By Alexandra Churchill
It starts out innocently enough, doesn’t it? A coy smile here. A wink there. A cup of coffee and a hug that’s kept going for just a second too long. No, this isn’t a Friday night date with that cutie from class. It’s your friend. We’ve all had those fun, flirty first date feelings: those butterflies-in-your-stomach, goose-bumpy feelings. But what if you had those feelings for a friend? Someone you know really well? Like, your old friend from high school or that guy or girl who lives down the hall in your dorm? I’m talking about flirtationships: That tricky in-between stage when you regularly flirt with a friend but for one reason or another, you do nothing more than that. Flirtationships can be fun and silly, but they can also get awkward really fast (and potentially mean bad news for having a real relationship with that person). So how do you navigate this tricky territory? This guide will give you the rules to live (and flirt) by. And with some advice from Julie Spira, best-selling author and cyber-dating expert and stories from real college students, you can take charge of your flirtationship. So, what’s a flirtationship? Spira breaks it down to the basics for us. “A flirtationship is that fun and flirty in-between place of being just friends and without claiming that you’re in a relationship,” Spira says. “More often than not, it does become a romantic relationship. It’s a friendship filled with flirting.”
How do you know that you’re in one? “Hey, are you and so-and-so dating?” If you get this question a lot, along with raised eyebrows and winks from your mutual friends, chances are you’re in a flirtationship. Flirtationships typically develop in one of two ways: They can grow into a romantic relationship or revert back to a friendship. Or (worst-case scenario) they can fall apart completely, leaving out the idea of a possible relationship and the friendship too awkward to fall back on.
So are there any pros to a flirtationship? It sounds like flirtationships can get emotionally complicated, and they can. But sometimes, they can be an easygoing alternative to a relationship. Rachel, a senior at New York University, says that her flirtationship with a longtime guy friend Hunter means having someone to depend on. “Hunter is always someone I can rely on to listen to me when I need to talk out something,” she says. “The thing with friends is they’re always there for you. It’s sort of like having a boyfriend, but without having to worry about him judging you.”