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The 7 Ambiguities of a Flirtationship

Two friends in a flirtationship hugging and laughing as they flirty at a party.

Dating has changed a lot in recent years. Not only are there a ton of new dating apps and ways to meet people, but there’s also a lot of new terminology to define different stages of relationships—even ones you might not have heard of, like a flirtationship.

What is a flirtationship, exactly? A flirtationship is a hybrid of the words “flirtation” and “friendship.” Basically, it’s a relationship between two friends who flirt for fun. People get into flirtationships with their friends, classmates, coworkers, and anybody they regularly see and flirt with. You might be in a flirtationship without even realizing it!

Sometimes, due to the extremely casual and passive nature of flirtationships, they can get a little confusing. Here’s what you need to know about the ambiguities of the flirtationship.

1. Flirtationships are unspoken relationships.
You wouldn’t ask somebody if they’d like to be in one and you don’t use the label. Pointing out the flirtatious nature of your friendship sort of kills the mood. If you find yourself in a flirtationship, just enjoy it.

2. A flirtationship is not a crush.
When you have a crush on someone, it means you have feelings for them and would like to date them. But when you’re in a flirtationship, there are no feelings involved, and the attraction is mutual.

3. It’s also not the friend zone.
The friend zone is a place where people end up after they show interest and are turned down. Or, it’s a place where people go when they wait too long to make a move. When you’re in the friend zone, the attraction is only one-sided. But again, in a flirtationship, the attraction is mutual.

4. It’s not friends with benefits, either.
A flirtation never goes past flirting into something physical. If it does, it ceases to exist and becomes dating, hooking up, or friends with benefits. Think of a flirtation as something more than a friendship but less than a physical relationship.

5. Don’t get your hopes up.
Being in a flirtationship with someone is not automatically a sign that they’re interested in pursuing a romantic relationship with you. In fact, flirtationships rarely turn into real relationships. They’re fun, lighthearted, and innocent. If you have a flirty friendship with someone, don’t assume they want something more.

6. They don’t last forever.
When someone starts dating or gets into a serious relationship, their flirtationships end. (Or at least, they should end. Otherwise, things start to get sticky.) Respect the boundaries of the friends you flirt with, read their signals, and follow their lead. When it’s time to end the flirtationship, you’ll know.

7. Don’t be crushed when it’s over.
You know what they say: ‘Tis better to have flirted and fizzled than never to have flirted at all. Okay, nobody actually says that. But remember, a flirtationship is not a romantic relationship. It’s going to end eventually, and when it does, try to appreciate it for what it was.

Flirting is fun and doesn’t always have to be serious. If you find yourself in a flirtationship (or two, or three), enjoy it! If things get confusing or stop being fun, just stop flirting and move on to the next person. It’s as simple as that.

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