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Casual Flirting - How to respond better?
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Jaejoongfangirl
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 19, 2009 5:29 am    Post subject: Casual Flirting - How to respond better? Reply with quote

I got started thinking on this because of the thread that talked about female aspies having more male friends. I don't - I have more close female friends.

I think the thing that stops me from having more guy friends that I can relax around is a very occasional, rarely occurring thing. This doesn’t happen constantly, but when it does I get really, really nervous. I just don’t know how to react and end up messing up. It's probably why I don’t hang out with guys as often as I do girls - though I often have more in common with the boys:
Casual flirting baffles and flusters me to no end.

When I start to get to know a guy and want to get to the point where we can hang out and play videogames and get to know each other better, something happens where I feel awkward to be around him.
It’s never anything intense where he gives some elaborate display to show that thinks of me in a different way; it’s always something tiny and subtle that I just don’t know how to respond to. And then I can't feel as relaxed around him because I just don't know quite how to take it.

I’ll share two examples, in both cases, I share lots of mutual fiends with the guy and know him just well enough on a personal level to casually consider him a friend.

First example: We’re doing/checking math homework together. I lean over to discuss something with him and I notice his gaze drifting to my chest. I ignore this, maybe commenting on it jokingly, and move on. A little uncomfortable, but guys like breasts, I know that. It doesn’t mean anything and I can’t really blame him for it. Later, I check my answers on the board and I sit back down and let him check his answers off my page. I missed one that he got right so, he leans (much closer than usual) next to me and starts to explain, reaching his arm around me and talking softly nearby my ear.
I get sort of rigid, I don’t know how to react. He finishes explaining and I thank him, trying to not respond in an unusual way and then we both go back to our papers. I was a bit more hesitant to ask him for help after that.

Or, here’s another, more recent, example where I unwittingly instigated the small thing. I comment on his posture jokingly, and he tells me he’s just tired. I respond with doubt; he got at least twice as much sleep as I did and I knew that for a fact. He leans his elbow onto my shoulder and says something dumb like “Well, if I wasn’t tired, I wouldn’t be doing this. I’m not slouching just because I want to.” Not thinking, I respond, “Except for the part where I think you want to do this.”

I meant that he was only leaning on me because he wanted to illustrate his exhaustion and, thus, visually (and artificially) validate his claim that he was tired. He didn’t guess that that was how I intended it. (naturally. Laughing ).

His eyes widened a bit and he said, “Well, if it was that way then it would be like this…” Then he puts his arm around my shoulders and smiles at me. Again, I get nervous and flustered before sheepishly smiling back and ducking out from under his arm to go talk with another person that we were walking with. Then I awkwardly attempted to half-avoid close interaction with him for the duration of the evening.
Also, I very recently went with a group to a concert and the same guy (mentioned above) put his arm around my waist/lower-back a few times while talking to me. I did a 'non-response' and just sort of ignored it (for a few minutes) until I started talking to someone else then I slowly moved away.
~~

I’m just awful at reacting to these things!
It’s not like either of the guys were repulsive to me. In fact, I had a crush on each of them at those specific times. I just didn’t know the right way to respond to them and I think the responses I ended up giving were pretty discouraging. If I knew how, I’d want my response to be polite, not rude, and to just barely hint at my possible interest.

I want to be friends before anything else, but a blatant “you are cute and fun to be with, but maybe later, after we know each other better” would be disproportionate to the casual, harmless nature of the gestures. Responding in such a blatant way (that can gets my point across so clearly and easily) would be construed as an overreaction and I know it. But how could I get the same point across in a more subtle way?
Stupid subtleties…

I just can’t get to the stage with guys where we are casual friends that can hang out together (or get anywhere further than that), unless I can figure out how I could respond to those kinds of small actions. I need a way that isn’t a ‘non-response’ like my first reaction and isn’t a complete rejection like in my second example. I wish I knew how to respond in a positive, relaxed way that is in keeping with the casual nature of the situation.
------------

How could I have reacted better in either of those specific instances? or What might be an acceptable response when things like this happen in the future?

Sorry for the rather lengthy starting post. Any advice/helpful comments would be much appreciated! (:
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Aimless
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 19, 2009 7:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have never learned that skill, but I think this would be a good question for another thread. There is an NT/AS hot-line question and answer thread in the general autism forum. I think asking an NT is your best bet.
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Wombat
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 19, 2009 9:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

To me there is no such thing as casual flirting. It is a contradiction in terms.

Why would you lead someone on if you were not interested in them?

To me male/female bonding is a serious thing.

If you are really interested in a girl/guy as a potential partner then let them know.

If you are not then treat them coolly as if they were just another person.
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Vanilla_Slice
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 19, 2009 4:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK, an idea

There was a book I read years ago called 'Manwatching' by Dr Desmond Morris, it was used as part of my social skills training at the hospital although (to be fair) not all of the medical community agree with his theories. In the book Dr Morris goes through what he calls "The Sexual Sequence" where there is a gradual increase in intimacy between a couple up to stage 12 where you're having sex. It took a long time to find this in my diaries from thirty years ago but I did note it down and the full sequence is as follows:

1) Eye to body - One way contact
2) Eye to eye
3) Casual conversation
4) Hand holding
5) Arm to shoulder
6) Arm to waist
7) The kiss
8) Hand(s) to head
9) Hand(s) to body
10)Mouth to breast
11)Hand to genitals
12)Sexual contact

So, from the list above, if a guy puts his arm around your shoulder and you're 100% happy with this then put your arm around his waist. I'm sure that some WP members will disagree with the order of the list in which case we'll have a healthy debate, but at least you have some idea of what to do next.

Finally, if it makes you feel any better, I miss all sorts of subtle hints. It's just one of the annoying aspects of being an aspie.

Vanilla_Slice
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CerebralDreamer
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 19, 2009 4:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mirroring is a good concept to make use of in situations like this, at least if you're not expected to be the pursuer. It makes it easier for women, but not so much for guys who are expected to make the advances.

Simply put, if a guy puts his arm around you, then reciprocating by putting your arm around him would be the best response. If he looks you in the eye with a sense of longing on his face, if you feel the same way, respond to that gaze with one of your own.

The relationships may be just as difficult, but as far as the initial attraction phase goes, mirroring, looking pretty, and holding a decent conversation are about all you need to know.
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NicksQuestions
Sea Gull
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2009 12:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wombat wrote:
To me there is no such thing as casual flirting. It is a contradiction in terms.

Why would you lead someone on if you were not interested in them?

To me male/female bonding is a serious thing.

If you are really interested in a girl/guy as a potential partner then let them know.

If you are not then treat them coolly as if they were just another person.


What about people who flirt for fun? I was looking at some social science peer-review research on flirting, and there was two categories of flirting: 1. for fun, and 2. to find a relationship.

The flirting for fun didn't mean leading people on, but rather just having fun. As someone who thinks he probably has AS, I don't do that myself, not talented enough and kind of only believe people should do the committed stuff. However, the social science peer-review research says people do it as a way to have fun.
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billsmithglendale
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2009 1:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

NicksQuestions wrote:
Wombat wrote:
To me there is no such thing as casual flirting. It is a contradiction in terms.

Why would you lead someone on if you were not interested in them?

To me male/female bonding is a serious thing.

If you are really interested in a girl/guy as a potential partner then let them know.

If you are not then treat them coolly as if they were just another person.


What about people who flirt for fun? I was looking at some social science peer-review research on flirting, and there was two categories of flirting: 1. for fun, and 2. to find a relationship.

The flirting for fun didn't mean leading people on, but rather just having fun. As someone who thinks he probably has AS, I don't do that myself, not talented enough and kind of only believe people should do the committed stuff. However, the social science peer-review research says people do it as a way to have fun.


Yes -- doing it "for fun" can also be a form of self affirmation.

Case in point: I have a wife, a coworker is married or has a BF. But we can both tell we are attracted to each other. So we flirt, not because we are serious about hooking up or starting a relationship, but to affirm to ourselves and each other that we are both attractive individuals. It's fun, because it's not going to go anywhere, and thus is "safe" (unless someone crosses the line), but it makes us feel good without cheating.
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Feyhera
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2009 5:07 pm    Post subject: Re: Casual Flirting - How to respond better? Reply with quote

Hi Jae
First I'd like to reassure you that these issues are just as common for NT girls as aspie girls... my NT daughter has asked me the exact same questions before. So try not to be so hard on yourself. These subtleties are tough. And some of what may have appeared as you missing the subtleties in non-verbal communication from the guys was actually the other way around, which could confuse anyone. Let me try to explain...

One of your examples in particular, made my experienced female antennae go up. The situation where the guy put his arm around your waist felt to me, from how you described it, as though he may have deeply intruded into your personal space. I think I would've felt exactly the same. You are not obligated to let guys touch you in order to allow a free flow of flirting. In fact, some of the best flirting I've ever experienced was the cerebral kind, where what the guy SAID to me was what was hot, instead of having him touching me before he knew me well enough for me to feel comfortable.

In fact, in all of your examples, you sound like you were uncomfortable with being touched. I think it's pretty natural to be uncomfortable with being touched when you haven't sent the "subtle" cues that you're inviting it. And you weren't ready for the touching, that's obvious, because, really, nothing you reported in your examples sounded like you instigated anything, but rather, that you felt pretty blind-sided all three times. Been there. It's very confusing while it's happening, too. The uninvited touching put you off balance. That's normal. And in order to regain your balance and have time to think about how you felt about what just happened, you made yourself scarce. Also, very normal. And healthy too. You see, you got to remember: These guys who're flirting with you -- they're just learning all this courtship stuff too, and they definitely NEED to be rebuffed when they get it wrong so that they can learn NOT to do it that way the next time. And you did a beautiful job, by the way. You didn't get b*tchy and make a scene. You didn't embarrass them or yourself. You left them holding the bag, having to deal with what they did without hurting them for it. Good stuff!

To recap: How you felt was normal and a healthy response to something uncomfortable. It was uncomfortable because you had not invited such forward physicality and the guys were rushing you. You did the right thing and SUBTLY got yourself out of each uncomfortable situation. And finally, you let those guys know that they need to work on their style a little more. It isn't you, Jae, who needs to work on her subtlety.... it's those eager young men you're attracting! Wink

In closing...
Aimless wrote:

I have never learned that skill, but I think this would be a good question for another thread. There is an NT/AS hot-line question and answer thread in the general autism forum. I think asking an NT is your best bet.


I am an NT, an experienced woman, a mom and a wife to an aspie. I hope I was able to help.

Good luck, Jae! You're doing great!
Feyhera
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Cleopatra, in love and at her wits' end, clutches the blessed serpent to her breast, and expires.

Please visit my blog at: http://www.wrongplanet.net/modules.php?name=blogview&user=Feyhera

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