“The lines between flirting and sexual harassment are blurry sometimes” is something I’ve heard way too many times from shitty men and I’m over it. The lines aren’t blurry. Period. Flirting is respectful, sincere, and consensual while harassment isn’t. But I get it, our standards are very low and most of the time men suck at flirting, so it gets confusing sometimes for us girls. You should always trust your gut feeling, but in case you’re not sure, here are some signs to look out for to figure out if he’s actually flirting with you or if he’s just a predator.
- He seems (or is) way older than you
There’s always some sort of discourse going on about appropriate and inappropriate age gaps. But, and this is especially for minors, if the guy approaching you seems to be more than a couple of years older than you, he’s preying on you. Do not take his flirting as a compliment, because no, you do not “look older than you actually are” and you are not “mature for your age”. This is a predator trying to groom you, in this case, you do nothing but run.
- Too intense, too quick
This seems vague because intensity and speed are subjective measures. Again, you should always trust your gut instinct. If you feel like he is pushing beyond your limit(s) or boundar(y/ies) and that he is moving quicker than you’d like without slowing down when you explicitly ask him to, then he’s also a predator. Again, the pace you set and the boundaries you hold are to be respected no matter what, so if someone is blatantly disrespecting them, walk away.
- Too much physical contact for your liking
Everyone has different boundaries when it comes to physical contact and at the same time, subtle physical affection can be a flirtatious thing that lets someone know you like them. However, if a guy is too touchy from the get-go, that’s not a good sign. And, if he crosses your boundaries after having communicated them to him (or haven’t explicitly verbally done so even), he is a predator. Your body, your choice. If he doesn’t ask before touching you or if he keeps touching you even when you look uncomfortable, then he’s a douche. This is a huge red flag. Abort mission.
- He doesn’t take no for an answer
I feel like I’m pointing out really obvious things, but we often overlook those things because they’re so normalized. Especially when we’re in the situation and not onlookers from the outside. So, continuing to flirt with you after you’ve made it clear you’re not interested is not persistence, it’s not him ‘chasing’ you, it’s predatory behavior.
- Is he criticizing your body?
Making rude explicit comments about your body is not flirting. Giving someone unsolicited comments on their appearance is not the same as giving someone a compliment. The latter can be flirting but other than that it’s not okay. He doesn’t get to comment on your body sexually like it’s nothing or that it’s normal. He doesn’t get to passively say ‘send nudes’ like it’s a joke. He doesn’t get to tell you ‘oh if only you lost a few kilos…’. No, just, no.
- Are you scared?
Flirting with someone or dating them shouldn’t be scary. When a guy starts making a move it can be exciting and you start getting butterflies in your stomach. But please don’t mistake fear for excitement or even just nervousness. If his flirting is scaring you in any way, he’s probably bad news. What has been normalized as ‘butterflies’ versus what do you actually feel? Ask yourself that as much as you can.
- He obviously has no intention of establishing a relationship
Failing to actually follow through in starting a relationship is a big red flag. A predator’s ‘flirting’ is usually insincere because he just wants something out of the situation and that thing is rarely a relationship. Sometimes, though, it just means he’s a playboy and not necessarily a predator. But that’s still not the (woke) “prince charming” you deserve.