consensual aimless flirting is a thing, people

consensual aimless flirting is a thing, people

Black and white photo of a young woman with her hands on her head. She’s smiling and winking for the camera.
Black and white photo of a young woman with her hands on her head. She’s smiling and winking for the camera. Photo is from WP gallery.

Consensual aimless flirting. The lovely person who runs Be Still My Beaten Parts recently defined this for me. It’s basically the harmless flirting we do (online or off) with strangers and friends that isn’t going anywhere. It’s not heading towards sex or a relationship. No one’s following up on this flirtation. We make each other feel good and desirable through consensual aimless flirting. It’s a really affirming, lovely thing!

I’m a shameless flirt. of course, I have a Daddy whom I love very, very much and I am in a monogamous relationship and would not break that trust by letting my flirting get out of hand. that said, it’s hard to turn off my flirty switch; it’s permanently on 11! i’m flirty over coffee and even more flirtatious over drinks or after a smoke or late at night.

i’m the one blowing you a kiss in a gif i made for you. i’m the one giving your arm a little squeeze. i’m the one letting you know i think you’re the bomb dot com. i love your dress, your new hairstyle. you are looking mighty handsome today! look at you – who can resist you!?! you’re so smart and cute and that selfie you posted made me a little breathless. let’s be friends forever and ever. you make my life better.

MWAH!

now maybe to some people, the above string of compliments seems a little insincere, but i really do mean it! you’re amazing!

i am also… quite service-y, i suppose, and so it brings me joy to tell you how wonderful you are because your pleasure is my pleasure. i like bringing you pleasure, even if you’re just my friend.

but i’m only gonna flirt if i know you’re okay with it, we both feel safe, and we know the ground rules.

yes, that means we have to talk about consent. It’s very important to make sure that the subject of your flirty faux-advances consents to such talk and that you are aware of what their boundaries are. It’s easy to get excited and take things too far.

It can be easier to read the situation in person and to test the waters with someone when you also have non-verbal cues, but online, in most cases, you only have text. You can’t always see if someone isn’t interested and respond accordingly. Sometimes I have asked, “Is it okay that I’m being flirtatious with you?” Or I’ve said, “I think you’re really great; is it okay that I’m being flirty right now. I don’t want to cross any boundaries you might have or make you uncomfortable.”

Sometimes the response will be “Oooh, I love it! Keep flirting with me! It’s fun!” Other times, someone will let you know that they’re uncomfortable with flirtation because it crosses a boundary they’ve set in their romantic relationship or they’re just not that interested in that kind of talk with you. This is totally okay! Boundaries keep us emotionally safe. Respect their boundary/boundaries and thank them for being up front with you and act accordingly in the future. You might think this will kill the mood, but gaining consent – even for flirtation that’s just for fun – can make it even MORE awesome because it shows that you respect and care for the other person/people involved. even if you don’t know them well, you can still care about another human’s feelings and not just view them as a cute avi devoid of agency.

And if you’re the person drawing the boundary and saying, “thanks, but no thanks,” know that it’s okay to have a boundary in the first place, even online. You have a right to make your online experience what *you* want it to be and if flirtation with a stranger or friend is not comfortable, that’s perfectly fine!

It might seem like overkill to ask consent for aimless flirting, since, hey, we’re just joking around, right? It’s just text, right? It’s important to remember that even in online communities centered around sex and kinky play, we need to be cognizant of how we approach others. Apply the same SSC/RACK guidelines that you would if you were at a play party or if you were being intimate with someone(s) offline. Don’t be the person who sends unsolicited photos or videos, especially anything of a sexual nature.

Good flirtation is a dance; it’s intellectual foreplay. It’s fun to make someone else feel good and to elevate them a little bit. It’s exciting when you meet someone with a similar wit, especially if they’re quick with the quips! (Puns are a definite mental turn-on for me, too.)

Consensual aimless flirting isn’t really pursuit. It can be low-key thrilling, but there’s no real Chase going on. That’s the nice part. You can be affirmed and affirm someone else without there being a goal. So often we think of flirtation as a means to an end, but it can be just one of many ways to show affection and kindness and to bring ourselves emotional pleasure. Enjoy being uplifted and appreciated by another person without expectation. It can be gratifying and exciting to hear “You’re looking fine today! MEOW” or to be adored for your sense of humor or writing skills or that video of you playing the piano. You can be emotionally or intellectually attracted to folx you aren’t sexually or romantically attracted to and you can enjoy wordplay or swap selfies or whatever without having to take it to a whole different level. it’s like NRE without the R. 😉

We spend a lot of time online these days being bombarded by negativity. consensual aimless flirting can be a respite from the garbage fire called the internet. we can create space for flirtation and affirmation, to let ourselves be playful, and to appreciate those we find fascinating and beautiful in their own way. We all need connection and consensual flirting can make us feel connected and desirable. We can all use a little of that from time to time.