On flirting

Dallas Day

Dallas Day

I learned a word today: proxemics. It is the name for the study of personal and public space and how the two are defined by culture and by our belief system.

Flirting, as I understand it, involves moving closer to a person than the rules permit. This raises questions. Whose rules take precedence? What are the consequences of challenging the rules? Do the parties involved enjoy the experience? Do they learn anything of value?

Dallas Day enjoys being photographed, and she and I have worked together several times. She enjoys poses that involve what I take to be flirty looks. She is not flirting with me. She is flirting with her audience. I have fun at these shoots, and she does too.

The good friend I mentioned in recent posts is a lady who told me she has not felt pretty in a long time. She declined my offer to photograph her. I suggested that one of the looks she might consider is being flirty. My intention was to invite her to step outside her usual boundaries. Her usual boundaries provide a haven for her weak self-image.

Flirting usually involves speaking and behaving in a way that suggests a mildly greater intimacy than the actual relationship between the parties would justify, though within the rules of social etiquette, which generally disapproves of a direct expression of sexual interest.—Wikipedia

My Webster’s Unabridged associates flirt with a word that shares some of its meaning, coquet, and it assigns a measure of vanity to the latter. I think of flirting as an exercise in fun and delight, but that is not necessarily true for everyone.

My close friends have a view of personal space that I label as very proper, very cautious. Photography provides me with much more space thanks to models like Dallas. She brought three of her friends to a subsequent shoot in which they posed in what my dear grandmother used to call their birthday suits.

I share this story with you, dear reader, to suggest that relaxing rules about personal space and being open to a bit of flirting can be a whole lot of fun. I work in both environments, and I want to emphasize how appealing the more relaxed environment can be.

This phrase from Wikipedia’s definition seems significant to me: “which generally disapproves of a direct expression of sexual interest.” What is the cost to us of forbidding direct expression of our interest, sexual or otherwise? I think we would do well to investigate the matter. We may be underestimating our losses, and I suspect that we are.

I welcome your comments on personal space, rules of the road, and having fun.

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