Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Are you off limits? Then don’t flirt

By H.C. Wang

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The scene: You’re at some get-together with a bunch of people. You meet some hot guy or cute girl and get to talking. The two of you seem to really hit it off and it’s looking like there’s potential. By the end of the event, you end up getting the number of the hottie you’ve been flirting incessantly with. You think ‘Score!’ then go home and log onto Facebook only to realize he or she was already in a relationship. You walk away feeling disappointed and, more than likely, confused as hell. You’re probably thinking, if he or she already has a significant other, why was he or she flirting so intensely with you? If this scenario seems familiar to you, it should. It’s called being led on, and it happens all too often.

A friend of mine recently came to me and told me a similar story that took place with him. He met a pretty blonde in his building that he described as having a kind of “indie look.” They decided to watch “Bones” together alone in her dorm while her roommate was out. At some point in the evening, while they were fiddling around with their phones and comparing them, the girl programmed her number into it and gave it back to him with a coy remark telling him what she had done. Again, the disappointing relationship-status-revealed-on-Facebook thing happened, and my friend was left scratching his head in confusion.

Sure, he’s a bright-eyed freshman and he could have read the signals wrong, but more experienced people than him have been on the receiving end of such frustration. So why does this phenomenon occur so much? Who is to blame? The person sending mixed signals? The receiver who misreads the situation? It’s a little bit of everything.

Unfortunately, women tend to be guilty of creating such situations more so than men. I am equally baffled as to why this happens. Some people are completely unaware that they even do this. Others do it on purpose, either for some sort of power play or simply an ego boost. To the former, have some self-awareness. Be more empathetic. Your actions may be wholly innocent of vindictive intentions, but that doesn’t make the result any less hurtful or exasperating. Actually think about what you’re saying or doing and try to see it from the other person’s perspective. Could they possibly interpret your words or actions differently than you intended them? Of course, the downside is trying so hard to be aware of this that you end up thinking everyone who is nice and talks to you has a huge crush on you. Don’t do that. Learn to examine the ambiance of the situation you’re in. Like most things, it takes practice.

To the latter type of people, get some self-esteem. Everyone needs the occasional ego boost now and then, but to achieve it at someone else’s expense is just plain mean. There are plenty of ways to make yourself feel better without exerting control over another human being in such an insidious way. Go workout. Read some self-help books on improving confidence. Hell, get a haircut if you think that might make you look better. Just don’t send mixed signals on purpose if you’re not truly interested. Chances are you’ve been there yourself, just as astounded and frustrated at being led on – whether intentional or not. You didn’t like it, so why pass the torture on to someone else? Nobody likes being strung along. Or do they?

This brings me to my next point. In the name of egalitarianism, I have to say, this is something more guys tend to be guilty of. Sometimes you know you’re just being used, but you don’t care. Or so you claim. You think that any success you might achieve in process would outweigh the feelings of embarrassment or failure. Word of advice? That thing you straighten at the gym to do your dead lifts and squats? That’s your spine. Use it. Nobody really cares if you can bench press a truck if you allow people to walk all over you. Why settle for someone who only superficially likes you when with just a little more work, you can get someone who actually cares. Just think – you may not even get anything from letting yourself be led on. Quality over quantity, people.

It’s always hard to give good advice. It’s harder still to keep it within 750-850 words. Got a particular bone to pick? Send me the details and I can answer your questions more specifically.

Got a problem? Let H.C. know about it at [email protected].

1 Comment

One Response to “Are you off limits? Then don’t flirt”

  1. muad'dib on October 8th, 2009 9:32 am

    This really should be obvious, and yet I see leading-on happen every weekend. Sad.


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