Interpersonal Communication: Evolving Interpersonal Relationships

By Pamela J. Kalbfleisch | Go to book overview

2
Friendly? Flirting? Wrong?

Liana B. Koeppel
Cypress College

Yvette Montagne-Miller
University of Southern California

Dan O'Hair
Texas Tech University

Michael J. Cody1
University of Southern California

Ten years ago, the topic of flirting would produce smiles, laughter, and even sneers from audience members in communication and psychology. The pop books on "body language" had done little more than confirm in the minds of the public that nonverbal communication is a trivial area; also, the pop books of the 1980s fueled simplistic and unsubstantiated beliefs about flirting. Indeed, only months before the Clarence Thomas--Anita Hill hearings (and the rape trials of William Kennedy Smith and Mike Tyson) forced most Americans to grapple with issues of sexual harassment, male-female relations, and date-rape", Louise Lague ( 1990) published an article, "Flirting For the Fun of It" in Glamour that likened flirting to a sport: Flirting can be as satisfying as a workout for the mind, and a boost for the ego. Some of the advice included: "If you don't mean anything by it, people know you don't mean anything by it" (p. 243), and, "Flirting is pure pleasure, like eating ice cream, but unlike most indulgences, it's a pleasure that gives pleasure" (p. 300). Simplistic? Yes. Also potentially dangerous.

Ten years ago, the publication of Antonia Abbey's ( 1982) work raised the awareness that males generally construe the world in more sexual terms than do females, and indicated that, as a group, men were much more likely than females to judge "friendly" behavior as "seductive" or "promiscuous" behavior. Further, work by Charlene Muehlenhard ( Muehlenhard, Koralewski, Andrews,

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1
Inquiries regarding additional information on this chapter should be directed to Michael J. Cody.

-13-

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