Compliments and Harrasment Walk A Thin Line When Flirting

by Ken Sandoval


Flirting is something that anybody can tell you they’ve seen or done themselves. It’s how many people express interest in someone they think would make a good partner. To a certain extent, it’s harmless. After all, it’s centered around the idea that someone finds you attractive.

But when does that harmless flirting cross the line? At what point is flirting something harmful, even harassing? That’s a line many people, both men and women, struggle to find.

After speaking to many students on campus, I realized there really was no objective line because every person is different. Something that one person finds appropriate, others may not. Certain words can be taken as compliments or as harassment. Even the setting is something that many students disagreed on.

“It depends on the setting,” said Mary Estevec. “Certain places, it’s okay to flirt.”

Others had quite the opposite opinion. “I think it’s okay at all times,” said David Roads.

Where and when mattered to some but not to others. So what is the line?

The one thing that many students agreed on is that you have to keep in mind who you’re talking to, more than anything. As Brianna Penzo said “it crosses the line when the person obviously isn’t interested.” The line is drawn by the person you’re flirting with.

“I don’t think there’s a right and wrong time to flirt,” said Alexis Marino. “You should just assess that person and how they’re receiving you.”

“It crosses the line if the person doesn’t want you to flirt with them and makes it known to you.” — David Roads, WCC student

The key whenever you’re flirting is the other person. What people forget is that when talking about flirting, two people are involved. The one flirting and the one being flirted with.

Cameron Tompkins described a date he had with a girl saying “it got to that certain level where I was awkward the entire night.” Though the girl he was on the date with may have felt that a date was an appropriate time, he had made it clear that he was not comfortable with certain things and yet she pushed the line. That’s where people can agree it becomes inappropriate.

Even Estevec and Roads, who disagreed about the setting, agreed that the person being flirted with is the one who sets the line.

“Once the girl or guy gears the conversation in a different direction, they should take a hint,” Estevec said.

In any relationship two people are involved, even one that has not formed yet. It’s not up to one person to assume what the other wants or doesn’t want.

“It crosses the line if the person doesn’t want you to flirt with them and makes it known to you,” Roads said.

The line itself may change, but when a person clearly sets it, that choice must be respected. Once that line is crossed, it becomes harassment. There is no catch-all answer. As Marino said, “it’s a very multi layered thing.”

So flirt away but keep in mind, the person you’re flirting with may have different ideas than you.

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