The Lost Art of Flirtation
"I couldn't help but notice that you look a lot like my next girlfriend."
Will Smith, Hitch
This year, International Flirting Week will be celebrated February 15th – 21st. You hadn’t heard? Oh yes – there really is a holiday week dedicated to flirting. It’s also known as Anti-Valentine’s week, celebrated every year during the seven days that follow Valentine’s day. History is a little sketchy on this international holiday and descriptions vary, but I think it's safe to say that it's a week dedicated to singles. The whole idea of an entire week dedicated to flirting got me to thinking about flirting in general – is it a lost art or has it merely evolved?
Victorian women (1837 – 1901) had specific marching orders when it came to flirting. Do not receive attentions of a gentleman too eagerly, but also don’t be so standoffish that you discourage him altogether. There were all kinds of rules back in the day that governed the way women and men interacted. For example, a gentleman would never dream of speaking directly to a woman in a social setting without prior permission. And a proper lady would not respond if he did. So communication between the unmarried sexes was handled according to a strict social code that required some interesting innovation.
The women that came before us employed some ingenius tactics to convey their feelings to men. I would say they easily put the F in Flirtation. And it didn't come easy for these ladies. They had codes to memorize, flowers to arrange, handkerchiefs to launder -- and everything had a secret meaning!
Here are some examples:
- “I love you” was something you could say with a postage stamp in the days before they made us place them in the upper right corner. Simply put it on on the left side of the envelope right side up. Want to set up a meeting? Middle of the envelope; stamp on its side.
- We’ve all seen the batting eyes peering out from behind the fan. Well, here too, there was a code. Fan slowly and everyone knows you’re married. Engaged? Fan fast!
- Can you picture an impeccably dressed woman daintily drawing her handkerchief across her mouth? I think it happened a lot, because it meant she was interested in making an acquaintance. On the other hand, she wants no part of you if she’s twirling her hanky in her left hand.
- Like us, the Victorians used flowers to express their affection. However, they weren’t sending simple bouquets, they were sending messages. It was a complicated code where everything had meaning.
The Modern Art of Flirtation
In today’s world, the average skill set does not include a working knowledge of floriography and most of us are not conversant in the language of the fan, handkerchief or postage stamp. But we can still be fluent in the modern language of flirting.
If you’re single, the matchmakers at It’s Just Lunch suggest using compliments, humor and genuine interest when you meet someone. You’ll also want to project open body language, be a good listener and have your contact info handy.
Experts agree that it’s just as important for couples to flirt. But I don't think we needed the experts to tell us that! Here are some ideas . . .
- Tuck a handwritten note into a bag or a pocket – anywhere it will for sure be found. It's up to you whether you write something sweet or sexy.
- Or write a full-fledged love letter, the old fashioned way.
- Shall We Dance? In a word, yes. But don’t put it off for a post-Covid world. Do it now – in your living room, back yard, kitchen. Do it dressed up, casual, or naked. But do dance with your partner and do call it flirty dancing.
- Plan a surprise like breakfast in bed or a really long massage or a bubble bath with rose pedals.
- Make a mixed tape for your beloved. And by “mixed tape” I mean playlist.
You get the idea, right? Flirtation is about taking the time to send a message or to spice things up! It’s not so much a lost art as it is an enduring tradition with a whole new set of tools – because we can talk to the opposite sex in public. But just because we don’t have the restrictions of our fore bearers, lets not throw out the champagne with the cork. I mean, maybe you feel like batting your eyes from behind a fan every now and then and that would be charming. Just remember - not too fast when you're waving that fan and definitely not too slow unless, of course, you’re heart is already taken.
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