This week, Nadia El-Awady talks flirting strategy (no winking or lip puckering please).
How does one find the perfect spouse? Of course here in the Muslim world, most people aren’t looking for a casual boyfriend/girlfriend or a longer term partner. Most of us wake up when we reach somewhere around the age of 20 and just want to get married. To someone. And thus starts the prowl for the suitable spouse.
I won’t get into the pros and cons of this way of thinking. I won’t address the various cultural approaches, whether semi-dating, meeting people in the family circle, or arranged marriages. Forget all that. Most people I know in my circle of friends just want to figure out how they personally can find someone they’d like to spend the rest of their lives with.
I’ve been telling my friends – guys and gals – that they all need to learn the art of flirting. They truly suck at it. For the most part, the girls I know won’t flirt at all because they feel it’s inappropriate. And when girls I know do flirt it’s very cheeky and superficial. It gives off the wrong message completely. The guys I know think flirting means batting their eyelashes at girls (yes…BATTING THEIR EYELASHES), looking at them inappropriately (they don’t realize it’s inappropriate but it is), and acting all manly and controlling with them. It’s a complete turn-off.
So as I’ve promised for quite some time, behold my blog post on the art of flirting in the Muslim world. I’ll only know if this post applies to other parts of the world once I finish writing it. I’m not sure yet what jewels will come out of my typing fingers!
Find someone worth your flirting. I know so many guys and girls who will flirt with almost anyone of the opposite sex. Stop it. You make yourself look cheap and superficial by doing that. Trust me. Flirting shouldn’t be an everyday thing. Save it for someone really worth it. If I see you flirting with every girl in the office and then you come and flirt with me as well, I’m not going to give you the time of day. If you’re not generally a flirt, but then you come and flirt with me, I’m going to notice you.
Flirting does not mean winking, puckering up your lips, or beating on your chest. Stop thinking of flirting as a semi-sexual act or talking dirty. It’s none of that. The best flirt in the world is when it doesn’t seem like a flirt at all. Let’s say you’re at some sort of an event organized by your company and you spot a guy on the other side of the room who you know to be really ambitious and who you’ve been silently attracted to for awhile. Catch the guy’s eye (no smoldering looks, PLEASE), just walk towards him with a smile on your face, and start up a conversation with him. Tell him that you’ve been really interested in the work he’s doing on project x and you’d like to learn more about it. Listen to him attentively. Show genuine interest. Be relaxed as you do this. A tense woman is a turn-off. Laugh when he says something funny. Be funny yourself, but not throughout the whole conversation. Most importantly, just be yourself. That’s your most attractive asset.
Once you’ve found someone worth your time, take some initiative. There is absolutely nothing wrong, in this writer’s opinion, in inviting a guy for coffee somewhere to learn more about them. Don’t set it up as a date. If you’re truly interested in that person, tell them you’d like to learn more about their project. Find a hook. But don’t be creepy! I know so many guys that could, after one brief conversation with a girl, decide that she was the girl of his dreams and that he was going to marry her. Stop it. It shows. And it’s damned creepy! Learn how to take time to learn more about people. Don’t fall in love every single time you talk to a person of the opposite sex. Yuck! Simply find normal ways to get more of a chance to learn more about someone you’re starting to feel attracted to. This reminds me of a young man I met at an event I was in who started telling me his life story. He was doing this because I was a mother figure to him. He told me he really wanted to get married but he wasn’t sure if he should focus first on marrying or on finishing his degree. After a break, he came back to me and told me he had found the girl of his dreams. He looked in her eyes and just knew it. She was some complete stranger to him attending the same event. Rather than just find a way to strike up a normal conversation with her, he started asking her personal questions and within a matter of seconds was asking her if she was engaged or not because he’d like to speak with her father. This stuff really happens over here, people. Ewww ewww ewwww ewwww. I could tell you tons of stories similar to this one that happened to me when I was young and of a marriageable age. Ewwwwww! So although I’m telling you here to take initiative, I’m not asking you to go and get the girl’s father’s phone number! Find a normal way to have more of a chance to speak with the girl after this particular event is over. And girls, it’s absolutely all right to do the same. Show interest, but please do not go all needy and lovey dovey on this guy. Not yet.
Develop a bond. Find ways to do stuff with the person you’re attracted to. Do this only if you get a sense that there is a mutual attraction. Again, we need to calm down all the emotions that so easily start flying around when two members of the opposite sex meet in this part of the world. Stop it! Develop a friendship. Invite each other out on excursions with your friends. Go out to dinner with a couple of friends after work. Dress well when you know you’ll meet your special guy. But don’t make it look like you went to too much of an effort. Not yet. Smile when you speak. Relax. Enjoy yourself. Listen. Talk a bit about yourself and the things you’re doing. But don’t just let everything out. Give things time. Be mature. Grow up in the way you think about relationships.
NOW start doing the flirty flirt. Once you are certain there is a mutual attraction, once you feel you know enough about this person that you’d like to take it to the next level, there’s nothing wrong with being a bit cheeky every now and then. Allow him to say things that make you blush. Nothing dirty, mind you! But let him find a way to express his interest. And be receptive to that interest, but only if you are comfortable doing so. If you do not feel receptive to his interest, you shouldn’t be reading point number five to begin with. You’re with the wrong guy. Of course, if he’s laying it on too heavy at this stage, get out of there. Again, these creepy guys that don’t know how to control their emotions are not the kind of guy you want to spend the rest of your life with. As for the girls, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard guys tell me that a certain girl was too superficial and flirty. The guys will spend their spare time with you. Your excessive flirtiness boosts their egos. But they aren’t considering you for anything long term. Learn how to flirt maturely.
You’ve found someone worth your time, you’ve gotten to know them better, you’ve developed a bond, and you’ve started being flirty. Do something about it! This is when you can start being bold. At this stage you should be emailing, texting, Facebooking, and speaking on the phone. You’re starting to feel something really special developing. Keep it special. Be respectful of each other. Be respectful of your parents if you’re still young and don’t do anything that would upset them. Be respectful of your religious and cultural backgrounds. Use this stage to learn even more about the other person.
What happens after these stages varies depending on a wide range of circumstances. Age, culture, and religion play a huge role in the next steps. Personal comforts do as well.
It’s important for me to note that this post is written with adults in mind. It is not written for teenage children or young college-aged kids. This post is for a legally responsible adult who has started his/her life, who works, and who is out there in the world and knows how to conduct himself maturely.
Members of the opposite sex are everywhere. Quite literally. Don’t tell me you can’t find anyone worth your time. If you tell me that, I’ll think you aren’t really looking. Don’t spend your time waiting for someone to find you. Get off your butt and start looking for him yourself. There are so many places to look. Look in your circle of friends. Look in your work circle. If you don’t find the right kind of person in either place, get involved in activities that you enjoy. That’s where you are most likely to find people who have similar interests to you. Of course, you know I’ll tell you to travel if you can manage it. Don’t limit your search to the members of the opposite sex in your neighborhood, city, or country. There’s a whole world out there.
Looking for that special someone does not mean you’re on the prowl for her either. It simply means being receptive; keeping your eyes open. If you’re literally looking for your future spouse, your actions will betray you and you will, again, appear to be quite creepy. Stop it!
Get out there. Be bold. Be flirty. But be mature!
Post-script: After re-reading what I just wrote, I felt that I’ve held back a bit. I’m trying to be too culturally appropriate. I’m avoiding the Muslim fundamentalist backlash that I’m sure to get if I write all my jewels of advice on this issue.
So if you’re a Muslim fundamentalist, stop reading here. This last part is not for you:
There are times when it’s absolutely worth throwing out a flirty flirt to a complete stranger. Those times aren’t many. They don’t come by every day. But they are out there. There are times when you’ll walk onto the metro or into the supermarket and you’ll see a drop-dead gorgeous guy who doesn’t have a wedding ring on his finger and you just want to run your fingers through his hair. Don’t miss the moment. Sit next to him on the train or stand in front of him even and then pretend to fall into his arms. Ok. Maybe you shouldn’t do that. Or maybe you should? But find a way to stir up a cheeky, flirty conversation with him without appearing needy. Compliment the tight t-shirt he has on. Ask him if he’d be willing to arm wrestle with you to see who is stronger, having noticed his huge biceps. Ask him what shampoo and conditioner he uses on that gorgeous hair. Anything! Just don’t lose the moment. Even if you will never see this man again, do it. It’s worth learning to loosen up a little bit. Just that little bit. You won’t regret it later when you find your special man. Trust me on this one.