Don't be fooled young child, just because someone compliments you on your mesmerising eyeballs or the way that your hair looks when it's caught in a flicker of sunlight, this does not always mean that they like you. Maybe they just have a thing for eyeballs? Maybe they're just being 'nice'? Maybe there is absolutely no reason for their kindness and your hair does look amazing today and they are simply relaying factual information to you without giving a second thought to how it might make your heart melt with pure joy?
It's a bummer, and you usually have the find out the hard way, but sometimes people are flirting with you purely because it makes them feel good, not because they particularly like the idea of dating/sexing/marrying you.
Serial Flirters are everywhere. They're lurking our streets, hiding in the bushes, waiting for you to walk on by just so they can shower you with compliments and then give you one of those "a little too friendly" style hugs.You know, the ones where their hands start somewhere near your upper back and end up near booty town, finalised with three tender strokes before slowly hovering away from your body so that you have enough time to make intense eye contact. Your heart is fluttering wildly because, like, why wouldn't it? And their heart is cold and full of concrete.
The tricky thing about a Serial Flirter is that they are chameleons. They look, feel and smell just like your regular old crush, the only difference is that they harbour absolutely no feelings for you whatsoever. What's worst, most of the time they have no idea that they are actually committing a crime against sexual humanity. They're just regular people, living their lives while their victims are left in a Casey Chambers state of confusion: "Am I not pretty enough? Is my heart too broken? Do I cry too much? Am I too outspoken? Don't I make you laugh? Should I try harder? Why do you see right through me?" Ah, Casey, what a heart-wrencher. Thirteen-year-old me totally couldn't relate to your winy, country twangs but as I slowly make my way through life, one Serial Flirter at a time, I can now 100% relate.
Now, it's important to note that not all of the blame belongs to the Serial Flirter. As I said before, often they are entirely unaware of their actions. They're simply trying to be a good person and here we are (the romantics of the world) latching on to any form of human kindness that is afforded to us. We're the type to read into every text message, glance, subtle butt graze, torturing ourselves with a mind ripe with possibilities of our sexual happily every after scenario. We're a big part of the problem. But, I also know that more often than not, the Serial Flirter is emotionally inflated by the experience and we are emotionally deflated. That hardly seems fair?
It's as if our presences somehow lifts them up a little higher? Every time you're near they'll take advantage of your fragile little heart and pluck another piece of it away for their emotional wank-bank. These are the types of Serial Flirters that will follow you with their eyes when you're talking to someone else at a party, or they'll send you a vague winky-face emoji three years after you first confessed your crush purely because they've heard that you've got a new sex human in your life. They want to eternally affect you without ever giving you a single drop of deep, authentic affection.
This is obviously an extreme example. Serial Flirters sit on all ends of the spectrum from aforementioned eye stalker to those who just don't know that when you 'poke' someone on Facebook it means you actually want to 'poke' them with a part of your body. Either way, The Prey (us) are left wandering along the spectrum of feeling a little bit shitty to a whole lot shitty, and that's just not a nice feeling.
Is there any way to avoid these people though? Probably not because you might accidentally lose a diamond in the rough, aka someone who is actually flirting with you because they like you. Maybe we should take a transparent outlook on it all? The next time someone of your sexual preference sniffs the nape of your neck or compliments your 'charming' smile, stare straight into their eyes, with a blank expression on your face and simply ask: "Are you flirting with me? Does that idea of having sex with me make your feel irksome or awesome? Do you want to date me? Are you currently romantically attached? Do you ever think about what it would feel like to kiss me?" and if you're not happy with their answers then you can simply walk away, thus avoiding the emotional roller coaster that was bound to ensue.
The sad thing for The Prey is that we have absolutely no idea when we're nibbling on the 'friend zone' bait. I mean, bait of any kind if quite delicious and we fool ourselves into believing that we're about to be reeled in by a handsome fisherman/woman who wants to love us for the fish that we are, when in actual fact, we're pulled onto shore and left flailing about on the sand, because we were 'too small or not tasty enough, an undesirable fish of some kind'. We're left sandy, confused and unable to breathe, all because we took the damn bait.
Let's just hope that the next fisherman/woman wants to reel us in, gut us, lightly fry us and serve us up on a bed of fresh roquette with a side of chips. Hmmm, this fish analogy is getting a little out of hand.
Kate Neilson is the founding editor at Twenty Something Humans. She likes eating toast in bed and writing lists about absolutely anything. She feels a little awkward writing about herself in third person. You can lurk her @katiepotatierose.