Is the waist a positive leading indicator?
June 28, 2008 8:34 PM   Subscribe

The waist pinch: does it necessarily indicate flirting?

I'm a female (despite my handle) and males sometimes accost me with apparently all-in-good-fun waist grabbing/pinching. I would be interested to know whether a certain attractive coworker is flirting with me, or if this maneuver is generally used more for platonic silliness.
posted by boy detective to Human Relations (26 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I am male and I have not waist pinched in a little over a year. That is coincidentally the same amount of time I've been in a relationship.

I have never even thought about it until now but I have always assumed it meant flirting. Does your coworker do it to other females in the office? If no then I think you have your answer.
posted by jwfree at 8:41 PM on June 28, 2008

Touch? Around or potentially below the beltline? Probably flirting.
posted by rossination at 8:44 PM on June 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

This is so profoundly out of line for anyone not flirting that I have to say it's flirting.
posted by Miko at 8:47 PM on June 28, 2008 [5 favorites]

posted by sonic meat machine at 8:52 PM on June 28, 2008

This is an excellent way to start a conversation with attractive co-workers. It's light, but could get deep and has plenty of potential for flirting.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:52 PM on June 28, 2008

Best answer: Whenever I'm wondering if something should be considered flirtatious, I ask myself how I'd feel if an attractive person did this to me compared to an unattractive person. I also ask myself how I'd feel doing this to an attractive person versus doing it to an unattractive person. If my feelings are pro-attractive, and anti-unattractive, then there is a pretty good chance it's flirting. Sometimes the instincts know what the analytical mind does not.
posted by Anonymous at 8:59 PM on June 28, 2008

Flirting. Also beware the minefield that is schtupping cow-orkers.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:59 PM on June 28, 2008

For most people, most of the time, this is definitely flirting. There are exceptions, though, so you can't be quite 100% sure without confirmation from context -- other touching, the right kind of smile, and so on will let you know what you are dealing with.
posted by Forktine at 9:01 PM on June 28, 2008

It all depends... do you work in a caliper factory?

If not, it's flirting.
posted by paperzach at 9:07 PM on June 28, 2008 [14 favorites]

It seems an obvious flirting thing. I'd probably watch to see if they do it to every nice looking female, but in either case, flirting.
posted by ceberon at 9:07 PM on June 28, 2008

definitely flirting.
posted by thinkingwoman at 9:11 PM on June 28, 2008

Best answer: Flirting with a capital F. I mean, doesn't necessarily mean we want to date the girl, but it does definitely mean we think she's cute.
posted by JPowers at 9:15 PM on June 28, 2008

I've never heard about waist-pinching in body language books, but I'd tend to think it's extremely flirtatious... Back, shoulders, and arms are one thing, but the waist is way down there and one would have to expect some suspicion on the part of the receiving party.

But as in all instances like this, it's possible he grew up in a household where touching others was second nature, and maybe that includes platonic waist-pinching. Surely there are other possible signs that he's taken an interest in you?

I have heard about the elbow being an extremely disarming gesture, esp on someone you want to flirt with... Heck, if you like the guy and want to imply interest, try it and see what happens.

(And what, was "Sally Kimball" already taken as a handle?)
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 12:13 AM on June 29, 2008

(And what, was "Sally Kimball" already taken as a handle?)

Well done.
posted by piedmont at 12:17 AM on June 29, 2008

Personally, I wouldn't do this to someone unless I wanted to pork 'em.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 12:33 AM on June 29, 2008

My first impression is that it isn't flirting, but only because I wouldn't dare to try it on anyone who wasn't already a good friend.
posted by ambulatorybird at 2:02 AM on June 29, 2008

agree with ambulatorybird, I have done this, affectionate only.
posted by daveydave at 3:43 AM on June 29, 2008

Sexual harrassment. Flirting.
posted by GPF at 7:16 AM on June 29, 2008 [2 favorites]

For the average male, I'd say yes, but it's not a 100% unqualified yes.

Observe the individual in question with an eye to telling the following: Is he generally touchy-feely with people? Is he generally touchy-feely with female friends? The second part comes because some men aren't comfortable touching even their closest friends unless it's an arm punch. Anecdata: I know someone who, though we see one another infrequently, will do the arm-touch, the lower back touch, and so forth - even my face, all places that are slightly squirmworthy. This isn't flirting because she's not into men - she's just touchy. I put that in the model of her baseline behavior.

So, find out what his baseline behavior is. Short of someone giving you an open-mouthed kiss with tongue, you have to tailor "flirt or not?" to the individual.
posted by adipocere at 8:07 AM on June 29, 2008

Another vote here for flirting but one can only hope that you work in a gym, or that you and coworker are circus trapeze artists or lifeguards. Because otherwise, how could that possibly be considered appropriate workplace behavior, flirting or no? It's "all-in-good-fun" until somebody loses an eye, or entire face. Perhaps Chris Rock was right, women only consider it harassment if the perpetrator isn't "attractive."
posted by fuse theorem at 8:31 AM on June 29, 2008

Mod note: comments removed - take side discussion to metatalk or email, thank you.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:21 AM on June 29, 2008

Can someone (after you stop laughing at my question, go ahead, take a second) carefully define what a waist-pinch is? Is it an American thing?

Is it what it sounds like - pinching someone in the waist area, between thumb and index? I am an adult male, and have never done that to anyone, be they a good friend, lover, or just a flirtation. I imagine many people would be self-conscious about possible fat in the waist area, and wouldn't welcome a pinch there at all - or am I completely misinterpreting what the expression means? Help!
posted by paperclip at 8:09 PM on June 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

Give it the Pulp Fiction test:

Would he waist-pinch a guy?
posted by granted at 12:13 AM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'm with paperclip on this one.... wth is "waist pinching" ?... (yes, I've tried googling it.. but all i'm finding are instructions on how to measure bodyfat)

I'm 35.. and I've never seen, heard or otherwise noticed anything close to resembling flirting with someone by pinching their waist. Is it some new trend?... I think if someone did it to me I'd be to terribly confused to even speak... "dude.. what the F was that ?.."
posted by jmnugent at 12:48 AM on June 30, 2008

Is this a regional thing? The only time I've had my waist area pinched was when people teased me for getting chubby.
posted by abdulf at 11:33 PM on July 5, 2008

Response by poster: Somewhat delayed clarification:

Wtfing the wtfs, I've gotten this quite a bit as well as seeing it in action. I'm 22 and live in MI if that means anything. Anyway, what happens is the pincher uses their hands to grab both sides of the pinchee's waist (waist = narrowest part of the stomach, not in any way below the belt), either just poking/tickling or actually squeezing a little.

Also, Sally Kimble was a total jobber.
posted by boy detective at 12:50 PM on July 23, 2008

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