SOLO 189 | Flirting


Do you like to flirt? Do you like be flirted with? Peter McGraw speaks to Lucy Meggeson, the host of Spinsterhood Reimagined, about this fun yet challenging endeavor. They discuss what fliting is, why flirting is important, and give some tips to be a better flirt. What do you think? Join the Solo community and let Peter know: https://petermcgraw.org/solo/

Listen to the podcast here


This is a much-anticipated episode. I’m joined by Lucy Meggeson, the host of the Spinsterhood Reimagined Podcast. Welcome back, Lucy.

Thank you for having me back. I cannot tell you how excited I am about this conversation, although maybe that’s already a bit flirty, but continue. Also, no pressure about much anticipated.

I love to ramp up the pressure for elite guests like you.

I can take it.

There are tons of interest in this topic among the SOLO community. I’m not sure about the Spinsterhood Reimagined community, and I thought you’d be a great person to have this conversation with.

Thank you. I hope I deliver.

You do. You get credit for me thinking of you and here’s why. I have the distinct honor of being the first bloke on Spinsterhood Reimagined. I believe you said, you could correct me if I’m wrong, you noticed that you were flirty during that episode.

Did I? I can’t remember saying that, but thank you for reminding me. Do you know what is hilarious? I had an email from a listener off the back of that episode saying, “You two were so flirting.” I was like, “No, we weren’t. I’m sure we weren’t.” We will get to this, but I flirt naturally. Do not be getting any ideas, Peter McGraw.

None at all, but I knew that you could deliver because I knew you had the skills.

I will take it. Thank you. We will see.

Let’s start with why this is a much-anticipated episode with a broad question. Why is flirting important? Why is it worthy of precious airtime on SOLO?

The first thing that comes to mind is that flirting can be a real icebreaker. It’s something that can be fun. If two people, for example, are going on a first date, I think a little bit of flirting can break the ice. It can be something that makes all parties involved feel more relaxed. Would you agree?

I would. I like to say that flirting makes life interesting. It makes life worth living.

That’s a far more meaningful answer than mine. Now I feel like I already let you down and we are not even five minutes in. Do you want to pick another guest?

No. People cannot wait any longer for this. I agree with you. Flirting within the context of a date is essential because if you can’t make that work, how are you going to make the more intimate stuff work?

True. However, what I will say to that is I don’t think everybody is capable of flirting. I certainly don’t think that everybody is good at flirting. I can imagine a situation where, potentially, you could have a situation where you have got two people on a date who, even if they want to shag each other, neither of them are particularly flirty. I do think that exists as a scenario.

Yes, but I don’t think that’s as much of a problem. I think that it’s fine 2 non-flirts and 2 flirts. The problem is when you have a flirt and a non-flirt.

It’s 100% so awkward. I’m trying to think if I have been in that situation myself. I’m pretty sure that I must have been in that situation myself because I am such a flirt in as much as I will flirt with men who are 95 or a teenage boy. Not in a sexual or any common way, but it’s such a natural thing for me to do. I wish I could think of one, but I’m sure I must have been in a situation where I have been flirting outrageously with someone who’s not receptive to it. On the other hand, presumably, if I had been in that situation, I would have massively turned down my flirting and probably turned it off altogether.

We are going to go through and talk about the different types of flirting, but that’s only about flirt givers. It’s not about flirt receivers. You are a flirt giver and you are a flirt receiver. You are comfortable receiving flirtation. You are comfortable giving it. For the most part, it’s risky. It has its issues. We will cover those. It could work but it’s the person who’s oblivious and uncomfortable with it, and so it would make that first date scenario a little bit fraught if you have that mismatch.

I’m trying to picture what it would be like if you were on a first date with someone. Let’s say I was on a first date with somebody who was not remotely flirty. Would there be any way that would ever work out or would it not go beyond the first date? I’m struggling to imagine how it would get beyond the first date. To be fair to people who aren’t big flirts, not everybody is. They have other ways of expressing themselves and showing that they fancy somebody. That sounds awful and I do not mean to disregard all the people who aren’t big flirts, but I’m intrigued now thinking about this as to whether how that would potentially shift into something that could go somewhere beyond the first date.

Let’s analyze the benefits of it, and then for those people who aren’t natural flirt givers or takers, help them. Let’s try to help those folks. One of the things that’s great about it is it’s a way to gauge interest. If you are flirting with someone and they are receptive to it, at least means they’re not not interested.

At least it means that they are not repelled by you.

It doesn’t mean they are interested, but it doesn’t mean that they are disinterested. I feel like it’s a fun and low-key way to assess someone’s interest, their receptivity, especially in a post-Me Too world where I as a straight man am keen to figure out if is it appropriate, especially in public and especially with someone who you don’t know well, will it be received well? Flirting is this very low-key and almost innocuous way to gauge some interest. It also is one of these things that it’s a way to build some excitement and tension.

That is one of the main reasons why you flirt with somebody that you fancy and they flirt back because it’s that delicious stage, from what I can remember in my very distant memory. That is one of the ways that you build up that excitement. That’s one of the reasons why I’m so not interested in online dating because the joy of getting together with someone is having those flirty moments.

When you meet someone organically, then you can flirt. With online dating, you can have whatever messaging or phone calls. I don’t know how it works. I have never done online dating. You can get to a first date and then you can flirt, but there is something to be said for going back to the old-fashioned ways because I’m old-fashioned.

There is something to say about that traditional way. That’s part of the excitement. When you meet someone, whether it’s the guy in the coffee shop, at work, a guy you met at a party, a guy that you see around, or whoever it is, it’s that excitement of flirting and that sexual tension building up. When the flirting gets more, you both know that you like each other. Can you tell? I’m getting excited. Can you tell I have been single for several years?

It is fun when it’s back and forth and then it gets a little naughtier. You are headed down this path. Let’s be honest. Sometimes the excitement is the best part because sometimes you then connect on that next level and the chemistry is not quite right. The smell, the taste, the feel, and the desires aren’t exactly matched. At least you get to savor. The flirting with someone that you are on that path with leads to this savory arousal. I’m making that up.

I know where you are coming from and I couldn’t agree more because, in many ways, dare I say it, the best part of any relationship is the bit just before you get together. It’s like the best part of married life is just before you are about to get married.

It’s called the honeymoon. That’s right. There’s data that supports this.

I’m not surprised. It’s so true. I can remember having massive flirtations with guys who I have subsequently got together with. I’m mindful that I wanted to say that every minute of the time before something happens. Almost when you are in that flirting heaven with someone who you fancy and they fancy you back, it’s almost like there’s resistance to doing something because the minute you do something, the illusion is potentially completely shattered.

As a digression. I was at a birthday party with a mixed group of people singles and non-singles. A joke came up about how for the single people at the table, at least the sexually active ones, there’s a chance their best sex is ahead of them, but for the married people, you can’t say the same thing. That’s akin.

There are so many benefits of being solo.

There’s another element here before we sit down and define flirting, and you alluded to it, is that you flirt with people that you are not sexually interested in. Why is that important? That’s important in part because it makes life interesting, but it’s a form of play. As adults, we don’t play enough. When we do, we schedule our play.

We are like, “We are going to have card night on this night. We are going to have game night on that night. We are going to play pickleball on Wednesdays at 5:00,” or whatever your form of play is. This is improvisational spontaneous play. As you are saying, you are flirting with a 90-year-old man. It’s possible you are interested in him, but chances are you are doing it because it’s playful and fun.

It’s a way to be intimate and enjoy life without any commitment and expectations. That’s an important thing because lots of people who read our episodes are in no way. They are not interested in sex and dating, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t want to have fun. It doesn’t mean that they don’t find people attractive. It doesn’t mean that they don’t want to have liveliness in their day to day.

I couldn’t agree more. From our previous conversations, I haven’t canceled out the possibility of getting together with someone ever. I’m happy either way. I certainly will carry on flirting until the day I die. I’m quite sure. As you say, it is fun. You mentioned that we do not have enough fun as adults. I couldn’t agree more with that. Especially when it comes to flirting, we all need to be more childlike. There is so much to be said for being childlike. Everyone is like, “Be serious. Don’t be so childish,” and all the rest of it.

We should be encouraging people to be childish because that is where so much of the fun of life lies, that childish and playful fun, which can apply to flirting. The other thing that I was going to say is that organized fun is my idea of hell. The first thing that comes to mind is, in my language, it’s a Hindu. In your language, it’s a bachelorette do. That, to me, is my idea of an absolute nightmare.

Back to flirting, it’s great fun. Also, one of the things about flirting, and certainly one of the reasons that I flirt with anybody and everybody is because it’s a way of making people feel at ease. Certainly, with me, it’s a way that I make somebody feel included as well. That’s a big thing about flirting when you are not necessarily doing it to end up in bed with them.

I can’t say that I do it to put people at ease. If anything, I do it to make people feel important and to feel seen. I use the word titillating. There are times when someone is like, “I don’t know how to react to this.” That’s interesting that your approach to it is to set someone at ease, and mine is at risk of making them uneasy.

It sounds like what I’m talking about is doing the complete opposite of the reason why you don’t do that to put someone at ease. I see what you are saying and I get that, but it depends on the level of flirtation. There are so many levels of flirtation. There’s low-key flirting, which is harmless. Hopefully, all flirting is harmless. There is flirting that is much more low-level where you are not making very rude jokes and going down that road, and then there’s the high-level flirting, which I’m sure we will get onto.

Interestingly, you can’t see that I use it to put people at ease. It’s that playful aspect of it. It’s like you are mocking around with someone. That’s partly what flirt is to me. I have guy friends whom I flirt with who are in relationships. One of my very best friends, I flirt with her husband in the most playful and harmless way. My friend, she’s one of the ones that gave feedback. She knows it’s harmless, and he knows it’s harmless. It’s a way of having fun. Maybe it’s not even flirting. Maybe when I’m flirting, I’m not even flirting. Who’s to say?

We can decide on this because we are going to talk about what is flirting. We should define the thing that we are talking about. I like to believe that some definitions are self-evident. There’s a famous story, I don’t know if it’s true or not, that a Supreme Court justice talking about the definition of pornography, said, “You know it when you see it.”

I feel like flirting has a little bit of that element, but I did a little research. Let’s start with the dictionary definitions of it because I’m speaking to you. I have the Oxford English Dictionary and the Cambridge Dictionary. They have very similar definitions. Oxford says, “Behave as though attracted to or trying to attract someone, but for amusement rather than with serious intentions.” I know there’s an issue with that. Cambridge says, “To behave in a way that shows a sexual attraction for someone, but it’s not meant to be taken seriously.”

Oxford and Cambridge both think that it’s not trying to get anything out of that. That’s so weird. How very British. I can only apologize.

It would say this. It is much milder and it is much less exciting than those definitions. The way to think about it is this. Some flirting meets that definition, but not all flirting does. I also checked in with one of our newfangled AI interfaces. This is probably from ChatGPT or something. This is a little longer, but I’m going to read it.

“Flirting is a form of social behavior characterized by playful or romantic gestures, comments, and body language. Typically intended to express interest in or attraction to another person. These behaviors can be overt or subtle, verbal or non-verbal, and are often used to gauge the other person’s interest in romantic or intimate relationships. Flirting can occur in various contexts, including face-to-face interactions, online communications, and through written messages such as when you write that little note. ‘Do you want to go out on a date with me, yes or no? Check one.’” That is a much stronger definition. Do you agree?

I agree. We are going to have to write to both Oxford and Cambridge. I will do it from here because it will get there quicker in the post. Both of those dictionaries need to sort their mess out in terms of flirting because they are crap.

Is it any surprise that the person who writes a dictionary definition does not realize the full range of flirting?

You are making a massive generalization. It could be the horniest person on the planet for all you know.

I’m not so sure. One last thing. The etymology of the word flirt is interesting. It originated from the Middle French words. We should pause and give the French their props. They are innovators when it comes to love, romance, and sex. Shout-out to the French. It comes from the Middle French word conter fleurette, meaning to speak idly or jokingly. This notion of playfulness even is built into the etymology of flirting.

That’s interesting. I did not know that. I lived in Paris for a year. I’m just dropping that in here.

Did you bring back any special skills?

How very rude. Are we flirting now?

I thought you could handle that one.

I literally cannot help myself. It doesn’t matter who I’m talking to.

You said I was rude. Did I cross the line with that quip? Honest question.

Not with me. My threshold is quite high for rudeness. No, you didn’t.

I wanted to check because that’s important to know.

No, as far as I’m concerned.

I will try to get right up to the edge. Now, I know I have more leeway. It was in the background, but I was rewatching Fight Club. For those people who don’t know it, it’s the late ’90s. It’s a fascinating film. I was watching it in part because it’s an anti-consumer film in many ways. It’s a film about breaking the rules. If you are not familiar with it, forgive me and bear with me, but this is about these guys who create a fight club where men come together and have fistfights. It will make a lot more sense if you watch the movie. There are rules in Fight Club. There’s a very famous rule of Fight Club, which is the first rule of Fight Club, you do not talk about Fight Club.

The second rule of Fight Club is you do not talk about Fight Club, and then it goes on to the final rule, which is, if it’s your first night at Fight Club, you have to fight. There’s no spectating. I admittedly had taken an edible while this was all going on, and so I got this idea. It may be too corny, but I thought you’d be a fun person to do this with. I thought I could make up some rules for flirting in the style of Fight Club. I call this Flirt Club.

I wish I could remember the film. I know it’s got Brad Pitt and I know I saw it when it first came out, but I wish I could remember it now. We can play it anyway.

These are not well developed because I thought maybe we could workshop them together, but I will get started. The first rule of Flirt Club is only to flirt with someone open to you. The second rule of Flirt Club is only to flirt with someone open to you. I will give you my logic here and we can workshop the copy as needed, but the idea is that there is a risk associated with flirting. The one risk is that it falls flat. It doesn’t go anywhere. It’s like a boring joke.

The other risk of flirting is that you make someone uncomfortable or you offend someone. You cross a line and they say, “How rude,” in that way. What I feel like a good flirt is good at is gauging very quickly whether to flirt, whether to try it and stop quickly, and whether to continue because that person is open to you or receptive. How do you feel about that first rule of Flirt Club?

The only thing is that to gauge whether somebody is interested or not, you have to flirt with them a bit first. We might have to amend it slightly, but I see where you are coming from. It is fundamentally a good first rule. Although, it might need a little bit of amendment, as I say.

It may, yes. I feel like there are these pre-flirt activities. For example, if someone makes eye contact with you that suggests more interest than if they are not making eye contact with you. If they smile at you or if they engage in some friendly banter, they seem like they are open in general and then they may be open to flirting.

The one thing I will say is, and I know 80% of all communication is nonverbal, but I have been wrong in the past. I have been wrong in thinking that someone was into me and I have been wrong in thinking that someone wasn’t into me. I don’t know whether we will talk about this. Here we are in 2023, men, in particular, have to be very careful about their flirting behaviors. Women, not so much, but there is a flip side to that, which is I have myself into trouble before by flirting with someone who then assumed that I was interested, but I wasn’t because I was being flirty. That’s a whole conversation. Maybe we will get onto that.

It’s worth mentioning. I will tell you this. I can see why that could happen in part because, as a man, I so rarely have it happened to me. I always feel like I’m the one trying, initiating, asking, or complimenting. I do believe this because I vacillate between No Way and New Way. I’m like no way 20% of the time. When I’m dating, my belief is if I don’t try, nothing happens.

When something does come my way on those very rare occasions, it’s exciting. I could see how you are being playful and fun, and then this guy who’s got nothing incoming at all suddenly is like, “Here’s this attractive woman. Here’s this woman who’s interested in making this easy,” and he gets overly excited and goes from 0 to 100.

Therein lies the difference between men and women. It is a risk. Do you know what I feel for guys these days? In some ways, it’s a shame, like you were saying at the beginning of this conversation, how you are careful because you are mindful that you have to be careful in this world of Me Too. From a woman’s perspective, I feel bad for guys because apart from anything else, you have to make some move to see if someone is interested, and also, to take it further than flirting.

For example, a guy touching a woman or putting his arm around a woman or anything like that can be so majorly misconstrued in the world that we live in. Whereas it’s a shame and I get that there is such a fine line, but there is no black and white. There are so many shades of gray and so many nuances. What’s a guy got to do? Ask for a written contract before he is flirtier.

For guys, it’s hard for them. I do feel that it is a shame that we have got to a point where now a guy feels like he needs to be careful about flirting with a girl. Most guys out there are probably doing it fairly innocently in as much as they don’t have any bad intent, but it puts men and women in a very difficult situation in the world that we live in now.

I recognize that we are speaking highly heteronormative here at the moment.

I automatically am because I’m heterosexual, which is why. Apologies to anyone. I automatically go to that because that’s just guys and I’m a girl.

It’s your experience and it’s mine too. I agree with you. Challenges are very real. There’s no way to figure it out in advance because there is no signal. Speaking heteronormatively, there are women are receptive, there are women who are not receptive, and then there are women who are receptive to the right guy. The problem is I don’t know in advance which of those three women I am interacting with.

It raises the stakes. It also requires a great deal more finesse and being emotionally aware, having EQ as we say, Emotional Intelligence, to be able to figure out, “Is this an appropriate setting? Is this an appropriate person? Is this the appropriate way to go about doing it?” You are highlighting the asymmetry there that when you do it and it goes bad, you are getting too much attention back. When I do it and it goes bad, I have made someone uncomfortable. That is a very real element, and hence my attempt with the first rule of Flirt Club to try to differentiate the person who’s open to it and not. Third rule, flirting is done primarily for flirting. Anything else beyond that is a bonus. You flirt to flirt primarily.

You are saying that most people flirt to flirt rather than intend to get anything out of it. Is that what you mean?

I’m saying that your primary consideration when flirting is not to try to have sex or find a girlfriend, boyfriend, or partner. Your primary purpose of flirting is to have a playful interaction in that moment with someone. If it develops into that, great, but you are not using this as a tool to find a sexual or romantic partner primarily.

Quite a lot of people are using it as a tool in order to get something out of it. A lot of people probably only flirt with somebody that they want something with. I see where you are coming from, but I’m not sure how I feel about that.

That’s okay. These are work in progress. I’m not wed to any of them. Fourth, remember, flirting is meant to be fun.

I love that because it is, 100%. That’s exactly good. We can keep that exactly as it is. Good. Exactly.

The fifth rule of Flirt Club, be quick to disengage, even apologize, recognize the downside.

You mean recognize when someone is not receptive to it?

That’s right. If you have gone too far. If it’s been rude, they have been uncomfortable, my apologies meant to have a little fun. Hope you have a good day.

That is a very good rule of thumb. Men and women, gay, straight, bi, whatever or whoever, we can all take something from that. If somebody is flirting innocently and they go too far without meaning to, then if they make somebody less uncomfortable, yes, it is. Nice to get an apology. As long as they are being genuine I can imagine some people would find it difficult to apologize for that because it’s a little bit awkward, but that rule, yes.

I built that rule in because I spent a lot of years studying humor, and I see the parallels here. You make a joke and it’s difficult to make people laugh. It’s a highly skilled endeavor. Having intelligence, having emotional intelligence, and being perceptive helps that endeavor. You can make a joke and it’s boring or you can make a joke and it offends.

To me, the only appropriate reaction when you make a joke that offends is to say, I’m sorry, I was joking. I did not mean to upset you. There’s no, “It’s a joke.” It’s not, “What’s wrong with you?” It’s the same thing with having this playful interaction where if the person doesn’t take it the way you intended, doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with that person. You have to own it.

Yes, I agree with that and I see what you mean. I’m not sure that those two things are on the same level like making an offensive joke is very different. Perhaps flirting a bit too far with somebody, but I will take it. You can keep that rule.

The last rule of Flirt Club is that if it’s your first night of Flirt Club, you have to flirt.

That’s the best rule of them all. I love that one.

Would you add a rule? Anything I should consider?

Rules of flirting. You have covered this, but as soon as you know that somebody isn’t being receptive, then dial it right down. Turn it off completely. It’s difficult because humans are so complex and we are all so different. Some people aren’t even aware or they can’t read something. I like to think that I can read people pretty well. You probably can too.

I like to think I’m pretty perceptive, but some people don’t necessarily have the emotional intelligence enough to be able to read whether the person that they are trying to flirt with is not flirting back or is even uncomfortable. Some people don’t find that thing easy. It doesn’t come naturally to them. Somebody may have had an interaction with me and said, “You carried on flirting with me. I didn’t want you to and I was uncomfortable,” so what do I know? I do think there are some people who can probably read people easier than other people. For those people who can’t, it’s tricky.

We talked about people who are not good flirt givers or flirt takers. When it comes to those folks, you have to be very clear. This is going to sound surprising to people, but if you are not good at flirting, you should be good at saying, “I like you. I had a good time last night. I would like to see you again.” If you are with someone who’s giving a lot of flirting and you are not good at giving it back and you are interested, that person may get the wrong impression. You have to be a little bit robotic. “I enjoyed my time with you. I would like to see you again.” One of the three greatest words when you are starting to get to know someone in a romantic situation is, “I like you. I like spending time with you.” That type of thing. You are like, “Now I don’t have to wonder.”

From my perspective, that is the loveliest thing is when a guy says, “I like you.” The problem with that is that some people find that hard to say, which is where flirting can come in so handy because you don’t necessarily have to say that. From a girl’s perspective, if a guy came out and said, “I’m not a very good flirt, but I like you.” I’d be like, “My God.”

That’s the cutest thing, but how often do people say that? I have been out of the dating game for so long. I don’t have a clue. In my life, it’s so difficult to be honest about how you are feeling. I suppose that’s where internet dating, for example, is this mask because you can be whoever you want to be. Up until the point you meet the person in the flesh.

Assuming the person even wants to meet. That’s the other problem. You have to be vulnerable. I always say, “Ask for what you want.” If you want to see someone again, the best way to see them again is to say, “I would like to see you again,” but you risk being rejected when you say that. You also risk not seeing them again if you are too passive.

Getting back to that issue before, in a post-Me Too world, you end up getting stuck because if straight women also don’t go, “Come hither sometimes,” then you have a bunch of guys who are reluctant to come hither because they don’t want to offend. Nothing happens in that sense. There’s that two-to-tango phrase that comes to mind with this.

That leaves both parties a bit stuffed because no one is doing anything. I didn’t know if I believed this anymore, but from a heterosexual girl’s perspective, I always used to be very adamant that I would never make that first move. For the readers, you put your hands up like, “Yes.” There you go.

I have heard that so many times.

I have been out of the dating game for so long. I didn’t know how it worked, to be honest. I haven’t dated for years. I have been single for several years, but for a long time, I would always be that girl who was very traditional. My friends have had a go at me before and said, “If you like someone, you can make the move.” I have always been like, “No way. I will not make a move on a guy. It’s the way I am. I want them to approach me.” I wonder whether, in this world, I get the impression that it’s quite different and that more girls do make the first move. Am I wrong in saying that?

It has to be that case in part because especially the nature of the dating apps, for example, Bumble requires you as a woman in the straight version to make the first move. I don’t know how it works.

I don’t either because I have never been on online dating, so I was not aware but that’s interesting.

That’s one app that requires that tries to change the dynamic. To be honest, if you get anything more than a hi or hey, it’s a shocking opening. You get the bare minimum in that sense.

Also, that’s completely different from the real-world example of a girl being too scared to say something to a guy or a guy being too scared to say something to a girl. On a dating app, as you say, Bumble requires a girl, then that’s easy for women because that’s what the app requires.

If you don’t want to do it, you don’t join that app. I had a dating coach a long time ago, and she is adamant that her straight female clients initiate and often initiate boldly by saying, “Here’s my phone number.” The way that she compels this is she says, “If you go back into the 1800s when dating moved into the public realm.” It went from being arranged between families where you had very little say, “Someone got picked for you by your family in the community,” to then it is out in the public sphere.

These women, wouldn’t initiate, but when the right man walked by, they would drop their hanky on the ground. The man would stop and pick it up, and then they would have a conversation. This idea that women don’t initiate is a falsehood. It’s the women were very particular about whom they dropped their hanky.

They didn’t have twenty hankies that they were throwing on the street. The man knew when that happened, that wasn’t about picking up a hanky. That was about initiating a conversation and perhaps a courtship if he shared an interest. Regardless of gender and orientation, I think that it works best when both people are engaged. What I find is what I’m looking for, “Are you making it easy for me? Are you responding in a timely manner? Are you saying yes to the request?”

Laughing at my jokes. You have got to be able to be authentically you when it comes to whatever the situation. You have got to be able to be authentic and be yourself. Also, when it comes to putting yourself out there with flirting and dating all the rest of it, at the end of the day, we have to be big and wise enough to realize that a rejection is just a rejection. It doesn’t have to mean anything. It doesn’t have to mean everything.

If people could stop worrying so much about “rejection,” then they’d probably have a lot easier time in that whole world. We are so scared of being rejected, and we need to realize that ultimately, we are not everybody’s cup of tea and that’s okay. If only we could be less worried about that rejection and not get so upset by it.

I’m completely comfortable getting rejected. I get rejected all the time. That is the nature of dating, especially a new way of dating because I don’t want the escalator. I very frequently disclose a desire that’s non-traditional, and then I get rejected. I would rather be rejected than spend extra time, waste anybody’s time, and have some uncomfortable disclosure later. I’m eager to be rejected early and politely, the problem because you are not living in this world is the amount of ghosting that happens is shocking.

I would much rather be rejected politely than be ghosted because ghosting, I feel like it hurts more because it takes more attention. After all, you are left wondering. I had a situation with a woman where I hadn’t heard from her in a long time, and I was pleased to hear from her. The next time we got together, I said, “I do my relationship design thing. I want to check-in. How are things going? I have a request for you. I ask you if you decide that you don’t want to see me again that you tell me, and I promise you that I will welcome it. I won’t be upset. I won’t try to talk you out of it. If I know that’s the case, then if I don’t hear from you for two weeks, I won’t think anything of it. I don’t think that you have gotten rid of me via ghosting.”

She was so wonderful about it. She said, “Of course. I was having a conversation with a friend about you. She said that I don’t expect us to remain romantic forever, but I do expect us to remain friends.” At some point, I suspect we will transition into a pure friendship, and I said, “That’s lovely. I’m so flattered that you are thinking that way, and it helps for me to hear that in a way.”

People find it. Ghosting is awful. One of the many reasons I don’t do dating apps, but a lot of people find it so incredibly hard to give a very simple, “I don’t want to see you anymore.” Probably quite a lot of the ghosting that goes on is not necessarily coming from a bad place. Whilst it’s terrible and it’s awful. Especially if you have gone however far down the road with someone and then they go to. That’s different, but people find it so hard to be honest. It’s easier and that’s ultimately why people do it. Don’t you think that and it’s a shame.

I have a previous episode that goes deep into this and I am sympathetic about it doesn’t make it hurt less, but some people ghost because not everybody responds the way I do when rejected. That is they can be very mean. They can be awful or vicious. They can say terrible things. Rather than risk that, you just disengaged too. I understand the psychology of it enough. It’s complex and maybe we should refer people to that episode and we should get back into our flirting.

Let’s do it.

I gave you some homework. I asked you to ask some of your friends, perhaps lovers, or family members, whoever. Are you a flirt? Are you a good flirt and why? I asked this of some friends too and I’m curious what the reactions were. You are a self-proclaimed flirter, a flirty person. Did those people agree with you?

You have my answers, don’t you? I’m going to have to pull them up now because I’m trying to remember what they said. One of the guys I asked and I didn’t ask any of my exes but one of the guys is a guy that I work with in the coffee. You know I work part-time in a coffee shop. You may or may not remember. This is a lovely guy who I’m well with.

He’s in his twenties so he’s much younger than me, but I thought he would be quite a funny person to ask. I felt like we were always very flirtatious with each other but in the most innocent, lovely, playful, and fun way. No sexual undertones whatsoever. When asked, “Am I a flirt?” He said, “I wouldn’t say you are a flirt, but you do use a lot of affectionate terms and nicknames, which some people might think is flirting.”

What might be a nickname? What’s an example?

I call him Jojo Baby.

That’s pretty flirty.

It is flirty, but also if you know the relationship that I have with Joe, it’s flirty in a very innocent way. Apart from the fact that he has a girlfriend. This brings up the point that flirting can be quite confusing because if somebody like me flirts very innocently but the person you are flirting with doesn’t take it as such, it’s a tricky one. Anyway, that was Joe’s reply. Why do you say that was your second question to ask people? Joe said, “I say that because we had a very good relationship at work and I assume you felt comfortable enough to call me nicknames.”

If I’m a flirt, what makes me a good or a bad one? He said, “Again, I wouldn’t say you are. It’s a bit of friendly banter, but some people might think it is flirting,” if they did, I’m sure they would think it’s great. One of the other people I asked is one of my best girlfriends who’s known me for more than 30 years, Hannah. Am I a flirt? She said yes. Why do you say that? “I have witnessed your flirty personality since you were thirteen years old.”

If I flirt, what makes me a good or a bad one? She said a good one. It’s not always about attracting a man for you, but you usually succeed in that department anyway. I will take that, Hannah. Thank you. It’s also your way of putting someone at ease in your company, which usually works too. That’s interesting and nice. It goes back to what I was saying about how I 100% can use flirting to put people at ease. Those were two of my answers.

I asked some friends too. These were female friends and they said yes. Some of it was like the reasons why I’m confident and complimentary. I make good jokes and so on. The one comment that stood out to me was a woman who I dated and then now we are friends and she said, “I think that when you are around someone who is flirtatious, your propensity to flirt increases. Our first phone conversation was very flirty. I sent you a text after you gave me your number.”

I gave her my card at a cafe. I had noticed her and I said, “I couldn’t help but notice you. If you’d like to meet for a coffee or a drink sometime, here’s my card,” and then she texted me. Her girlfriend was in the bathroom at the time. I was lingering, waiting, and hoping her friend would get up and so on. She said, “I sent you a text after you gave me your number. In the text, I stated, ‘I was nervous to call,’ and you said, ‘Too bad I give good phone.’”

That is very flirty. That’s something I’d say.

I met someone and I found the person rather compelling, and I asked to get her number through a mutual friend, and then I reached out to her. I said, “Thanks again for supporting the SOLO salon. If you ever want to talk about single living and exploring unconventional relationships, I would be happy to buy you a coffee or a cocktail.” She knew I was going to text. It wasn’t out of the blue thing. I have a rule about texting. It’s only to be used for two reasons in a dating situation, it’s to make plans or to flirt. It’s not, “How was your day?” You are not tackling heavy-duty problems. It’s making plans and building suspense.

Those are the only two reasons you ever text.

When it comes to a dating scenario. For the most part. In general, I may check in with someone I like. How are you feeling? Is everything okay if I know they are going through a hard time? In general, I keep the texting to that. With this woman, I wrote two questions. She said, “We can meet.” I asked two questions. What is your schedule like when making plans? The second one was, “What will be the movie rating for our conversation?” You like that.

I do.

She said when she was free, she said quick Q1, and then she talked to me when she was free. Q2 she wrote, “I’m not entirely sure how to respond to that. Perhaps it depends on how many drinks I have. LOL.” In all seriousness, I’m very much in favor of honesty and authenticity.

That’s a good response.

It was good.


Let’s get into the tips because there are some fun things here. That’s what we are going to finish with like some tips to be a better flirt. I think one of these is a perfect segue into my tip, which is don’t flirt with people you are interested in. Flirt with people you are not interested in, and here’s why because you want to be ready to go. You want to be well-skilled and well-practiced when it matters. If you save all of your flirting for that perfect moment, you may lock up, freeze, or stumble. You want to be adept, highly skilled dexterous with your flirting. Flirting with old men or old ladies or with the person at the DMV or whatever it is like practice for the big leagues.

I couldn’t agree more, but you might as well practice flirting on everybody, which is pretty much what I do. I think that is a very good point because we could all do a little bit of practice in flirting. In terms of tips, I would say keep it light. Keep it fun. We have said one million times on this show that flirting is meant to be fun.

A good tip for flirting is teasing. It’s a very flirty thing to do. Teasing is a good fun, easy, light, and breezy way to flirt with someone and make someone that you are interested. It’s not serious. You do not have to worry about whether or not you are physically touching them. It’s if you are teasing someone that is a very playful way of engaging with someone that you fancy. That would be one of my tips.

The difference between teasing and bullying is affection. That’s the thing to remember you only tease people you like. I don’t bother teasing people I don’t like because it’s me either. It’s a show of affection.

Yes. It’s funny that you immediately brought in the word bullying, because I suppose, depending on how you tease people, teasing has affection along with it. Teasing in its lovely innocent way is one of the most genuine, lovely ways of flirting with someone. Whether or not you fancy them and you are trying to take it any further. It’s a nice thing to do.

I would say that in some ways, the opposite of teasing is to compliment. I love a good compliment. I love a well-placed compliment. One of the things that I’d like to do is compliment the non-obvious or the new. It’s the non-obvious and the new. For example, if there’s someone I know and they have a new haircut, I’d like to compliment it because it suggests that I noticed that I have noticed them in the past. That I have noticed their change for the better. I love to compliment women on their shoes. I’d love to say it. “Your shoes are fabulous.”

Do you get your reception for that?

Always, because here’s my other, this goes hand in hand with the compliments, is I only compliment their shoes when their shoes are fabulous. Always be genuine. It is always 100% and 100% authentic, and so if I can’t find something to compliment, I’m not going to compliment. The non-obvious thing, placing that well sincerely is a nice way to say, “I noticed. It makes someone feel good.” It’s in that realm of flirting.

Compliments are lovely, and who doesn’t like getting a compliment? Although we are not all very good at receiving compliments, I have to say. I hope the women that you give compliments to receive them rather than going, “No. These old things.” We find it as humans. Particularly women find it quite hard to take compliments.

I had someone give me a great lesson on how to take a compliment and I’m going to pass it on. I started wearing hats. I wear these Stetson hats and they suit me. I get lots of compliments from them. What’s interesting too is in some places more than others, like I was in Orlando at a conference hotel giving a talk. I got so many compliments on the hat during that weekend. It was stunning. It’s very easy. All you say is this, “Thanks so much.” You say, “Thanks. That’s very kind of you.” That’s all you have to do to compliment. That’s all it is.

I could not agree more. I used to be one of those people who wasn’t very good at taking compliments, but I have changed that. In several years and now that is exactly what I would do. I will never bat away a compliment anymore because apart from anything else, if someone gives you a compliment and you dismiss it or you bat it away, it makes the person who’s trying to give you a compliment feel not good, which is not what you want to do. I would say thanks so much.

Let’s practice. I wish you were the barista at the coffee shop I go to regularly.

Thank you so much. That is so lovely of you to say. I will take that

I mean that.

I should hope so.

These Denver baristas could take a lesson from you.

You better be one of the nice customers though, because boy do we get some customers who it’s a whole thing being a barista. Anyway, that’s another conversation entirely. The next tip and I don’t know if this is a tip for flirting, but it’s worth mentioning, only because I have always felt that the way that you can tell if somebody is not interested in you is if they are not asking you questions. Asking questions is a big one because, I have been on dates with guys and to be, and to be honest, I haven’t been on that many proper dates in my life mainly because my 5 or 6, more long-term boyfriends, I have met them organically and it hasn’t been, let’s go out on a date and another date.

It’s been, “I don’t know.” I’m not a sit-on opposite each other in a restaurant girl. I’d rather go for a walk or do an activity of some sort. Anyway, I have been on a couple of days, or one in particular that I remember where this guy talked at me and did not ask me any questions, and that is the biggest giveaway of someone who’s A, a complete knob, and B who is not interested in you for anything other than sex if they are not asking questions. On the flip side of that is you know that. I always think that someone is interested in you if they want to because when you are into someone, you want to find out everything about them. You, you are curious. You are interested. You ask questions. That would be my tip.

That’s a wonderful one. Not just asking the questions, but then truly listening to the answers to the degree that you can incorporate that into your future flirting is especially good.

I like what you say about listening as well, because that’s true, and a lot of people, we could all use to, we could all do to improve our listening skills because the way to make somebody feel special, all people want is to be seen and be heard. All people want is to be listened to and half the time we are not listening, we are scrolling on our phones or we are doing this, that, or the other.

It’s so easy to listen to somebody. I’m going off on a slight tangent, but if you have had a conversation with somebody at a party where you said nothing and you were genuinely interested in them and asked them loads of questions and let them talk. They will come away from that party and say to their friend or their partner, “I had the best conversation with that person,” purely because you let them talk. You held space for them.

My last tip is, while I want to encourage people to try, play, and don’t reserve this for the most special circumstances. What I want to say is, if you are not familiar, start small. Don’t go bold with what’s the movie rating that’s going to where we are going to use for our conversation. Start with the compliment or start with something small and then pay attention.

Is it being well received? If it’s being well received, try a little harder. If it’s not being well received, withdraw. Try again with someone else. This is a highly social skill to have and to recognize it’s both its power, but then also its risks. I’m respecting it, practicing it, and paying attention. I have seen this in particular for the person who’s inspired to try more. To give this a shot to see how it will feel. I say, “Try, small, and pay attention,” when needed quickly withdrawal.

I like that. Although, I’m going to say that on the other hand. I completely agree with you but on the other hand. There’s an argument to say that we don’t want to be trying too hard. Ultimately, you have got to be able to be yourself. When you are you have got to flirt the way that you flirt because that’s who you are.

If you are trying to be somebody that you are not, then you are going to attract the wrong person anyway. Ultimately, the way to attract the right people into your life is to be the authentic, unapologetic version of you. There’s indeed somewhere in between those two tips. There is a happy medium where you can be authentic and be yourself, but you can also try things out.

Lucy, you lived up to my expectations. You set them high and you delivered.

I do hope so.

Thank you for that.

I hope people will enjoy this conversation. I enjoyed it.

The nice thing about it is the people who didn’t enjoy it who have stopped reading a long time ago.

That is a good point. We will never know.

I appreciate your time.

Thanks for having me.


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About Lucy Meggeson

SOLO 157 | Contemporary SpinsterhoodLucy Meggeson is a single, childfree, music-obsessed, river-loving, personal growth crazy, autumn and winter-loving, unapologetically passionate, over-enthusiastic, slightly bonkers, recovering perfectionist, daughter, sister, niece, auntie and friend. She is also the host of the Spinsterhood Reimagined podcast.