It's Valen-Time Again!

Flirting is not always about getting laid.

Dear Dategirl,

My entire life (21 years) I've guided my "dating career" by one statement: "I'm odd, so I have to find myself an odd bachelor to fully understand me." And I ended up dating dysfunctional guy after dysfunctional guy. Which made me stop and consider that the world is so much bigger than I thought at 16 and perhaps I'm not that odd or special. (I'm young and still learning.)

I've discarded guys for red flags like them telling me, "You are like no girl I've met before," or, "I've dreamed of meeting a girl like you." It seems I still attract the oddish kind, which at the moment doesn't seem at all attractive.

The reason I've been so picky is because I wanted a sensitive guy, who enjoyed books and who wasn't worried about how inappropriate my behavior was. (I live in Mexico, and there's a lot of concern over being "appropriate.") Now I'm beginning to think that a decent level of intelligence, a tolerance for my own eccentricities, and physical attraction would do the job.

The problem is, how do I put this into action? How do I make eyes, smile, and somehow send the message once I decide I want to get to know someone? It seems like a rare ability that some of my friends can turn on like a switch.

I've noticed that while some men I talk to are delighted, others are frankly bored and show it by running away in haste. I'm confused. How do I become a more successful flirt?

Niña Rara

This week's column comes out on the highest of high holy days on the sex-and-love advice giver's calendar—Valentine's Day. Like so many of you out there, I am not a fan. I know it's supposed to be about hearts and flowers, but V-Day generally just winds up making those of us who are single feel like there's something wrong with us, and those of us who're coupled-up feel like there's something wrong with our partners. Like, say, when your boyfriend schedules a business trip on a day that'd be better spent showering you with trinkets and oral sex. Not that I'm talking about anyone in particular. Ahem.

So instead of gassing on about the best Valentine's gifts or how to write a poem that'll guarantee Valentine vagina, I'm going to give Niña and you guys a brief lesson in flirting:

•Flirting isn't about getting laid. OK, it's not always about getting laid. It's about making another human being feel good about themselves for a few minutes. Example: "You are the most handsome man in this entire bowling alley" is flirting. "Damn, I wanna tap that ass" is not.

•Which is why salivating over a stranger's camel toe or speaking directly to your barista's boobies does not count as flirting. FYI, that's letching, and it's kind of gross and may get you smacked.

•Practice makes perfect. I'm not suggesting you lead potential sweeties on, but try and say one sincere kind thing to someone every day. My friend Heather is the best flirt I know, and she does it by making everyone she talks to—male or female—feel special for at least the couple minutes she spends with them.

•If the person you're chatting up gets bored and runs away, pat yourself on the back for eliminating yet another unsuitable suitor from your stable. Congratulations, you've just saved yourself some time that could be better spent enjoying a delicious snack or perhaps painting your toenails.

•Let a smile be your umbrella. Ha. Kidding. But smiling and laughing—as long as you're not laughing at them—is a far more effective method of flirting than sullenly staring into space. (I tell ya, you can't put a price on advice like this!)

•If people tell you you're peculiar (P.S. Niña, I'm so glad you realize that at 16, everyone thinks they are a freak—two points for self-awareness!), take it as a compliment. But do not artificially cultivate your freakishness because then it just comes off as insincere. (Though I do love her, see also: Amy Sedaris.) Make like Buddha and come to peace with who you are—nervous tics, "inappropriate behavior," and all.

Dating dilemmas? Write Dategirl at or c/o Seattle Weekly, 1008 Western Ave., Ste. 300, Seattle, WA 98104.

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