Wannabe Heartthrob asks:
How do I flirt… and ONLY flirt?
I want to be a hot individual of indeterminate and confusing gender. I want to give welcome compliments and make everyone around me get butterflies. I am also uninterested in new romantic or sexual relationships. Is there a way to be unattainably sexy and have fun without making people feel led on?
It’s weird how I submitted this question myself! That’s a really weird thing for a person to do.
Wannabe Heartthrob, this question makes me feel a little too seen – exposed, even -, so I might assume more about your state of mind than I usually would. For example, it seems likely that you find a lot of joy and self-worth in bringing joy to others. It’s probably the case that many people found you attractive in your recent past, and an easy way to cultivate that joy is to give people romantic or sexual attention. It’s also probably fair to say you take pride in your appearance, and it would feel like a noticeable loss if you stopped receiving compliments. However, you’re closed off to new relationships, so you don’t know if people will praise your looks or feel comfortable with your compliments if they discover you’re unavailable.
I hope it isn’t disheartening if I say those are reasonable assumptions. When I entered my current monogamous relationship, many friends stopped telling me I was cute or hot. Though it made sense, – we weren’t going to date or kiss, so why pretend otherwise? – my self-esteem still took a swan dive. It’s hard to toe the line between casual flirting and genuine attraction, and most people will opt out of the game before it even starts.
While your inner circle of flirty friends may dwindle, you still have options. Nothing’s stopping you from dressing in hot outfits, smiling at cute people with undercuts, and complimenting their hair. Once things start opening up, you can be someone’s beautiful best friend for one night at a bar, or charm another homosexual by being the gothest person in the Home Depot. Even without dating or fucking anyone new, this can be (y)our Hot Person of Indeterminate Gender Summer.
HYPER/TEXT is a queer advice column for the digital age: a space for subcultural dilemmas that leave offline friends scratching their heads.
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Fox Auslander is a nonbinary poet born, raised, and based in Philadelphia. They are a chapbook editor at LUPERCALIApress, one of three co-lead poetry editors at Alien Magazine, and one of two co-editors at Delicate Friend. Find them on Instagram @circumgender.