Is Perception Reality?

25 Jun

This is an off-shoot of my last blog, of the original asker’s question, and discussion coming from that.

A woman who commented and I disagree about what flirting is. She believes there has to be intent for someone to be flirting, and I believe that it is possible to flirt unknowingly, without intent. She cited this definition:

Behave as though attracted to or trying to attract someone, but without serious intentions: “it amused him to flirt with her”.
Experiment with or show a superficial interest in (an idea, activity, or movement) without committing oneself to it seriously.

While I respect this particular woman very much, and love reading her blogs and having her read mine, when I read this, I felt as though the intention to flirt isn’t clearly stated in the definition (as in, you can accidentally flirt).

The second part focuses more on intention than the first, but the first definition is its own entity, and therefore I will concentrate on that.

The part that sticks out to me is “behave as though attracted”. You can unintentionally behave this way, right? If you couldn’t, then it would be clear who is  attracted to you and who isn’t. There would be no oh, I thought you were flirting with me.

And that is where perception comes into play. If you are interacting with someone, and they perceive that you are flirting with them, but you are unaware that you may be doing so, then their perception doesn’t match your reality, but is actually their own reality. 

Make sense? And who is to say that if the other person thinks it’s flirting, that it isn’t flirting?

Does flirting have to be intentional to actually be considered flirting? Does this definition back that up? 


5 Responses to “Is Perception Reality?”

  1. fadingsunlight June 26, 2013 at 5:21 am #

    My definition and yours are the same. In general, I’m nice to people. I’m polite and I smile, laugh and joke casually. For many guys, this equals flirting. Even if they know that I’m in a relationship. I don’t have an interest in them and I’m not pretending to have an interest in them; I’m just being nice. But when so many girls won’t even do that much for them…I’m perceived as being flirtatious. It’s certainly MY reality, but it is theirs.

  2. purplepoet7 June 26, 2013 at 6:42 am #

    Well, but what is the difference between showing interest and being perceived to show interest? Saying that a person is flirting if someone else thinks they are is like saying that if I said, “I like mush.” and someone else heard, “I like muff.” then it’s ok for them to quote me on the second one. I don’t think so.
    You can certainly get in just as much trouble being perceived to be flirtatious as you can actually being so, but I still wouldn’t say it is at all the same thing.

  3. fadingsunlight June 26, 2013 at 9:47 am #

    Just a thought from real-life experience:

    Female A is seeing Male B. Female C messages B about his request to meet new friends. B messages C that she has “pretty eyes.” A finds out about it and feels that B was flirting/there was potential for B to cheat and becomes hurt. B insists it was a meaningless compliment and he would never do such things. A still wonders if that’s really the case or if B was flirting with C. To A, regardless of what B’s intent was, it is the same thing. If A chooses to end the relationship based on this perception, does any other reality matter? … This is starting to sound like one of those, “If a tree falls in the woods…” things, but seriously…

  4. BoulderChristina June 26, 2013 at 10:19 am #

    Attraction does not always mean sexual attraction. People often behave the same way around people they admire but do not desire sexually. Suggestion and flirtation are not the same thing. I am seen to “flirt” with many people, men and women, young and old, but am suggestive when I want to pursue something sexual. I am rarely subtle enough for people to question my intent, but that’s me I guess and not the same for everyone. My two cents…

  5. quirkyintrovert June 26, 2013 at 5:03 pm #

    I agree that it’s possible to unintentionally flirt, but it has more to do with the receiver’s perception. It’s possible that a person usually doesn’t have many social interactions with others, so as soon as someone is friendly (simply because they are being nice), that person may think the other person is flirting, when they actually aren’t. Then again, there are some tell tale signs of flirting, such as the gaze and other body language.

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