The primary purpose of flirting is as a courtship device evolved to attract and retain sexual partners. Yet sadly, for many couples flirting is limited to the attraction phase of their relationship. Once the relationship becomes committed, the thrill of the chase wanes and is gradually replaced by the comfort and security of a loving companionship. Slowly but surely conversation moves from feisty and mischievous to warm and familiar.
Regardless of the comfort offered by a loving relationship. The desire to flirt inevitably remains. And while the desire to flirt is innate, the choice to act remains solely with the individual. The risks to a relationship start mounting the moment an individual convinces themselves that flirting with others is innocent.
While many will continue upholding the innocence of flirting. Today will see yet another exposed spouse answering their partners with “it is only flirting” or “we are just friends”.
Assumption trumps reality
At some point the vast majority of couples will decide that cheating is not acceptable in their relationship. The challenge is, not many couples actually take time to define what exactly constitutes cheating. Understandably so, as not many people want to dwell on the potential failure of the relationship. especially when in love.
Happy that they know the ultimate limits of their relationship i.e. cheating, grossly uninformed spouses set out to test their understanding of cheating. Most spouses rely on their will power and interpretation of cheating to know where the line is. Sadly, when some reach the line, they gently slide it further away.
Countless spouses have rationalised to themselves that telling of their innocent flirting would cause their spouse unnecessary concern. Whereas this seemingly thoughtful gesture should in fact raise alarm and red flags. Without their spouse’s input the only person needing to be persuaded regarding the innocence of flirting is the person planning to flirt.
I know where the line is, I think…
Early stage flirting can easily slip into a chat with someone new, interesting or perhaps someone who shares a common interest. While nothing sinister has happened, a connection is starts to form. This is the point at which conscientious spouses should fully disclose the interactions with their spouse and continue to do so. Particularly when the common interest is not shared by their spouse.
Initially flirting can be quite ambiguous. So it can be easy to be lulled into a false sense of security. Firstly, being in a committed relationship convinces us that we are not looking for a partner. Secondly because the new person knows your relationship status they present a lessor danger. Here’s some food for thought, as children, many of us were taught about “stranger danger”, unfortunately as adults we often ignore the risks of someone who is “just a friend”.
The sad truth is that many people caught up in affairs might not even remember how flirting contributed to their situation. Even as their sobbing spouses demand answers, some spouses struggle to comprehend that those seeming innocent innuendos were in fact the catalyst for an affair.
It is estimated that at least a third of partners lie about their flirting habits. To protect your primary relationship learning to identify the risks is key. As is understanding that fear of repercussions can actually drive you further towards an affair. Fear of being exposed as a cheater or being accused of sexual harassment has lead individuals deeper into the affair as they resort to using increasing unconventional methods to turn around the situation.
If your flirting has already progressed into fantasy and you have developed feelings towards the flirting partner. You will need to act immediately to save your primary relationship. If your goal is to save your relationship, there are 2 options to consider:
- Make your spouse aware of the fantasy. Although this may prove painful, the fantasy will be swiftly flattened. While your spouse may initially be unhappy, remember that your disclosure can ultimately promote much greater trust. Take heart in knowing that while explaining your flirtatious chats may be challenging, it will always dwarf the fallout from a full blown or emotional affair.
- Completely sever all contact with your flirting partner. This means no talking, chatting, email, social media or anything else. Despite the fact that this can prove difficult, especially in a working environment. This action is vital to ensure no further progression of the fantasy. If you have chosen to inform your spouse, this option should always be used in combination with option 1.
Flirting, done properly
Flirting has dual goals, attracting and retaining sexual partners. To understand where flirting fits into your relationship consider asking yourself a few questions. When did you stop wanting to attract your partner? Why is retaining them no longer as important to you?
All things considered, security and comfort feel nice but they are unlikely to be your only needs. For this reason, take the time each week to talk to your partner. Use the time to start understanding one another’s needs, both sexual and otherwise. The reality is that your partner means a lot to you. So, what are you going to do to let them know you want them to stay?