Is she flirting?
March 15, 2006 7:23 PM   Subscribe

FlirtFilter: Help me figure out if a colleague is flirting with me.

We see each other, at most, once every week or two. We're both married and around the same age. Here's the thing, though: We joke around a lot when we see each other, and she's very touchy with me -- lots of arm taps and bicep squeezes. I've no intention of doing anything, I'm just curious whether y'all think I'm being innocently flirted with. (This is not an area where I've ever been able to discern things accurately.) I like her, and I find her attractive, so if she is flirting, it'd be a nice little ego boost.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (22 answers total)
Sounds like flirting. I've read somewhere that since we spend more time with people at work than at home it's natural for us to create "office spouces", if you will. If you have no intention of doing anything then just enjoy it, and be careful how you play along.
posted by furtive at 7:29 PM on March 15, 2006

I've never heard of a platonic bicep squeeze, especially multiple ones, from a woman. That's an overt jesture of flirtation in the vast majority of case.
posted by drpynchon at 7:36 PM on March 15, 2006

consider your ego boosted, this is not normal friendship behavior.
posted by visual mechanic at 7:38 PM on March 15, 2006

Does this happen for other people or just you? It's quite possible for some people be more huggy-touchy than others but if you are the only beneficiary, or if only the cute males receive this treatment, then it goes in the flirty category.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 7:40 PM on March 15, 2006

Flirting. But it doesn't sound as though he's taking a pass at you, which would be something else entirely.
posted by majick at 7:40 PM on March 15, 2006

posted by lilybeane at 8:02 PM on March 15, 2006

Definite flirtation. Probably has no intent behind it.
posted by lemur at 8:11 PM on March 15, 2006

I second Joe's spleen. If possible, observe whether she does this with others (try not to fly into a jealous rage)

I'm married and we have a common friend who pre-dates our relationship, and is super-hot and super-friendly. It's made me uncomfortable (OK, just a little...) but I really just think she's like that.

Such a species does exist, but members are extremely rare.

Accept the flirt and the compliment, and move on. Or, casually ask if she's into anal beads and report back.
posted by raider at 8:19 PM on March 15, 2006

Yes, by any reasonable standard, that constitutes flirting. The only relevant question, however, is whether it's intentional — and obviously, we don't have enough information to answer.
posted by cribcage at 8:42 PM on March 15, 2006

Sure, it's flirty, but it may indeed be the kind of flirty that isn't the same as making a pass at you. I'm similarly friendly-flirty with lots of folks (male and female; coworkers and friends, etc.), and I really have no interest in sleeping with any of them -- arm squeezes, etc. are just how I show a certain kind of platonic affection. For some people, flirting is a very specific behavior that they only engage in under specific circumstances (i.e, "I'm hot for you"), while for others it's a more generalized behavior that just means "I find you engaging/interesting."
posted by scody at 8:46 PM on March 15, 2006

I've never been correct when it comes to deciding if a woman is flirting with me.

A good rule is that if you think they're flirting, they're really not.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 8:51 PM on March 15, 2006

That office spouse thing sounds awfully urbanely mythic. Call me cynical, but I bet she squeezes a lot of biceps.
posted by craniac at 9:24 PM on March 15, 2006

It sounds flirty, but it may have nothing to do with you. Some people are just flirts by nature.

For what it's worth, I can't tell when I'm being flirted with, which yields shock and awe when my giggling fiancee turns to me afterward and says something to the affect of, "Awww. How cute. She was flirting with you."

She usually thinks because I flirt back that I know, but the truth is, I am just a flirt by nature. I have absolutely no intention of flirting and seek nothing from doing it other than possitive social interactions, but I do it to just about everyone.
posted by sequential at 10:19 PM on March 15, 2006

Two anecdotes: I asked out a college classmate because during several nights out together as friends, she was similarly very touchy - leaning into me during movies to whisper comments, touching my arms very often while talking. Turns out she wasn't interested in me that way.

This past week a newly-hired female co-worker of mine started doing the same things, but it went further - she did a handwriting analysis on me, brought up a hobby of mine she'd learned of from someone else and acted very interested in my boring stories - I was sure she was flirting, until every guy and girl in my department started reporting similar experiences.

So some people are just really social that way, without it having a flirtatious component. It can be hard to tell.
posted by chudmonkey at 10:23 PM on March 15, 2006

It sounds like it's just social grooming, like what the other apes do. Just as your wife does at home, this coworker picks the nits off your back and eats them, and she expects you to do the same for her, but there's a good chance that that's all she wants.
posted by pracowity at 12:15 AM on March 16, 2006

Office spouse.

It's more than flirtation though if she starts inviting you to intimate out-of-office activities - coffee, lunch, bars.
posted by junesix at 1:21 AM on March 16, 2006

Back up chudmonkey. Sure, definitely flirty, but might just be because work is boring.
posted by BigBrownBear at 1:26 AM on March 16, 2006

Hey, if all you want is an ego boost, why not assume that she is, and so is the coffee clerk? ;)
posted by salvia at 1:31 AM on March 16, 2006

How does she act with other men? I've known girls that only have one mode: flirty. Bicep squeezin' and all. It may not be you specifically, just her personality.
posted by dgaicun at 1:45 AM on March 16, 2006

Or what chudmonkey said.
posted by dgaicun at 1:46 AM on March 16, 2006

Yeah, as was pointed out before, check if she's giving the blanket treatment to everyone. I have a coworker who is super touchy-feely, who can't seem to do anything without giving someone a half-hug, rubbing someone's shoulders or squeezing them on the arm. It's really sweet, but she also has like four kids and there aren't any signs that she's planning on leaving her family, you know?
posted by Big Fat Tycoon at 6:40 AM on March 16, 2006

This sociology article may help you detect the common signs of flirting.
posted by matildaben at 8:51 AM on March 16, 2006

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