Is there a way for a guy to flirt with men who aren't in a gay bar?
May 2, 2010 3:44 PM   Subscribe

How do I flirt with men without upsetting straight ones?

I see guys I wouldn't mind pursuing a relationship with all the time. But I never flirt. I never give them my number. It's because I'm afraid of upsetting them.
posted by beingresourceful to Human Relations (27 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Depends on the city I suppose, but I'm straight and have had gay men flirt with me. As soon as I realize what's going on, I say something indirect to indicate my interest in women, but it doesn't upset me.
posted by ewiar at 3:57 PM on May 2, 2010 [4 favorites]

Agreed with ewiar.
posted by dfriedman at 3:59 PM on May 2, 2010

Yeah, same as the above. Not much different from having a woman indicate interest, and having to indicate that I'm in a relationship.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 4:00 PM on May 2, 2010

As a straight guy, I wouldn't be offended... in fact I'd probably be flattered if a gay man were to flirt with me. Just don't come on too strong at first, so that any straight guys can end the situation subtly without any awkwardness on either side. But if a gay man just came by and introduced himself and gave me his number and said to call him if I wanted... that would not upset me in the least.
posted by Diplodocus at 4:02 PM on May 2, 2010

Speaking as a straight guy, it's entirely possible. The major question is one of approach. If a guy approaches me, smiles, and tells me I'm cute, I'm not squicked out at all: I'll just gently tell him I'm straight. If I think he's a nice guy, I'll wish him the best, no harm, no foul. If on the other hand, a guy gets into my personal space and says "hey babe", or suchlike, I'm going to be seriously uncomfortable. Just keep the opening closer to "friendly" than "sexy".
posted by StrikeTheViol at 4:06 PM on May 2, 2010 [2 favorites]

In addition to the advice above, I'd suggest that you will help your odds considerably if you do it in situations/areas that are gay-friendly. Your chance of offending is lower if your target and/or his friends/colleagues/family/pastortt aren't homophobic.
posted by Good Brain at 4:26 PM on May 2, 2010

I've had gay men chat me up before. I politely indicated that I wasn't interested. Most often, I ended up actually having a decent, non-awkward conversation with them afterward. The only time I was uncomfortable was when my ass was grabbed, but that would be inappropriate for anyone to do, regardless of gender or orientation.

I tend to hang out in gay-friendly, or at least gay-tolerant places. So, really, I don't think you have a whole lot to worry about unless you plan on being inappropriate.
posted by TrialByMedia at 4:52 PM on May 2, 2010

Just start out by being friendly and dropping a hint that you're gay, and if the guy is meeting you halfway, gradually up the ante.
posted by orange swan at 4:59 PM on May 2, 2010 [2 favorites]

Depends where you are. I've had guys try and chat me up, and it doesn't bother me at all. But I've also seen fights start over this, too -- not everyone is going to be as cool as the people responding here.
posted by Forktine at 5:07 PM on May 2, 2010 [3 favorites]

While many straight guys don't take offense to flirtations by other men, there are some very dangerous men who will react violently in the wrong situation. I hate the idea of telling your not to flirt because some jerk could respond violently (he's the one with the problem, not you) - but for simple self preservation it may be best to try to stick to gay friendly environments or use some caution in flirting with men who are drunk enough to do something stupid if they feel embarrassed by your attention.
posted by idiopath at 5:11 PM on May 2, 2010 [3 favorites]

Assuming you employ a respectful approach when you flirt, probably the only men you would upset are the ones insecure about their own sexuality. And that's not your problem.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:12 PM on May 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

Unreciprocated interest from a man is a lot easier to laugh off than unreciprocated interest from a woman, since the former is so easy to explain without making it personal. Straight men who would get upset at that sort of attention probably are going to get upset about people being gay in their proximity period, and there's not much you can/should do about that.
posted by contraption at 5:16 PM on May 2, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for the replies. I think I should specify what I am looking for.

I realize 99.999% of straight men here would be flattered.

I am looking for ideas because I live in a quasi-conservative area.

The other day, a stranger called me "gay ass" and it was entirely unprovoked (I didn't flirt with them or find them attractive, in fact I was just friendly and said goodbye to a stranger.) I was very shocked by that because I don't live in The South, you know?

While I do not mind verbal confrontation, I really don't want to upset ordinary insecure, close-minded, homophobic people... I just want to meet the sexy, bi or gay ones amongst them. :D

Here's an example. I was thinking of giving them a business card that says "add me on facebook" on the back of it... that way if they're straight, they might just assume I was selling them something, and if they're gay or bi, they'll probably know what's up and add me, and learn more about me. At least. So goes my theory. It is yet untested.
posted by beingresourceful at 5:24 PM on May 2, 2010

I am looking for ideas because I live in a quasi-conservative area.

Internet dating?
posted by yoyo_nyc at 5:39 PM on May 2, 2010

It seems that, if the object of your interest is gay, a certain slightly-more-friendly-than-normal approach will send the unmistakable signal that you are flirting, while allowing you a degree of plausible deniability to any straight person you may inadvertently target. Gay people are better at picking up on what is gay flirtation and what is not than straight people, right? Maintaining some plausible deniability, then, would seem to be key. So waiting until you are sure the person us gay before you offer your number is also important.
posted by jayder at 5:52 PM on May 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

You could mention that you broke up with your boyfriend, and see where that conversation leads...
posted by musofire at 6:13 PM on May 2, 2010 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Jayder, YES, plausible deniability is what I am looking for.
posted by beingresourceful at 8:49 PM on May 2, 2010

eye contact. if he holds it for more than a few seconds and smiles, there's a great chance he's gay too. study up on other flirtatious body language and learn to look for it.
posted by acidic at 8:51 PM on May 2, 2010 [2 favorites]

Have you checked out the 'missed connections' page on your local Craigslist? About 80% of the posts are m4m in my area. Don't know how well this works out though...
posted by MsKim at 8:52 PM on May 2, 2010

It seems that, if the object of your interest is gay, a certain slightly-more-friendly-than-normal approach will send the unmistakable signal that you are flirting, while allowing you a degree of plausible deniability to any straight person you may inadvertently target.

I'm going to second this. A little gentle contact, the occasional hand on the back, and see if they are responsive... if it's a conservative area, though, I'd definitely be chatty beforehand and see if they lean to the more liberal side of things so they do not get all offended.
posted by wooh at 8:54 PM on May 2, 2010

I would have no idea what the facebook card means. I don't understand why you think my being gay would make me able to decode that... Stick to the body language or (better yet) words that others are suggesting.
posted by fritley at 8:56 PM on May 2, 2010

Like others are saying, the guys who would react poorly to this are the ones who are insecure. In my experience, the jerkish reaction is at least 80% provoked by a desperate need to prove to everyone nearby that they are NOT GAY! They want to prove to their friends, or to the other dudes at the bar, or that girl they had their eye on, that they're into the ladies.

So, to avoid provoking either the insecurity or the bad behavior it can inspire, the easiest thing to do is make your flirting discreet. Catch the guy on his own when he goes to the bar for a refill, or in the hall on the way to the bathroom, or whatever. Don't go up to him when he's surrounded by his buddies and make a pass.

Please note I am not saying you should try to hide anything about yourself. I'm just saying that discretion makes it easier for an insecure guy to laugh it off instead of throwing punches to "prove" his manliness.
posted by vytae at 8:59 PM on May 2, 2010

I feel your pain, beingresourceful. When I was a 22-year-old reporter in Florida, a not-at-all-attractive gentleman of a much more advanced age once took my not-at-all-flirtatious reportorial inquiries to be a come-on. He instantly launched into the full-on homophobe schtick. It was impressive. There were no altercations, but I was a little shell-shocked. It took me a while to genuinely start flirting with guys in public after that.

I've gotten a lot more comfortable flirting with guys since then - even in Florida - and I chalk it up to having honed my gaydar. (I'm happily coupled, but I can still be kind of a flirt at times. It cracks my boyfriend up.) In my experience, the groundwork for flirtation is typically laid before a word is uttered.

It starts with the eyes. One day, sit in a food court or another public place where there are a lot of people sitting and a lot of other people moving in and out. Quietly observe the guys in the crowd, especially the twenty-somethings. Notice how they're constantly, perhaps unconsciously, checking out people of the gender they're attracted to? (Women may do this too, but I haven't paid as much attention, for obvious reasons.) Find a pretty girl walking across the room and look around her as she passes by groups of men. Many of them will check her out - just a quick, almost reflexive glimpse in her direction. See it happen enough times, and you'll begin to develop one helpful filter: there's a good chance that a man who frequently checks out women around him is straight. Avoid flirting unless you get a countervailing signal.

Similarly, many gay men are constantly, perhaps unconsciously, scanning for male hotties in their vicinity. Given how exquisitely attuned we are to noticing other people noticing us, this means there's a good chance two gay men in a room will perform a mutual check-out. When this happens, when two gay men notice each other, they engage in a delightful little ocular pas-de-deux. This, my friend, is the secret sauce of gaydar.

Step one is the notice. The two lock eyes just for the briefest moment across a room, then look away. (Depending on the setting and the participants, sometimes the look away is skipped. In gay clubs, for instance, the first look often turns into a mutual stare.)

Step two is the circle back. After a beat or two, return your gaze to your dance partner. If he's not looking or doesn't notice, don't stare. You can circle back a few times within the space of a few minutes, and if you don't lock eyes again, that's a tip that he might be either straight or not interested. No harm, no foul.

But if your gazes do meet once more, one more step will probably tell you all you need to know. While you're still locked in a mutual stare, give your buddy a charming smile. If the smile is returned, bingo. There's a good chance he's (1) gay and (2) interested.

How you follow up the smile is up to you and your courage. If you're feeling confident, find a pretense to strike up a conversation. If you can't think of a pretense, a greeting, handshake, and your name is quite fine. If you're feeling cowardly, try your luck on missed connections.

I've spent my fair share of time in some pretty homophobic parts of Florida, California, and Missouri, and this process has tended to work quite well. I've managed to avoid any raging homophobes since that one guy that one time. Once you learn these basic cues, you'll start to pick up on subtler ones. Eventually, establishing that the fellow is gay becomes the easy part.

All that said, be aware of your surroundings. Florida has its fair share of psychos. Restrict your flirting to well-trafficked spaces. Travel with a wingman (or a wing-woman - the secret shortcut to all of this is just to ask your pretty female friend to try flirting for you first!). And may the force be with you.
posted by grrarrgh00 at 9:01 PM on May 2, 2010 [39 favorites]

grrarrgh00: excellent answer - you should make an instructable!
posted by idiopath at 9:14 PM on May 2, 2010

grrarrgh00 has it. It's all in the eyes.
posted by greekphilosophy at 9:07 AM on May 3, 2010

Wow, grrarrgh00, aren't you going to be kicked out of the guild or something for revealing so much?
posted by contraption at 3:46 PM on May 3, 2010

Pretty much what grrarrgh00 said...

I will add that it's probably a good idea to get a wingWOman, for a couple reasons.

First, it eases the logistics. Other women will tend to think you're with her. Gay men will see it as an open question that they need to investigate.

Second, and probably more importantly, she probably won't take you to someplace where this is likely to be a problem. (I know 'hipster' bars where you'd stand a good chance of running into a problem, and 'dive' bars where nobody would give a shit. But I'm old and observant and taken. Women seem to sense this through their pores. (Except my GF, but that's another story.))
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:44 AM on May 4, 2010

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