Flirting is the gentle art of making a man feel pleased with himself.
Helen Rowland

Flirtation is not much more than a dumbed-down form of courtship,
a valiant attempt to elevate dime-store coquetry to a high art.


          A set of ceremonial behaviors, relics of long-forgotten mating rituals,
          consisting of highly stylized mannerisms intended to attract attention
          or seduce.  There is a strong implication of frivolity, teasing, and
          lack of serious intent.

Imagine a trashy scenario, straight out of a scratched and flickery black-and-white grade B melodrama from the 1940's.
          As the dark, exotic "dragon lady" - in compellingly dreamlike waves of
          silence - slowly blinks her enormously cruel blacker-than-black eyes
          at you across the dimly illumined room, licking her lips with all the
          merciless languor of a Persian cat contemplating a delicacy she may,
          at her leisure, pounce on and devour...
Aye, here is the dilemma of being entangled in a flirtation. What a bizarre compounding of the rapturously seductive and the treacly nightmarish, somewhat akin to being slowly drowned in deliciously sweet, sticky syrup. Being "vamped" by a desirable woman provides a dizzying ego boost, but with a cloying aftertaste. Are you being courted, or merely toyed with? Is the women set on you in particular, or would any other available male have done just as well? Is this "for real", or just a flirtation?

From the woman's point of view, flirting seems a "safe" way of initiating contact, at a distance, and so avoiding point-blank rejection. As a man, your response runs the gamut from amusement, and perhaps mild annoyance, to being driven mad by desire, or choking in frustration and humiliation. This is a losing game, and a very crooked one.

In times past, flirting skills passed down as part of the folklore, from mother to daughter, from sister to sister, and in the peer group. Nowadays, flirtation propagates by crude imitation, prepackaged in cellophane, its exaggerated theatrical gestures making up in clumsy aggressiveness what it lacks in subtlety... and the culprits are (what else?) television and what passes for modern cinema.

Flirting has become little more than a shopworn cliché. It serves as a shoddy substitute for the graceful interplay between the sexes. Where now is the sultry appeal of a Lauren Bacall teasing Bogart in "To Have Or Have Not", the finely delineated presence, the deadly, haunting beauty of a Jean Tierney in "Laura"? And where can be found a man of a stature sufficient to evoke such smoldering passion?

Should you, as a shy man, participate in this dangerous little amusement?
       Considering your particular circumstance, shyness, acting grossly out
       of character invariably results in awkward, stilted behavior. You risk
       making a fool of yourself, and for little gain.  For your personality
       type, a more straightforward approach, an open and 'honest' courtship
       generally works out better.

Flirting is basically ritualized "womens' behavior", and men take part in the game at their peril. The most effective strategy, should you in fact desire closeness with the woman flirting with you or at you, consists in actually removing yourself from the 'dance'. Step out of the context and distance yourself from the situation, rather than playing a role. Show only enough interest to keep the pot boiling. Mild encouragement, or even a show of studied indifference is more effective than enthusiastic attention.

As always, the key to controlling the situation is knowing your place in the scheme of things.