Friendship flirting

Here’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while…

I’ve seen plenty of talk of friendship analogues for crushes, significant relationships, and even orientations, but you know what I haven’t seen any talk of?

Friendship flirting.

This part of luvtheheaven’s comment brought the concept to the forefront of my mind again:

To me, there have always been words like acquaintance, which means less close than whatever your personal cut off for friend is, but then there has never been a clear line of where that is, never been a definition made for when someone who you know is officially now a friend, you have to make that decision for yourself.

To me, it can be very exciting (and nerve-wracking, if you’re the first) when you transition into referring to each other as “friends” for the first time, when you know you’ve crossed that ambiguous boundary from just being “somebody I know” to “somebody I consider a (close) friend.”

But how do you get there?

Sometimes it’s easy.  Sometimes circumstances push you together.  But other times…

Well, sometimes, when I’m languishing at the distant end of that gray area, I make deliberate efforts to interact with my Person of Interest more frequently — or get them to interact with me more frequently — in the hopes that they will reciprocate some of the interest and start to like me.

What I have in mind here isn’t just friendliness.  It’s a certain targeted attempt to seek out a specific person’s company and try and initiate a standard of more frequent contact and more emotional intimacy with them than your current baseline.  It shares some things in common with romantic/sexual flirting, in that it can involve some nervousness, social ambiguity, and a risk of tacit rejection, but rather than romance or sex as part of the overtones or end goal, what it aims for is simply (deeper) friendship.

Hence I now dub this friendship flirting.

It can look like choosing a closer seat to theirs, when given the option.  It can look like trying to get paired with them for group projects.  It can look like looking for reasons to initiate conversation with them.  It can look like asking to sit with them at lunch or go to lunch together.  It can look like trying to learn their habits so you can just “end up” in the same place together more often.  It can look like edging in on conversations they’re already participating in and vying for a chance to chime in.  It can look like scheming up good ways to get them to notice you.  It can look like scheming up new ways to make up for the last time they noticed you because you embarrassed yourself and annoyed them.

Y’know.  Flirting.  But the friendship kind.

It’s different than general niceness because it involves an intention to “level up” your relationship (from acquaintances to friends) & quietly convince them that you’re a fun and interesting person (with risk of disastrous failure).  If it makes you anxious, that feeling is different than general social anxiety because that feeling is connected to (or higher with) this specific person whom you want to impress, just for the sake of impressing them.

And it’s… very, very awkward to acknowledge it happening.

Traditionally, in my culture, friendship scripts lack the explicit boundaries of scripts for romantic relationships.  When you want to romance someone, you ask them, “Do you want to go out with me?” or “Do you want to be my girlfriend?” or “Can I kiss you?” and so on, clear cues that (tend to) mark a transition into a romantic relationship (there’s always exceptions! I’m talking general trends/expectations right now, no need to tell me about exceptions).  But with friendship, there’s not necessarily anything to ask permission for, besides the specifics (going to lunch together, asking for their phone number, invitations to hang out, etc.).  The plus side of this is that you tend not to get as blunt of rejections barring you from future friendly endeavors.  The downside is… you rarely know where you stand.  Which obviously complicates the matter of “improving” where you stand.

If this is a useful/applicable concept for your social habits, do you have any stories of friendship flirting?  Either trying it on someone else, or recognizing it being tried on you?  Have you seen a similar concept being discussed before, either in the ace community or in other circles?

9 responses to “Friendship flirting

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