Let’s talk about flirting.

“Please don’t take this the wrong way, but in an extreme friendship not-if-you-were-the-last-girl-on-Earth kind of way, I think you are sort of pretty. Platonically pretty.”

Is there a double standard when it comes to how women are allowed to flirt vs. how men are allowed to flirt? I say yes. I think women can get away with waaaay more than men.

“Why thank you. I think you’re hot, too. And sexy, while we’re on the subject.”

In my personal experience: Men are very cautious when it comes to how they will broach any delicate subject a woman could take the wrong way. They’re scared to feed us certain compliments because they don’t want us to get offended. They choose their words very carefully and deliberately, knowing what sensitive creatures we are … Is this because of how we respond to them? Has society taught us to be too careful because people are constantly offended regarding one thing or another?

I’m not talking about pursuing someone with the intentions of dating him or her. I’m talking about two people who have a friendship and one wants to compliment the other. Women do it all the time to each other: I love your hair. You look skinny today. I wish I had your boobs. Maybe that’s why it’s second nature for me to compliment a male friend.

But, on the other side of the coin: What happens when a man doesn’t have the right filters? What happens when he thinks he should say something just because he would like it if a woman said it to him? Do some men not understand the difference between I think you’re sexy and I want to have sex with you? Or do women read too much into a basic compliment and assume if a man says she has nice eyes that means he wants to sleep with her? Maybe a little bit of both?

Men assume too much too, though. I have a friend who was flirting back and forth with a male admirer. Then one day she asked him out for drinks … and never heard from him again. Recently they ran into each other and she asked him about it. He muttered something about not wanting a relationship, so she had to set the record straight: I wanted to go to a bar and drink beer with you, not get married and have a white picket fence and some kids.

Oh, he said, perhaps a little embarassed? Then let’s go to the bar and drink beer.

I think we could all use a little more love in our lives. We could all benefit from being complimented. So guys, don’t be afraid to tell us you think we’re hot stuff, in a super-platonic sort of way of course … Hopefully we won’t take offense. If we do, I blame PMS.