Ah flirting. An inescapable part of adult socialization. Love it or hate it, it's a part of life and it's here to stay.
Somewhere along the line, usually in your early teens, innocent conversations with people start to turn into a battle of wits. One designed to determine if they're someone you might have a good shot at becoming more than friends with.
Some people are good at flirting. Really good. They exude charm and attractiveness. It seems effortless for them.
Others are not so fortunate. They stumble through their words or can't quite land a joke and come across as awkward—or worse—creepy.
Related: Why does flirting make me feel uncomfortable
For some people, being on the giving or receiving end of flirting is nothing but uncomfortable. Trying to flirt if it doesn't come naturally can make relationships tense. You may find yourself avoiding social situations.
But why is it that sometimes flirting just makes you cringe?
You're Just Not That into Them
It's always uncomfortable when you're not into someone who's flirting with you.
It becomes difficult to focus on them as a person. Instead, you focus on how to respond without giving them the wrong idea, or how to get out of the situation.
Related: How to politely turn down flirting guys
Realizing someone you're not interested in wants to be more than friends is incredibly cringe. Especially if you don't know them well.
Relationships are great when you have similar intentions and energies. But meeting someone who's more invested than yourself makes for an awkward encounter.
So sometimes instead of an enjoyable and relaxing date, the time you spend with them is more of a dud.
You're Way Too into Them
On the other hand, perhaps flirting makes you cringe because you're really into the person.
Related: Does That Guy Love Me?
Wanting to impress someone often leaves us feeling nervous. Nerves, though normal, cause us to overthink everything. When a person you like starts flirting with you, trying to return the flirtation can feel as if you're trying to speak a foreign language.
Relax. Don't focus on being smooth.
Just be yourself. Flirting is best when it comes naturally. If someone is flirting with you, they already see something in you they like.
Don't stress too much about it.
Full Speed Ahead
Have you ever met someone who takes it from zero to one hundred in a matter of minutes? You've just complimented their new shirt and suddenly they're offering to show you how it looks on your floor.
When someone is too intense, their flirting will make you cringe. Flirting is like a friendly game of tennis. You warm up with some back and forth, gradually ramp up, and hope you score.
No one wants to play tennis with someone who immediately and consistently slams the ball as hard as they can. How are you even supposed to hit it back?
People who flirt too heavily, or too crassly, take the fun out of it. It's uncomfortable and your thoughts become focused on how to shut down the conversation and get out.
Getting an F in Flirting
Flirting effectively requires a level of social understanding. Being able to read body language and pick up non-verbal cues is a huge part of feeling confident and comfortable while flirting. Not everyone has this ability.
If flirting makes you cringe, it may not be something you're good at. If you feel uncomfortable or weird when you try to flirt, you may be trying to decode social situations in a way that your brain doesn't quite understand.
There's absolutely nothing wrong with this.
People are good at different things in life, and flirting is a skill. Sure, you could learn to flirt if you want to, (see my article on How to Flirt With Men) but don't feel like you have to.
Are You for Real?
Some things are meant to be spread thick. Peanut butter on toast, icing on a cake, but not flirting. Flirting requires a good balance of flattery and truth. If someone lays it on too thick, flirting starts to feel inauthentic. Cue the cringe.
Flirting should be used to get to know someone, not to get something out of you. But if you feel like someone's trying too hard to get on your sweet side, your guard goes up and any sense of authenticity is gone. Now the person lavishing you with compliments doesn't seem charming.
They seem dishonest, sleazy, and more than a little cringe. That's when you know you need to slow down and tell them to simmer.
For some people flirting is uncomfortable or a downright nightmare.
But there's good news!
Great relationships don't rely on flirting! Sure, flirting can be a big part of getting to know someone, but if it makes you cringe, it's far more important to be yourself. You'll have a much better time than if you try to force yourself into flirting.
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Nicole Graham is a relationship expert at Womenio.com. She is helping women grow into their best selves so they can be confident and bring more love, passion, and purpose to their lives. Nicole enjoys studying the psychology of love and is passionate about writing on them. She offers helpful tips and advice to help overcome any relationship issue, whether you’re single or already in a relationship.
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