In an episode of Ally McBeal, Ally’s roommate, Renee (played by Lisa Nicole Carson) eyes a handsome attorney, motions with her finger for him to approach, hands him a business card and says, “Call me.”
While at her apartment, he gets too aggressive, and Renee fends him off by demonstrating her kick-boxing skills. He requires a trip to the hospital, and Renee, a deputy district attorney, faces assault charges.
Renee is a master (mistress might be a better word) of flirtation, but, unfortunately, she sends the wrong message by being too forward.
In real life, women use body language to let men know they are interested. The February issue of Psychology Today contained two articles on flirting. It mentioned techniques women use such as casting coy glances, hiking their skirts to reveal more of their legs and moistening their lips. Such behavior may be appropriate in a dark bar or cocktail lounge, but is not suited for the day-to-day interactions with members of the opposite sex. Like Renee, flirts could be sending the wrong message.
Women can send genuine signals to men that that they want to meet them, without coming across as flirtatious, too forward and perceived as being “easy.” The following approaches should apply to women in a variety of environments: the sandwich shop near the office, the supermarket, the library, the walking/jogging path in a park, the doctor’s office or other places that are not threatening (such as a bar) or staged (a singles event). The approaches work for me but not necessarily for other men.
First of all, a woman can seize the initiative by striking up a conversation with a man whom she sees in public and finds attractive. If you are in a casual location such as a deli, invite him to sit next to you. In a short conversation, you can find out a lot about him and determine whether you want to get to him better. By skillfully asking questions, you can find out quickly whether he is available for a potential relationship.
Maintain eye contact and smile. In short, act interested.
If you lose interest, find a way to end your conversation while staying polite. The line “It was nice to talk to you” or variations of it work for me. But if you would like to get to know him better and possibly go out for a date, drop hints. Tell him where you work and offer him your business card. If he hands you his business card and you feel uncomfortable about calling, you might write him a brief note listing a work or home phone number and urge him to call you if he plans to be in the neighborhood.
If he asks for your phone number and you feel reluctant to oblige him, you might offer your work or pager numbers or e-mail address. Birth control gave women more control of their bodies. With new technology, you can maintain more control of your personal life. For instance, with Caller ID you can screen incoming phone calls. With e-mail, you can ignore annoying messages and contact the Web administrator if the messages get threatening.
I met a woman nearly four years ago in a take-out restaurant who demonstrated some of the above skills. She looked at me, smiled and motioned for me to sit down next to her while she awaited her order. Otherwise, I may have smiled at her, said “hello” and gone about my routine. There was something about “Cherrie” (not her real name). She was in her mid- to late-30s, had girl-next-door good looks and was charming. She laughed at my jokes. Like me, she was a writer. In any case, I felt comfortable enough to ask her for her phone number, before she left to join her sister. However, Cherrie gave the polite brush-off: “I don’t give out my phone number.” She may have been cautious, or was turned off by the fact that I was between jobs at the time.
Cherrie may have mastered her social skills at Hollywood cocktail parties. Other women can learn from her.
By being friendly with a man and sending signals that you may want to go out with him, you are not telling him that you are “easy.” If you are bold enough to start a conversation with a stranger, you can assert yourself on a date and tell a man that you do not want to see him again. Learn from Cherrie and Renee.