“Would you be comfortable with me flirting with you?”
I’ve become fond of asking this question lately. I’m not all that good at telling when people are interested in me, and I find it’s a good way to make sure I’m not going to make anyone uncomfortable. I’m sure it also helps that the few times I’ve asked it, people have enthusiastically consented.
A while ago, a friend of mine mentioned my use of this question in conversation, and someone responded by saying they thought that asking a question like that would kill the mood.
And I felt insecure.
Let’s take a moment to review the context in which this insecurity happened: off the top of my head, I can remember three times I’ve asked someone some variation of this question. Each time, the response was an enthusiastic “yes”, and each time I got the feeling that the person I asked was more comfortable and interested in flirting because I had asked.
It doesn’t kill the mood.
So why, in spite of that evidence, did I feel insecure when someone suggested it would?
I like this as an example of cultural norms overpowering reason and evidence because it’s one of the most clear-cut examples I have from my own life. Asking if people want to flirt has never killed the mood in my experience. That’s not to say it’s impossible that it might some time, but it is certainly to say that it’s a lot less likely than some people seem to think. I have direct, uniform evidence of it not killing the mood, and yet it is still possible for me to feel insecure about it when people suggest that it would.
What is it about brains that makes them so prone to this type of mistake? Why not spend your time feeling insecure about things you have some rational basis to feel insecure about, brain?