September 26, 2012

The Power of Flirting

I recently came across this great article "Happily Ever After: Could Flirting Be the Secret to a Successful Marriage" by Lori Leibovich. She tells the story of Sam and Florence, married for 59 years and hopes to find the magic bullet that made it possible for them to walk the long road together.

At one point, Leibovich says
"... we decided that what kept them from losing interest -- from getting bored, straying or giving up -- was that they both relished small freedoms. They let themselves go -- apart from, but not in violation of, their relationship. They both were shameless, unapologetic, gifted flirts."
There is something marvelous about the dance of language, attraction, and playfulness that occurs when we flirt. The opportunity to be seen afresh and new through the eyes of someone unaccustomed to us and not privy to our scary nighttime routines or hair singeing morning breath is something to embrace rather than scorn or fear.

Yet flirting, in so many ways, is a lost art today -- often set aside altogether or replaced with overt or crass language championed as being "straight-forward". This is a great loss in my opinion. 

As Leibovich points out, flirting allows us to practice clever turns of phrase or to use wit and humor. Just the other night, one boy wandered over and blurted, "You're hot!" Now, while an appreciated observation, the boy who later said, "Do you always fill the space you are in so beautifully" clearly understood the power of language. It's these nuances that are add to the juiciness of flirting, which we don't get to experience when we just blurt out the obvious.  

Additionally, the purpose of flirting is often just simply misunderstood. Leibovich puts it beautiful - it is about playing, not scoring. Flirting gives us the "opportunity to expand our fantasy life and makes our actual romances better." Yet so many of us look at flirting as a challenge to the security of our relationship or even cheating. Not so! 

We must understand the line between flirting and affair. As Leibovich relates after telling the story of Florence's long-standing flirtation with the neighborhood butcher,
"Had the butcher one day put down his veal chop and said, "Mrs. Brownstein, why don't you meet me after work tonight?" the spell would have vanished, their secret world would have evaporated, all the shared moments would have instantly turned to shards of glass."
This is so perfectly said. I love the idea that flirting creates a secret world in which we get to play, explore, imagine.

So, I encourage you -- go out, create some secret worlds, turn a phrase, see yourself in new ways through the eyes of another person!


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