What's So Bad About Flirting Anyway?
By Susie and Otto Collins
Are you a flirt? Maybe you've been a flirt for as long as
you remember and it simply feels like a part of who you are
and how you interact with others.
You might wonder what's so bad about flirting anyway? As
long as nothing comes of it, it's perfectly harmless--
Well, we don't think that flirting is "bad" and we also
don't think that it's necessarily "good." Instead, we ask
you to look at the effects of flirting on your relationship.
When you flirt with people you aren't in a love relationship
or marriage with, even if it's perfectly "innocent," does it
bring you closer to your partner or move you further away
from him or her? Does your flirting contribute to feelings
of mistrust and insecurity in your mate?
These are key questions to ask yourself if you tend to flirt
and you want to have a close connection between yourself and
Corey has pretty much always been a flirt. She remembers
being a young girl and seeming to have a natural "gift" for
charming the boys in her class.
Now, as an adult, Corey continues to flirt with men, even
though she's in a serious and committed relationship with
Hal. Corey knows she would never ever cheat on Hal or betray
him. But she also thinks that it's fun to flirt and doesn't
want to stop.
To Corey, flirting is totally harmless and it's the best way
she knows how to socialize. The trouble is, Hal doesn't see
Corey's flirting as harmless. He never felt jealous before
in his life-- until now. It's almost torturous for him to
watch Corey flirt with other men and her reassurances that
it's "no big deal" don't help his jealousy.
He's considered refusing to go out to clubs with
her, but then Hal worries that Corey would take the flirting
too far and get into trouble that isn't so innocent.
Try to understand why you flirt.
If you are a flirt, tune in to yourself to gain a better
understanding of why you tend to interact with others in
this way. If you don't consider yourself a flirt but your
partner does, just for a few moments, ask yourself if there
is any truth to what he or she says.
We aren't asking you to judge yourself or your behavior as
bad or wrong. But we do want you to be more aware of how you
tend to act and gauge whether your habits are helping to
point your relationship in a direction you want to go.
Because Corey has identified herself as a flirt from an
early age, it seems to be part of who she is. Yes, she likes
the attention and she also feels sort of powerful when she
perceives she is charming and appealing to other men. On the
other hand, she sees flirting as a way to be friendly and
outgoing which are qualities she values.
Of course, Corey does not want to hurt Hal. It is also not
her intention to make him jealous. She truly does see
flirting as "her" way to socialize and she doesn't really
know how to do it differently.
When you get a fuller picture of how you often interact with
others and possible reasons why you flirt, you will probably
find some reasons that you consider positive and others that
you may not view positively.
Try not to get caught in judging; instead, do your best to
observe and understand.
How can you meet your needs in other ways?
Corey realizes that, for her, flirting feels like part of
her identity when it comes to socializing. It is how she
likes to be friendly and outgoing. But Corey also sees that
her flirting is contributing to the distance and
disconnection that is forming between herself and Hal. She
loves him and does not want this to happen.
As you now have a better understanding of why you flirt, see
if you can think of other ways that you might meet the needs
that flirting has satisfied in the past.
If deep down inside you realize that you enjoy the attention
you get when you flirt, focus your flirting and charm on
your partner instead. You can certainly spark passion
between the two of you when you flirt with your mate.
If, like Corey, flirting seems like it's always been the way
you've socialized, play around with different ways to
interact with others. Perhaps you and your mate could talk
about which specific behaviors you each associate with
flirting and then come up with alternative ways to be social
with friends and acquaintances.
Experiment with these possibilities and find what will help
you meet your need to be friendly and charming without
stepping over into what your mate (or you) consider
Flirting often looks different to different people. This is
why keeping the lines of communication open and honest are
essential. Tune into yourself and get to know what you want
and what feels good to you.
Listen to your mate and find the places where what you both
want overlaps. Keep talking about how you want your
relationship to be and continue to point yourselves in that