Dear 100 Hour Board,
What does flirting mean to you? I've always been pretty flirtatious and flirting is really casual to me. I won't flirt with someone if there's absolutely no interest, but that interest might just be in having another conversation after which the interest is gone. I sometimes worry that people are taking my flirting in the wrong way but there's no way short of asking to find out if someone thinks I want to date them. I think honesty in dating is really important so how do you be honest with such a vague definition of what flirting looks like and what flirting means?
What does flirting mean to me? Well I'm really bad at it in practice, but in theory, flirting is showing that you're interested in someone more intensely than you would with any random person. Let me explain with some pictures I made.
In this first image, we have a graph of intensity versus time. This is an example of how someone's interactions with people they aren't interested in might look. Therefore, the red line shows the maximum normal intensity of interest that should be interpreted as normal friendliness.
Now, suppose that this person is interested in someone. When they're around that person, we see the two tall peaks with green arrows next to them. That's flirting. You can tell because they treat that person differently than whatever other random people.
But what if there was a person whose Intensity/Time graph looked more like this?
If each of the peaks that exceeds the red line is a different person and some of the people whose peaks exceed the red line also sometimes don't, then the baseline isn't really there. It's more like this.
But what if the person was actually trying to flirt with that one person with the tallest peak? Well, there's really no way for that person to tell that they're flirting, because they're not significantly more interesting than any other person. This is one potential downside to being overly casually flirtatious.
On the other hand, we usually don't see every interaction that another person has with perfect objectivity, so the opposite problem can happen as well. If the person related to the third peak in the graph above didn't see any of the other tall peaks, they might assume that they were being flirted with, when that isn't necessarily the case.
As far as knowing if someone thinks you want to date them, is that really the important question? I mean, it seems to me like it doesn't matter if they think you want to date them unless they also want to date you, and that's relatively easy to find out. If you're a guy, you ask a girl out a few times, and if says yes and reciprocates your flirting, then it's a pretty good bet that she's interested. If you're a girl, you give him plenty of opportunities to ask you out (or you ask him out yourself, that's totally fine too), and if he does then it's a pretty good bet that he's interested.
I don't think that there's anything wrong with casually flirting with people that you're interested in, as long as that flirting stops as soon as the interest is gone. And please, for the love of all that is good, if you're a girl and it takes a few dates for that interest to go away but he still asks you on another date, just tell him no. Don't just ignore him. That's just rude.
I think it's fine to flirt with lots of people. It can be really fun and confidence-boosting for both sides even when it isn't serious. I would say just try not to overdo it with people you wouldn't want to go on a date with.
Personally, I think that no matter how careful anyone is, there's always a chance someone will misinterpret their feelings/intentions. So as long as you aren't deliberately leading people on, I wouldn't worry too much about it.