Flirting, Or Just Being Friendly? How to Tell, In Person and Online

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A couple weeks ago, a group of my gal friends and I headed out on the town to dance it up in celebration of my friend M finishing graduate school. In addition to inviting the girls out, M invited one of her male friends to the party. While we were at our chosen venue for the night, dude and I bonded fairly quickly. We found ourselves singing off key to songs we really liked, dancing pretty close to songs we really, really liked, and laughing at everything in between. To the untrained eye, our behavior could have been misconstrued as flirting. But it wasn’t. At least not in the romantic way.

Related: The 6 Types of Non-Dates to Stop Going On

There’s definitely a difference between being friendly and being flirty. Of course there are those times when someone is making a blatant pass at you and it’s so obvious that they’re hitting on you. I mean, they might as well just ask for your number already. Or ask you out on a date for Pete’s sake.

Then there are those times when the person is clearly not flirting with you. They just want to be friends and they let you know it with their “You’re such a good friend!” remarks.

But what about the gray areas of the friendly/flirty spectrum? How do you decipher if someone is being flirtatious or if they just really, really, really thought your joke was funny? (It happens.) Here are some guidelines.

In person:

If the person compliments the joke/story that you’re telling and not you, then they’re just being friendly. Put comments like, “Haha… that joke is so funny!” in the “friendly” pile. (Exclamations like, “Oh my gosh… you are so hilarious!” can go in the “flirty” pile.)

If the person smiles at you or your jokes/stories, chalk it up to them simply being friendly. If, however, they reach out and touch your hand/arm/shoulder while smiling at you, umm… flirting.

Related: 5 Signs You’re a Filler Girlfriend

If the person is being sarcastic about pretty much everything you say, not only are they a wise ass, but they’re probably not interesting in you in a romantic way. But if the person teases you about anything in a cutesy way, they’re probably flirting.

Chatting Online or Texting:

The rule number one still applies here: the person should be complimenting you and not your story/joke for it to be considered flirting. Something like, “OMG! ROTFL! You crack me up, you know that?” should do the trick.

But you should also be patient via text; some people are just not good texters. And sometimes, people — believe it or not — don’t always have their phones on them. So whatever you do, don’t text with a “Hey! Where are you?! Did you get my text?! Why aren’t you responding to me?!” Not only is that annoying to the person on the recieving end, but it also makes you look pretty desperate. (My friend L and I have a special name for dudes who do that – Mr. Thirsty.)

If the conversation comes to a dull moment or stalls and the person says something like, “I’ve got to run now. TTYL,” don’t get discouraged. Just thank the Texting Gods that the other person is savvy enough to know when to end a conversation. If you really like texting them, wait until a later time when something funny comes up or when you think of an inside joke that you can share. “Just saw that episode of ‘Game of Thrones.’ Sooooo good! Wanna watch next week’s episode together?” is a perfect icebreaker. Plus, it might get you a date.

Related: 5 Tips for Staying Out of the Friend Zone

Bottom line: flirtatious texts and online messages should be cutesy, witty, and progress into actually meeting up in person. Otherwise you can get friend-zoned. Not good. And you want these cutesy and witty words to match up with cutesy and witty actions for it to truly be considered flirting. So go ahead, make another move, engage in a little witty banter. Who knows where it could lead!