I’m trying to suss out that crucial balance between “flirty” and “polite” that we all call “confidence.” I can talk to persons of interest at parties with relative success, but I never know how forward I should be with it. Do I flirt heavily? Should I pull back? At what point does “flirtiness” become “creepy?” The age-old question.
I suppose the essence of it is — how do I express interest without being a total creeper?
Relevant information(?): I am a straight male.
Dear Potential Creep,
Parties are a strange land unto their own when it comes to meeting people. Most people aren’t in a normal state of mind, and the scene may crumble into a weird jumble. That being said, I’m glad you’re cautious about what you’re attempting to do, but I fear you’re being too cautious. Sweetie, it’s just flirting. Not brain surgery. Now I’m not recommending you go up to a girl on a couch in an NCA and yell, “I want to have sex with you!” We’re going to find that creepy. A lot of girls wait for guys to take the reins in situations like the ones you’re describing. You’re going to have to read a girl’s body language to see how far to take things. Is she touching you? Is she checking her phone? Does she laugh? All of the things Cosmopolitan Magazine taught us in 2006, essentially. Once you’ve read a girl’s body language, feel free to take it up a notch if you’ve been dancing or flirting for a while (more than 10 to 15 minutes, I’d say) and ask if she’d like to step outside, get another drink, etc. For the record, if I talk to a guy at a party, alone, for more than maybe 10 minutes, I’m probably interested.
Creepy is a state most guys don’t inhabit right off the bat. Creepy is the sort of “lurking in the corner with the beginnings of a hunchback and a can of Keystone Light in their hands.” Creepy is the guy who makes a move too fast. The guy who shoves his tongue down your throat after you’ve been dancing at a Weaver party (RIP) for two minutes.
I’m a little hesitant about your suggestion of “flirt[ing] heavily” because honestly, knowing men, that is a scarily loaded statement. If your idea of flirting heavily is attempting to show off your pong skills or how fast you can drink a 40, count me out. But honestly, if you’re actually interested in a girl and all seems to be going well, step outside, get some air, remove yourselves from the hustle of the party and see where it takes you. Hopefully not your Hanna triple where your two roommates are playing video games. Trust your gut, take a risk, let yourself fail, if need be.
Should I read into it if a guy gives me a mixtape? Especially if he has a girlfriend?
Love, Spotify Keeps Me Warm At Night
A+ on that signature, just saying. As for the mixtape — honestly, read the hell out of that. That is prime softboy, “I like you, but I’m scared to show it” stuff. The kind of thing our ugly 12-year-old selves romanticized the hell out of in indie movies and some O.C.-style show. (Seth definitely gave Summer a mixtape at some point in the first three seasons.) I don’t know if the real question here is whether you should read into the gift (for the record, you definitely should) as much as whether you admire the sentiment behind it. Not saying you want to be the mistress in this scenario.
But it becomes a question of whether you’re an unwilling participant in a bad situation. He has a girlfriend. I don’t know your personal stance on cheating, but let me just say, as someone who has been cheated on, it’s not a pleasant experience. It’s something I would never wish on someone else.
So you have to decide carefully how you feel about this guy, and what you’re going to do about it. If you like him, if you want to play that sadboy mixtape on repeat as you straighten your hair in the morning, you better figure out if he’s going to leave his girlfriend for you. Because if he isn’t, he’s not the kind of guy you want to keep around. He’s the kind of guy who has a girlfriend he goes home to on a Saturday night, but who lowkey dreams about what number seven on the mixtape he sends to another girl in another bed in another dorm will be. He’s not the guy for you if he’s a cheater. And his girlfriend doesn’t deserve that either.
Figure out what you’re looking for from him. But also, slap him. Because he shouldn’t be doing weird stuff if he’s dating someone. That’s not acceptable. Point him out to me and I will slap him for you, and for the girlfriend. Someone has to.
Emily Sakamoto ’16 is an English major with a concentration in creative writing and a minor in messing with people’s personal lives, whether they ask for advice or not, from North Oaks, Minn. Contact her at email@example.com.