minimal effort. Everyone I seem to meet lately is bit too immature, dumb, not into girls, on their way to rehab or already in a relationship. But I suppose that’s what I get for going out in East London. At least, I have awesome friends and fun (non-sexy) times to pass the time.

  • Jordan

    Nice article Ryan, you’re at your best when you’re positive.

  • MarieClaireLUV3r

    LOLz I know right guurrrl?!

  • http://messed-up-hottness.tumblr.com/ Mac Allison

    We’re you following me this weekend? Because I’m hopeless at flirting and approaching, this is what I needed two days ago!

  • Thought Catalog

    Reblogged this on crumpledbands and commented:
    I know right, I should have.

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