unSEXpected: Shooting your shot

When asked who made the first move, he says “They did.” But not ten minutes later he comes back with “Okay, they say that inviting them to New Year’s was me shooting my shot, and they’re right.” He managed to book their first kiss through some well-crafted flirting, and midnight sealed the deal. Months later, one of them was to find out they might’ve definitely kissed with ‘too much teeth’. It’s a good thing no one remembers, and no one reminds them.  

Whether you’re nervous about batting your eyes at the cutie in your 9am tutorial, or frantically using ChatGPT to write a good response to a Hinge prompt, putting yourself out there can be really hard. 

In the day-to-day, I am sporadically haunted by the cringiest memories of me attempting to flirt. In all my years of chaotic flirting, I have: 

  • Laughed too much, too loudly. 
  • Kissed the wrong person. 
  • Been too forward. 
  • Not been forward enough. 
  • Practiced a more flirtatious laugh. 
  • Panicked on the dance floor. 
  • Been too giggly to kiss properly. 
  • Completely misread the room. 
  • Pretended I’d heard of things I most definitively hadn’t.  
  • Fabricated situations to see people. 
  • Kissed with not enough tongue. (I fear I may never recover from this one, truthfully.) 
  • Stopped stressing about what my laugh sounded like.  
  • And started embracing embarrassment. 

    When I was younger, the idea of getting rejected was mortifying, so I never made any moves. Not knowing how to live past rejection was the most unnerving part. Which sounds so silly to say now, considering life always goes on, whether we want it to or not. And there are far worse things to live through than a slightly bruised ego. 

    How do we overcome the fear of rejection? 

    Fear can be a paralysing, but we must work through it. Accepting it is the first step and reframing it as a chance for growth is a good goal to aim for.  

    Something I like to do, in the face of fear, is hold on to a belief I can trust.  

    I’m not the best at handling rejection, but I aim to live by the philosophy: no matter the outcome, at least I lived. I’ve been trying to embrace radical optimism. If I succeed, that’s great. If I don’t, that’s great too. At the end of the day, it’s all part of a bigger picture.  

    If you’re not a fan of that one, you can take inspiration from my partner. He lives by the philosophy: it only takes 30 seconds of courage to do anything. He doesn’t like letting the fear and tension build up, because the longer you wait, the stronger you’ll feel about it. In other words, the longer you hold onto something, the more power you give it.  

    How to shoot your shot 

    Here are some tips and tricks that my friends and I have picked up over the years.  

    1. Be honest, be yourself.

              I understand the need to impress, believe me, I do. But there’s no point pretending to be someone you’re not just to score a date. A relationship based on trust shouldn’t be built off deception, and someone should like you for who you are. If everything goes well (which I hope it does) you don’t want to be upholding lies the entire time.  

              And what happens if you lie and get away with it? The best-case scenario is your significant other eventually forgets all about it because it was probably a small, inconsequential matter. The worst-case scenario is that they remember it and purposely bring it up later on in life. 

              Trust me when I say you won’t want to get stuck in a Mariachi band proposal on a Walt Disney cruise six years down the line, just because you once told them you liked that sort of thing, because it seemed amusing at the time, except you didn’t realise they weren’t joking, and you didn’t want to go back on your word, so you just sort of stuck it out. Or whatever.  

              That’s never happened to anyone I know but God, what a nightmare.  

              1. Be keen! None of this nonchalant-ness 

              I know that somewhere along the line we all got brainwashed into thinking that caring wasn’t cool, but I highly suggest you un-learn that real quick.  

              Because caring is important. Caring shows interest, appreciation, and emotional availability. Deep down, we all want to be swept off our feet by someone who cares and shows us they care.  

              There are no winners in the nonchalant game. Only players, playing themselves.  

              The harsh reality is ‘I don’t know’, ‘I don’t mind’, and ‘whatever you want’ aren’t very sexy sentences to hear.  

              1. Plan, plan, plan. 

              I might be a biased Virgo here, but plans are HOT. And on that note, decisiveness is also very attractive. Planning is linked to ‘keenness’ because it’s the most practical, immediate way of showing care and effort. 

              When you shoot your shot, make sure you have a plan. The plans can be as simple or as over the top as you’d like, that’s up to you and both of your interests. If you need some ideas for a first date, grabbing food or a drink, going to the markets or going to the cinema are all great options.  

              1. Do it in person  

              Unless you’re very clear and straightforward with your message, texts leave too much room for interpretation. We all know the feeling of receiving a text and not knowing how to read it. I’ve gone so far as accepting and attending invitations with no solid understanding of whether or not the outing was in fact a date or just had a date-like vibe.  

              Why take the risk of being misunderstood? Shooting your shot in person means that you can make sure you get your message across exactly how you want to. You also eliminate the risk of getting ghosted or having to wait hours for a response.  

              What if it goes wrong? 

              Be considerate & be kind. 

              This is as much for them as it is for yourself.  

              If your plan didn’t work out, if you didn’t end up saying exactly what you had in mind, if you got nervous and backed out at the last minute, if they didn’t feel the same way, or even if you scored the date but ended up changing your mind, it’ll be okay. Don’t beat yourself, or them, up about it.  

              You can take a minute to sit with the disappointment of rejection or disillusion while still acknowledging that putting yourself out there (or attempted to, baby steps are still steps) is a very cool, very brave thing to do.     

              When I look back at my flirting portfolio, I laugh more than I cringe. At the end of the day, it got me where I am, with a bunch of stories I now get to share. Like the time a stranger tried to shoot his shot with me right as I had a full face of fried chicken at a poetry gig, shortly after I had read the most dramatic, cathartic breakup poetry I’ve ever written. (Something about the opening verse “I am in the attic of my heart, and it is full of cobwebs that spell out your name as if they were headstones, one for every time you’ve let me down and I have killed you in my dreams” just screams date me, I guess.) Or the time my mum played wing-woman and I asked a cute stranger from Sydney for their number. Or the time I absolutely embarrassed myself cosplaying a pick-me girl in Year 10 English, batting my eyes at the crush everyone knew I had. Or all the times I panicked on dating apps because, dating apps.  

              En fin, ce la vie.  

              Go shoot your shot and tell me all about it later.  

              See you next month x

              unSEXpected is a Glass column dedicated to the things we learn about sex and intimacy through conversations with friends. If you have any unique, funny or interesting stories you’d like to share, please get in touch! It’s the team’s goal to make this column a fun, safe and diverse space.

              Konstanz Muller Hering
              Konstanz Muller Hering

              Konstanz (she/ they) is a Meanjin/Brisbane-based writer and QUT Creative Writing graduate. Konstanz was a Glass editor, and now contributes as an alumni.

              Articles: 23

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