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Well, DUH. (Courtship and mock courtship)

It just hit me. There was an on-List discussion about the various forms and meanings of flirtation. Some people thought of flirtation as something that could be leading up to something else. Some people were uncomfortable with that form of flirtation. Some people thought of it as harmless fun that wouldn't go anywhere.

I just realized that the form of flirtation that's harmless fun that won't go anywhere is romantic role-playing. You've got a Mary Sue or Gary Stu character, an idealized form of yourself, and your character goes and interacts with romance-tinged wit with all the other Pretty Characters out there. At the end of the session, no harm, no foul, and maybe you have some new friends. All parties (should) know that it was just a game. This is mock courtship in its courtly form.

With flirtation-that-is-to-be-taken-seriously, it's real people out there putting their best sides forward being charming and hoping to further their romantic or genetic interests. This is real courtship.

There's a kind of malicious flirtation that I was victim of in middle school and the early bits of high school: where the one party puts out a Gary Stu to court the other person's real self, and then if the person's real self falls for the Gary Stu, the player mocks the duped party. Real courtship and mock courtship should only be mixed with compassion and caution.

Then there's the other side of mixing mock and real courtship: Adam courts in seriousness; Beth thinks it's mock courtship. Beth responds with a character. Adam falls for the character. Beth is flirting without intent to follow through in good faith; Adam is flirting with intent to follow through in good faith. Collision. Heartbreak. Possible skeeviness.
Gone away, gone ahead,
Echoes roll unanswered.
Empty, open, dusty, dead.
Why have all the Weyrfolk fled?

Where have dragons gone together
Leaving weyrs to wind and weather,
Setting herdbeasts free of tether;
Gone, our safeguards, gone, but whither?

Have they flown to some new weyr
Where cruel Threads some others fear?
Are they worlds away from here?
Why, oh why the empty weyr?

-- "The Question Song", Anne McCaffrey
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