I tend to be the smiling person you run into while grabbing your morning coffee or maybe, sometimes, the person striking a conversation at the airport terminal or while waiting for your dentist appointment.
I was raised in an open free house with a multicultural background and have been living in different parts of the world as I grew up exposed to all kinds of ethnicities being a daughter of my great never stay still family. I do believe that my background made me open to the world and more accepting of others. I really see myself as a friend to everyone.
In the past few years I settled in Riyadh, a dry, emotionless city. It’s sad that I’m giving it this name, but everyone who ever lived or stayed here would agree with me that even with all the urban modern architecture around us, the desert is still affecting the society badly in being strict, firm, and cold, emotionally. It is rarely witnessed, and relatively weird smiling to strangers in the street; same or cross gender.
With all of the strict cultures, the social boundaries, and religious barriers – as they claim-, people became aggressively closed to themselves which resulted in misinterpreting any positive or nice gesture – especially with the other gender- and I really started to notice it heavily and to be honest it is one of the most annoying feelings ever to have your genuine acts misinterpreted just because of the cultural or old social misperceptions.
What I’m writing here might sound self-involved and delusional but I want to assure you I’m not the kind of hair-flipping narcissistic diva tearing hearts apart with her looks and walk. I’m not even aware if physical appearance has any involvement here when it comes to transforming any act of politeness into an invitation to start an unwanted conversation and in worse cases you end up getting yourself a stalker with a set mentality that you were meant for each other because you did give him the green light when you smiled back while exchanging business cards at an event.
It annoys me to find that some might consider my millisecond longer smiles or my ‘have a pleasant evening’ wishes an indication of flirting or a welcoming sign to go further with their moves.
I do understand the mechanism of relationships and how social relations develop; we can see it happening everywhere in real life and in the cyber world. We all start as strangers in the beginning but there will always be body language, a physical distance, or an emoticon that can tell if the other participant of the conversation is interested. You need to pay attention to that.
The last thing I or any other outgoing woman can ever imagine is living in a closed, stressed, smile-less world because of this condition so please let’s all agree:
Smiling is not flirting!
Texting to check on your health after a week of the flu is not flirting!
Holding the door for you at the entrance is not flirting!
A handshake while exchanging business cards is not flirting!
And of course, replying to your tweet or complimenting your blog post is not a flirtation, whatsoever.