Let’s discuss the difference between playfully flirting and flirting flirting. There is a difference… right?

The big difference between the two is intent. playfully flirting is saying compliments or doing what would be considered romantic actions with the intention that it’s platonic while flirting flirting is with the intention that you want the other person to feel romantically attracted to you, but how are you supposed to know the difference? The only person who really knows the difference is the flirter. The prey just has to guess. Because in the world of dating, the streets are filled with false hope. What you think is leather is pleather, what you think is gold is yellow, and what you thought you knew, you don’t.

Straight guys always playfully flirt with each other… like all the time. They pretty much do everything they do with their girlfriends, but without the sex. This has generally always occurred but usually with close friends that they feel comfortable with and know that these actions won’t be perceived as romantic advancements. Before the hetero-militia comes after me, no not all straight men partake in this playful flirting. Even if in football the straightest of men slap their teammates’ butts from time to time.

Types of Men

Now before any confusion starts, let’s be clear. There are four areas of men (simplified): Toxic masculinity straight men, healthy masculinity straight men, bisexual men, and gay men. Yes bisexual and gay men can have toxic masculinity, but the main perpetrator is straight men. Men were always told to be manly to get women, but since gays and bisexuals both like men they were like screw that. The reason the line of sexuality is getting confused is because we are entering a new era. This is the era where both men and women have the ability to express themselves how they please, and individuality is being promoted. But, as amazing as that is that means change occurs to the dating rule book and things get a little shaky.

For the longest time there were only two sexualities in the public’s eye; the world was black and white, and people were gay and straight. Bisexuality wasn’t considered valid until recently, and many thought of them as being “sexually confused”. I mean even watching Sex and The City Carrie refers to bisexuality as “a layover on the way to gaytown”. Granted, the episode aired in 2000, so it would make sense that bisexuality wasn’t fully understood, but over time we’ve evolved. We’ve recognized and accepted bisexuality, and just like that shook up the dating scene in 2000, healthy masculinity is shaking up the dating scene almost two decades later.

The Oppression of Men

Now you may be wondering… how does healthy masculinity change dating when they’re still straight? It changes dating because straight men weren’t allowed to show emotions before. Weird, I know. Guys couldn’t compliment another guy’s clothes without it being perceived as gay; they couldn’t even show interest in certain sports or activities without receiving judgment. I mean it was gay for a guy to use anything with the color pink, and it was queer to use anything specifically labeled for women. Yeah, I mean thinking about it, I can think of two reasons why straight men hated gay men: they were conditioned to do so in fear that if they didn’t scrutiny would be placed on them, or they wanted to be us. Not in the sense that they wanted to be with a man, but that they wanted liberation to be free. Now that’s all different. Men can wear what they want, act how they want, and do what they want without their sexuality being questioned.

All of this is great for them, but for gays it’s confusing. Just like if a guy compliments a girl, there’s a chance he could like her, so why do the rules not apply to gay guys?

Over time it’s getting harder to tell who’s bisexual and who’s straight. You can more than likely tell who’s gay, but bi? It’s like a witch-hunt. Bisexual men are like chameleons in society. They’re literally the Hannah Montana’s of the dating animal kingdom. It’s hard to decide if they’re Miley or Hannah because they’re the same, but not. So, is it wrong to misinterpret straight men’s friendliness for flirting?

The Rule of Three Checklist

One rule that I specifically made for myself in the evolving modern dating world is the flirting checklist. Following Wendy Williams’s rule of three, I give men three chances to show their interest in me.

They have to reach the three checks. It’s imperative that they always reach the three checks. I don’t care how cute they are; if only two boxes get ticked, it’s not happening. They have to say or do three things to me that raise suspicion of their sexuality. It also has to be directed to me, so if I’m out and a guy orders a fruity drink I’m not going to make a check and assume he’s fruity as well because the action wasn’t directed toward me; maybe he just likes the taste of a fruity cocktail. You can have a cocktail without the cock.

If not verbal, then physical touches are checks. Once again it has to be direct, so when a guy compliments you it is important to dissect the compliment. Was it a playful or flirty? Remember it’s not what they say it’s how they say it. Only you can be the judge of that, and if it seems flirty make a mental tick in box one. You never want to proceed and imagine a relationship, or even sex, if someone is just being friendly.

The duration can also differ as well depending on who the person is and where you are. Obviously if you’re in a public place and it’s a stranger the three checks can be ticked off fairly quickly compared to somebody you speak to everyday. If you work with or are friends with the person of question then maybe they won’t put all their energy in one interaction, and it may take longer to assess and come to a conclusion. Plus the embarrassment of being wrong about someone you’re close too by being hasty with your decision making is worse than taking time to ruminate the possibility.

What Are The Options?

So what do you do? Is it okay to flirt back with someone who is perceived as straight if you feel as though they’re flirting flirting with you? It’s not like they’re deliberately trying to make things confusing, but nobody’s going to go up to you and say hey I’m bisexual, want to have a conversation? There’s really only two options to do. You can flirt back after you made your mental ticks and hope that the signal was there, or you can wait until he actually says he’s interested in you in an explicit statement that could stand in court, but the second option is highly unlikely.

The lines of flirting are so blurred it’s like driving in a blizzard. You’re driving to the left and swerving to the right, and hoping you’re in your lane so you can make it out alive. Because as painful as it is to ask him if he’s interested in men, it’s even more painful to overthink and go through every scenario in your mind not knowing the truth. So, once the three boxes are checked just go for it and ask. It may be awkward and it sucks that men have to be accused of being attracted to the same gender simply for being nice, but we gays love a nice guy and you miss all the shots you don’t take, so why not? If he’s not interested it will blow over and hopefully as time goes on things will become easier.

Transitioning Into The New Era

It’s a transitional period and people need to understand that patience and understanding are essential right now. If a guy is straight, don’t come across as abrasive trying to get him to switch sides like you’re the gay Darth Vader; let it be. What we don’t want is for men to go back to thinking they can’t be nice or give compliments without it being perceived as flirting, but in all honesty it has nothing to do with them and everything to do with us. Girls went through something very similar not too long ago. Girls would spend their time fantasizing about a guy who was nice to her only to find out he’s gay. Look at Cher Horowitz in Clueless. She tried to date Christian who was obviously gay, but she was clouded by her ego and spent forever trying to get him when the signals were pointing to he’s just not that into you; sometimes people are just being nice. Don’t be like Cher.

Most of the time nobody is trying to deceive another person. It may seem like it, but in all honesty we deceive ourselves. Everybody is learning to co-exist and be kind to one another. Because at the end of the day we all want to be loved, and the possibility of love makes our brain turn to slush. We may think flirting is just being kind and kind is just being flirting, but that’s dating. It might be humiliating; there might be mixed signals, false signs, impetuous accusations, and hopes smashed, but we’re all just trying to find that one, or at least that one for the night. So, check you’re list not once, not twice, but three times. Be more thorough than Santa on your flirting checklist. If you’re not careful you get something worse than no presents; you end up embarrassed and alone.

P.S. Shout-out to all the men that are breaking the old molds and traditions of what a man is supposed to be. You’re doing amazing!

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