Flirting, teasing, and playfulness

Here’s a head-scratcher.

Recently I got an email from one of my readers telling me that some girls he knows are jokingly calling him gay and he was wondering what was going on. Why on Earth would a girl call him gay? Were they flirting with him by calling him that? Or, were they just being rude and immature?

Here are my thoughts.

She might have been flirting!

This can seem like a weird idea. After all, if you wanted to flirt with a woman you found interesting, calling her a lesbian would probably not be your first instinct.

It’s possible that she’s calling him gay because she either 1) hates his guts or 2) legitimately thinks that he’s gay. I doubt it, though. If she really felt either of those towards him, she would probably just ignore him instead of going out of her way to interact with him. Especially if she’s doing it “jokingly”.

Now, it’s hard for me to make the call without knowing her personally. But, I think that she was actually flirting with him. By calling him gay, perhaps she was trying to goad him into “proving her wrong”.

Playfulness as a form of flirting

Some of the rowdier people I know like to hurl insults at each other such as, “you’re gay” all the time. You know what kinds of people I’m talking about—those guys who are more loud and extroverted and who hang in bars and clubs all the time. They’re not insulting each other to be hurtful, but as a sign of affection.

A woman using some sort of put-down on a man CAN be considered a form of flirting. In his book The Five Flirting Styles: Use the Science of Flirting to Attract the Love You Really Want, Dr. Jeffrey Hall identified five different types of flirting:

  • Playful: Flirting for fun without any expectations that it will lead to sex or a relationship.
  • Physical: Flirting through body language and sexual communication.
  • Polite: Flirting through proper manners and nonsexual communication.
  • Sincere: Displaying sincere interest in the other person to develop an emotional connection.
  • Traditional: Displaying interest through traditional courtship rituals and behaving in ways that are “gentlemanly” or “ladylike”.

In this case, calling someone that you’re romantically interested in “gay” would be considered a playful or physical flirt.

Of course, you don’t HAVE to flirt in that way if you prefer not to! I’m a warm and gentle person by nature, so I prefer to flirt in a way that’s more polite and sincere. Here’s what Jeffrey Hall says about people who tend toward the polite style of flirting in his book,

“They are concerned about their friends and make sure that they are there in their time of need. They are also a bit introverted. Polite flirts don’t need to be the center of attention. In social interactions, they would prefer things to be a bit more controlled and formal.”

That sounds a lot like me.

Which flirting styles do you tend towards? They’re not mutually exclusive, so you can be a combination of one, two, or even three of the different styles. Some people can look at this list and immediately identify which types of flirting styles suit them. If you’re having trouble figuring it out, then you can take an online test to find out which flirting styles you tend towards here.

How to respond to such a flirt

So, how should you respond to a woman who flirts by jokingly calling you gay? That depends on one thing:

Are you even interested in her?

I personally would not enjoy it if a woman called me a gay. That would be a turn-off for me. If a woman is flirting with you in a way that you don’t enjoy…then don’t worry about it! Leave her alone and find someone who you do enjoy being around.

On the other hand, some men would see that as a challenge to try and “prove her wrong”. I’m not one of those guys so I can’t offer a lot of experience in that area, but you might try doing what user Ace of Flames suggests in this So Suave forum thread.

Haha omg dude, I just talked to my girl about this.

This was the convo:

Me- *something funny, probably teasing her*
Her- *giggle* Loser!
Me- You know what?
Her- What?
Me- Everytime you call me ‘loser’, in my head, I always switch the s with a v.
Her- *pause* …Really??
Me- Mm hmm. Girls always say one thing and mean another, so I’m just switching what you say, with what I think you mean.
Her- *Awww*
Me- So, wanna be my loser? S = V
Her- Hehe, sure.
Me- *smile* I knew you’d say yes.
Her- Of course.

Oh yea.”

(BTW, please take things you read on internet forums with a grain of salt.)

At the end of the day, you should flirt in the way that feels authentic to your unique personality. Whether that’s polite…sincere…playful, or anywhere in between, always stay true to yourself. And when you’re choosing a romantic partner, you should be around someone who’s flirting style makes you feel good as well.

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