Perhaps it’s because I started dating slightly later than everyone else. Or maybe it’s because I am exposed to a wide range of individuals thanks to my concerted efforts to attend more networking events than any other person on this known planet. Or perhaps it’s because my dazzling wit and sparkle make the perfect flirting buddy. I really don’t know. Frankly, I am flummoxed. However, I seem to have a problem, which I have cleverly entitled “the flirting grey line.” Where men seem to think they can flirt….even though they…like have a girlfriend/fiancé…as long as there’s no actual physical content.
Let’s start at the beginning….almost two years ago when I began networking. A nubile, overenthusiastic fresher freelancer with no fucking idea what I was doing, as opposed to now – where I have….well…you know….a partial inkling. A modest improvement.
At this stage in my life every week I would attend a networking group and interact with the same guy, who we will call Joshua. Josh and I engaged in a mild flirtation…nothing major or radical. But absolutely there. Which would have been fine…except that he had a girlfriend. A girlfriend that he never mentioned. Not once…in three months. Despite multiple openings…”I won’t be here next week, I’m going on holiday…” with my girlfriend he failed to add, “I had a nice weekend” where I strolled arm in arm with my girlfriend he seemed to omit. So, obviously thanks to this mild flirtation and the fact that he wasn’t a terrible looking Jew I developed a crush. Which came crashing down when my friend revealed the existence of this hidden girlfriend. Eventually, I had to bring it up…in an effort to end our flirtatious rapport. Now, of course, I’m pretty sure he knew I fancied him…I’m even more certain he enjoyed it. At the same time, I’m practically positive he would never have done anything. I suspect that he really just enjoyed having his ego stroked every once in a while, during what was quite possibly an otherwise mundane working week.
However, I thought he was the exception…surely most guys were not like that. How wrong I was. How naïve. I look back at this innocence and sigh deeply and profoundly. Because this was just the start.
After casual flirter came a number of guys who, similarly, forgot they were in a relationship. None, kept up the façade for quite as long as Josh…mainly because I now knew better and made sure to do some Holmes-esque sleuthing. My personal favourite….only mentioned he had a girlfriend the day after they got engaged. Obviously, I had known from the start and scurrilously avoided his flirty banter.
However, it’s not just face to face I have struggled. But over message. Namely…Facebook message. Which, in my opinion really does demonstrate poor common sense, because whilst I assure you I would never send screenshots to anyone other than my 15 closest friends and mutiple WhatsApp groups…the option is always there. However, that hasn’t prevented a number of guys, in serious relationships, one of whom was even engaged, from sending what I would deem questionable messages. Ones that are so overt as to leave me shaking my head and scratching my jaw whilst screaming at the screen, “but you have a girlfriend!” A number of times I have done a double take …staring at the computer in shock, horror and dismay; wondering what on earth these guys thought they were doing.
And yet…. they weren’t the worst. The worst was a fellow we will call Willy….Willy and I had been flirting low key on and off for months and when we did, finally get together, it wasn’t unsurprising. However, I was somewhat startled to see pictures of him and a girl on Facebook a mere five days later. They even went on their Christmas holidays together a few weeks later. When I questioned W about this, he seemed shocked. But, they hadn’t actually been together! It wasn’t serious…until suddenly it was. A story I certainly didn’t believe and I suspect, his girlfriend, would have found even more troubling.
The thing is, technically I guess none of these guys cheated in the traditional sense (although I suspect Willy…gosh nearly wrote his real name there) did overstep the boundaries. But, their actions left an uncomfortable taste in my mouth…and made me feel like I needed a shower and maybe to pound my chest and do selicha. Which to be honest I feel an impulsion to do on a number of occasions, but generally through faults of my own making when travelling in exotic lands. The point is I think these guys are wrong…Even if the majority, are deeply committed to their spouses, but rather fancy some mild flirtation as a way to massage their ego and feel that little better. The problem is…it makes me feel so much worse. And I dread to think how it could impact upon their girlfriend….I think, on reflection, the grey line is not so grey after all.