Monday, May 17, 2010

The Nonflirt

In high school, I was voted Most Likely to Become a Nun. (Side note: I was also voted Worst Driver, which was totally unfair because I was one of the only ones of those yahoos who never got so much as a speeding ticket in high school. Ok, technically I did park in the no-parking zone once, but that was on my first day as a licensed driver! And besides, I didn't even get into my first fender-bender until AFTER I graduated! Sheesh.)

Even in high school I was a total workaholic. In the mornings, while most of the other students sat in front of their lockers flirting or gossiping, I'd be buried in my books, reviewing my notes or double-checking my homework to make sure I did it right. Back then I was so focused on getting into a good college and getting out of my small town, which I loved because it was home, but which I still wanted to leave for someplace different and more exciting.

An old friend from high school once told me that I was a "nonflirt". Years later, a guy friend told me that I gave off an unapproachable/disinterested vibe, and he's gay; I figured that if a gay guy could tell I was a nonflirt, then straight guys would probably be able to tell too.

Here's the thing: I hate flirting. I don't condemn anyone who does flirt, because if it works for them, why not? But I'm not very good at it, and I have tried it a few times and failed miserably at it. I don't even like it when guys flirt with me, especially when they're obvious about it. And it gets even worse when the flirting turns into full-on harassment.

I spent three years living in a neighborhood that I hated because I used to get harassed by random guys on the street almost every day. Once I was trying to go into the grocery store, and some guy blocked my way and started yelling at me, babbling about what he wanted to do to me. And I thought, Man, I'm just here to buy Froot Loops, ok?

A few months ago I was waiting for a train and a guy came up to me, staring admiringly at my shoes. "Wow, those are great shoes," he said. "Where'd you get them?"

I didn't answer at first, because with some people in Chicago, if you respond to them, they may or may not talk your ear off for the next half hour. Finally I told him where I bought my shoes, and he just kept saying "Wow" and complimenting me on my footwear. I thought that he a) may have had a weird foot fetish, especially since he spent more time staring at my shoes than at my face; b) was genuinely interested in women's footwear because he had his own special collection at home; c) was just trying to make conversation. Either way, his attempts to talk were lost on me. It made me think of this other guy who once complimented me on my shoes; he was a guy that my parents once tried to set me up with, only he turned out to be gay.

When I worked as a bookseller, there was this coworker who kept hitting on me, despite the fact that I made it clear that I wasn't interested in him. Once I was ringing up a customer's purchase and Creepy Coworker came up behind me and literally whispered in my ear, saying, "Boo." He's lucky I didn't knock him over the head with a stack of books. I would have, too, but there were too many witnesses around. He also kept saying stuff like, "I'll only help you with that if you smile for me." I mean, really? I HATE when guys tell me to smile. It's like, if I don't WANT to smile, I'm not GOING to smile. It's one of my biggest pet peeves, right up there along with people who tell me to relax. Hello? I'm a neurotic workaholic; even when I sleep I dream about work.

I was browsing in a bookstore a few months ago, and this one guy came up to me and asked me to recommend a book. I said that I didn't work there, and I looked pointedly at the booksellers standing nearby. But he wouldn't leave me alone, so finally I went into my former bookseller mode and showed him the bestsellers. I also pointed him towards the sci-fi section (guys like sci-fi, right? I dunno; I was just trying to avoid my impulse to knock him over the head with a stack of books). And then I quickly walked off before he could ask for my phone number.

You know what I do like? When guys talk to me without trying to put on an act or without using cheesy pick-up lines. When they talk to me like a potential friend, because I think it really is true that the best relationships can start from friendships. When they have a sense of humor and can make me laugh without trying too hard. And it's nice because with those types of guys, especially if you like them, you don't even have to flirt because you get a thrill just by being near them, and it isn't that hard to tell if they feel the same way, even if they're not flirting.

What about you? Any funny flirtation stories? Or do you get turned off by flirting as much as I do?


  1. Guys like a challenge, don't they? :)

  2. Hi Talli,
    I like a challenge sometimes too, but the problem with overly flirtatious guys is that then they become challenging. And then I start throwing things. Just kidding. Sort of.

  3. i'm a total non-flirter as well.
    i hate when i'm being nice to someone, they assume i'm flirting and they try to steer the conversation around to asking me out. i was just being a decent human being by being nice - not trying to get you to come on to me!
    i also hate the guys that talk to you with that half smile and lowered eyelids, like they're trying to hypnotize you into going out with them.

  4. Flirting is an art and the examples you gave were not flirting as it should be done. No wonder you were creeped out.

  5. I hate guys who are flirt especially if they try to put their best foot forward on purpose. I never tried flirting too. (or maybe I did. subconsciously) I can tell right away if a guy has potentials. My fondness for him would come naturally that's why I don't consider it flirting.

  6. Hi mi,
    I like your hypnosis comparison. Too bad for the guys that their attempts at hypnosis don't work on me.

    Hi KarenG,
    You're right that flirting is an art, though unfortunately it's one I don't think I'll ever be good at.

    Hi janjan,
    Flirting just makes me feel uncomfortable, and it's better when fondness comes naturally, like you said.

  7. I don't have the flirting gene at all anymore. I met my husband at 20 so I basically checked out of the game. ;) And thank god too, because I was awkward!

  8. Hi Rebecca,
    I'm totally awkward too when it comes to flirting, which is why I don't do it. I think that my flirting gene must have been eliminated by my obsesses over everything gene.

  9. Even without the flirting, you seem to be popular! "Man, I'm just here to buy Froot Loops, ok?" Too funny!

    Sounds to me like the guys don't know how to flirt.

    And if a guy complimented my shoes, unless they were sky-high heels, I'd think he was gay too. Wasn't that the epiphany moment for Elle in "Legally Blonde"?

  10. I think it's refreshing that you DON'T flirt! Just keep on being yourself & writing about the guys who do silly things as it's entertaining. I also think you attract a broader range of guys because of the vibe you give off.

    The upfront approach worked great for me when this guy who claimed to be an aspiring novelist asked me out when I was a library employee. I wasn't attracted to him at all so I simply said no. It worked, he didn't bother me again.

    On the other hand, a really creepy guy who would visit the library every day used to sit at a table nearby & just stare at me! Most of the time he didn't even play it coy by reading a book! But he didn't ever ask me out--I think he was too shy about that!

  11. Hi Theresa,
    I think that was the epiphany moment for Elle Woods, particularly because the guy knew what kind of shoes she was wearing. I don't know if I'm popular, but if I am, it seems to be with only the wrong guys who don't know how to flirt.

    Hi notesfrom nadir,
    I hate it when people do the creepy staring thing! It's quite common in Chicago, though both men and women do it.
    And I've tried being upfront and saying no, but apparently that doesn't deter some guys. Sheesh.

  12. I've always been super-creeped out by men who just Start Talking to Me.

    Not women. But men. Even when they're being perfectly genteel, I start getting suspicious and then I feel like I must be an asshole, because maybe he just really does need help finding a copy of Batman: Year One and I'm just being egotistical and the mybraingoeslikethisforabouttensecondsstraight.

    And then I say something bitchy.

    It's a wonder I found a man willing to marry me.

  13. Hi Margaret,
    I know what you mean about feeling suspicious; occasionally a guy will simply say "Good morning" to me and I'll hesitate before responding because I'll wonder why he's saying good morning if he doesn't even know me.