The flirt-talk continuum

by Dating Goddess on September 18, 2007

I’ve noticed that flirt-talk typically starts out innocently — you share things you like about the other, compliment him/her, tell him/her you think s/he’s cute, sexy or a catch, comment that you’re looking forward to talking/seeing him/her again. In person this is coupled with smiles, laughter, perhaps light touches and other body language to show you like the other. It can progress — in one date or many — to hand holding, arm linking, hugs, kissing, and more.

However, I’ve noticed that more men than women don’t seem to understand the subtle line between flirting (with perhaps suggestive innuendo) and downright explicit raunchiness. In fact, one guy (“Lessons from a bad date“) began his “flirting” at raunchy.

Once one is comfortable flirting with the other, seeing a positive response, and feeling it is okay, you can move up the continuum. For many woman, however, this will take a bit of time and trust. In fact, some women (and some men) will never be comfortable either giving or receiving anything beyond initial flirting talk. I think it is critical to be conscious of the other’s reaction and not press if s/he seems uncomfortable.

In fact, I’ve told men I “didn’t want to go there” when they got too explicit for my comfort level, and they ignored me. They were the ones soon being ignored — by me.

And of course, neither party may want to go to the far right of the continuum. That’s part of finding out who the other person is and where s/he is comfortable, as well as setting your own boundaries.

In the interest in helping define, then educate men (and women), I thought I’d take a crack at illustrating a flirt-talk continuum. Granted, DG male readers — at least the ones who comment — are astute enough to already know these distinctions. So perhaps they, as well as our women readers, will help refine this.

flirt talk

(Click on the image for a larger view.)

Here are some definitions to help distinguish the levels:

Innuendo: an allusive or oblique remark or hint, typically a suggestive one

Suggestiveness: making someone think of sex and sexual relationships

Titillating: stimulating or exciting, especially in a sexual way

Raunchy: earthy, vulgar, and often sexually explicit

Vulgar: making explicit and offensive reference to sex or bodily functions

What do you think about this continuum? Should there be finer gradations? In a different order? Other words?

And how do you decide whether or not to go to the next level? What if your date is going to another level faster than you’d prefer?

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Lulu September 18, 2007 at 1:01 am

DG, I’m uncertain about where raunchy and vulgar contribute to a romantic, developing relationship. There might be objectification and disrespectful crudeness when the ‘flirting’ is at this level. The kind of men who talk about sex, what they are going to do to you, how good they are at it, etc, are rather pathetic. We all know that the ones who talk the most do the least. It’s the self-possessed types who don’t need to broadcast their sexuality in this boorish, shabby way who are the real experts at flirting.

bookyone September 18, 2007 at 3:22 am

We all know that the ones who talk the most do the least. It’s the self-possessed types who don’t need to broadcast their sexuality in this boorish, shabby way who are the real experts at flirting.

Truer words were never written.

sd September 18, 2007 at 3:32 am

I would add one level lower- humorous, teasing, light; not usually taken seriously but definitely viewed as flirting by recipient.
This is the format I am usually in, and it seems to be viewed as flirting by most men.

Kvetch September 18, 2007 at 4:43 am

Don’t forget PSI. Premature Sexual Innuendo. It’s when the end of the continuim moves to the beginning – but not necessarily raunchy like your “bad date.”

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