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Interview with DEBONEE MORGAN

Presented by Kajay Williams

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Interview with Debonee Morgan

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Interview with Debonee Morgan

Q and A with Debonee Morgan

Q1. Debonee, can you share some practical tips and strategies that women can implement in their daily lives to improve their sense of worth?
Feeling good about who you are, and feeling like you matter is really a cornerstone of being human and yet, our culture doesnt really help us in this regard, does it? Every day we see TV, magazines, billboards and idiotic Facebook posts that turn womens bodies into objects to be judged, and our voices are not taken as seriously as mens. So how do we bolster our own sense of self within a world that can seem demeaning? 1. I highly recommend thinking about yourself, others, and events in a much larger context. Some people find this in a religion or a faith practice. Others find it in nature. Some find it in study and recognizing that humans have struggled with the same issues as long as weve been around. The point is, by cultivating an understanding of something bigger than ourselves, we open up the possibility that we live in a universe that holds us as unique. Things like the size of our thighs, our paychecks or the initials after our name are really not very important in the big scheme of things. If you can find a few moments in your day to relax into something bigger (meditation, yoga, prayer, a walk outside, playing with children), I believe you will find yourself less critical of yourself. 2. I always encourage my clients to write in a journal, or create their own art as often as they can. By writing, or dancing or painting (whatever your thing is), you validate your own voice. When you pay attention to your own needs, feelings, and moods, you are reminding yourself that you matter. Maybe no one else will ever see what youve done, but whats important is that you did it your voice counts!

Interview with Debonee Morgan

3. I would advise smart women everywhere to get connected with other smart women. Because our culture is predominated by mens voices and mens opinions, we have to try harder to actively listen to women. Find a podcast or blog that you like. Read fiction and non-fiction by women writers. If youre a young woman, seek out the wisdom of older women. If youre an older woman, look for a fresh new voice to learn what younger women are concerned with. What are women in other countries dealing with? Get curious, and get connected. 4. I would suggest that we all hone our BS Meter. Dont take in information (media, advertising, Facebook memes) without questioning. Is this sexist? Does this demean women? Would I want my daughter looking like that? If you take the time to really evaluate what comes across your eyes and ears, youll become more empowered about your own worth, and that of your sisters. As Eleanor Roosevelt so famously said, No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

Q2. Some women relate their sense of worth with the number of men they attract or the way they look. We have had women subscribers write to us about how they feel that they are constantly competing even when they are among their friends socially. At a deeper level, I guess it affects them because they may behave a certain way or do certain things that are not consistent with who they truly are but still do it to be more desirable, attractive and successful. How can women maintain their authentic self in a highly competitive world and for women who are struggling to find their authentic self, how can they go about discovering who they truly are and embrace it?
My first suggestion would be to shift your way of thinking, and realize that the competition is only in your head. What are we competing for? Male attention? This whole paradigm is the result of a patriarchal culture that suggest the attention of the male is the prize. Lets just turn that notion on its head. YOU are the prize.

Interview with Debonee Morgan

Once we realize that, we spend our time cultivating a rich life where we spend time with the people we love, create work that matters (in our careers, our homes, volunteering or projects), and fulfill ourselves with travel, art, and recreation we do what makes us happy. Then, and only THEN, are we ready to worry about the attention of a prospective partner. And heres the catch Once you have developed yourself, there is no need to put on a show for some guy. Youre already the right person for the right person. A man that is attracted to the theater some women do deserves what he gets a shallow, needy, manipulative girl. A good man is looking for an authentic women who has her life together and wont compromise to catch him, and hell deserve what he gets a strong, intelligent, independent and mature woman. How do you find that authentic self? -Think about when you were a girl of about twelve. What did you love? What did you give up when you became a teenager (and learned what you were supposed to be like)? Chances are good that THAT thing is your true self. Ask your heart what it wants, and then pay attention to your dreams, to what songs grab you, and what movies make your chest vibrate. Sometimes we cant think it, but we can always feel it.

Q3. As a flirting coach, how do you help your female clients overcome the negative connotations associated with flirting? Moreover there is a gender stereotype as well, when men flirt it is considered a sign of confidence whereas when women do it, it is considered being too provocative. How do you help your female clients sign flirting as fun and playful as opposed to being seductive and manipulative?
Obviously, the first step is to resist cultural messages that are demeaning to women. We have a lot of great role models for being an assertive woman; we can look to Bell Hooks, Mae West, Selena Whang, Amelia Earhart, Maya Angelou, Paula Gunn Allen, and countless others to see what it looks like to create a strong

Interview with Debonee Morgan

voice and be yourself. The idea that a woman being friendly is something sexual comes from a mindset that views men as predatory animals, and women as meat. Thats insulting to everyone, so dont buy it. Secondly, I would examine the intent. If people are misperceiving you, it may be them and the way they look at woman in general or it may be you. If you are saying to yourself, Its just a little harmless flirting, but you are truly hoping for more, youll be (perhaps unconsciously) signaling the wrong intention. In my definition of flirting, it doesnt have to be about sex, its just about connection. Be clear with yourself about what youre after, and how you want to be seen. Then, your actions will follow.

Q4. How do you recommend women balance their flirting skills with class and elegance? I guess when you come across as a flirt, it is possible to attract players and have men believe that you are an easy pick-up. And when they do encounter such situations, how can they communicate their expectations and boundaries in a firm yet friendly manner?
Class and elegance all start with respect. That means respect for yourself, and respect for the people you interact with. A woman who respects herself doesnt allow herself to be talked down to, objectified, or insulted. If your intention is to be kind and get to know someone, your attention will be focused on the other person, and truly listening nothing untoward there. If the moment arises where some player mistakes your intention, fire up that self-respect and let him know thats not what youre about. What would you like instead for him to leave you alone all together? For him to bring it down a notch and try again with a little more attention to you as a person? Whatever youd like to be different that what hes presented say it! Value yourself enough to know you deserve someone who respects you. The good guys will.

Interview with Debonee Morgan

Q5. For women who are extremely shy or who find it difficult to naturally engage in deep, engaging and fun conversations, what would you advise them to do to slowly and steadily improve their flirting skills?
Start by talking to people whose reaction will not hurt your feelings. Make a brief conversation with a check-out clerk, or a delivery person, or someone in line If they are rude to you, you can shrug your shoulders and blame it on them having a bad day its nothing personal about you. My experience though, is that more often than not, people are happy to have a brief encounter with a stranger. It makes the world feel a little smaller, and your kind words might make their day. A man and I were waiting in line the other day, and his arms were full of orange tshirts. I said, Wow, thats a lot of orange! and we ended up exchanging office numbers, as there is a potential for professional networking. Nothing sexy or romantic just people being nice and making conversation. If I had said that, and he looked away or grunted or told me to take a hike, it wouldnt have mattered, because he doesnt know me. You have a very low risk factor but a high potential for something good to happen. The more often you have these mini-conversations, the more you learn that people are usually nicer than you expect, and you have what it takes to talk to anyone, anytime. Oh yeah, and smile. Youre beautiful when you smile.

Q6. What you say makes a lot of sense and really its all about connecting with people in a fun, cheerful way without any expectations. I think when you take away that end goal of I flirt because I want to find a romantic partner as opposed to I flirt because I like meeting new people or making their day better, it brings an entirely different 6

Interview with Debonee Morgan

mindset. And really if women can do that over time, they are more likely to attract men naturally even without making a conscious effort. Is that your philosophy on flirting?
I think you said it perfectly, so Yes! Whats attractive about men and women is an authentic energy that happens when your true self shines through. It makes people trust you and want to be around you. And that has nothing to do with romance its about connecting with others. And, as you say, the inevitable result is that it helps if you are looking for love.

Q7. How can women who carry a lot of hurt and emotional baggage in past relationships embrace flirting? One of the biggest challenges that they may face is a scarred past and an inner fear of becoming hurt again. So they are usually tensed, anxious and always on high guard that makes them more stressed and skeptical. I guess flirting requires you to lighten up, be more positive and cheerful which is so very difficult for such women.
Obviously, the primary issue in this scenario, is to work on healing that hurt. Yes, everybody plays the fool sometimes (thats why there are so many songs about it), and everybody ends up hurt by love at some point. If youre still in a place where that hurt prevents you from being real and trusting with other people, then youre not ready to date again. First, fix yourself and your heart. Then, get out there and mix it up. What I see with a lot of clients (and friends) is this compulsion to find the next person, thinking that will heal your pain from the current loss. As if, jumping back into a situation will magic but come on! All youre doing is carrying your garbage into someone elses living room. And not only that your ability to sniff out the bad guys will be impaired, because youre desperate and weak. So let me repeat stay home, nurse your wounds, flex that independence muscle, and THEN, only then, go back out and meet new people. 7

Interview with Debonee Morgan

Q8. What are the biggest challenges that your female clients face when they come to you for coaching and how do you help them?
The biggest challenge is always fighting cultural stereotypes about womens behavior. More specifically, fighting womens notions about themselves. Perhaps Im an anomaly, but Ive rarely felt oppressed by individual men. Its fairly common for me though, to face judgment from other women. As a culture, we need to get over it, and as individual women, we need to get over it this idea that good women act one way, and bad women act another. We are not limited by the choices of virgin or slut any more than men are. We have the option to be assertive, ask for what we want, express opinions and feelings, and wield power as we are able (and most of us are far more able than we realize). So when it comes to flirting, the hurdle is to help women really believe that we can be amazing. Women need to believe that we are the subject of their own lives, not the object of someone elses. We need to believe that we can go after what we want, and not wait for some Prince Charming to pick us. The women I work with HAVE IT, just, sometimes, they dont know it yet.

Q9. I really like that you advice women to believe themselves and go after what they want and not wait for Mr. Right to find them. In other words you are talking about making things happen instead of waiting for things to happen, taking an active approach and create opportunities and circumstances that make it easier to meet Mr. Right. I think some women hesitate to do this because they feel that they would come across as the chasers or pursuers and that its the mens responsibility to find them, approach them and court them. Correct me if I am wrong, what you are telling is it is okay to approach a guy and tell him you are interested in him and then let him take it from there. Am I right? 8

Interview with Debonee Morgan

The paradigm youre talking about is analogous to predatory activity: The one partner is proactive, and one partner is reactive (or even inactive!). In a healthy relationship, each partner is equally proactive speaking up for what they like or dont, making suggestions about dating activity, setting boundaries for what theyre comfortable with regarding the pacing and physicality of the relationship, sharing opinions, and taking risks emotionally. Also, each partner needs to be equally reactive expressing sensitivity for the others feelings and experiences, showing respect for points of view they may not share, sharing the power and leadership along the way. So, I wouldnt agree with the either a man or a woman being in charge of the development of the relationship. If its not a shared experience, you have theater, not an actual relationship.

Q10. One thing that we havent touched upon is the body language. Can you talk about the importance of body language and maybe point out some dos and donts when it comes to flirting?
The first advice I have about body language is the same advice I have about everything be yourself! Being comfortable in your own skin will elicit natural signals that express your warmth and approachability. I hesitate to say, Do this or Dont do this, because acting out a stance or gesture that is not genuine for you will look false and manipulative. But ok, that being said, some things to be aware of are these Eye contact. Eye contact. Eye contact. It shows youre interested (which reads as interesting). And if youre truly into the other person, your pupils will dilate, which we instinctively use to gauge interest, so theyll know it! Your mother was right about good posture. Walk and sit with your back straight. It displays confidence (always sexy!). Leaning forward to listen shows that youre paying attention, and invites more and deeper conversation. 9

Interview with Debonee Morgan

Nodding your head naturally indicates good listening, but dont overdo it. Some people are trying so hard to *look* like theyre listening, its obvious that they read an article somewhere that said to do that. If youre *thinking* about nodding in the moment, then dont do it. (Same goes for encouraging listening sounds like Uh huh..) Light touching with fingertips on the shoulder or hand is friendly and flirtatious. Whole hands, grabbing, or touching on the face, legs, torso, (or worse!) is out of line when youre first getting to know someone. If you want to take things further, use words first, and wait for cues of acceptance before you continue. Touching your own hair sends a signal of interest. Chances are, if you like someone, youve been doing that without realizing it. Same with touching your own lips. When things are going really well, research shows that two people will mimic each others stance. If one person is leaning their face on their left hand, the other will mirror that by leaning their face on their right hand as they speak. When one person lets their hand fall to their lap, the other follows suit. This would be very hard to do intentionally (you wouldnt be able to focus on the words coming out of your partners mouth), but if you pay attention, and notice this happening, you can feel confident that the person youre talking with is relaxed and into the conversation and you. When you become a real Flirt Ninja, youll be able to match your breathing to the other persons. But thats the Advanced course. ;)

Q11. Do you have any recommended books or programs for women who would like to improve their flirting skills and attract high quality men being their authentic self?
When I get around to writing a book, it will be the definitive text (wink!). In the meantime, a lot of what Ive read (on flirting specifically) in the course of my 10

Interview with Debonee Morgan

professional development has been manipulative and sexist. I would start instead with material that talks about sensuality and connecting in general. I really like The Soul of Sex by Thomas Moore, and Mating in Captivity by Esther Perel. Of course if any of your readers would like to subscribe to my blog, they can keep abreast for the next Flirt School workshop or webinar as I plan

About Debonee Morgan

Debonee Morgan is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and certified Spiritual Director specializing in the places where sexuality, creativity, faith and cultural diversity intersect. Her workshop, Flirt School teaches communication skills that help people connect with people, for a moment or a lifetime. Moving beyond the typical therapy community, Debonee partners with actors, artists and activists to create learning opportunities for those who might not typically find themselves in a clinical office. She is a member of the American Association for Sexuality Educators, Counselors & Therapists; The Atlanta Jung Society; The Society for the Integration of Spirituality and Psychotherapy; and Spiritual Directors International. To know more about Debonee, visit her website For more free tips, insights and advice from hundreds of experts and authors on dating and relationship advice for women, visit