independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Irish men are too cowardly to be flirtatious

YOU'RE sitting in a nice pub with a couple of friends, feeling beautiful and self-confident. Your new dress emphasises just what it's suppose to, your old shoes look good enough and you are sipping a second glass of wine. The conversation with your friends is easy and fun and the whole situation makes you feel good. Now and then you look around, wave to someone that you know

YOU'RE sitting in a nice pub with a couple of friends, feeling beautiful and self-confident. Your new dress emphasises just what it's suppose to, your old shoes look good enough and you are sipping a second glass of wine. The conversation with your friends is easy and fun and the whole situation makes you feel good. Now and then you look around, wave to someone that you know and then . . . you come across a set of intense-looking eyes. A man across the room attracts your attention. He looks fantastic! He looks at you. He looks at you again.

Somehow, your spine is straightening, you cross your legs and slightly touch your hair.

Suddenly you realize that your eyes are still attached to his face, and you quickly turn your head in the other direction. A couple of minutes later, you do it again. Just to see if he really is that gorgeous. Oh, yes, he is! For a split second he catches your eye and that incredibly intense moment makes you feel trapped in some other world. You turn your head again, and the next time you look at him, you smile, and he smiles back.

That's it now. First contact has been made. From this moment you just have to sit and wait for him to approach you. In the next hour you are going to look at him three or four times and smile, or something like that, and wait. You are going to wait for the next three hours and he is not even going to take a step in your direction. At the end of the evening he is not that cute any more (in fact his nose is crooked and there's hair growing from it) and you just leave, never to see him again. That's a good version.

The other version is that after the first smile, he approaches you, and asks: "Can I buy you a drink?" You say: "No, thanks, I've got one." He persists: "Oh, let me buy you another one." You ask: "Are you trying to get me drunk?" He says: "Let's have a good time. Have another drink," and he is getting you another glass of wine, even if you don't want it. With an elbow on the bar, he is looking at you like you are naked and asks: "So how are you?" You say: "Fine." He asks: "Would you like another drink?" You soon realize this conversation is not going to develop into anything except "having a drink". After his fourth pint, he suggests a visit to his apartment. "No thanks (you moron)," you say getting up to go home, disappointed and feeling a little bit cheap.

In another version, he approaches you, talking like it's the last day of his life. You can see he's sweating and spitting all over your make up while his face is becoming redder and redder. During this performance, his friends in the other corner are laughing in your direction. And you ask yourself: what the hell is wrong with him?

Let me tell you the great truth about men: they are scared. The first one thinks: "It is better not to try. I'll fail."

The second one needs a drink, then everything he does looks cool, and in case of embarrassment he won't remember it the next day.

The third one is just performing for his friends. They give him the security he needs so badly. All over the world, men are scared of the role that society has designed for them. Fear of failure is biggest of all.

I've always believed that in Ireland, women are the dominant gender. And that's why I

'When you grow up in a Mediterranean culture, flirting is something that you learn when you are really young'

think men are even more scared here than in the other parts of the world.

When you grow up in a Mediterranean culture, like I did, flirting is something that you learn when you are really young and you use it all the time. My friend said: "I flirt in any situation where I want something from someone. And it has nothing to do with gender, only sometimes with romance. It has to do with inviting someone else to play with you, in any context."

But there's also the fact that in that culture, you never actually forget your gender. Therefore, as a woman, you almost always expect compliments, admiration, hand-kissing and so on. You flirt all the time, and it has nothing to do with achieving a boyfriend or having meaningless sex. It is a game. The rules are simple and everybody should know how to play.

In that particular culture, men know that flirting doesn't really mean anything. Nobody is going to get you wrong. It only means that you emphasise the fact that you are women, and they are men. For a long time I thought that Irish females would prefer such an approach. I was wrong. In Ireland, women are direct and know exactly what they want. As my friend says: "I don't want this, 'your hair smells beautiful' superficial crap. It's offensive. I want to be treated like a person. I don't want compliments, they embarrass me. When I was in Italy, I felt harassed as if I was a target for men."

I was shocked. Because when I am treated as "a person," I feel like just another drinking buddy of his. And if we are still conscious after 16 pints, we can throw up together (preferably in his apartment). And when I flirt with my "target", he thinks that I'm some kind of a promiscuous foreigner or an easy lay. Then I have a problem.

And Irish men have a problem bigger than mine. How are you, in this state of mind, ever going to find the courage and the right words to score with your "target" when she is a dominant, "no superficial crap" woman? Maybe by stopping being scared. And inebriated.

But, it's your problem, really. I'm off now to flirt with "The Man". I might get lucky.

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