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Is modesty a virtue? Why or why not? (I'm talking here about what could broadly be described as sexual modesty - modesty in dress and behaviour rather than modesty in regard to one's talents and abilities).

There are certain friends around whom I'll behave in a tactile, flirtatious manner; and there are others I won't, and when the two groups meet I start to feel awkward and somewhat ashamed of such behaviour because I assume the latter group will disapprove or at any rate look somewhat askance at it. I don't have any hard evidence for that, but I sort of feel I'm letting myself down. And it's not just a 'different behaviour for different situations' thing - I feel bad that the disapproving ones know I ever behave like this, rather than bad that I'm behaving like this in front of them. Even though, when I'm amongst the flirtatious group, I honestly don't feel I'm doing anything the slightest bit wrong.

The thing is, if I am letting myself down, how am I? Is it about a sort of insincerity, or an inappropriate use of power? Is it about me seeking approval for the wrong things? Is there something wrong about seeking to make others sexually attracted to me, and expressing my attraction towards them when I have no intention of acting on those feelings? If there is something wrong with that, does that mean I should never wear clothes that draw attention to my figure and secondary sexual characteristics? Or is it okay to do that so as long as I engage in some sort of doublethink - generating that attention, but acting as if I am unaware of its effect? Is that not even more insincere?

On another issue, I think I am, at least some of the time, flirting back not because I am attracted but merely to be polite and is that a bad thing to do? Is it, in fact, safer to flirt with those to whom you are not, or are only mildly, attracted, rather than with those where flirtation could cause an attraction to grow larger than you want? Or does flirtation act as a safety valve - a way of acknowledging attraction that actually helps prevent it going further than either of you wants it to?

What do the rest of you all think?


( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 4th, 2004 08:59 am (UTC)
Damn. I just wrote a long reply and livejournal ate it.

I think the acceptability of flirting entirely depends on whether your flirting is breaking people's brains. I'd say flirting where nobody suffers emotional harm is completely fine.

Obviously, the first thing you have to consider is whether your partner is upset by it, but it sounds to me as if Matt is being pretty understanding and your main worries are about yourself and the people you're flirting with.

If someone is in love with you, or if they're lonely and vulnerable to falling in love with you, or if they're too naive to realise that flirting isn't an offer of sex, or if they only like people with x specialised quality or taste which you happen to have, then I'd say flirting with them is liable to break their brain, and you're being unkind to them by doing it. (And yes, I learned all that the hard way.)

As for your own feelings - I'll admit there have been a few times when I've deliberately held back from cuddling someone because I knew I'd enjoy it too much, and I felt that it would therefore be mean to Casby (I'm not sure why, it just intuitively felt mean.)

But I don't know if it's *safer* not to flirt with people you really like. Obviously, if your relationship is still new and fragile, flirting with anyone else *is* dangerous, but from the outside you and Matt seem to be as rock-solid a couple as me and Casby, and not likely to be endangered by a bit of flirtation.

Having said which, if I felt that my flirting with someone *was* making me feel so strongly for them that it endangered my relationship with Casby, I hope I'd have the strength of mind to run away very far very fast.
Jul. 4th, 2004 10:16 am (UTC)
Hmm. I think my problem with it is that the gratification I gets feels like it's balm to some kind of insecurity - that it's a quick & easy way to get some admiration for myself, and that I shouldn't need that and I'd do better to wait and get admiration for things I'm genuinely proud of and have worked for.

So I think it's more about my self-respect than about my relationship with Matt - which I agree is certainly not in danger of being destroyed by flirting, although I do wonder if there's a slight erosion of...something...just because while I'm flirting with someone else I have to, not forget I'm married, but certainly put it towards the back of my mind.
Jul. 4th, 2004 02:43 pm (UTC)
Flirting is only natural - I don't think anyoen should be judged by others as virtuous or not by their flirting, or lack of it, on any given occasion. Anyoen should be free to flirt or not at their own choice, an not be pressured into doing it (or not doing it).

Flirting is playful in so much as *both* (or all) involved know that is the case - if there is any genuine sexual tension then it's all to easy to do something that someone may later regret. Be careful. :)

Having said that, have fun. :)
Jul. 5th, 2004 12:59 am (UTC)
Just to (reassure? disappoint?) you, there's no-one in particular I have in mind - it was genuinely a general question.
Jul. 4th, 2004 03:03 pm (UTC)
This is a good question. I should return and muse on the subject someday when I'm capable of deep thought.
Jul. 4th, 2004 03:54 pm (UTC)
Thanks for reassuring me that there are questions worth asking here. Look forward to hearing your thoughts when you're less overloaded with study :)
Jul. 5th, 2004 07:48 am (UTC)
Hmmm.... I'm probably one of the disapprovers.

I went through a bit of a flirting phase in my early 20s (probably about the time that I realised I wasn't completely hideous). I managed to mess up a few heads and realised that the safest way to go was not to flirt at all. I still occaisionally flirt, but only when I'm absolutely certain that there's no attraction on either side. Which usually means I have to know the other person extremely well.

Some people do manage to flirt without giving out the wrong signals. I'm not one of them. If it's a trick you can manage then I don't think that there's anything wrong with it.

I tend to apply the same rule to flirting as to any other kind of relationship. If you're both after the same thing then it's probably OK. If one of you wants something different then it can all get very messy very fast.
Jul. 5th, 2004 10:21 am (UTC)
I'm probably one of the disapprovers

Yes, it's true you were one of the people I had in mind, though certainly not the only one.

It's about the only area of my life where I still get the mixed "Woo, I'm being one of the cool kids!...actually, no, I'm just being an idiot aren't I?" sensations which I mainly experienced around drinking and flirting in my late teens and that in itself is setting alarm bells ringing.

I think, though, that as a result of this entry, comments, & subsequent ponderings I'm now starting to get a clearer handle on what it is I have a problem with, in my own behaviour and that of others, and what I can do about it.
Jul. 8th, 2004 02:35 pm (UTC)
From a person who is fairly cr*p at flirting ("signals, what signals?"), here is my opinion.

Something I am well aware of is that flirting with some and not others can be troublesome simply because some people who are missing out may want to be more involved. I for one do not recall hugging vectorious, but I have hugged mostlyacat. Though mostlyacat is a top chap of the highest order, I have known vectorious since 1994 and without going in to a certain speech, cannot conceive that we will ever not be friends. Our friendship survived you making a better choice in man when it was in its relative infancy and so there must be some rocky foundations (in the solid, granite-type sense, obviously, rather than the teetering). But I digress. Some people are naturally tactile, some are not, and some want to be, and it is gauging the difference that can be difficult. Having said that, I did call vectorious 'boyfriend' recently, which I have never done to mostlyacat, even with his manly facial hair!!

I would put myself in the physically restrained category, but have no problem with others flirting, as I admire the skill and wish I could emulate it. But then perhaps that's because I want to be involved and less restrained, but just don't know the people well enough to involve myself. Flirting to be polite is definitely okay as long as everything is platonic. But that's the platonic stuff...

Regarding flirting with the opposite sex, or with anyone you find attractive (in these modern times), then dangers abound, and I agree with many of the previous comments. However, my personal preference is for masochistic flirting. Namely find a woman who I find attractive. Then become her friend and let her impress me and find her even more attractive. Then flirt a little. But knowing right from the start that she isn't available. Hang around her at the end of evenings out, hug and kiss her goodbye, knowing that she still isn't available.

This is probably not advisable psycologically, but the alternative for me is less female company. The lady in question apologised to me when I told her that one of my friends noticed her flirting with me. But I told her that I didn't see what she had to apologise for as there was no other half who would be dismayed. In that case, flirting can be bad, but then again, only where the relationship is finely based in the area of trust. I know I will get nowhere with her, although like some lovesick teenager I hope otherwise. As a form of psycological grooming, flirting is a builder of confidence and the fact that she flirts with me is of great value to my self-esteem. The fact that I also risk unhappiness through disappointment is a pitfall, but in no way do I criticise her for causing it - that is my decision to make. In fact I think that she would be most distressed to find out my feelings and her capacity to cause me unhappiness. Would I flirt with her if I wasn't single? (Very long pause here, as that's a damn good question). Yes, but for the first time in my life I would be doing so 100% platonically. Would I flirt with her if she was single? I did, when she was, so there's hope for me yet.
Jul. 13th, 2004 02:25 pm (UTC)
I've been waiting to reply to this until I could think of something insightful and helpful to say. I haven't come up with anything, however, so have a *hug* instead.
Jul. 13th, 2004 10:34 am (UTC)
Flerting is a Two Edged Sword
Dear Liz;
Just be prepared for the day that you flirt with someone and they flirt back.... and before you know it, everything you have known before passes away. (leaving behind only sincere apologies to the love lost, with Self admonishments notwithstanding.)

Better watch it girl...you're only Human.

Tours truly;
Jul. 13th, 2004 02:23 pm (UTC)
Re: Flerting is a Two Edged Sword
So does that mean you think I shouldn't flirt with anyone, ever?
Jul. 14th, 2004 04:28 pm (UTC)
Re: Flerting is a Two Edged Sword
Dear Liz;
No darling...No...not that at all...It's just that well...Love is sometimes a product of chemistry..and we all know that chemical reactions can sometimes be, well...Unpredictable.

There is a song that go's, "I fooled around and fell in love".

Just be prepared for that possibility.

You are quite a Catch. Can't blame some one for being the opportunistic interloper...can we? Can't Blame you for being Human either.

Yours Very truly;
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )