I do not understand the signals of flirting.

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dyadiccounterpoint
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15 May 2019, 10:01 pm

It has always been enigmatic. I've gotten confused many times, both mistaking friendly interaction as romantic interest and being oblivious to interest only to find later they were trying to pursue me, waiting for me to see it.

Even though I have made vast improvements from years ago in terms of interpreting the subtext of social interaction and developing a better sense of cognitive empathy, this is one aspect that is still a complete mystery. I just don't get it.

I found myself constantly wishing that the game was more obvious. I wish it was as simple as "We're both single. I think you're attractive. Do you think the same of me? Ok let's proceed." I really dislike that it always has to be subtle, because I will either not see your interest or I will be afraid I am misinterpreting it.

I started my first relationship last October. It was under pressure in a way. They were obvious, which is why I said yes even though I did not feel physically attracted to them. I appreciated their blunt approach. I'm not enjoying it, however. I think I am aromantic.


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Benjamin the Donkey
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15 May 2019, 10:11 pm

It used to be a complete mystery to me. Now, after many years of observation, I mostly understand the signals--but from the outside, the way an ornirtholgist would understand an ostrich's mating dance. It's still not intuitive, the way I think it is for most NTs. So when a woman flirts, my thought process is something like, "Now the female is signaling her receptivity! Immediately scan list of appropriate responses!"


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16 May 2019, 1:45 am

I can't get past the fact that, in regard to strangers, I never feel certain enough about anyone's intentions that I do not know.

All that gets much easier, albeit AFTER I am already in a relationship.

I just can't get into that type of play with strangers because I always see ALL the variables then.



treefiddy
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16 May 2019, 5:16 am

When I was younger I was oblivious to people flirting with me and thought they were just being friendly, but now I can pretty much tell. Not with AS men though. My husband is on the spectrum and I had no f***ing clue whether he liked me or not. I asked my best friend (also a man on the spectrum) "do you think he likes me?" and my friend couldn't tell either.
And I am the same - I have never flirted with anyone in my life; I don't know how to. My friends always thought it was the strangest thing, but maybe it's just an AS thing.


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nick007
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16 May 2019, 6:32 am

I don't understand flirting either. I've only knowingly flirted with my girlfriends but that was after we were in a relationship. I've also unintentionally flirted with teens online when I was really just trying to be friendly. However when I tried to flirt with women online or offline who were not already my girlfriend, I came off as being friendly weirdo or creep.


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dyadiccounterpoint
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16 May 2019, 11:23 am

Benjamin the Donkey wrote:
It used to be a complete mystery to me. Now, after many years of observation, I mostly understand the signals--but from the outside, the way an ornirtholgist would understand an ostrich's mating dance. It's still not intuitive, the way I think it is for most NTs. So when a woman flirts, my thought process is something like, "Now the female is signaling her receptivity! Immediately scan list of appropriate responses!"


I've tried to rationalize it like this, but I still fundamentally misinterpret the signals. The difference between being friendly and flirting seems to be one of those "grey area" kind of things.


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jimmy m
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16 May 2019, 11:24 am

This question calls to mind the Senior High School Prom. This is one of those magical times in a young persons life. It is almost a practice-run on getting married and walking down the aisle. Girls will spend upwards of a thousand dollars on one dress [a prom dress] that they may wear only once in their lifetime.

I never went to my senior prom. I was just to shy to ask a girl out. But I watched my daughters go through the process. The interesting thing is the importance of their group of friend in the process. When a guy ask a girl to the prom, he wants to feel that he will not be rejected off hand. He wants to know she is available. That some other guy has not asked her out already and that she has accepted the invitation from this other guy. That takes a lot of research. He broaches the question first among his friends and his friends discuss it with her friends and then relay the answer back to him. The other thing that comes into play is that the friends if they are true friends will not leave anyone hanging. So if the guy decided very late in the process and was too late in asking his number one or two choices out and they already have dates for the prom. The friends of the boy or girl will step in and take on the role of matchmakers. They know who has been asked and who hasn't and they will try and arrange a mutually acceptable match.

So one of the aspects in the NT world is a reliance on their network of friends to help steer them in the proper direction. It is not one set of eyes or ears but the entire herd that is involved in understanding the signals of flirting.



breaks0
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16 May 2019, 9:25 pm

I've never initiated flirting b/c I don't know how to do so (yet). What I have done is lost several women friends, some of whom were just touchy-feely, which I like b/c I've been so starved of physical contact w/women (and I'll take hugging if that's all I can get w/someone, it feels good) most of my life. I had one classmate from Brazil in grad school who was quite touchy-feely. She'd grab my arm and hold it for a while and look at me, which was emotionally confusing to me, but she was married and my head tried to keep reminding myself she was just being friendly in a culturally different way than what I as an American was used to. But my heart got the best of me so I fell very hard for her and w/o realizing it at the time, I guess I was being flirty. I ended up exceeding her personal boundaries several times. We were still friends after that, but she backed off for a while, leaving me devastated and I haven't seen her in 5 years now, which kinda stinks. I've done this kinda thing, flirting w/women friends of mine and thereby exceeding their boundaries, w/several friends (though I don't think any of the others were in a relationship at the time) and it's cost me those friendships, which again stinks.

In terms of the other way around, that's been a pretty rare occurrence in my life and hasn't happened in a very long time. But the most overt clear example was when I was at a nightclub once very late like 6 or 7AM or something and I was sitting on the side, when this girl sits down next to me. She then put her foot on my crotch and asked me something like "can I leave this here?" And I being kinda stunned said "sure". If that isn't being flirty, I don't know what is! lol Anyway I didn't do anything (I wasn't sure what to do) and about 10 minutes later she removed her foot and shortly after that some guy came along and asked me if she was w/me to which I said "no", so he proceeded to talk to her. I've also had girls put their hands on me at clubs and try to get me to dance w/them. And one time a girl sitting next to me at another club started telling me about some other guy who lived in her building or something who she was interested in and asking me for advice, before asking me to dance. I said no on both occasions, partly b/c I really can't dance (I know, the irony of going to nightclubs and being unable to dance!).

I still hope to learn, maybe when I get back into dating over the next year or so.



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18 May 2019, 7:59 am

Now this is a subject that I can really relate to as I have only ever properly dated twice (Preperly as in kissing and cuddling and as in meeting each other more then the one brief occasion) and both times the ladies have had to ask me out, as I often just don't get the difference between someone just being nice to me and someone who is flirting. It just does not occur to me despite that I may find them attractive.
My mother has many times said to me "Didn't you notice the girl that was flirting with you?" Where I would be like "Why didn't you tell me?" Having issues with faceblindness often means I may not notice such people again unless I notice some key features, and if I find girls attractive I generally try not to look at them as my natural inclination would be to stare at them which would be the first thing that turns them off me! Haha! You can imagine it!
Thw last lady to ask me out... I just couldn't believe she wanted to meet me. I mean. Such a lovely lady and there's me... Someone who most girls would tend to avoid. She was different in that she actually found me attractive. Eventually I broke things up. We were dating from a distance where she came down about two or three times while on holiday to see me. For mw it aas a case of I really loved her friendship and being with her... And somehow deep down I didn't feel she was the exact right person for me, even though I loved her.
The girlfriend before that (The first girlfriend I ever had when I was 36 years old... I nearly dated when I was 17 but didn't recognise the girl on the first date, so we never actually dated and I was so upset it wasn't until the age of 36 when a lady asked me out that I accepted. Prior to this I always refused as I didn't want to upset anyone). I did feel right but found I was definately wrong! I mean... I found out the hard way. One minute we were going to get married and had got along so well it was as if (In my mums words) we were brother and sister together, and then without warning she broke all contact where I was trying my best to fathom out what I had done. No argument. No warning. Nothing. Even her sisters husband (Who I often met where I worked) point blank refused to talk about anything about her to me as if he was warned not to. I just wanted to find out if we were still an item and if she was ok etc. Nothing.
I then was planning suicide. I walked across a very busy road just looking straight ahead. Somehow not one car hit me or swerved or even slowed down. It seemed absolutely impossible. Then I had purchased a classic car. A Volvo 131 and I had worked out that a local high level car park. I was going to ram thw car straight through the wall where there aas a large drop to the ground below. As the car was very quick at accelerating having a 0 to 60mph time in less then 10 seconds, I had worked it out that as long as the carpark was clear of cars, rhat I would hit the wall at about 65mph, but when I went up there making my calculations, i noticed that the length of run was obsquered by some staggard bollards half way down the car park which also protected a street lamp, so I did not go through with it. It was then that a train driver who I worked with told me he had seen her dating a man and they were very intimate when he knew I was going to marry her, and he didn't know what to tell me. It was only after that he mentioned it. All the time I had been blaming myself thinking I had done something wrong...

Anyway. Enough of my past. What do I do about the future. I am hopeless at reading body language and shy away from girls... Ah well. I'm in no hurry. Besides, without much of an income I can't exactly aford to date...
I will get married one day though. :) Somehow I just know it!


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Perkulator
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25 May 2019, 11:33 pm

I love flirting and being flirted with. It's one of those social things I do get, very well.



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26 May 2019, 2:38 am

The mistake people always make in these discussions is to assume flirting is a human universal that works in some specific way. Once they concluded this, some continue and read up on it and/or study it in real life to understand that specific way. As I've written many times, this is a path to disaster. The only thing you can learn about flirting is related to NTs, and their way of doing it. If you read-up on it / study it as an anthropologist, you might get an idea of how it works, but that knowledge will only lead to understanding when NTs are flirting with you. If you take these findings as the truth, you will also become blind to how ND flirt with you, and miss out on those that are both interested & compatible, which is why learning it uncritically will be a path to disaster.

Having said that, I can detect when NTs are flirting with me or others pretty well, but I use the information only for amusement as it has no romantic relevance for me. I know they are doing it in the wrong way (according to my mating preferences), and so I know they are incompatible.

Natural ND flirting is very different. You just know when it happens, and you just know how to engage in it. There is no need to understand it or learn it. Maybe there is a need to make it more conscious so you can motivate yourself that "s/he is really interested" and avoid discarding it as "I'm just misinterpreting things again". Although, with practice, I think this should happen by itself. At least for people with no learned knowledge about dating and how it "should be done". How does it work then? Mostly with prolonged eye-contact, or repeated eye contact. I think the natural state is staring, but since this is regarded as creepy by many people, NDs typically will learn to use as long eye contact as they can get away with, look away for a while, and then repeat. If you catch somebody repeatedly looking at you when you are not talking to each other, then that's pretty certain to be ND flirting.

Lastly, do you need to be socially competent to flirt? Only if you are looking for NTs. For NTs, flirting is certainly part of the social "game", and rumors and information about who fancies who often circulates between friends and acquaintances. So, yes, if you are looking for NTs, you probably need to learn the whole package to be successful.

If you are looking for NDs, none of it makes any sense. As I already mentioned in another discussion, nobody has known about who I was interested in unless it became very prolonged and somebody else tried to approach the girl (and surprisingly getting rejected), which sometimes started to feed the rumor & gossip spiral. Typically, I could have had a nonverbal "thing" with a girl for a year or more, and nobody would have known anything about it because I didn't want anybody to know about it. Sometimes close friends of the girl did know, but this never entered into any gossip spiral simple because they knew they were supposed to keep it secret. I think keeping it secret is pretty natural for NDs, and so this was not a conscioius decision.



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26 May 2019, 4:41 am

Umm. I don't seem to be any good at socializing so I often miss the roumours unless someone tells me directly. Also, I missread flirting with friendliness which can get me into trouble, so after doing this one or two times when I assumed it was flirting and found out that it was not, I stopped asking ladies out. The number of times people I know have said "Why didn't you ask that girl out? Didn't you see the way she was flirting with you?" I never knew! Yes, many times I found them attractive but I just didn't get the signs.
Eye contact... Umm. This I find difficult. I do look directly at people, but then turn away incase I stare. I naturally don't do eye contact when talking to people. As some don't like this, I have learnt to position my head as if I am looking at them but then lmy eyes will look just to the left or right of their face, and I manually do this (I think about it. It does not come automatically) during a conversation now and then to be polite as I naturally do not maintain eye contact in a conversation.
If someone is giving a lecture where I am not having to speak myself, and there is a much larger distance between the speaker and I am, I am fine and I tend to over do the eye contact. Usually there is a distance of about 30 feet or more though, so maybe it does not count.


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rdos
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26 May 2019, 6:50 am

Mountain Goat wrote:
Umm. I don't seem to be any good at socializing so I often miss the roumours unless someone tells me directly. Also, I missread flirting with friendliness which can get me into trouble, so after doing this one or two times when I assumed it was flirting and found out that it was not, I stopped asking ladies out. The number of times people I know have said "Why didn't you ask that girl out? Didn't you see the way she was flirting with you?" I never knew! Yes, many times I found them attractive but I just didn't get the signs.


Sounds like NTs.

Mountain Goat wrote:
Eye contact... Umm. This I find difficult. I do look directly at people, but then turn away incase I stare.


This is normal for many NDs. You learnt to turn away not to come out as staring, but when you do this with a girl you like to flirt with, you just look again after a while, and it will come through the same way as longer staring to compatible girls. You should use peripheral vision to detect if she looks back, and if you do a few rounds of this (and she reciprocates), then you can be sure she is both compatible & interested. And don't do it with people you talk to.

Mountain Goat wrote:
I naturally don't do eye contact when talking to people. As some don't like this, I have learnt to position my head as if I am looking at them but then lmy eyes will look just to the left or right of their face, and I manually do this (I think about it. It does not come automatically) during a conversation now and then to be polite as I naturally do not maintain eye contact in a conversation.
If someone is giving a lecture where I am not having to speak myself, and there is a much larger distance between the speaker and I am, I am fine and I tend to over do the eye contact. Usually there is a distance of about 30 feet or more though, so maybe it does not count.


That's just adaptations for NTs.

The natural way NDs handle eye contact is that they look more the more they like somebody, and that's not connected to talking or not.



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26 May 2019, 7:20 am

Thank you for the reply. NT's and ND's. I don't know which I am... I could be in the middle and be both...

This is normal for many NDs. You learnt to turn away not to come out as staring, but when you do this with a girl you like to flirt with, you just look again after a while, and it will come through the same way as longer staring to compatible girls. You should use peripheral vision to detect if she looks back, and if you do a few rounds of this (and she reciprocates), then you can be sure she is both compatible & interested. And don't do it with people you talk to.

Sometimes I have done this but been unsure what to do about it. But it may help. I will need to think about it a bit.


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30 May 2019, 1:38 pm

rdos wrote:

That's just adaptations for NTs.

The natural way NDs handle eye contact is that they look more the more they like somebody, and that's not connected to talking or not.


I find I'm the opposite. The more I like someone, the harder it is for me to look them in the eye. It's scary.

Random strangers I could watch all day, because I don't feel self conscious.

FWIW