How To Know Whether Your Flirting Is Casual Or Something .... More Dangerous

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man and woman flirting

The other day, I was leaving my local Dunkin' Donuts shop with a cup of coffee when I heard the light honks coming from the horn of a newer model, large pickup truck across the street.

The man behind the wheel seemed to have a cell phone at his ear and, at first, I thought it was someone I knew in this relatively mid-sized city. 

I gave a wave and kept walking toward my minivan when he tapped his horn again and made the flirting motion that said, "Wait for me, I'm about to turn left and drive over there to talk to you."

That's when I hopped in my minivan and displayed the diamond ring on my left hand and mouthed the words, "I'm married." 

He seemed to relent and say "OK," but I didn't wait around to see if he'd be like the guy I saw in the mall that shrugged "So what?" when I told him the same.

Brief flirting incidents like that may throw this mid-40s woman for a little loop when they happen, but I've got to admit when a guy does it correctly, flirting is still flattering.

RELATED: I Flirt With Strangers To Make My Marriage Better

The art and science of flirting

Heck, they have it down to a science. Tomes and teaching tools abound that aim to teach men how to pick up women.

Flirting can feel great — especially for us long-time married folks —  especially from people in public who haven't necessarily spied the taken spot on our ring fingers yet.

But first and foremost, one good question to ask in such scenarios is if what you're encountering is really flirting.

RELATED: 10 Very Good Reasons You Should Flirt With A Married Man

Is it actually flirting?

The other day, my husband took me out to a nice restaurant for my birthday and when I told the male waiter that he smelled good and asked him what cologne he was wearing, he answered that it was a scent that lots of people compliment him for wearing.

It was an innocent question on my part — I wasn't lusting after the waiter — however, my husband warned me about saying such things outside of his presence. Sure, sometimes women and men can take kind words or niceness and misinterpret them for attraction.

Either way, flirting feels good when we practice it and receive it, no doubt because it proves that although we're taken, we can still be found attractive by others and that our flirting skills are still strong enough to make others smile or laugh or feel good about themselves, too.

RELATED: 2 Reasons Some People Are Just Way Better At Flirting Than You

When does flirting turn dangerous?

As long as we stay in the realms of good taste, flirting can be innocent fun, a kind of unrequited dance.

If there aren't serious or nefarious intentions behind the flirt, it goes no further from there.

After all, flirting because you find someone attractive is just the icebreaker to the game — the real seriousness comes along when you go beyond the flesh to determine if you're really meant to be with that person.

RELATED: If You Flirt This Specific Way, He'll Be Attracted To You Instantly

Paula Mooney is a writer whose essays and articles have been featured in national print magazines such as Writer's Digest, and in major online publications like Yahoo, Examiner, and more.