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flirting: the art of suggestion

He smiles. She bites her lip. He ‘accidentally’ brushes his hand against her shoulder. She leans in to “hear him better”.

Flirting. We all do it. With words, intonation, a lascivious gesture, a coquettish glance. Is it biology? Are we trained by society or fuelled by our emotions?

Most people, predominantly those who are already married or in a relationship, vehemently disagree that the friendly, everyday exchanges they share with the opposite sex are at all flirtatious. Flirting has acquired certain negative connotations throughout history, being condemned as sinful, rebellious and adulterous.

Belinda Luscombe, author of ‘The Science of Romance’, knows better.  She acknowledges the schools of thought that believe flirting is harmless. A series of small yet potent gestures comes into the equation when people flirt with each other. Luscombe provides the example of a woman who may unconsciously tilt her head to the side, to provide a better view of her neck or ‘jugular’ while a man may take a more open stance, displaying his best assets, usually his ‘upper abdomen’ or strong jawline.

While these aren’t the only examples of flirting, more subtle displays of lasciviousness can be seen in the way we smile, laugh and even glance at one another. ‘Flirtation is a game we play’, Luscombe states. ‘It’s ‘a dance for which everyone knows the moves…we’re programmed to do it.’

Furthermore, Marco Iacoboni, author of ‘Mirroring People: The New Science of How We Connect with Others’ believes we are innately designed to flirt to form meaningful connections with people. ‘Mirror neurons are the cells in our brain that make our experience, mostly made of interactions with other people, deeply meaningful…They show that we are…biologically wired and evolutionarily designed to be deeply interconnected with one another.’

Aside from scientific explanation, flirting is simply a part of human sustainability. After all, if we’re receptive enough to feel sexual, and desirable enough to be coveted, we’re bound to feel young and alive.

Flirting has become a socially acceptable way of freeing ourselves from the oppression that ensconces our daily lives.  Whether we’re mothers, wives, husbands or authority figures during the day, flirting enables us to let our hair down without consequence. It’s a form of language that says, ‘I’m saying one thing to you, and meaning quite another.’

So do we do it for reproductive reasons, for pleasure, or because our neurons tell us too? All of these reasons and more. Why? Because it’s an essential part of being alive and feeling good.

Most importantly, is it harmless?

As long as you’re not offending, assaulting or degrading anyone in the process.  Flirt Away.

By Sophia Anna

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