dear sharideth: to flirt or not to flirt…


I have a dating or more specifically a flirting quandary.  For the last year I’ve attended a small graduate school, so small that dating doesn’t happen.  Not for lack of choices, but no one really wants to date under a microscope. 

However, I have found myself in a sticky situation.  It all started the Thursday before Easter, one of my classmate’s had his housebroken into and his computer stolen and in an attempt to help him and his room-mates out I offered them a place to stay and a place to have a meal.   At the end of said conversation, I hugged one of my girl friends good bye, turned to give him a pat on the shoulder or some other distanced socially appropriate gesture and he had his arms open for a hug.  I really didn’t think anything of it given his situation, but I think it broke the ice.  Followed by some other incidents, like being offered the end of his coffee (we both drink our coffee black), sitting arm against arm in a 3 hour lecture, prolonged eye contact, lots of smiling, hours in the library together etc.  And then last Friday we spent an hour or so alone (everyone else ditched us for a grocery run) cooking a meal together for a community meal, to sum it up very briefly.

In my decade or so of dating, I feel like there are definite signs, ones he’s sending, and ones I feel like I am reciprocating. The question in all this – is flirting a universal language?  Said man is not North American, Belgian actually and I am Canadian.  I worry that I am possibly being too forward or not enough, and he’s just being polite.

Is there any way short of being blunt about my new found feelings that I can figure this situation out?


Are We Flirting

dear AWF,

this sure sounds like flirting to me.  i think the signs are pretty universal.  as a rule, guys rarely invest that kind of time in a girl they’re not interested in.  but if you’re really not sure, ask him.  it doesn’t have to be weird.  you do not need to make some overt declaration.  maybe something along the lines of, “so are we just friends, or shall i keep flirting with you?  i’m good with either one.”  this puts the flirting on you, without getting into heavy emotional stuff and gives him an out if he doesn’t see it as more than friendship.  it’s also surprising and a little funny.  disarming even.

then be cool with whatever his answer is. and by cool, i mean business as usual.  crack a joke, ask him about his classes… normal.

if he is into you, the circumstances at your school might not be ideal, but sometimes…that’s just how it goes.  i wouldn’t worry about making that a factor at this point.

i’ll be curious to see what happens.  keep me posted.

oh so sincerely,


gentlemen…what say you?  is this guy flirting with her?

ladies…how do you interpret it?

any other advice for our friend?


14 comments on “dear sharideth: to flirt or not to flirt…

  1. bethagrace says:

    Well, I’m not expert in Belgian culture, but if he doesn’t treat all the other girls this way, I’d say: flirting.

    But why, why, why does she need to have the relationship defined so soon? Why can’t anyone just wait an see where relationships will go with time? It doesn’t sound like this has been going on for that long.

    • excellent point about whether he’s treating other girls the same way.

      and i don’t think she needs the relationship defined as whole. i think she’s just wondering what her next step should be and if she was reading him correctly.

      based on what i know about her, she is a pretty cautious person. she’s in no hurry.

  2. AuthorChristopherLong says:

    AWF — Fabulous post. You seem to be handling this well so far and your concerns are well-placed. As a guy, I’ll tell you that Sharideth’s advice is completely spot-on. Guys are dumb. We often NEED for women to be direct. In fact, it’s a turn-on. Sharideth’s recommended specific response, “So, are we just friends, or shall I keep flirting with you?” is absolutely perfect.


  3. Mandy P. says:

    I know exactly that feeling of “are we flirting or am I reading way to much into this?” Unfortunately for me, I’m terrible at reading this sort of stuff as well. There was one guy I was really convinced was flirting with me. Because I’m terrible at figuring this stuff out, I asked a guy friend and a girl friend (who I could trust) if they thought his actions could be read as flirting and being interested in me. They agreed he was most likely flirting with me. (We’re engineers; we’re work in probabilities, lol). So I straight up confronted him about it. Turned out he wasn’t flirting with me. Turned out he wanted to date my roommate.

    Lucky for us, I can handle rejection, so we stayed good friends. It’s really the not knowing that was driving me insane. I just need to know if you’re into me or not. If you’re not, that’s fine. I just need to know.

  4. I feel like there’s a lot of contextual stuff missing from the description AWF gives.

    I behave in similar ways to those mentioned when I’m with a close friend, male or female. Maybe that’s what this is to him – AWF is a close friend and that’s it. But the manner of how these things would have to factor into the assessment: not so much what he does, but how he does it.

    I think Sharideth’s advice is spot-on, as long as you like him in “that way”, and feel you have been sending flirty signals back at him. If he’s interested, he will take that bait (whether or not he was flirting before).

  5. When I was young (yeesh, I sound like my mother), I found that humor always worked. It’s an easy way to open up a conversation. She could jokingly say something funny and super flirty and see how he responds.

  6. Mandie Marie says:

    I’m absolutely shocked that no one has made a Canadian joke yet.

  7. Jessica says:

    Flirting is definitely the same in any country!

  8. Ashley says:

    Having lived in Belgium for a short period of time, I’d say your best bet is to go based off of his treatment of other girls. Are you getting special treatment? Flirting is the same practically across the board, but sometimes the line between polite, good friends, and flirting can be confusing (it happened to me in Belgium). Sharideth’s advice about phrasing for bringing up the topic of flirting is awesome!

    Have fun! It all sounds positive so far.

  9. Jenn says:

    Well I have no problem outing myself on this one – this is my issue. There was a comment about the contextual issues, I think the biggest is given the climate of the school while flirting does occur, I think I’ve come to the point where I assume that there is no intentional flirting coming from any of my male peers. So am I being treated differently by said man? I say yes, and then again maybe I just haven’t really been eagle-eyeing him to the degree to make that call. Stay the course I guess is where things go at the moment.

    And yes Mandie I’m surprised there have been no Canadian jokes, guess we’re no longer a novelty.

    Ashley – thanks that helps, I know he’s very different than his American peers socially but I was trying to figure out if that was cultural or personality.

  10. asoulwalker says:

    If I ever heard a line like Sharideth suggested from a woman, I would respond in a hurry. That is a great line. That is a perfect line… ok, perfect might be a stretch… how about eminently appropriate for the given situation?

  11. Those Belgians can play dirty mind tricks. Or… can they? I think flirting is quite universal (in Western cultures), especially since even Belgians watch a lot of American television. My (American) girlfriend and I (Dutch) had some cultural issues to work out though. Flirting may be the same, but reacting on it differs quite a bit. But your line, Sharideth, would have worked in the highlands of Mongolia. Also, the advice to see how he reacts to other girls is priceless. In any case.

    PS. As Belgium is ‘our Canada’, how about we crack some of those jokes?

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