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Parallax - Advice            March 5, 2001

  The art of flirting

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How would you advise a woman to handle the flirtations of men that she may not be interested in? Are there appropriate comebacks that will let the man know that she doesn't see him that way - but don't embarrass or belittle him in the process?

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Her view:

Dear Ms. Flirt,

Yes, there are several. Here are a few: 'I have to go to meet my lesbian girlfriend for dinner. I have to meet my boyfriend - too bad I have one (nicer let down). I need to polish my nails or wash my hair. What do you think of threesomes? Want to come shopping with my mom and me?' Or what about, 'Great, would you like to come with me? I'm trying to train my pet orangutan.'

Of course you realize you're asking a ridiculous question. All is fair in flirting and dating and guys are the worst offenders. So you must be as nice as possible. An easy hedge would be to say, 'I am sort of seeing someone.' It explains why you were flirting in the first place, although you don't have the option of going out on a date.

Why don't you stop flirting with guys you know you won't date? After all, it's mean to lead them on. Make a better assessment of the likelihood before flirting, and make your exits smoother. This saves the guy from being put in the awkward position of asking you out, only to be turned down.

Another gentle option is to introduce the name of a boyfriend into a negative flirting encounter. Say something like, 'Yes, I once went there with my boyfriend - he liked it, I hated it.' This way the guy thinks you're a terrible flirt and probably a slut. And he's probably also thinking he's really happy you're not his girlfriend.

Quite a myriad of options you have here, so don't be cruel. And be a little more sparing with your flirting.

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His view:

Dear Ms. Flirt,

When a man is flirting with you, he should be prepared for anything, including rejection. If getting turned down makes him embarrassed, then he shouldn't be playing the game.

Now, belittling is different. A girl once asked me, 'Are you new at this, or just a slow learner?' It stung. It was unnecessary. If cruelty comes as easily to you, try holding back a little, unless the guy deserves it.

But don't sugarcoat it either. Too many women get men unduly excited by trying to be nice and firm at the same time. It normally doesn't work.

I prefer a blunt answer to a murky one, yet I also prefer a clever turndown to a boring one. For example, mentioning a boyfriend, or saying you're a lesbian, are blunt, rather boring rejections. The kind my simple colleague would use.

When I think of a smart turndown, I think of a woman who confessed to me (over a two-hour dinner) that I was the spitting image of her father, her brother and her priest. By the time I dropped her off - never to call again - I'd reminded her of her entire family.

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You Vote! 33% of Women agree with HER VIEW and 67% with HIS VIEW.

25% of Men agree with HER VIEW and 75% with HIS VIEW.

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