I like flirting with men. And I am good at it, focusing on them, creating a quick kind of intimacy that tingles a little bit.
I don’t have much interest in getting them naked, though. Physical intimacy really isn’t where I live, and if I had to pick a body to rub against, well, it isn’t male bodies that turn my head, have ever turned my head. Nothing wrong with them, they just don’t get me a bit short of breath.
I like flirting with women. A sizzle of connection, of excitement, is a very nice thing, that exchange of seeing and being deeply seen. It’s very good.
Hell, I’m a femme. Flirting is what we do, creating shared moments that feel great and open the way to shared endeavours. When I talked, so many years ago now, about powershift as part of gendershift, the shift into flirting was at the core of the question.
I don’t flirt, though.
I don’t flirt because I don’t trust my standing in the world. How will my attempt at intimacy or even vulnerability be taken? If I open up myself to someone else, will they judge me or worse, will their fear button be pushed in a way that they feel the need to shut me down, even if it involves hurting me?
Flirting is the place where I have my power, but flirting is also the place where I know the biggest potential pitfalls exist. Danger, danger, danger.
The list of reasons why I should not flirt is long and realistic. It would be easy for you to agree with at least some of the reasons, so logical and pragmatic are they.
Girlfriends, though, know that trying to come from your feminine power in the world is just impossible. That’s why a few rounds of encouraging flirting are the prelude to most encounters. “You look great! I love that scarf!” Saying yes, mirroring the energy, affirming the beauty, well, it opens us up and keeps us warm.
Girlfriends also know how much a bad flirting experience can hurt. You put yourself out there, show a deep part of you, and then, for whatever reason, you end up falling on your face because your partner won’t support you. Now it’s their stuff that came up, but it’s you who hits the pavement, and that means you need someone to help you get back up, dust yourself off, reapply your lipstick and get back out with a big smile.
The power of the flirt isn’t logical or quantitative. Rather, it exists in the spark of connection that warms and opens our heart, enabling us to see beyond our own immediate expectations.
For people who don’t want to open, don’t want to warm, nipping flirting in the bud is the obvious answer.
Once someone decides that they don’t want whatever you are selling, that they need to keep you down to keep you at a distance, flirting becomes very unsafe. If you offer something too tempting, an idea or a feeling or a possibility, well, they are weak and they need to be strong.
If you are not able to be receptive to the somewhat unknown, aren’t able to own your own curiosity, aren’t ready to go off in a bit of a new direction to see what you can see there, then you are not able to flirt.
Flirting is never about asserting complete control, rather it is about trusting your heart enough to enter into the dance. The steps are negotiated, with intuition, training and wit, finding the particular rhythms that work in this moment, between these people.
We make a personal scene, maybe for a moment and maybe longer, but in that interaction, we share humanity.
That is, of course, if we are present and open to the spark. If we hold on too tight to our own control, fearing we might look foolish, might fail, or might be knocked off our determined path, the connection never happens.
I love to flirt. My curiosity keeps me engaged. I want to receive what the world, and that is a world of humans, has to offer. The divine surprise comes from seeing something anew through different eyes. Let me hear your story, let me understand your experience, let me see through your eyes to discover what we share and gain a perspective I have missed because I didn’t yet know you.
For so many, flirting has to have an objective. It isn’t an virtue in itself. This a problem for people like me whose real treasure is hidden behind a less than obvious façade. We aren’t shiny on the outside, so that makes our inner glow less obvious, which in turn means we are harder to explain to your friends.
Over the years, I learned that flirting was dangerous. It let others judge you and they could not only find you wanting, they could find you sick, perverted and worthy of attack.
In the 1990s, much of the tabloid talk shows focused on transwomen “fooling” people, deceiving them for the purpose of seduction. That lead, of course, to the “homosexual panic” defence, where men who attacked transwomen could claim they acted out of legitimate fear that their masculinity was being stolen by a gender offender.
What are you selling when you flirt? What is deception and what is honesty? That was the core of much of my early philosophical questions around transgender expression and I came down on the side of rationality, safety and explicitness.
In doing that, though, it seems to me now that approach blocked access to other truths and more than that, blocked access to the true source of my power, my big feminine heart.
By not trusting the flirt, no matter how amazing it felt in the few moments when it happened, I didn’t trust my own heart and the connections that take people heart to heart, life to life.
Who doesn’t love the warm attention of curiosity, of intention, affirmation and attraction?
Who doesn’t fear, though, the cold attention of disgust, of rejection, humiliation and separation?
I am good at flirting, but I don’t trust doing it.
And that has cost me dearly.