Trying to define what most people would consider flirting can be extremely difficult. The definition of the very word, flirt, seems to contradict itself in that it can mean both with serious (romantic) intent or one of only a casual or superficial nature.
Faced with this rather perplexing problem the best way to determine whether or not you or perhaps a partner might be flirting would be to discuss the topic when you have the chance and set boundaries if you may need them in your relationship.
When looking at this from an outside point of view, as perhaps a friend of a couple might, it can be almost impossible to know precisely what the couple has agreed upon. While one couple may have very clear cut acts that they agree would be considered a form of cheating, another couple may feel more comfortable with a fluid, general understanding of what cheating might be.
Though there are many gray areas when it comes to flirting, there is little doubt that it can cause some serious problems in a relationship. In many cases one or both members of a couple will not know exactly how they feel about their partner flirting with another person until they witness the act and find themselves in a jealous rage. Because the outcome of such deep and unpredictable emotions can be so dangerous for a relationship it is often important to discuss these matters before they come up when possible.
One of the most important things that you can do, when discussing the issue of flirtation with your partner, is to be honest about how you feel. Noble though it may be to fight back jealousy it is often a mistake to overlook it completely. Working on any overly jealous habits you may have is a very constructive move; however the complete denial of it will probably lead to more problems in the future.
When discussing jealousy with your partner it may help to keep a few tips in mind:
- Be sure to discuss anything important in comfortable, safe place where you can both speak freely.
- Do not have any important conversations if either you or your partner is intoxicated or tired unless you absolutely must.
- If your partner experiences difficulty with sharing try to share some of your own confidence with them by ensuring that you are there for them.
- Try to be as honest about your feelings as you can be, let go of your pride.
- Encourage your partner to share with you and to trust that you will try to be understanding about what they have to say.
- Set boundaries that you both feel comfortable with when it comes to flirting.
- If you are able to and believe that it may help get your point across, try to remember specific examples of a time that either you or your partner felt jealous.
Pride is often what prevents many people from disclosing their true feelings. To admit that you are jealous of your partner flirting with another person does send some very important signals out about how you feel. Opening up with your partner enough to set aside your pride may not be easy, but it may help to create a much stronger tie between you both in the long run.
Some people have difficulty understanding why others get upset about flirtatious behavior. If you are of this opinion, or are dealing with a person who feels this way, it may help to keep in mind some of the most common secondary reactions to the jealousy that can be caused by flirting:
- Unloved: Wondering if your partner doesn't care for you as much as you do them.
- Inadequate: Because your partner is looking for affection elsewhere are you not enough?
- Unattractive: Wondering whether or not your partner is no longer attracted to you.
- Deceived: Concerned that your partner maybe doing more than flirting behind your back.
- Betrayed: Watching your partner pay very close, attention to a person with who in theory they could be romantically involved may stir up some deep feelings of being crossed.
Today's tech society offers new methods of flirtation which may appeal to a person who might never act that way in person. Even a simple action like flirting online, a seemingly innocent event as it's not even in person, can cause problems in a relationship because of the nature of the feelings involved.
These are but a few of the wide variety of emotions a person may experience when reacting to the witnessing or knowledge of their partner flirting with another person. As extreme as some of them may be it is important not to discount them as ridiculous; emotions can be difficult to control and cannot simply be dismissed.
Only you and your partner can decide which actions you would call cheating and those which would not make either of you uncomfortable. Even after making such decisions one or both of you may change your minds on the subject later on. Many couples try to play it cool, thinking that they are both secure enough in themselves and their relationship and will not therefore allow flirting to cause them any worry. Once in the presence of the action however, watching your partner flirt with another person may change your perspective.
The important factor here is to keep communicating with the person you care for and make sure they too are sharing how they feel. However silly you believe a reaction is; however misguided your jealousy there is no harm in allowing your partner to know how you feel. Many of your jealous moments will more than likely be an overreaction, but your partner will in all likelihood gladly reassure you of their devotion and find a mild amount of jealousy flattering.
However you choose to arm yourself against the tricky issue of flirtation in your relationship remember to always keep the feelings of others, as well as your own in mind. Flirtation can be extremely fun and exciting, but not if it's at the cost of hurting someone you care about. In many cases a little positive reinforcement in the relationship can help with feelings of jealousy, remember to be supportive and patient with those you care about.