Let’s Admit It: We’re Just Using Each Other For Random Acts of Attention

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My friend Melanie recently filled an important lacuna in the dating lexicon.

We were waiting in line for ice cream when her phone pinged — a flirty tweet from a guy she’d been on-off messaging for the better part of the Spring, with no real moves towards actually going on a date.

I instantly started to get indignant on her behalf, but Melanie was more placid about the thing.

“Eh. At this point I think we both know we’re just using each other for random acts of attention.”

Random Acts of Attention. Though I’d never put words to it, suddenly I realized that I have so many relationships with guys built on a foundation of just that: a mutual benefit from the flirtatious attention we occasionally give each other.

A teasing text, now and then, the kind that makes you roll your eyes and smile at the same time.

A playful conversation when you guys see each other in person, complete with lots of arm and hand-touching, that’s flirty but not loaded.

A compliment out of the blue, a like on an Instagram selfie, a jokey yet wink-y Emojii.

These gentle nudges don’t lead to anything — they often unfold over a long period of time, with neither of you trying to push the relationship forward, to turn what’s an occasionally amusing distraction into something more concrete.

Would you date this person if they were seriously interested in you? May……be. You’d consider it.

If you were seriously interested, getting an occasional (and, therefore, misleading) text or tweet would be infuriating, a frustrating example of popcorn flirting that leads to nowhere.

In truth, though, you’re not that into them, and they’re not that into you. Or you’re seeing someone, or they’re seeing someone, or, for a variety of complicated or banal reasons, you two couldn’t actually date, even if you were that interested in doing so, which of course, you aren’t.

So what’s the point of continuing to entertain banter tinged with chemistry that leads to nowhere?

Well, sometimes, on a Wednesday night, when you’re waiting in line for ice cream, it’s nice to get a ping, a little hit of flirtation, to provide a moment’s entertainment, to remind you that you’re attractive and playful and the type of person that someone else considers worthy of a few words on a random weekday night.


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