A couple of months ago my sister said, “You know, Lindsey, people always say that I’m flirtatious because I’m nice to everyone. You legitimately are a flirt.” Until she said it, I’d never thought about myself that way but I couldn’t deny it either. Enough friends have pointed out to me that I can get carried away around men.

If I’m a flirt, I’m one in the true sense of the word. The playful banter that I slip into with many men is entirely for amusement (most of the time at least). And I can’t help it that I find it deeply humorous to brazenly come onto my guy friends on occasion for sport.

Back in my younger, heavier days, the men I flirted with weren’t inclined to take it seriously. I could be brazen without creating confusion about my intentions. At the time, I didn’t contribute this freedom to my weight. I also didn’t think of it as flirting. To me, it was just a natural way to interact with men in certain environments. Those blissfully naïve days are over. I can’t idly flirt without consequence anymore.

Take for example my first day working my day-job handing out samples in a grocery store. It was a painfully slow day. I was stuck back in a corner on a week day. Hardly any of the few customers in the store crossed my path. All I could do to pass the time was cut up scones. My only relief from the sheer tedium was an awkward grocery worker who kept passing by my station.

He was extremely awkward but I was equally bored. So, I began exchanging banter with him as he passed through to help the day go by more bearably.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I have a talent for sucking people into conversation. I’m so good at it because I instinctively know when to turn up the charm to get someone to abandon what they should be doing, at least for a while, to chat with me. Using any amount of charm on this guy turned out to be a bad move. By the end of my shift, he asked my manager for my number. He uncomfortably pursued me for quite a while afterward.

This has become the story of my life.

I even had a guy friend—who I thought knew me well enough to get my humor—become awkward with me for two months because he thought I had a crush on him. All because I showed up to our non-romantic date dressed up and then teasingly came on to him. I had even explained that my fanciness was purely the result of my own vanity and desire to wear new accessories.

You might sympathize with him but, let me tell you, he wouldn’t have misread the situation if I still weighed 240 pounds. Back then, I had a guy friend tell me that I had the rare ability to say a come on without it coming off that way. All the other guys in the car with us agreed. I act the same way now as I did then. That is the crux of my problem: while I still feel and act like the same person, I’m treated like a different one.

There is a plus side to how seriously my flirting is taken now. It’s easier to date. It definitely makes me feel more feminine, more desirable. But it also means that I’ve gone from being the frequently rejected to the frequent rejecter (like I said, my flirting isn’t an actual indicator of attraction). I thought that would make me feel like hot shit. Mostly, it just makes me feel like shit.

Those douche-y men you daydream about turning down are rarely the ones you get to reject. It’s the weird guys, needy guys, old guys and married guys you get the uncomfortable privilege of turning down most often. What is even worse is when you have to let down those sweet guys you wish you liked but the chemistry and attraction just isn’t there for you.

I’m trying to tone down my flirtatiousness but it’s hard to break a decade long habit of being a flirt. I wasn’t prepared to say goodbye to idle flirting when I began losing weight.

Feature image by Scott Webb.

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