The 21st century has revolutionized the way we interact with others and view the world; technology made it is easier to communicate, network, and even flirt with others. Computers transformed themselves into becoming the new “cupid” via instant messaging, chat-rooms and online dating in which flirting is easier in these spaces. Also the rise of social networking sites even made it possible to find a significant other; for example, my friend met his current girlfriend of six months through Facebook. However, there are still remnants of traditional flirting in the sense where we still meet people who attracts us at common locations, such as a bar or party. Both offline and online flirting have similar goals of starting and following a sexual and/or romantic relationship with other people; but simultaneously, they have different approaches in meeting new people. With the use of my interview, I am going to analyze the male and female perspective of flirting online and offline and the many opportunities and restrictions that correspond with flirting. Although the ways we flirt have changed dramatically, ideas of gender has not: both in the past and present, men seek physical attractiveness in a partner whereas women seek financial stability.
Additionally, I will further examine the double standard of gender and how it stagnantly remains unaffected in today’s society and its effect on how one approach and flirts with another. There are many opportunities in flirting online as well offline in which they have similar attitudes and tactics when talking to others. Flirting often involves an “erotic energy” between two people escalated by “alcohol, music, attractive people, and sexy outfits” (Hamilton &ump; Armstrong 605). Both my male and female interviewees (Ages 21) agree on the parallels of flirting to see where the dating potential lies and decide how far the romantic and sexual relationship goes. Flirting is purely a sexual behavior that is fueled by novelty; meeting new people or trying to kindle a sexual relationship with a friend seems risky and exciting ergo sparks an attraction. Flirting starts the dating process and is ultimately the foundation of a relationship. Moreover, according to my male interviewee, he believes that flirting is a “playful interaction between two people where sexual tension is present” regardless of the space he or she is in (Male, 21). Flirting, or “playing hard to get”, is a game of desire that makes both parties want the other person more and becomes a harmless sexual activity.
The constant playful tone of the relationship makes dating more enjoyable for those participating in the flirting. The basis of flirting is notion of acting upon innocent yet frisky carnal feelings between two people while trying to attract a new romantic or sexual partner through different online and offline spaces. Furthermore, online flirting gives more opportunities to finding a sexual partner because of its easy and unidentifiable realm. Due to its anonymous environment, men and women flirt by using many nonverbal cues that indicate actions such as acronyms and descriptions of their physical attractiveness and status (Whitty 116). Flirting similarly includes saying certain things while knowing that it will peak the other person’s sexual and romantic desire (Female, 21). Men and women say certain things either to show or portray interest towards the other party. Knowing what the other person likes is an advantaged to the flirter because he or she can build upon those positive qualities. The flirter can self-validate themselves through the description of text by creating a positive image and good impression in the other person’s eyes.
The description of one’s appearance and personality can be alluring the others because the image is developed in their minds. By developing their own idealistic picture of the flirter, whom they are talking to online, it gives them the power making them sexier, smarter or funnier in their minds. The pursuit of a relationship seems easier online because it gives the flirter the opportunity to develop a fascinating personality and image which is unknown yet enthralling to the flirtee. But nonetheless, there are a few constraints that coincide with online flirting as well showing that we may not know the person’s “true” self and his or her actual temperament. Certain offline non-verbal cues and behaviors are difficult to translate such as body language and a person’s voice, appearance, and odor (Whitty 117). Both online and offline flirting are a “mentally thought-out process” due to the belief that many people plan what they say and do before hand; thus, flirting does not seem spontaneous and real as it is made out to be (Female, 21).
There is an additional “degree of confusion” between men and women since they do not see vis-à-vis when they first flirt and hook up because they have different sexual agendas (Friedland 10/19/10). People flirt simply to make a good impression towards the other person because flirting ultimately sets up rejecting or accepting a date or sexual encounter. Flirting influence negative behavior because people might portray a fake and outlandish identity and inflate their personalities just to impress the other person. Although flirting is a façade majority of the time, people do fall for the person they flirt with. Most people cannot tell the difference between what is real and fake because the attraction towards the flirter can overpower what is conveyed as false. Another problem with flirting includes when people flirt, there are many unsaid boundaries that cannot be crossed and once crossed certain issues arises. In traditional flirting, there are rules of flirting that are set up by the people involve that is shown through non-verbal and verbal cues; yet, if one crosses the boundary, it can halt all future romantic interactions (Male, 21).
Because flirting is a gateway to a relationship, people should be careful of their actions and words in order to keep the flirting ongoing. However, these boundaries are unknown for online flirting due to the limited representation of nonverbal cues that cannot be transcribed online (Whitty 123). Sometimes when people chat online, they do not known whether if the conversation is serious or playful creating an imbalance of direction of the dialogue. Flirting online blurs such boundaries and makes it harder for people to see eye-to-eye when establishing an online rapport and leads people on easier because they cannot physically see the person’s reaction to the conversation. Ultimately, there are boundaries that people cannot cross when flirting because it will turn the other person off completely and end all chances of a connection. Flirting, online and off, also sets up certain gender roles that have not changed since the past. When flirting, men and women seek certain attributes in the opposite sex that they rate higher than others; the idea that men choose and want a woman to be physical attractive and women want financial security and stability (Fisher 116-7).
Men and women both have an “unconscious biological and cultural preference” in choosing who they flirt and mate with (Fisher 121). Here the superficial stereotypes that states “men desire beauty” and “women desire money” is acted out through flirting. Looking at flirting through an evolutionary perspective, women seek financial stability in order for family support of themselves and their offspring and men seek beauty to show off their masculinity to other men. On a subconscious level, men and women look for specific qualities in the opposite sex believing that having these qualities makes them a better partner. Gender and flirting also contains the sexual double standard of men and women highlighting the ability that men have the upper-hand in the flirtatious relationship. Gender affects the pursuer’s role in flirting in which men take the more active role in initiating the flirting whereas women are more passive and wait for the men to approach them (Male, 21). But the sexual double standard limits women’s sexual freedom and ability to commence any flirting with men. The sexual double standard is the idea that men are able to have many sexual partners because they are “players” whereas women cannot because they will be known as a “sluts” (Bogle 105).
This illustrates the socialization of gender roles in which society assumes that males are superior and women are inferior. The aggressive trait is seen to be more masculine and the passive trait is more feminine; the idea that women cannot be aggressive and the pursuer of the relationship because it is not her in feminine nature to control. It is more of a social norm to let men control any sexual situation because it is their sexual power and nature to be the pursuer. This balance of sexual power is uneven because women are seen to be sexual deviants and men as sexual heroes when creating a relationship with one another. When flirting, the goals are the same when pursing a relationship in which there should not be any gender differences and double standards; however, society shows that this is not the case. Because flirting significantly expanded its terms to fit a more technological world, it is easier to have new relations with different people outside of our comfort zone. Traditional flirting was contained by a physical space, such as a bar or college party, yet online flirt was able to enlarge those spaces to the entire World Wide Web allowing men and women to meet others from different backgrounds and locations.
Online flirting is more of an opportunistic activity than offline flirting because it is simpler through the use of chat-rooms and online dating websites; the people who partake in such websites are looking, pursuing, and wanting a sexual relationship as well. Although the way people flirt have transformed, the beliefs of gender and flirting have not changed at all. Gender is the most problematic issue with flirting due to stereotypes and the sexual double standard that remains immobile and biased is still present in comparison to previous years; the motives of online and offline flirting continuously portrays the stereotype of “men are attracted to beauty and women are attracted to money” and how the double standard also prevents women have any entitlement to their sexual freedom in meeting new sexual partners. Regardless of such issues, flirting is a common activity conveyed by high-students to the newly divorce and can be seen anywhere in today’s society giving everybody the opportunity of developing new relations with others.