The Difference Between “Friendly” and “Flirtatious”
Written by Phylicia Masonheimer | February 25, 2016
The hair flip, the side glance, the wink…we know what they can do. Perhaps we’ve used them a time or two. They are the fundamental tools of flirtation. They’re used in the movies and on TV, usually in that cute scene where the couple meets for the first time. They’re just for fun, completely harmless—right?
There are many ideals we accept without truly thinking them through. As a building block of modern dating, flirtation is one of these cultural norms. But as Christian women, we have to go deeper. We need to look at flirtation in light of God’s Word and see if it lines up with the kind of woman God intended us to be.
To “flirt” literally means to “behave as though attracted to or trying to attract someone, but for amusement rather than with serious intentions” (Dictionary.com). In other words, flirtation is attention without intention. It’s part of a dating game where actions aren’t always as genuine as they appear. It seems so harmless, but in reality, it can be quite deceitful.
But the problem we encounter as Christians is how to walk this line between “friendly” and “flirtatious.” It’s one thing to intentionally lead a guy to believe you’re into him, but what if you’re naturally an extrovert? Bubbly girls are sometimes labeled flirtatious for simply being outgoing. They question how to be true to their personalities while being authentic in their behavior. The key to striking this balance is living a life characterized by love.
In 1 Corinthians 13, the Apostle Paul defines love in a series of actions: Love is patient, kind, not envious, not rude and so on. Love is not just an emotion, but a choice of the will. When we love someone, we are choosing to look out for that person’s best interests. This attitude is the foundation of good manners, courtesy and overall friendliness. The Golden Rule—“Do to others as you would have them to do to you” (Luke 6:31)—is an example of this selfless love. God commands us to love genuinely because God Himself is the very definition of love (1 John 4:8).
When asked to identify which commands God considers most important, Jesus named two: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 26:37-39) As women who love God, we are called to love our neighbors—including the guys we meet—with the same selfless love Jesus gives to us. True love is not manipulative, but genuine.
This truth should alter how we communicate with the opposite sex. It requires us to be in tune with our actions, choosing to be honest about our feelings even when it would feel good to flirt. But it also means we have the privilege of being the very best version of ourselves, whether that person is outgoing or quiet, a joker or a listener, the life of the party or a wallflower. It means we take a genuine interest in each person we meet because they are individuals created by God—not people to use for our own self-interest and self-esteem.
The beauty of living authentically is that healthy relationships are built on truth. Being the most genuine version of yourself opens doors for the right guy to see the real you. That’s what lasting relationships are built on.
Flirtation, at its core, is manipulative. It is neither genuine nor authentic, and as such cannot be the foundation of a positive relationship. But this doesn’t mean you can’t be friendly, fun or engaging! Be the you that God designed, and treat others with the respect they deserve—and the love God has shown you. In choosing authenticity over attention, you might make some sacrifices, but they are the kind God honors.