Lesson learned in making eyes

Rebecca Moore

Rebecca Moore

First published in Life Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Columnist

Asurvey last week showed that men and women are both terrible at flirting, particularly at noticing when a full-on flirt attack is aimed our way.

Now, I’ve never found it difficult to flirt. In fact, over the years, my default setting has been FLIRT. Dangerously, I don’t even know I’m doing it. And this is for a very simply reason – I don’t use flirting to attract a mate. I use flirting to attract friends – and to hopefully charm the pants off of people I come into contact with.

I’m not saying it always works, but it’s definitely what flirting in my world is for.

Ironically, in the past, if I’ve ever been romantically interested in someone I find it absolutely impossible to flirt. My usual confident demeanour turns into that of a shy eight-year-old’s when asked to perform a monologue as a camel in the nativity.

I’ve only ever ended up like a more excruciating version of Miranda. As for noticing when flirting is aimed at me? Oh, I’ve come a cropper a few times. Like the time I inadvertently ended up on a date with one guy when I’d presumed we were meeting a group of mutual friends. Even after the initial awkward moment when I asked: “Where is everyone else?” the penny didn’t drop until we were in the cab on the way home and he lurched in to kiss me.

There was also the time I misunderstood a man in the street, and tried to give him directions to the opticians before realising he’d complimented my eyes, not moaned about the state of his own… Advice from experts is to avoid any attempt at subtlety. Just go for it, they tell us. Forget skirting around the issue, fluttering our eyes up. We may think we look seductive but in actual fact it normally just comes across like a nervous tick. Though with this advice, if they’re not careful, these experts will return a generation of young men to standing on street corners shouting at women to get our kits off as we stroll by.

As for me? I stopped being a terrible flirt about four years ago when I couldn’t understand why various (and clearly inappropriate) people saw fit to hit on me. A good friend pulled me aside and explained it might have something to do with my “outrageous” flirting nature. “ME?!” I exclaimed. “I’ve never flirted with anyone I fancy!”

“No,” she said. “But you’re like Mrs Robinson with everyone else.” Never mind being terrible at spotting when we’re the target for a flirting fiasco. Some of us can’t even realise when we’re the fiasco itself.

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