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Downside of Assertiveness

By Alex James

We all have our own unique flirting strategies and pick-up techniques. Most of us got it from advice from friends, TV shows, books, articles and the like to find the one way that works well for us. Once we have it, we put it into practice. However, lately I've seen gay guys becoming more aggressive with their pick up and flirting tactics. And by aggressive I mean waay more aggressive...

While it might work for many, sometimes it’s just too painful to watch it happen with others.

Remember when we were kids in the playground and we started crushing on the kid in the red shirt? The first thing most of us did was turn aggressive because it forced him to play attention to us. We didn’t know any other way to snatch their focus except to kick his sandcastle, push him against the monkey bars or flick his ears. These rules still apply to us as adults, except it’s way subtler.

We’re bred to believe that teasing is one of the greatest forms of flirting, but some of us don’t know when to stop. When we want to be noticed, logic seems to disappear out the door and all that exists is a quest for victory. But what defines victory, might I ask? A phone number? Conversation? One night stand? There doesn’t seem to be a clear goal except to gain attention in any way we can.

Our gay peers make us believe that there is an endless supply of competition. Any time a good-looking guy enters a room, he’s fresh meat and we all attach to him. The media makes it known that dating in the straight community is tough, but we all know it’s child’s play when compared to the LGBT scene. Finding a great guy is hard because it’s difficult finding a supportive group of gay people who know more gay people who know more gay people, unless you put yourself out there and hang out in the gayborhoods or local bars. It’s easy for straight guys to practice their flirting muscles because they can do it virtually anywhere. When a gay guy finds an opportunity, he latches onto it for dear life. I’ve been guilty as I’m sure we all have at one point or other.

Nearly every guy I crush on becomes a target for teasing. In the moment, I think it’s charming but most of the time I fail miserably and, without fail, slam my head against the couch screaming, “Why was I such an asshole? Have I not learned? What’s wrong with me…”

There need to be a serious adjustment on how gay guys communicate with each other. We’re comfortable being ourselves around women and straight guys, but the majority of gay guys change their tune when they’re surrounded by other gay men – we’re more cautious, testy, and snappy. I think it’s because when we’re around other gays, we associate them with a need to prove ourselves. The pressure can be too much at times that seeing a fellow flirty crash and burn actually makes us feel better about our own efforts.

Is it possible to be too assertive while flirting? There is a need to force our affection to another person in such a way that we turn the environment hostile. What’s to gain in a situation like that except regret, guilt, and embarrassment? Perhaps flirting doesn’t need to be so desperate, but rather generous and thoughtful.

Let’s stop assuming that all men are mind readers. I’m not going to know you like me when you’re belittling me. Show me compassion and an open heart then we might get to a place where we can connect. That’s a universal theme we should put into practice.

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