Wildwood Daze – Betty Ann – Part 9 – Farewell, My Love

Wildwood, New Jersey – August 1984

I remember Betty telling me, at the beginning of our relationship, she was moving to Chicago in three months for her husband’s job. So I knew no matter what happened between us, it would be short-lived. It was an affair she wanted to have with a younger man to get revenge on her husband. But what she didn’t realize at the time with whom she had chosen to have that affair.

We were sitting on a bench on the boardwalk one afternoon. It was a warm sunny day, and the tourists milled about us. Eating, drinking, playing games, and going on amusements.

We were just having a moment of gentle repose when she turned to me.

“You know, Chaz… when I started this with you it was just to get back at my husband.”

“I know, Bets. It’s okay. I’ve had no illusion as to what this relationship is.”

“But… I’m sorry about that.”

“It’s okay. I’m fine with it. I’ve just been happy to be with you, even though our time has been short.”

“But… I never thought that I’d fall in love with you.”

I smiled and kissed her. “I love you too, Betty. I loved you the first time I saw you come in the store.”

I knew what I was getting myself into. At 22 I was just driven by my desire to love and be loved. Nothing more. I’d always been that way. Almost desperate to be recognized by a beautiful woman. To feel real value and worth. It was a young man’s folly, but back then it was real. It was what I was.

The movers had begun to pack up her house and prepared to truck it off to Chicago. One evening we were lying on a sheet on the floor of her bedroom. We had just completed another one of our fiery sessions. The house was basically empty, sans us on the floor and a fan that blew across the room to cool us.

“Chaz…”

I laid back and stared at the ceiling with her beside me. I turned to her and kissed her lips. I knew this relationship’s expiration date and had prepared myself for its demise.

“I’m really going to miss you, Chaz.”

“I’m going to miss you too, Bets.”

“You know… I went off birth control a while back.”

“Wait… what?”

“Yea. I stopped taking it over a month and a half ago.”

“Umm… why?”

“I love you, Chaz. I thought if I got pregnant it would be a nice present you could give me, so I would always have a part of you with me forever.”

Anxiety goes into overdrive.

“Are you…?”

“I don’t know and I don’t care. It’s my decision.”

Not much was said after that while my mind swirled with a million possibilities. All of them ended with me getting shot by her husband.

To be honest, it had been such a crazy whirlwind romance I couldn’t even process what was happening at the time. I was just traveling through time in space caught in the vortex that was mad love and desire for Betty.

One night, about a week before she was supposed to move I was sitting at the kitchen table at my parent’s house having a snack. I was the only one at home at the time. The phone rang and I answered it.

It was Betty’s husband.

It was an awkward conversation and at first, I denied who I was. But he knew he had the correct number and that it was me. I don’t know how he got my number or name, but he must have gone through his wife’s things. He had stated on the call that Betty had run off to Texas to spend some time with her friend Leddy and that I should call her.

I was surprised at how cool he was, but somehow the jig was up. This was bad. This wasn’t supposed to ever happen, but what did I think could happen with what I was engaged in. He gave me Leddy’s number and I quickly scrawled it down on a piece of paper by the phone. Then he hung up.

I called the number and the person who answered the phone wasn’t Betty but sounded giggly and maybe high. She put Betty on the phone and we talked. She expressed again that she was in love with me, and that she no longer wanted to be with her husband, so she took off to her friend’s house to get her head straightened out. I assured her that as hard as it was for both of us, she should try to work things out with her husband.

Frankly, as much as I adored the drug of being with a girl like Betty, it had all begun to wear on me. The sneaking around, the idea of her infidelity, and the fact that she had a 5-year-old daughter.

I had prepared myself for this affair to only exist for a finite amount of time and felt resolute with its outcome. It frightened me that her husband had called my parent’s house and I’d had enough. Worlds colliding is never a good thing. I didn’t want this sort of mess in my life anymore. The possibility of Betty ever staying with me and making life with me in Wildwood seemed unimaginable to me. It didn’t make sense. Betty had been a secretary that hooked up with a high-powered married executive. He left his wife for Betty, his then-mistress. That almost never happens. People cheat because they’re not getting something from their spouse. It has nothing to do with sex, it’s more about that person’s character and bigger things wrong in their current relationship.

Betty was 32, but when I look back on it now, she was very immature as a woman. She liked being with charming, fun me because she longed to be young and 20 again. That was never going to happen. She was a house cat now. No job, no real skills, a mother, and a kept trophy on the arm of a rich guy. She had her daughter with him securing her financial stability. But Betty and me at age 22 would never have worked. Was she going to go from living in a nice house and driving a BMW 5, to living in some cheap apartment with a guy who worked at a video store? She just was caught up in a world of lust and fun and needed to get her head straight.

I get it. Once women hit around 28, the clock starts ticking. They need to settle down, find a husband, and have a kid. That’s happening a million times around the world right now. Even as you read this story it’s happening everywhere.

We kept in touch leading up to her going, but she did end up moving to Chicago with her husband and daughter. I was relieved, but for some reason, I wasn’t sad. I guess because Betty loved me and I her, but she was never mine. She belonged to another man. Her heart was all for Chaz, but the rest of her life was with him. I think after some time and counseling, she realized that and relented to his will. But it was for the best.

She wrote to me a few times and we chatted on the phone, but they were to stay out in Chicago for at least the next 3 years. So I knew time would heal all wounds.

She did call me one night and we were chatting and she asked that I mail her the polaroid pic of her topless back to her. She stated she just didn’t want a photo of her like that out in the world. I was fine mailing it back to her. It never meant anything to me anyway. Why would I look at some crappy picture of the woman I was seeing in the real world. Looking at a naked pic of Betty just seemed tawdry compared to what we once shared. Something sweet and elegant.

Here’s some of the stuff she sent me in the mail in the following months after she left.

Is that binding? (lol)

You’d think that the story would be over at this point. But there’s one last thing I have to tell you.

Tune in next Tuesday for the bone-jarring conclusion to this sordid tale.

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Wildwood Daze – Betty Ann – Part 4 – Boy Toy

The next time I saw Betty was in the store. It was business as usual. She came in to order another video for purchase.

I would never kiss and tell and this new affair was top secret. No one I worked with knew what was happening between this queen and me, and I wanted it to keep it that way. I had never had an experience with an older woman, let alone a married one.

A few days passed.

When the movie she ordered came in I called her to let her know we had received it.

“Why don’t you bring it by my house tonight and bring something else we can watch. I’ll get a babysitter for little Kelly.”

After work that day I again drove to her house. This time it was under the cloak of night which I preferred. I was worried about her neighbors seeing something, or worse… saying something. I was pretty paranoid this whole time.

I get there and she invites me in. She gives me a hug and a little kiss. She’s very much in control of this situation.

She tells me that she’s having some issues with her video equipment and something’s not working right. This was pretty common back then. The technology was new and there were a lot of different complex hookups the average person didn’t understand. But because I was working at a video store I was a master of all things VCR and TV.

“I appreciate you taking a look at my system. I don’t know what’s wrong with it. Oh, and can you see if you can get the sound to come through the stereo when I watch a movie on the VCR?”

“I’ll take  look at that.”

“A couple of my girlfriends may be stopping by for a sec to drop off some stuff for a bridal shower we have to go to next week, okay?”

“I don’t care. You do your thing and I’ll see what’s wrong with your system, Betty.”

I’m down on the floor in front of their entertainment system checking all of the leads, wires and plugs. At one point I even had to move it away from the wall a bit and climb behind the piece of furniture.

I can hear the doorbell from the other room and Betty chatting with several other women.

But then it gets a little quiet. I’m checking the RCA audio/video cables and making sure red is right and white is left and yellow is direct video. I remember I had brought some really good gold top cables from the store. (Paid for with my employee discount of course!)

I came out from behind the unit to see several attractive ladies standing together giggling at the edge of the living room. They were whispering and smiling at me. Betty introduced me as her friend Chaz who was “helping” her with her video system from the store. I smiled and waved, and went back to the task at hand.

In a short time, I heard the front door close and Betty returned to the room.

“I think I fixed it, Betty. Watch.” I flipped a few switches and grabbed the remote. Everything was working fine and the sound was coming through the stereo now.

“Thank you, Dr. Video!”

I liked that title. “That’s me! At your service, Miss.”

“That was my friends. They thought you were cute.”

“They seemed nice.”

“I wanted them to see you. I was showing you off to them… my boy toy.”

“Is that what I am to you, Betty?”

“Of course. Come here and join me on the sofa.”

I obeyed like a dog. She welcomed me into her arms and we kissed. I loved kissing Betty. She was just so beautiful and perfect.

If she wanted me to rob a bank with her I would have done it.

She takes my hands and looks into my eyes. “Listen Chaz. We have to talk about a couple of things.”

(Here we go…) “Okay…” (Is this where we plan to rob a bank?)

“We have to have some rules. We can’t fool around in this house.”

(What’s she talking about? We haven’t even done anything yet!)

“You can’t drive my car, and we can’t fool around in my car. We can’t ever have sex in my bed either. I can only see you when I can because I’m the one with everything to lose here. I’m the one who’s married.”

(This all seems a bit premature, but I’ll say whatever she wants at this point. I just like seeing her.)

“I understand, Betty. I’m just happy to know you and spend time with you. I’d never do anything to make you feel uncomfortable in any way or jeapordize your marriage in any way.” (But in reality, it was she who called me and started this whole affair. But whatever.)

“That’s good, Chaz. We can have a lot of fun together and I think you’re a sweet guy. I just need to set some guidelines at the onset of this.”

“I totally agree, Betty. You’re right. I promise to respect your wishes and will make every effort to protect your interests.”

(I can almost hear my father in this moment…)

“Thank you, Chaz. That means a lot to me. I just don’t want any complications.”

“Me either, Betty.”

“C’mere…” She pulls me to her and kisses me deeply. It felt wonderful to hold and kiss this lovely woman with caramel skin. Her raven tresses tumbled over her shoulders like a moonless river.

I wasn’t falling for Betty at this point. I had already fallen for her the first time I laid eyes on her in the store. It was instant. But I never dreamed I’d be here with her right now. It was all a miraculous dream. I felt resurrected after failing to become a rockstar in Los Angeles. Here I was still able to pull the talent. I still had my mad game no matter what I did for a living. I had come so far from the timid, loser of my early teen years. Now I could get the kind of girls I could never have imagined would even talk to me in junior high school. But here I was. Making out with the lovely Betty Ann.

Most men dream about getting women they fantasize about when they meet them in real life. But I had become a magnet for this in the summer of 1980 in Wildwood and later in LA.

We wrestled on her sofa like a couple of high school kids. I don’t even remember what videos I brought over and I know we didn’t watch them. It was exciting. It was probably something Betty missed in her life now. She missed the rush of a new guy. A new face. A young man. Boundless energy and a fiery libido in its absolute prime. I was just happy to be in this simple teenage-like intimate moment with her. We were like a couple of kids just making out on the couch and doing a little gentle touching.

“I really appreciate you listening to me tonight, Chaz. It means a lot to me that you’ll respect my wishes and stick to my rules. I needed that.”

“Of course. I completely understand.”

Betty smiled and held me tightly. Her warm perfume swirled about me as my face disappeared into her dark mane that was like ribbons of coal.

At that moment, I knew.

I knew what I had to do. I was now determined to a singular mission.

I was going to break EVERY ONE of those rules and Betty Ann was going to like it.

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Why You Should Get Married First And Fall In Love Later

Successful marriage don’t necessarily start with love … they end with it.

Hellen Chen, the self-proclaimed Matchmaker of the Century, thinks we’re all spending too much time dating and hoping to fall in love.

Chen believes dating is a recipe for heartbreak, and marriage should come first. if you really want to get married, she says, you should simply commit to marriage and let romance happen later.

Strange as it may seem, she may just be on to something.

Why get married before falling in love?

If you spend too much time dating too many people, her theory goes, you’re bound to get crushed rather than fall in love.

Chen suggests that only once you have someone to come home to will you experience the freedom you’ve never known before.

“Before you build a house,” Chen says, “you need a piece of land. How the land looks is not important. The most important point is to find the land first before you can build a house.”

It’s the barrier separating two single people that she feels poses the greatest problems. If you just get rid of that by getting married, well, apparently, problem solved.

It’s not that she’s expecting you to book a chapel on the first date, but her message is clear: Stop nitpicking every date to death in order to find reasons not to commit. Stop wasting years and years in relationship limbo, cohabitating with someone you’re not sure about.

If you want a happy relationship, you have to settle to some degree, Chen asserts, so stop all this nonsense and just get married already.

Before you dismiss Chen as some out-of-touch relic, remember that what she’s advocating isn’t much different from what others have said before.

In her book “Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough” (and the notoriously polarizing viral article of the same name she published in The Atlantic), Lori Gottlieb warned us that we’d live to regret the day we let that nice guy with the receding hairline or questionable spelling get snapped up by some other woman who was willing to overlook such superficial flaws. If you find something wrong with everyone, she advised, you’ll end up with fewer and fewer men to choose from.

She made her point, reached a lot of people, and perhaps humbled more than a few women into solid marriages they might otherwise have missed. (Did Gottlieb herself ever settle? Word on the street, says Melanie Notkin in her book “Otherhood: Modern Women Finding A New Kind of Happiness,” is that she has not.)

In his book, “The Paradox Of Choice: Why More Is Less,” psychologist Barry Schwartz explains his own theory that too many options tend to confuse people, breed anxiety, and lead to a kind of paralysis when it comes to making decisions. An abundance, or even a perceived abundance, of partner choices, may actually prevent you from choosing just one. After all, a better partner might be just around the corner.

And Dan Slater, author of “Love in the Time of Algorithms: What Technology Does to Meeting and Mating,”; believes online dating even poses a threat to monogamy or at least happy monogamy. If you know there are other potential mates out there, he posits, why would you put up with characteristics you don’t like in one person?

Anyone who watched “Love Is Blind” is well aware Chen’s approach can go better than in your wildest dreams — or quickly bring you to crashing down to a brutal reality.

But putting up with every one of your partner’s flaws is exactly what you must do, says Chen, as that is a partner’s job!

She makes it clear that this is precisely what you’re signing up for, but the payoff is worth every last quirk.

Either you marry someone now and start creating a home and a life, or continue to pointlessly date and end up “homeless and loveless” (Chen’s words, not mine!).

Strange as it may seem, here are three reasons why getting married first and “dating” each other after might make sense.

1. All marriages require serious compromise.

Anyone who wants a specific thing must make some compromises to get it, whether it’s something material like a fancy apartment, or something more spiritual like a spouse. And this isn’t even just about marriage.

If you want marriage more than anything else, you can make that happen, provided you’re willing to do away with the impossible standards and endless dealbreakers you’ve clung to in your search for Mr. Perfect (who doesn’t exist, by the way). In other words, you must have the willpower to commit first and then love second.

After all, it’s only (fairly) recently that we began demanding the whole package — true love with our intellectual match, perfect partner, and best friend forever.

As Stephanie Coontz taught us in “Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage,” for most of recorded history, love was a pretty fickle reason to get married. Marriage was more about creating a family unit and a stable life, which is why today, with so many couples marrying for love alone, so many of us are leaving in droves.

2. Arranged marriages may last longer.

You know where I’m going here, right? Because what Chen is essentially telling you to do is perform your own arranged marriage. And you can decide to do it now. If what you want is a committed, long-term bond, then maybe this is the way to go.

It’s been estimated that more than half of the world’s marriages were arranged.

While the divorce rate, as you probably know, is roughly 42-45% percent in the U.S., guess how many divorces result from arranged marriages? Four percent.

In India, approximately 90% of all marriages are arranged, with only 1% ending in divorce.

That’s not necessarily because people are happier outside of the U.S. or that they don’t suffer the same emotions or experiences that all couples do, but it may mean those who enter into arranged marriages do so with expectations that this is it, no matter what.

They kind of say, “He’ll do,” and let the bond form over time. Then, love hopefully grows. Certainly, that doesn’t happen in all cases, but perhaps it does in more than you realize.

But what about the concern that many countries where arranged marriages occur have a history of oppressing women?

Have women historically been treated as chattel, a bartering chip for securing land, power, and influence? You bet.

Do I like the idea of women not being able to choose? Of course not.

As an unwed woman currently in a relationship and living in a first-world country where I have the privilege of indulging my lack of interest in getting married, I realize that advocating this position comes from a place of privilege others are not as fortunate to have.

While we all want to feel loved and connected, we don’t all need or want to get married, nor should we ever be forced or pressured to.

But if getting married is a huge priority for you, well, Chen’s way may make sense.

3. Any successful relationship is something you must work hard at.

Here’s where our cultural expectations get the best of us.

We fall under this spell from a fairly young age, believing we should just have something magical — true, everlasting love. We think it’s our God-given right and fairy tale romance should happen. Then, we’re so beside ourselves when it doesn’t happen the way Disney said it would.

In what other area of your life would you expect something like that to just materialize because you’re entitled to it?

You don’t assume you “deserve” a CEO position if you’ve never held an office job, right? You don’t just walk into a company with no relevant experience and say, “I’ll take that job up there in the corner office.” When they deny you, you stomp out in a huff and complain there are no jobs out there.

Of course, you wouldn’t do that, but that’s exactly what many men and women do when it comes to relationships. I realize corporate hierarchy is a limping analogy, but you do want the job, so to speak. And if you want to live a married life, you have to start with what’s available and commit to making the most of your life.

So I’ll admit, the idea of “dating” the person you married is appealing.

It’s enough to make me wonder if we waste all the good stuff while we’re courting and then bore ourselves to tears after we exchange vows.

Chen may have found the secret to marriage. Imagine if the good stuff wasn’t the appetizer, but the main meal.

Think of how differently your romantic life would be if you could enjoy all the fun of dating without wondering where things are going — because you’re already there.

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Michelle – Chapter – 23 – One More After This, And Then I’m Done

I don’t really go on social media anymore.

I don’t care about your lunches, or dinners or events or your social events

It means nothing to me. I used to post everything I was doing on my social media when I was working in advertising.

But no more. I live a private life and I’m happier than I’ve ever been.

Social media’s a sad symptom of our society that gives every moron on Earth a voice.

I’m tired of you all. I see you all for who you really are and the pool is so shallow I see nothing in any of you anymore.

But for a moment I saw something that caught my eye.

My former girlfriend Michelle was pregnant with a little girl due in June. (It already happened)

She’s finally reached all of her goals of having her health, a happy marriage with her husband and now a child is on the way.

Well done.

It’s good we’re no longer in touch.

My work is done and you have no longer any use for me.

Perfect.

I’ve lifted you to the place I have hoped for you.

I think we both agree that what you have now is what we both hoped for you all along.

Well done, Michelle.

We had a great time, but you’re needed where you are now. You made it, and now you have all of the things you want.

I am honored we had the time we had together. It was the best time of my life, but now you’ve found true happiness and all of the things you wanted.

God Bless you both and I wish you all only health, happiness and the wellness of your child.

Michelle, you finally got the perfect life you always wanted. You have the perfect marriage with the man you’re supposed to be with, finally! I’m so happy for you. You live in the place you’ve always wanted to be in and have the job you always dreamed of.

Perfect.

I hope your baby girl is born happy and healthy!

God bless you all!

You did the right thing.

 

I’ll be at the bar…

 

 

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7 Dating Sites For Married People (Seriously)

As unbelievable as it may sound, it’s real.

A study led by John Cacioppo of the University of Chicago’s Department of Psychology found that “More than one third of U.S. marriages begin with online dating, and those couples may be slightly happier than couples who meet through other means.”

But there’s a darker flip side to online dating sites and popular apps like Tinder and Bumble — specifically, “married dating” sites, where cheating spouses-to-be can search for a willing partner in infidelity on the down-low.

Husbands and wives may vow to be there for each other, forsaking all others through sickness and health, until death do them part, but statistics show married men and women alike are cheating more frequently now than ever before. And naturally, online dating platforms are well aware of this fact.

While we can’t blame the online dating sites for creating this dilemma, the fact that there’s actually a decent market for dating sites dedicated to married people wanting to have affairs baffles me a little. Why even get married if you’re just going to be cruising around the dark online world of married dating sites?

Cheating is never OK, and IMO, this seems a little too far out the box, even for a social-media based society. But as unbelievable as it may sound, it’s real.

Ashley Madison isn’t the only site where you can get your cheating on, as evidenced by the following list of successful dating sites for married people.

That’s why we rounded them all up for you — because we’re helpful like that.

Here are 7 dating sites for married people that you’d have to see to believe:

1. Marital Affairs

Marital Affairs promises discretion and even gives some pointers for how to get the most effective results out of your affair.

Summary from the site itself: “Dating a married man or woman can be a dangerous and risky affair, but with us? Privacy is king. If you are looking for a secure form of adult dating then married dating with MA could be ideal. Just sign up and the risk and danger is limited to pleasurable amounts that come with the fast paced and sexy world or married dating.”

Wow.

2. Married Secrets

Married Secrets looks pretty tacky, but I don’t imagine that anyone browsing on this site would really care.

Summary from the site itself: “If you’re married, but looking, Married secrets can help you find discreet married affairs that you take as far as you want, whether just a little flirting, a passionate encounter, romantic married affairs, married dating or affectionate companionship.”

3. Victoria Milan

Simple and to the point, Victoria Milan offers some pretty snazzy features — one being the ‘panic button’ (and yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like).

Summary from the site itself: “We show you other members near you, setting you up for those delicious, spontaneous, casual encounters.”

4. Hush Affairs

While the name Hush Affair says it all, the motto says so much more: “Your desires are our secrets.”

Summary from the site itself: “Friendship and even innocent flirt [sic] are just the beginning of the unforgettable experience our site will offer you. Here, you can find yourself a Partner of your dreams! Once you complete your profile, our unique system to assess mutual compatibility guarantees the best match for you.”

But as Pretty Little Liars taught us, secrets are never kept for long.

5. Illicit Encounters

Illicit Encounters is the largest online dating site in the UK. That says quite a lot, I think, and none of it good.

Summary from the site itself: “Warning: Not everyone is suited to having an affair. They are not an alternative to working on or ending a marriage. Not all affairs have a positive effect on a marriage. Some can be very damaging. Always consider other people and if you are going to have an affair, please select your partner wisely.”

The more you know …

6. Find New Passions

Find New Passions … Because the old one died and an affair is the solution, right? Of course it is!

Summary from the site itself: “Most of us have always wanted to have a few extra-marital affairs every now and then. You need a time out from your difficult, sexless or loveless marriage … Whether you are looking forward to indulging in exciting affairs with married men or women, keep it safe and confidential with Find New Passion. Are you married and looking? Ready to turn your fantasy into reality? Why not start with a married dating website that gives you a chance to reignite the spark of passion and feel alive again?”

7. Gleeden

Gleeden is the first extramarital site made by women only. And yes, they are very proud of that fact.

Summary from the site itself: “Whether you are looking for an affair in your area or a lover miles away from you while on a trip, Gleeden.com gives you a specific platform to safely get in touch with members worldwide! Let’s go! Gleeden.com is run daily by a 100% female team: women are empowered for ultra-discreet encounters!”

 

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Whether you’re single or married, everyone should know these 11 facts about flirting

  • Flirting is important for couples as well as for singles.
  • Business Insider rounded up some of the most fascinating findings about flirting, according to social scientists — just in time for Valentine’s Day.
  • Most people don’t like traditional pick-up lines, and men tend to overestimate how interested women are.

What could be more terrifying than talking to someone you’re attracted to?

As Valentine’s Day approaches, it’s time to study up on what does — or doesn’t — work when it comes to flirting.

Business Insider found some of the most intriguing facts and social science studies on the art of flirtation, so you can saunter over to the object of your affection with confidence.

People flirt for six different reasons.

flirting whispering secret couple date
Flirting. 
Bobex-73/Shutterstock

In a 2004 review of the literature on flirting, Northern Illinois University professor David Dryden Henningsen identified six different motivations for the behavior:

• Sex: trying to get in bed
• Fun: treating it like a sport
• Exploring: trying to see what it would be like to be in a relationship
• Relational: trying to increase the intimacy of a relationship
• Esteem: increasing one’s own self esteem
• Instrumental: trying to get something from the other person

In that study, Henningsen asked 101 female and 99 male students to write out a hypothetical flirty conversation between a man and a woman, then identify the motivations for the things they said.

The behaviors broke down along gender norms: Men were significantly more likely to have a sexual motivation, while women tended to have a relational one.

Couples need to flirt, too.

happy couple
A couple. 
Getty Images

Like Tinder, cats, and dying alone, flirting is usually associated with single people.

But couples need to know how to flirt, too.

After studying 164 married people for a 2012 study, University of Kentucky researcher Brandi Frisby noted that most of them flirted — by playing “footsies” or whispering in their partner’s ear, for example — as a means of maintaining and emphasizing intimacy. Oftentimes, she wrote in her paper, married couples flirted to “create a private world with the spouse.”

People feel connected when they get past the small talk.

couple talking on steps
Making a connection. 
PH888/Shutterstock

You probably already know that asking questions of the person you fancy is a good idea.

But it’s all about the kind of questions you ask.

According to a widely cited 1997 study by State University of New York psychologist Arthur Aron, people feel more closely bonded when they ask each other intimate questions, as in “What roles do love and affection play in your life?” and “What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?” 

Six months later, two of the participants (a tiny fraction of the original study group) even found themselves in love — an intriguing result, though not a significant one.

Men overestimate how interested women are.

facepalm
Fed up. 
jazbeck/Getty Images

Evidence from multiple studies supports the idea that, among heterosexual people, men tend to overperceive sexual interest from women, while women tend to underperceive sexual interest from men.

A 2014 study published in the journal Evolutionary Psychology surveyed hundreds of undergraduate students from Norway, which according to the UN is one of the world’s most “gender egalitarian nations.”

Researchers found more women had been subject to instances where men overperceive sexual interest from them than men. Young, single, and sexuality-fluid participants also experienced being over-sexualized more often.

The most attractive characteristics depend on gender.

jay beyonce
Beyonce and Jay-Z. 
Win McNamee / Getty

According to a 2011 study led by University of British Columbia psychologist Jessica Tracy, heterosexual men and women diverge greatly in the facial expressions they fancy.

After showing 1,041 people images of different facial expressions, Tracy found that:

• Happiness was the most attractive female expression, but one of the least attractive for men.
• Pride was the most attractive male expression, but one of the least attractive for women.
• Interestingly, an expression of shame was relatively attractive on both men and women.

Flirting can enhance your attraction.

woman flirting
Talking in a coffee shop. 
Ranta Images / Shutterstock

University of New Mexico evolutionary psychologist Steven W. Gangestad told Psychology Today in 2016 that flirting is a “negotiation process” that happens after the first moments of attraction.

It’s a subtle sort of testing the waters. You don’t just say, “I’m attracted to you; are you attracted to me?”

“It works much better to reveal [your attraction] and have it revealed to you in smaller doses,” Gangestad said. “The flirting then becomes something that enhances the attraction.”

It’s not about being the most attractive person in the room.

Aishwarya Rai
Aishwarya Rai. 
Reuters

It’s about signaling that you’re available.

According to research from Webster University psychologist Monica Moore (who studied people’s flirting behavior at singles bars, shopping malls, and other places where young people meet), women who smiled and made eye contact with others were more likely to be approached than those who were simply good looking.

There may be five main styles of flirting.

millennials dating apps
A couple talking. 
Shannon Fagan/Getty Images

When it comes to flirting, everyone’s got a different M.O.

In 2010, Jeffrey A. Hall and Chong Xing published research that suggests there are five different styles of flirting. In 2015, they followed up on this research by breaking down each style into a series of verbal and nonverbal behaviors.

Here are some key behaviors of each type, as described by Susan Krauss Whitbourne on Psychology Today:

• Physical flirts tend to subtly touch the person they’re interested in.
• Traditional flirts believe men should make the first move.
• Sincere flirts get other people to open up to them.
• Playful flirts see the interaction as a game and may be using the flirtation as a means to another end.

The best flirters shift their strategy depending on context.

Gay couple same sex dating flirting
A couple at a restaurant. 
Fergus Coyle/Shutterstock

If you’re flirting with someone perceived as higher status than you, being more subtle will lead to more success, according to research.

A 2014 study conducted by University of Pennsylvania professors found flirters who can adjust how overtly they flirt will have the best success. “Presence of rivals, the potential for an advance to be considered inappropriate, or the higher social status of the receiver” are all situations where you’re better off being more subtle.

If successful, flirting can lead others to think you are also funny or creative, as well as attractive.

If you’re flirting on an app, there are some words that work better than others.

dating app
Looking at a dating app. 
Shutterstock/Rawpixel.com

Compliments over text go a long way, dating website Plenty of Fish finds.

The website analyzed 60,000 messages on dating apps to find the words that got the best responses. For men, calling a woman “beautiful” led to a conversation 20% of the time. Women messaging men first receive responses less often, but using the word “nice” works best.

Flirting could be all about biology.

couple bed sex unhappy
A couple. 
Vasiliy Koval / Shutterstock

Flirting may have less to do with words or body language, and more to do with biology.

Scientists have long speculated on how pheromones, or chemicals released by your body that have an impact on people around you, contribute to physical attraction. A 2011 study out of Florida State University found men who were exposed to pheromones released by ovulating women were more likely to drink alcohol and flirt with women.

 

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