Flirtation can be such a civilized artifice. It is a safe version of seduction, where you can hint at intimacy through tone, creating a suggestive atmosphere where both parties can engage and safely let go of inhibitions.
The pleasure of flirting lends itself to showing someone you like them, it doesn't mean that it is testing the waters for sex. It can be a way of telling someone affectionately that you find them attractive, and is a reminder that we too can/are still desired/able.
Flirting is also fairly flexible, you can flirt across marital status, political beliefs, and economic or social status. It is a universal language that transcends boundaries in what can seemingly be a very diplomatic way.
The loveliest thing about flirting is that it is non committal and often times it acknowledges limitations. I think that flirting connects us to our imagination and lends itself to fantasy. In a world that is so disconnected on many levels, it is nice to connect on a more intimate one.
We really should flirt more. -tM