Mental Health Portrait of young man

Published on December 11th, 2013 | by Healthy Gay Lifestyles

The Flirt is an Artist

by George M. Akerley

One who has the ability to ingratiate himself with the gamut of gay men – bears, leather men, those who are out, those who are closeted; yea, even the married men who are trying to figure out what it all means – the man who can charm anyone from each of these groups is a consummate artist.

In the world we currently inhabit, the flirtatious glance or comment can be easily misconstrued. So many men are merely on the prowl for the “hookup” that they can’t discern what “that look” was for. A man who wants to flirt, or a man who simply is a flirt, must be careful not to be misunderstood in his attempts to “make nice” with a new man.

If you’re looking for “Mr. Right Now” you’ll not need to know how to flirt. That’s simple, actually. All you need to do is walk up to the man you’re trying to bed and ask for him to accompany you. Flirting with another man is entirely different.

In fact, flirting between two men is pretty difficult. Of course, societal mores and taboos have made it difficult for us to find the opportunity to flirt. If we’re perusing the stacks in a Barnes & Noble, and we spy a healthy looking guy an aisle away, the most common behavior is to avert your eyes. There’s that fear of checking out a straight man, being found out, and thus being carted away for some crime against humanity.

That’s not even half of the problem, though. For most of us, who’ve been afraid to publicly seek out our new connections due to a variety of fears:

“Somebody will see me and realize that I’m gay;”

“What if he’s straight? Then what do I do?”

“He’ll reject me because I don’t look all that good.”

“What if he comes right over? Then what?”

One of the most difficult things to do for a gay man is to effectively flirt. Of course, if the environment is a gay bar, that solves a lot of initial problems. But imagine yourself out in public when you spot the man of your proverbial dreams. How do you begin; how do you continue; how do you wrap that gorgeous guy up?

Flirtation is fun, it can be work, it’s an acquired skill, and most of all, it will become easy to do once you’ve learned a few nuances. And, yes, there is a learning process. You won’t become a first-class flirt simply by walking into the bookstore, reaching the LGBT aisle and making contact with the first body you encounter. There’s far more to be done, more work, more play and more enjoyment will be yours once you’ve achieved a mastery over some particular techniques.

You have to carry an air of confidence wherever you go; get over that attitude that tells you you’ll never be able to find a good-looking guy. If that’s how you feel, you’ll be right all of the time. Your words will convict you to yourself, and you’ll forever be lonely. It’s not so hard, really. Take a look in the mirror: if the first impression you have is negative, then you need to overcome that. Seriously, give yourself the onceover and recognize the inner beauty if that’s all you can come up with at first. Maybe a slight makeover is at hand. If that’s the case, visit your salon and get a new cut, add a tint here and there, cozy up a little more to the hottie that’s been doing your hair for all these years and ask for suggestions that will make you look like a true prospect. Maybe change your wardrobe if that’s necessary.

The bottom line? You need to do whatever you can to boost your self esteem if you wish to be even a moderately successful flirt. Of course, there are those of us who have no issues, but think a bit too highly of ourselves. To that group: Calm down a bit. You’re not that fly.

Again, self confidence is key. Being aware of the attributes that you possess that make you desirable to other men, knowing what you bring to the table in a potential relationship; these are what you need to commit to, own up to and reflect on as you embark on your new journey.

Remember, first and foremost: you can’t put on a new face and try to convince others that you’re something other than what you truly are. You’ll be recognized as a phony, and that’ll defeat the entire purpose. Be yourself. That smart, quick-witted and good-looking kid you were throughout elementary and middle school is still the same person. Sure, you’ve put on a few pounds (but so did they!). Sure, you may have lost a few hairs off your head. Maybe you tripped on your skateboard one too many times and you’ve got a knee that’s out of joint on occasion.

You’re still the same guy, though. Put forth that face and put away the façade. You can’t be someone you’re not, earn the trust of a new guy and suddenly revert back to the man you’ve always been. Talk about a relationship gone bad. Just relax and let the day flow, just like when you were a kid and had nothing to worry about except that first pimple.

Oops! You still have some? Well, go get some Clearasil and let it work its wonders on your pretty face. That’s just a standard part of making yourself glow in the world, after all.

The first hurdle has been crossed. You’ve gone out and updated your wardrobe, had your hairdresser give you a new look and you’ve acquired this new attitude that will serve you well. So what’s still holding you back?

Is it that you’re retaining some of that internalized homophobia that society has pushed on you? Are you simply shy, or anxious about showing those insecurities you’ve been carrying all these years? How about getting over these anchors that weigh you down? Carry yourself erect (be careful there, youngster), put a smile on your face (you’re about to meet someone), get over your innate shyness and take that step.

All you’re really trying to do is to meet someone new, a man who might end up enjoying your company so much that he’ll be at your side when marriage is available everywhere.

Try your best not to be uptight and don’t be afraid if the first truly gay man you flirt with rejects you. That could be for so many different reasons that you can’t afford to take it personally. Besides that, rejection might just spur a change in your demeanor that will lead to future successes.

Be ever careful that you’re not giving off cruising vibes. That won’t serve most men’s needs (unless you’re in the gay bar, again, after midnight, say). A simple, friendly hello accompanied by a smile will be far less alarming than a “Hi, hottie” attempt at an introduction. Say hello, smile, and try to determine if this is a man you’d like to get to know that much better. Of course, if you’ve already eyed him and he didn’t avert his eyes immediately, that might tell he’s amenable to a new friendship.

You still don’t have it? Watch others, see how they interact with new people; ask others, and get some tips on what has been successful in their attempts to meet new men. Hopefully, you’ve already demonstrated that you have a reasonable sense of humor and that you’re aware of your surroundings and not intimidated. What else might you need…how about developing your listening skills so that whatever Mr. New says will penetrate the walls you’ve artificially set up already.

When you meet someone for the first time, he’ll undoubtedly give you specific signals so that you can determine the level of interest. For example, did you get a smile out of him? That ought to contribute to the long-term success of your endeavor.

Was he willing to gaze at you, or did he shy away? Now that guy can be tricky, so take heed. He may be as inept as you feel yourself to be and not know how to react, or he could truly not be interested. Don’t run away, though, because the second glance from him may be on its way, and that will be a better harbinger.

Some of the specific skills you’ll need to develop (if they don’t exist already) ought to be pretty obvious. But then again, if you’ve never undertaken the challenge, or you’re just out of the closet or still in it, there’s a good likelihood that your preparation time will need to be expanded. You want to be successful at flirting; you don’t want to be known as the bothersome, pesty type constantly seeking companionship and failing to find it.

Bring an air of confidence with you. You already know who you are, so why not just portray that to your newfound acquaintances – you’re a happy and healthy gay man who just happens to be single at the moment. You’re well-dressed, well-spoken, intelligent, reasonably good-looking (no airs here), presumably unattached, available, willing and you’ve just spotted someone – if not the man of your dreams, a reasonable facsimile thereto.

If you can catch his eye, don’t be shy and drop yours. Embolden yourself and smile; nod your head as a form of greeting. If there’s a favorable response and he’s not moving, walk over and comment on the day’s news or something germane to your location. If you’re looking in the tie section at Macy’s, ask his opinion on one that you might like, or comment on the one he’s picking out. Let him know that you have some taste in clothing. If you’re at Starbucks and he orders something you’ve never tried yourself, ask him about it.

Get engaged in a conversation one way or the other. Even the most trivial of topics can lead to more depth. Your location when you meet your new friend will certainly have an impact on what you may discuss. It might not be appropriate to blurt out, “Are you gay?” as a conversation starter, but that will, again, depend on your location. Be prepared for a glare, though.

Check out his reactions to see if there’s any interest. Does he lean in or out? Is he too shy to respond as quickly as you’d like to think he would? Don’t get too physical with him, as it may be misconstrued. Doing the bump in the bookstore aisle won’t portend success If you see a stray thread, however, it wouldn’t hurt to brush it off. After all, that’s just being thoughtful.

If you are a neophyte flirt, there will be occasions on which you’ll be enormously frustrated. Don’t let those occasions color your attitude, however. As stated, flirtation is an art; hence, it takes an artist. The first time Picasso picked up a paint brush, he didn’t create Guernica. The first time you head out with your new attitude that nothing will stop you from meeting Mr. Right, you may not be successful either.

What will be important, and what will make you successful along the road to finding him, is your attitude. Being defeatist or downtrodden will render no benefit to you; however, being confident, assured and optimistic that you’ll succeed will go a long way in allowing you to achieve your goals.

Flirting is fun, it’s really not difficult, it provides a favorable portion of another guy’s day. Being a successful flirt will give you lots of joy as well. Not only does a flirt gain gratification from the encounter itself, but you’ll make plenty of people happy as you go along your way. You might just meet that man you’ve been seeking all these months or years.

Branch out, though, and flirt with girls and women too. They’ll certainly appreciate the kindnesses you send their way, and you’ll be pleased with how you’ve been able to enhance someone’s day or change someone’s mood.

Don’t forget, too, that there’s someone out there for all of us who are seeking. If you don’t meet someone on your own, and you’re susceptible to someone else providing an introduction, use those skills you learned on this new contact. Make him smile, make him blush, give him some “warm and fuzzy” on the inside and you’ll reap the benefits, and hopefully for a long time to come.

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George M. Akerley is a well-traveled and enlightened gay man, with a fervent desire to help his fellow travelers through the processes of recognition, acceptance, enjoyment and fulfillment as gay. He has struggled in his own life with acceptance of being gay, and knows that others suffer in dreadful ways. By sharing concepts and precepts, he hopes to have a powerful and important impact on others in similar situations.

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