What has flirting to do with personal development? A lot! During the EL CID - the Leiden introduction week - Rob, Walther and I gave flirting workshops to the new students at the Hogeschool. More than 150 students wanted to experience this and came to listen, talk and of course experiment.
What is flirting… Picking up someone at the bar to score him / her? Exchanging a smile on the street with a stranger, lifting you above the pavement for a moment? Gallant keep the door open for the other and thus make that business meeting just that little bit more fun?
The fun, and perhaps sometimes difficult (because: vague), is that it is all possible. Flirting can be seen as a positive way to get in touch with people, regardless of goal or result. It is playful and non-committal, from an open and active attitude. For us, flirting has a lot to do with what we focus on at RAPENBURG100: being open, making contact, courage, adventure, broadening your view, getting to know yourself and the other, seizing opportunities and making something beautiful out of life.
Before writing this blog, I continued to think about being open and making contact, and suddenly I had to think back to Martin Buber's philosophy of 'dialogic life'. During my study Humanistics I was taught by teacher Ton Jorna about the spiritual aspect of spiritual care. He introduced our students to this Jewish mystical philosopher of religion who lived from 1878 to 1965.
Dialogical life deals with the question of true contact between people, and between man and God. Buber contrasts the encounter between people with the concept of 'mismanagement', which expresses 'passing each other, the lack of real meeting between people' (p. 10 *). According to Buber, man is always capable of two things: “He is permitted to let everything that surrounds him, including that which lives around him, remain at a distance, as that which belongs to him as an object, as It; and he is permitted, over and over again, to address the being as opposed to him and, when he really intends this being, to communicate with it as with a You ”(p. 169)
Buber speaks of an 'opening function between people': an active turning towards each other, which creates mutual contact, a 'true encounter'. He makes a distinction between are en appearances: living from your being or from an image (that you have of the other or that you want the other to have of you).
Now I'm not quite sure if old Mr. Buber meant flirting by this true reciprocal contact (perhaps he turns in his grave at such an explanation). I think that flirting also has something like play, theater and so on appearances can play a role. But maybe there is such a thing as 'Buberian flirting'? Flirting with a sincerity of who you are here and now, instead of flirting as a trick. Flirting can therefore happen from modesty and not necessarily from your full self-confidence. You don't have to be the sexiest version of yourself, it's about a moment when something in the other speaks to you and vice versa. It can be a bit uncomfortable, but it is real.
We also saw this during the workshop. It was precisely the shy people who dared to be vulnerable and 'try something' in front of a full house. We noted that it was not so much about the `` right opening line '' as it was about showing genuine interest in the other person and showing yourself (although those opening lines did add some hilarity, of course 🙂).
In daily life there is of course always the choice to open up or not. This is not a plea to go through life flirtatiously non-stop. Sometimes it is better to be closed: because you have to go from A to B, because you have already had enough encounters / stimuli, or simply because you do not feel like making contact with others. But playing around with that flirting here and there, Buberian or not, can certainly add to some Fancy Life!
Would you like to know more about (flirt) workshops?                            Then contact us! 
* source: Buber, M. (2007). Dialogical life. Utrecht: Bijleveld