A Reader Responds: Does Being Friendly Mean She’s Interested?

In response to my recent post Why Don’t You Just Ask Her Out Already, a Jcoach reader takes issue with some of my points:

I really enjoy reading your posts, so I was a bit surprised when I saw this last one. Although I agree with your conclusion that there is nothing to fear, and that 99% of the time, guys (or anyone) should just go for it when weighing whether to ask a person out, I think you make a mistake in your argument and shortchange women by doing so. You pose a false dilemma when you say that either a woman is interested or she is a tease.

I would encourage you to more clearly define flirtation and broaden your idea about why women might speak with men. You write, I think unfairly, that if a woman talks to a man, she probably wants him to ask her out. Otherwise, she is exercising “feminine flirtatiousness on any male that comes into her flying zone.” Not so.

If a man is unsure about whether a woman is interested in dating, maybe there is something to that uncertainty. Maybe she is interested, but if not, it does not necessarily, or even probably, mean she was behaving inappropriately by chatting with the dude. If she was behaving inappropriately, then fine, shame on her, but Arnie, the only context you provide for what you go on to classify as inappropriate behavior is that (1) some witty exchanges happened, (2) she looked at the man, and (3) laughed at a joke or two.

I missed something. How do those three things translate into she probably likes you and is dying for you to ask her out? If after a joke and a look, your “mind conjures up romantic scenarios set on exotic beaches throughout the short cab ride home,” who is being silly here? Not the woman. You imply it is the woman’s fault that a man develops an irrational crush after a conversation, and I am troubled by that. I agree with your statement that if a guy is interested (rationally or irrationally), he should just ask―it can’t hurt. But please be careful how you talk about women and make blanket statements about their intentions.

When you use the phrase “femme fatale” you peg women as deceptive or malicious simply for engaging men in conversation for any purpose other than to start a dating relationship. Assuming no one is being malicious, there is no reason for men and women to have a pleasant conversation (with eye contact!).

You leave out two important reasons (and there are others) why a woman might be friendly to a man:

(1) She might be assessing whether she likes him. How would she know if she didn’t speak with him? What if, after a friendly, engaging conversation, she sees decides it wouldn’t be a good match for any number of reasons? Does she have to interrupt him and say so right then and there, before he even asks her out, or could she politely excuse herself or (gasp!) continue a conversation about a shared interest? Does that make her a tease? Or

(2) Shared interest! Maybe she wants to hear about what the man she is talking to does or thinks, etc. Maybe she is interested in learning more about new fiction, or kayaking, or why the sky is blue. Maybe she wants to share something she does or thinks.

Maybe they joke. Maybe she smiles. This makes her a flirt? Think of the alternative―avoiding eye contact and snubbing. (And, we all know what people call that.) If women only spoke to men they wanted to go out with, they would miss out on so many opportunities to know great guys―for dating, friendship, or simply for chatting with. Also, who’s to say a man who talks to you wants to date you? Presumptuous! Just because I am single doesn’t mean every conversation I have with a man is either explicitly or implicitly about dating from my perspective or his. There are other options.

Women have more to offer than, check this box if you want to date.

When you say a woman “makes a guy feel like he’s their knight in shining armor only to make him fall on his sword when he tries to ask her out,” I urge you to clarify what you mean. Why does he feel that way? What signals does she send? Without providing context (more than the conversation, eye contact, and laugh formula you provide in the post), this is unfair.

If a friend introduces me to a group of men or a man, I am not going to ignore them when they ask me a few questions. If they decide I was nice and want to ask me out, great, but I’m allowed to say no without being labeled a deceptive vixen out for blood.

Back to context. First, where is this conversation happening? Is it at shul? At a professional development event? At a party? At a singles event? I think if it is anywhere, save perhaps a singles event, there is no reason why a woman could not engage in conversation with a man without the implication being that she wants to date him. Second, what are they talking about? Unless in the course of the conversation the woman actually says she likes him/wants to go out or the conversation is starting to get overtly, well, sexual, I don’t see why talking means flirting or dating. I agree that sometimes there is a gray line, though hopefully men (and women) ought to be able to tell the difference between friendly and flirtatious. A blanket statement like the one you make: a woman talks to you and seems to enjoy it does=she wants to go out, does not help.

I consider myself friendly and open, I talk to people when I meet them, and I enjoy the process of conversation. Sometimes guys I talk to end up asking me out even when I am not interested romantically. I don’t think any less of them; I think more of them, if anything. I am not suggesting it’s okay to play hard and fast with people’s feelings, but no one’s heart is broken after a few conversations about politics or Jewish geography or a movie or bluegrass music as far as I can tell. In any case, if someone likes me, but I don’t dig them back, it’s a bummer, sure, but unless I have done something considerably worse than be a likeable person, there is nothing to apologize for. I wasn’t being deceptive, and certainly not malicious; I was interested in doing what I did: talk and get to know a person a little.

Are you suggesting women stop speaking to people we are not interested in romantically? I am not flirtatious, unless by flirtatious, you mean, I listen attentively, ask questions, smile, laugh, make eye contact, joke back, participate in the conversation. If you’re not sure, go for it; ask the girl out, but if she declines, don’t say she did something wrong by chatting with you in the first place. She was interested in what you had to say.

It is shortsighted to label women who have a nice conversation but ultimately say no to a date as femme fatales without, at the very least, providing some additional context.

Just something to consider.

-Lindsey (Femme Fatale) Blank

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